Series announce four new member tracks

IHRA has announced the addition of four new member tracks, which pushes the list to ninety-five. The expansion includes Ottodrome International Speedway in Ottawa, Ontario, U.S. 43 Dragway in Ethridge, Tenn., Gimli Motorsports Park in Gimli, ...

IHRA has announced the addition of four new member tracks, which pushes the list to ninety-five. The expansion includes Ottodrome International Speedway in Ottawa, Ontario, U.S. 43 Dragway in Ethridge, Tenn., Gimli Motorsports Park in Gimli, Manitoba, and Hilo Dragstrip in Hilo, Hawaii.

The explosive growth of IHRA, which now counts almost 20,000 members in its ranks, has also meant that North America's fastest growing motorsports sanctioning body must seek out new tracks as well. As IHRA's reputation grows, tracks from all over are eager to hear what the organization can offer them.

Track Services Manager Tom Kreager said, "As the sport of drag racing explodes in popularity, we have to do everything we can do to stay on the cutting edge. I visit and evaluate tracks on a constant basis. We're expanding into new areas because the need and the demand is there."

IHRA's expansion into such diverse areas as Hawaii and its continual and ever increasing presence in Canada is an indication of the effort IHRA will go to grow the sport of drag racing.

Hilo Dragstrip had been an NHRA track for 32 years. "We called IHRA in 2002, and everything that they said they were going to do, they did. They support the grassroots type of racing that we have on the island...we like the programs IHRA offers. It fits our racers," said Alan Martins, Track Operator at Hilo. "We're looking forward to 2005, and beyond. We're looking long term."

After taking over the former Viking International Raceway, Steve Millard and the Gimli Industrial Development Group sat down with a group of sportsman racers and solicited their opinions before they sought out a sanctioning body. "They told us to check out IHRA and what they were doing. Quality people, quality organization. The racers were right."

Another long time NHRA sanctioned track, Gimli Motorsports Park is now owned and operated by the community. The popularity of drag racing and IHRA's reputation with nurturing the sport has proved to be a positive aspect for tourism for this small town in Manitoba.

Another reason Gimli chose to sign with IHRA was the sanctioning body's commitment to Canadian drag racing. "(Special Projects Manager) Phil Gingerich shot up here and made a presentation to the group and council members. We were really impressed."

IHRA's commitment to racers and race track operators was one of the major reasons that U.S. 43 has come aboard as an IHRA track. "The work IHRA will do with you, compared to the other sanctioning body, made me want to be an IHRA track," said Ed Brooks of U.S. 43. "I was an NHRA track when Tom (Kreager) came by. He saw us racing on his way through town and stopped by to talk to us. I knew right then that we were going to go IHRA because I felt like they wanted us.

Gaining U.S. 43 as an IHRA track bolsters Division 2. "We're always looking to do whatever we can for our racers," said IHRA Vice President of Racing Operations Skooter Peaco. "Adding an excellent track like U.S. 43 in Division 2 reaffirms our commitment to sportsman competitors in that region. And it certainly provides an excellent location for a stop on the Mr. Gasket Pro-Am Tour."

IHRA may be growing, but Brooks is confident that the sportsman racers won't be left behind. "I have had so many racers call about the sportsman and bracket racing. They are really excited. I really think IHRA is in a growing mode and they are interested in helping me grow."

IHRA's growth and innovative thinking were also a reason David Melamed, owner of Ottodrome International Raceway, came aboard. "IHRA seems to be more progressive than other sanctioning bodies," he said. "The people are more accessible."

While Ottodrome may be the first new dragstrip built in Canada in quite some time, Melamed is confident that the track and IHRA's presence in Canada will only help. "The national events are right in our back yard. The drag racers are continuing to build a foundation," he said. IHRA's attention to Junior Dragsters was another positive for Melamed. "We're building the Junior Dragster class. We get them interested, and it'll keep the sport going."

-ihra-

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