Last Saturday’s rather bombshell announcement from Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway has fuelled a lot of fan base speculation….

gbm-1DragRaceCanada has since received numerous fan queries about this switch of sanction from IHRA to NHRA and whether or not that will now impact the IHRA’s other national event in Canada – the Mopar Canadian Nationals at Grand Bend Motorplex ( i.e. could they be related or is there a cascading effect?)

So we have gone direct to the source contacting Paul Spriet, the President of Grand Bend Motorplex, who has graciously offered us this feedback so far.

GBM track manager Ron Biekx and President Paul Spriet

GBM track manager Ron Biekx and President Paul Spriet

Paul was quick to point out that his situation for drag racing in Ontario does differ significantly from that of Castrol Raceway in Alberta.

“I was aware of Edmonton’s expected change and for them it makes total sense being they were the only IHRA track in an area surrounded by NHRA tracks/competitors, “ he said. “Their national event was for the most part their own deal and attracting IHRA sportsman racers wasn’t really a big/positive factor in their overall program. The hope is since it is basically their event regardless of which sanctioning body they run it under, that running the event as part of an NHRA National open will attract more NHRA sportsman competitors from the surrounding area (from all across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest US states) rather than under IHRA. I believe it will.”

“But at GBM we have a very different racer demographic,” he continued. “We are still working with Mopar Canada and the IHRA to present a national event program in 2017. Whether that will be an actual part of an IHRA series* or not — is undecided at this time. But our plan is to still have and provide the largest Drag racing event in Eastern Canada.”

(*At this time no date for the 2017 event has been announced for Grand Bend’s Mopar Canadian Nationals – a direct consequence with the fact that the IHRA itself has not released any event race dates for next season).

Paul was also in disagreement with the characterization by many (including yours truly) regarding the notion that IHRA national events of today are but a shell of their former self.

“While it is true their events currently have no Top Fuel race program or Alcohol funny car program, they are still the largest events outside of NHRA National events,” he qualified. “In  2016 at our event we had 21 Nitro vehicles (including Top Fuel Bikes, Nostalgia Funny Cars and 4-car Chicago style Top Fuel shootout). We also did have Mountain Motor Pro Stockers and Pro Mod — even though that turnout was poor. But to be fair many NHRA events are in the same boat with their Top Fuel, Pro Stock & Nitro Funny car fields not even close to what they were.”


DragRaceCanada must go on the record in acknowledging too all the positives that the IHRA has done for Canadian drag racing. They deserve a lot of credit since they first introduced their brand of national event drag racing at Grand Bend Motoplex back in 2000 and then with subsequent version event presentations held both at Edmonton and (for a time at Cayuga) over the many years since.

But there is no denying for the IHRA that the loss of the Edmonton event is a major negative for them – certainly from a point of fan and media perception. We remain big fans of the IHRA product and their circuit racers and we are hopeful that the current apparent tough times for the IHRA can be put behind them.

That being said we share the concern of many about just how far the IHRA vessel is listing.


Posted by Bruce Biegler