One of Canada’s longest running drag strips has made a rather startling shift in direction….

Just this past weekend confirmation has come from Saskatoon’s Saskatchewan International Raceway, which has been under NHRA sanctioning for it’s entire existence (dating back 51 years!), that it will be making a change from NHRA to IHRA sanctioning – effective with this season.

While opinions and emotions will undoubtably vary widely and run deep about the decision, a first question that pops up for many is to ponder what the real reasons are for this iconic facility to now align itself with the IHRA organization.

The reality has been, as many drag racing fans and racers well know, that the IHRA itself has truly been a listing ship over the past few seasons. It is in it’s present day form now only but a shell of what it used to be.

To review, the IHRA product in North America is now a regionalized ET Bracket series only – pure and simple. Their Pro racing program at one time boasted and included it’s own cornerstone classes like Pro Mod and Mountain Motor Pro Stock.  The IHRA for years also hosted a series of highly effective national events, including the marquee Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals at Edmonton and the Mopar Canadian Nationals at Grand Bend Motorplex in Ontario, but all of that was effectivley abandoned over the last 4-5 years.

Then at the beginning of 2017, the IHRA took yet another shocking shrinking step when it eliminated all of their historical class car racing – i.e. Top Dragster, Top Sportsman, Super Stock, Super Rod etc — all now not on any event menus.

We acknowledge that IHRA’s 100% focus on grassroots level Sportsman racing with their Summit Racing ET Bracket series does for sure offer pluses to some individual ET bracket racers themselves.  But we would also temper that with the IHRA having serious limitations for racers who want to advance their drag racing programs beyond that.

We feel it’s important to also say emphatically that like everyone else who has been witness to the IHRA’s slide over the last decade or so – that’s been painful. We still have many fond and vivid memories of just how great their racing series once was and also how good they were in particular for Canadian drag racing.

At the beginning of 2017, Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway switched to NHRA, and that is just one more on a long list of former IHRA track casualties. So given all that reality – it’s fair for some to wonder if SIR’s new decision will have them swimming against a current and into unchartered waters.

According to some inside information we have now received, SIR Executive called a special general meeting this past Saturday and it was there that membership was convinced and then voted to make the switch. The official “party line” reasons, more of which will be forthcoming, is expected to be something along the lines of IHRA offering them new exciting programs and flexibility (?). It’s likely too that cost savings will be realized within the switched sanctioning.

DragRaceCanada is not presently in a position to expand on or comment either on the pros or the cons for SIR’s decision – however we will post more on that rationale when that information becomes available. We will also be encouraging racer and fan conversation on our official Facebook page.

Posted by Bruce Biegler