Owned by IRG Sports + Entertainment (IRGSE), one of the largest sports marketing companies in the world, the IHRA is the second largest drag racing sanctioning body in the world with more than 100 member tracks across the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean.
IRG Sports + Entertainment Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chris Lencheski said, “The Australian market has become a major focus for IHRA as a result of the success of 400 Thunder Series and the quality of the tracks and passionate memberships that have come into the IHRA family of members. Our international membership is way up year-over-year and our IRGSE board and TPG, our parent and global investment company, wholly support this movement by the IHRA."
“It’s exciting to see a renewed interest in Australian drag racing through 400 Thunder and new IHRA member tracks, we’re delighted to expand our association with the 400 Thunder through ownership of the IHRA Australia, as well as introducing our established sponsors into the 400 Thunder Series. Our goal is to take the 400 Thunder Series across Australasia and do whatever is needed to make this happen,” Lencheski said.
“In addition to building on the 400 Thunder brand, we are looking to grow our investment into the Australian market as we look to secure more tracks under the IHRA banner and expand our IHRA membership base Down Under. As part of this initiative, we intend to establish a locally based IHRA office and local staff with the goal to provide member services second to none,” Lencheski continued.
The IHRA is the current sanctioning body for 400 Thunder as well as Australia’s four world class quarter-mile venues: Perth Motorplex, Sydney Dragway, Willowbank Raceway, located near Brisbane and the recently opened Springmount Raceway, near Cairns, Queensland.
The growth in licence holders has seen unprecedented support as racers flock to the world-renowned organization, with approximately 1,500 competitor licenses issued since IHRA entered the Australian market in December.
The introduction of IHRA sanctioning to the Australian market, also led to a significant decrease in competitor and venue costs, as a result of reduced sanction and licence fees as well as the abolition of levies.
With the Australian IHRA office to be based out in Sydney, this guarantee’s direct ties to existing IHRA sponsors in overseas markets, as well as expanding our own 400 Thunder Series both domestically and internationally.
IHRA President Mike Dunn re-affirmed Australia’s importance in the global drag racing community, “Australia will play a key role in the IHRA’s future new global class of drag racing, and we are committed to making the 400 Thunder Series the pre-eminent drag racing championship in the Asia Pacific region under our sanction,” Dunn said.
“We have a vision of delivering a round of our new World Championship to one of our Australian tracks, and the establishment of an Australian office will ensure we keep up with the growth of 400 Thunder Series and coordinate our member services,” Dunn continued.
Shawn Hackman, IRGSE Chief Revenue Officer added, “Our Australian expansion will provide additional opportunities for current and future partners to reach new racers and fans furthering our commitment to provide a platform with more value and reach.”
Chairman of the Australian Professional Drag Racing Series Board (APDR), Tony Wedlock is excited by these developments. “Both IRGSE and IHRA are a global force within drag racing worldwide. The benefits provided to APDR and our member tracks as we lean on both IRGSE and IHRA’s expertise, and contacts in the areas of sports marketing, as well as their business strategy development is immeasurable.”
“Both IRGSE and IHRA are highly professional organizations that see the importance of re-investing into our sport and we look forward to an even tighter partnership as well look to build the 400 Thunder Series into its second season,” Wedlock said.
The bumper first season saw entry lists of around 1,400 professional and sportsman teams across nine events held at Perth Motorplex, Sydney Dragway and Willowbank Raceway, as well as boasting more than 85,000 spectators at its nine events.