Since 1973 the Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) has been the sanctioning body for all drag racing in Australia. It was formed after the drag racers broke away from under the original banner of the Australian Hot Rod Federation.
In the early days the leadership and vision of John Storm, Dennis Syrmis and Tony Thornton, saw drag racing exploded in popularity and growth.
However over the past few years some cracks started to appear with racers and tracks not happy with the direction ANDRA was heading. Subsequently the Big 3 tracks – Sydney, Willowbank and Perth began making plans of their own. The first step was the formation of the Australian Professional Drag Racers Ltd.
High on the agenda was to look at ways in reducing some of the costs associated with racing and running events. This centered on licence fees, insurance and sanctioning costs.
The American-based International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) were sourced and subsequently became the sanctioning body for the newly launched 400 Thunder Pro and Sportsman Series prior to the start of their 2015/16 Drag Racing season.
In the meantime ANDRA continued along with their championship running Group 1 and the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.
The 400 Thunder championships currently runs at Springmount, Sydney, and Willowbank, while ANDRA has Hidden Valley, Alice Springs, Perth, Calder Park, Adelaide, Swan Hill, Mildura, Portland and Whyalla.
In one side of the corner we have the loyal ANDRA supporters continuing on with business as usual, while in the other corner the 400 Thunder Series seems to have has the lions share of support from the Group 1 racers because they can play on two of the biggest and best tracks in the country.
Is there room for both? Does the sport need two championships? Will we see amalgamation? I guess time will tell. In the meantime drag racing fans will continue to see world class racing across the board, and at the end the day, that’s a good thing!
Just recently Australian drag racing received a boost with the opening of a new quarter mile strip located in North Queensland, one-hour west of Cairns. The Springmount Raceway project started in 2014 and held its official grand opening on March 19th this year. The facility nominated to run under the IHRA sanction and recently featured the opening round of 400 Thunder 2016/17 campaign with its Thunder in the Tropics event.
Moving to Victoria, we have another dedicated quarter mile drag strip. The Swan Hill Dragway first started as an idea some eight years ago with the plan to build at Chisholm Reserve. This parcel of land already accommodated speedway, motocross, go-karts and more. This strip is one of only four major quarter-mile tracks in Australia and has the longest concrete racing surface in the country and the only one with an in-built cooling system. In the near future the Swann Hill Drag Racing Club have also promised to bring the Group 1 championship to the track.
By John Baremans