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IRG Sports + Entertainment acquires Southwestern International Raceway in Tucson

Thursday, 01 August 2013

IRG Sports + Entertainment™ (IRG) announced today that it has acquired Southwestern International Raceway™ (SWIR), formerly Merle’s SIR Dragway, located in Tucson, Arizona. SWIR is a 110-acre venue located at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 10 miles from downtown Tucson. The track features a dedicated quarter-mile Drag Strip and first opened in August 1997.

“Southwestern International Raceway was a natural fit for IRG’s portfolio of tracks and companies. The acquisition at this time is right in line with our growth strategy for 2013, since January’s purchase of the International Hot Rod Association by IRG. With our Nitro Jam series already being hosted at this facility, the Raceway will continue to be a key stop on the Nitro Jam schedule with additional IHRA events being held there,” said Jason Rittenberry, CFE, the chief executive officer of IRG.

IRG acquired the track from former owner operators Jon Bradford and Tom Koenan. Over the last 16 years, SWIR has hosted such premier events as the International Hot Rod Association’s Nitro Jam and Thunder Jam, Pro Nitro Warm-Up, Super Chevy Show, Pacific Street Car Association (PSCA), Import Face-Off, and Tucson Dragway Reunion. With one of the largest shut-down areas in the country at almost three-quarters of a mile, SIR has run some of the fastest race cars in the world. Driving schools, professional testing sessions, private rentals, and corporate team-building events are also held at SWIR year-round.

“We are very fortunate for a group like IRG to believe in our city and track, and we look forward to a bright future for drag racing in Arizona,” noted former owner operator Jon Bradford.

Jon Baker, Executive Director of the Southwest Fair Commission, added, “The Southwestern Fair Commission is very excited to have IRG Sports + Entertainment as the new operator of Southwestern International Raceway. IRG’s commitment to the sport of drag racing is proven – and a clear win for drag racing enthusiasts in Arizona and the entire southwest. We look forward to a great partnership, and the success that SWIR will realize under their leadership.”

The IRG ownership group is led by managing partners, Michael Dezer and Gil Dezer of Dezer Properties, Joseph Lubeck of Landmark Apartment Trust of America, Inc., Edward Kobel of DeBartolo Development, and Jason Rittenberry, chief executive of the company. In 2008, the group purchased the historic Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Florida. After an 18-month, $30 million dollar renovation, the facility was re-launched as the state-of-the-art Palm Beach International Raceway™ (PBIR) along with the private membership club, Palm Beach Driving Club®. In 2011, the group acquired Memphis International Raceway™ (MIR) in Memphis, Tennessee, from Dover Motorsports, Inc. (NYSE: DVD), and in 2013, acquired the International Hot Rod Association™ (IHRA) from Feld Entertainment, Inc. Murray D. Schwartz, Esq. served as outside legal counsel for IRG Sports + Entertainment and has been added to the Board of IRG Sports + Entertainment.

IRG will immediately take control of the operations of the track and has retained the General Manager, John Mabry, and key staff in the areas of customer service, accounting and track management. An enhanced brand identity for SWIR is in development while the newly redesigned website for the track will launch in the coming weeks. The current website, www.SIRACE.com, will remain active while the new rebranded site is being launched.

IRG will continue to operate the remainder of the events on the 2013 schedule at SWIR, while adding new additional events for the 2014 season.

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