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Onawa Dragway Looks to Start Next Chapter with IHRA

Friday, 02 December 2022

HOUSE SPRINGS, Missouri — It’s an exciting time for Onawa Dragway which begins a next chapter under new ownership and still under sanction from the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA).

Justin Richards and his wife, B.J., have taken over the facility located halfway between Sioux City, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska off Interstate 29. Featuring an all-concrete drag strip, the facility opened to a huge crowd as the Onawa Racing and Events Complex in 2018.

Richards has been involved in the facility since it opened. However over the last few months, the future of the Iowa facility was in doubt. It had been operated by a board and there were fears the track might go into foreclosure.

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With a deep love of racing, Richards wasn’t about to let that happen. His daughter, now 18, started racing junior dragsters there when she was 13, and his son started racing two years ago.

For Richards, it was important to keep the dreams alive for his kids and other racing families.

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“That was part of my motivation of buying the track,” he said. “A lot of people have invested money to go out and have fun at the track. It was losing that aura of being the fun place. Where we’re at today, we want to take Onawa Dragway to a new level. 

“It is at a strategic location and has a concrete track that has been ground to perfection. It’s a place where people can have low et’s and a lot of fun.”

He's right about that, a showcase track which has hosted the IHRA Sportsman Spectacular presented by Hagerty and Moser Engineering the last couple of seasons.

Terry Vanderzanden Sportman Winner July 9 Sportsman Spectaculer

Iowa racer Travis Smiley matched his dial-in to take the Top (Box) title at the 2022 IHRA Sportsman Spectacular. Four states were represented as Kansas racer Brady Stallbaumer won in Mod (No Box), Nebraska’s Terry Vanderzanden was triumphant in Sportsman and South Dakota’s Jack Beutler captured the Junior Dragster victory.

Beutler was also the track’s representative at the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals and he finished third in the Junior Dragster national standings. Other track representatives were: Don Frills (Top), Clark Doukas (Mod) and Kirk Brieir (Sportsman).

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Richards sees their success and also looks at the track as a family-oriented place. He sees the importance through his own upbringing. Mechanically gifted, much of his knowledge was passed on by his father who worked as a mechanic and taught at a local college. Through the years, his mom and dad have been supportive of him.

He also likes the support offered by the IHRA and Summit Racing Equipment.

“We have been IHRA since the beginning. The way the program is laid out, it’s readily accessible for the racers and track operators,” he said. “I appreciate the behind the scenes help and knowledge. Summit has always been good. Two years ago, my daughter won both of the Ironman trophies here at Onawa. We’ve been thankful for the support.”

For more information about Onawa Dragway, click here to check out the track’s Facebook page.

Last modified on Friday, 02 December 2022

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