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Ellis I57 Dragstrip, IHRA Extend Sanctioning Agreement

Tuesday, 23 January 2024

BENTON, Ill. — What a first year it turned out to be for Ellis I-57 Dragstrip under IHRA sanction.

The Benton, Illinois track, which was built in 1970, decided to forgo its outlaw status and team with the International Hot Rod Association in 2023. It worked out well for both parties as Ellis I57 Dragstrip saw good turnouts for its bracket program.

It made it a smart decision for track owner Don Ellis to renew the IHRA sanctioning agreement. Don’t let the former outlaw status fool anyone. It’s a well-maintained facility with a respected group of racers. 

Track operator Dan Estep mentioned how the employees take pride in keeping a clean facility with the grass always cut. There is a welcoming attitude towards the racers as they share the IHRA’s values of the grassroots, Sportsman racers being the backbone of the sport. 

The staff works hard to offer a lot to the racers including 163 paved parking spots and even more parking available. There are concrete walls along the 1/8-mile drag strip and a good sand trap at the end of the shutdown area.


If you’re there for a long weekend of racing, you appreciate there’s a fully-stocked concession stand with indoor seating, and heated restrooms and showers. The racers and spectators also take pride in the facility, often chipping in to clean up after events.

Drivers who qualified for the 2023 IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals through the track’s points included Rene DeGroof (Box) in his Camaro, Derek Pearson (No Box) in his Mustang, Teri Syers (Sportsman) in a S-10 pickup and Kaden Jones (Junior Dragster).

The track’s racers also participated in the IHRA Division 5 (Thunder) Summit Team Finals where I57 Dragstrip racer Dax Darnell captured the Box victory.

Ellis I57 Dragstrip even hosted an IHRA Ironman Classic back in July. Billy Fornwalt (Box), Luke Bogacki (No Box) and Allen Wilson (Sportsman) took home IHRA Ironman trophies. It brought out other racers as well with Zack Layne (Footbrake), Sarah Bass (Trophy) and Gary Bogacki (Junior Dragster) also winning on the big weekend.

There is plenty of great action throughout the year including the 13th annual Summer Door Car Shootout on June 21-23. To keep up to date with the latest Ellis I-57 Dragstrip news, click here to check out the track’s Facebook page.

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