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Thunder Valley Dragways Bring Exciting Racing Action to South Dakota

Friday, 25 November 2022

HOUSE SPRINGS, Missouri — Exciting racing action will continue at the appropriately named Thunder Valley Dragways under International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) sanction in 2023.

The Marion, South Dakota facility features a 1/4-mile asphalt track, a 300-feet concrete launching pad and 1,430 feet of elevation. It has been a shining example of great competition as the home track of 2017 IHRA Summit SuperSeries Top (Box) World Champion Tom Gall and 2015 Mod (No Box) World Champion Cory Heckenlaible.

“We’ve got tough competition. The track opened in 1967 and has been owned and operated by Glen Rapp the entire time,” Thunder Valley Dragways manager Cherrie Engbrecht said. “He’s a former racer and the competitors like the consistency of knowing the track is always run the same way.”

They know it’s a great facility to visit with plenty of camping. More than 100 camp sites have electric hook-up. There are restrooms with showers and a full café that has beverages. There’s even a creek that runs through the property.

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But, it’s the thunder, that sound of the race cars that often draws folks to the facility named IHRA Midwest Track of the Year in 2019. 

Boasting a rich history, such luminaries as John Force and Shirley Muldowney have thundered down the drag strip. In 1982, Aggi Hendricks set a record pass of 287 mph in his jet car. 

However, it’s the commitment to grassroots, Sportsman racing why the track is renewing its sanctioning agreement with the IHRA.

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“Our racers like the opportunity to go to the IHRA World Finals. We left the decision to stay with IHRA up to the racers,” Engbrecht said. “It was nearly a unanimous decision with how the IHRA programs have worked for them.”

Sam McCarty (Box), Dustin Sullivan (No Box), Del Johnke (Sportsman) and Kabren Jackson (Junior Dragster) qualified for the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals through the track’s points in 2022.

A common theme at IHRA-member tracks, there is truly a family atmosphere at Thunder Valley Dragways. It’s motto is, “This is where friends become family and the best summer memories are made.”

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Besides the IHRA Summit SuperSeries bracket series program, the tentative 2023 schedule includes the Those Guys Rally at the Valley by J&L Harley, Street Legal races and events designed to highlight different automotive brands.

Whether you’re talking about the track itself or the surrounding area, the roots often run deep around Thunder Valley Dragways.

“It’s the multi-generation racing where the strong backbone comes from,” Engbrecht explains. “We live in an area where a lot of the kids around here grow up on farms. They learn mechanical skills at a young age.”

It’s a natural progression that many of them love the competition, the camaraderie and the atmosphere provided at Thunder Valley Dragways. 

Click here to visit the track’s website and learn more about Thunder Valley Dragways.

Last modified on Friday, 25 November 2022

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