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Saskatchewan International Raceway, IHRA Renew Sanctioning Agreements

Wednesday, 08 February 2023

HOUSE SPRINGS, Missouri — Saskatchewan International Raceway is coming off its best year from a sponsor standpoint in 2022. They’re looking even more forward to the 2023 season.

The historic track in Saskatoon is entering its 57th year and sixth season as an IHRA track. For the Sportsman racers in that area, the IHRA rules work well for them.

“IHRA is grassroots racing. It’s a good fit for us and for a large amount of North American race tracks,” track manager Shawn Zezula said. “We aren’t a place that’s going to hold a national event. Across North America, the tracks like us that has 135 weekly racers or so, there are some great programs and it’s affordable to race with the IHRA.”

Saskatchewan didn’t send anyone to the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals in 2022, but it did crown track champions. They included: Travis McBain (Super Pro), Braydon Heroux (Pro), Sydney Weeks (Sportsman) and Amanda Jacek-Flaman (Street Legal). 

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Currently, there is an emphasis in getting more teen racers involved with low entry fees to go along with the IHRA’s low license costs.

For 2023, there is a solid schedule with 12 straight street legal, 13 points events and a couple of special events including the Southwind Showdown in August. That major event will have Funny Cars, Pro Mods, Jet Cars and Nostalgia cars like front-engine dragsters. 

They’re complimentary of the track, often telling Zezula and others they have the best fans. Asked about what makes SIR such a special place, Zezula doesn’t have to think twice.

“It’s the people, the fans, how we’re one big family,” he said. “I’ve been here 34 years. I parked my race car to be track manager one year and here I am 23 years later still the track manager. But, it’s the people who keep me coming back. The ones we surround ourselves with. 

“You always hear it’s a family sport, but you will see wives support their husbands and then the kids get involved. We have a lot of father-daughter race teams at the track right now.”

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It helps that there’s such a loyal staff. Most started with Zezula 14 years ago and remain with the track today. They make a point to see and talk to each other during the offseason. 

There’s also a huge emphasis on making it enjoyable for the spectators as the return road passes right by the grandstands. There’s the interaction in the pits, while a huge emphasis is put on making it a good place for the racers.

The track itself was resurfaced in 2016 and they use a CompuLink timing system. There’s concrete well beyond the starting line and there are concrete barriers all the way down the quarter-mile. During the offseason, they’ve done power and wiring for the new speakers and public address system.

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The control tower is built over the burnout box, making it a crazy experience. Over the years, the Jet Cars have blown out windows in the tower and the tower has even been caught on fire. Don’t let that fool you, however, as SIR has an outstanding reputation when it comes to safety.

“I won’t put a car down the track if I wouldn’t feel safe going down the track myself,” Zezula said. “In this sport, you’re always learning how you can make it better for your racers, your fans and yourself.”

Other track amenities include a new 180-foot long building which features concessions, new restrooms, a walk-in souvenir booth and a shop to store the track’s equipment. There’s seating for 4,000 spectators and even a beer garden on the property.

To learn more about SIR, click here to check out the track’s website.

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