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Mon, 17 Dec 2001, 10:13 AM

Legendary Byron Dragway Switches Sanctioning to IHRA
Courtesy of IHRA Communication

BYRON, Ill. Byron Dragway, one of the Midwestís legendary and innovative drag racing facilities has announced it will switch sanctions to IHRA.

"Sanctioning with IHRA was a business and racing decision," explained track owner and promoter Ron Leek. "Iíve known Bill (IHRA President, Bill Bader) for a long time, and the positive direction IHRA is moving in caught my attention." Byron Dragway has sanctioned with NHRA since 1969.

"Iím a typical mid-westerner; we donít change things very often, like banks or doctors. After 31 years, it was a hard decision to make the change, but the right thing for our racers and drag strip," added Leek.

One of the first benefits for racers competing at Byron will be inclusion in the recently announced $150,000 to-win IHRA Summit Super Series, presented by Pontiac. Beginning in 2002, The Summit SuperSeries will crown a national Sportsman (ET Bracket) World Champion for the first time in drag racing history.

"The new Summit Super Series caught our eye and there has been a very positive response from our racers about the program," added Leek. "We are a big bracket track, so this program is great for us."

"Ron Leek is a promoterís promoter," stated IHRA President, Bill Bader. "Having Byron Dragway in the IHRA family strengthens Division 5 and fuels our expansion westward. Working with Ronís other track in Cedar Falls, Byron will add depth to the IHRA track lineup and strengthen our presence in the Midwest," commented Bader.

Bader announced Byron Dragway will host an IHRA Holley Pro-Am Tour event in 2002, with a date to be announced. Byron is also home to the U.S. Class Nationals; an innovative race devoted exclusively to Stock and Super Stock cars. The 2nd Annual U.S. Class Nationals for legal classes will be held June 21-23, 2002.

Byron Dragway opened July 1, 1964, and introduced the National Gas Coupe and Sedan Championship to drag racing, attracting leading racers of the day. Known for its wide track surface, Byron promoted four-wide drag racing throughout the 60ís. In 1975, Leek founded and promoted the U.S. Bracket Nationals, acknowledged as the first "Big-Time Bracket Race". For almost four decades, Leek and partner B.J. Vangsness have made Byron Dragway a major force in Midwest drag racing with their weekly bracket programs and specialty events.

"Byron is a family-run operation. My partner, B.J. Vangsness has worked at the strip since he was seven; B.J. is now 37-years-old," added Leak. "This type of dedication, passion and sense of tradition is what Byron Dragway is about." Byron Dragway is located near Rockford, Ill., 70 miles west of Chicago. Leek confirmed a five-year capital improvement program that includes a new tower, pits and seating.

Byron Dragway joins U.S. 131 Dragway in Martin, Mich., Milan Dragway, Milan, Mich., Thunder Valley Dragway, Tea, S.D., and Budweiser Motorsports Park, Edmonton, Alberta as tracks switching to IHRA sanctioning in the past month.

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