2023/24 NDRC Sportsman dates announced, with new Grand Final concept

The 2023/24 NDRC Sportsman dates have dropped, including Heathcote Park, Calder and Benaraby

Photographers: Drag Photos

The Nationals Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) has today announced their full Sportsman calendar for the 2023/24 season. 12 tracks are involved across the country, split between Eastern and Western conferences. The winners, runners-up and other high point-scorers in each conference will qualify for a National Grand Final event at The Bend Dragway, 6-7 April, 2024. This means the finalists will duke it out for the final on an even playing field, regardless of points scored during the season, winner takes all!

Which tracks are in the NDRC Eastern conference?

Each track was able to chose which conference they ran in. Racers can run in both conferences if they wish. The Eastern conference consists of:

  • Springmount Dragway, Qld
  • Benaraby Dragway, Qld
  • Sydney Dragway, NSW
  • Heathcote Park, Vic
  • The Bend Dragway, SA
  • Willowbank Raceway, Qld
  • Calder Park, Vic

Which tracks are in the NDRC Western conference?

  • Hidden Valley, NT
  • Alice Springs Inland Dragway, NT
  • Perth Motorplex, WA
  • Mildura Sunset Strip, Vic
  • South Coast Raceway Portland, Vic

How do Sportsman racers qualify for the National Grand Final at The Bend?

The winners and runners up from each Conference Final automatically qualify to the National Grand Final. The rest of the field is comprised of the top racers in each category (nationally) as determined by a Grand Final qualification score. This score comprises (a) the points a racer has earned at their best four events in either conference, and (b) the total bonus points they’ve earned throughout the season. The highest scoring racers in each racing category will join the Conference winners and contend the National Grand Final.

What categories are running in the NDRC Sportman Championship?

Let’s take this one straight from the NDRC:

“Racing categories in the Aeroflow Sportsman Championship will be as per the categories outlined in the rulebooks of the sanctioning body of the track where racing is held. The NDRC acknowledges that there are differences between the sanctioning bodies on the classification of a small number of categories, and the NDRC is working constructively with ANDRA and IHRA towards a positive resolution. Moving forward, the NDRC’s goal is that a racer should be able to take their car or bike to any Australian track and race in a category that is consistent no matter who the sanctioning body is. Achieving consensus is a key focus of the Sportsman Racing Committee over the next 12 months.

“For consistency, the Aeroflow Sportsman Championship has adopted the Sportsman racing format and points system outlined in the ANDRA rule book in Section 2.12. This is irrespective of what sanctioning body is operating at the venue and includes the Points Cap system up to and including the Eastern and Western Conference Grand Finals. The travel bonus points rule will be extended to include the Springmount round.”

2023/24 NDRC Sportman calendar

14-15 Jul 2023 Darwin*WEST
22-23 Jul 2023 Alice Springs*WEST
18-19 Aug 2023 SpringmountEAST
16-17 Sep 2023 Mildura*WEST
7 Oct 2023 BenarabyEAST
21-22 Oct 2023 The Bend* (+Group 1)EAST
27-28 Oct 2023 Sydney (+Group 1)EAST
11-12 Nov 2023 HeathcoteEAST
24-25 Nov 2023 Perth* (+Group 1)WEST
2-3 Dec 2023 PortlandWEST
6-7 Jan 2024 PortlandWEST
13-14 Jan 2024 The Bend (+Group 1)EAST
26-27 Jan 2024 Sydney (+Group 1)EAST
3-4 Feb 2024 PortlandWEST
16-17 Feb 2024 Willowbank (+Group 1)EAST
16-17 Feb 2024 MilduraWEST
24-25 Feb 2024 Calder – FinalEAST
2-3 Mar 2024 Perth (+Group 1)WEST
9-10 Mar 2024 Mildura – FinalWEST
6-7 Apr The Bend – National Final

* denotes ANRA series round

Check out the full NDRC release here.


The dates for the new National Drag Racing Championship Group One series for 2022/23 have been announced.

Group One refers to the headlining, heads-up classes of Top Fuel, Nitro Funny Car, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Top Doorslammer, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Pro Mod and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

The 11-round series is confined to just four tracks – Willowbank, The Bend, Perth Motorplex and Sydney Dragway – although a number of regional tracks will join the party for Sportman-only events, with those dates TBC.

Andy Lopez, NDRC co-promoter said today, “We’re really proud of this calendar. There are eleven amazing events at Australia’s premier drag racing facilities… For competitors, this means a true national championship and a unified sport. For race fans, it means unbeatable shows with the best Australian drag racing has to offer.

“The NDRC’s motto is ‘One Way, Forward.’ We all race in the same direction, for the same reason, and it is our hope that with the NDRC having unified this great sport, we can bring it the attention and respect it deserves.”

What are the dates for NDRC Group One racing 2023-2024?

• Round 1 – The Bend Dragway – 21-22 October 2023 – featuring Top Fuel, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, plus Sportsman Western Conference racing.

• Round 2 – Sydney Dragway – 27-28 October 2023 – featuring Nitro Funny Car, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock and Pro

• Round 3 – Perth Motorplex – 24-25 November 2023 (Goldenstates) – featuring Nitro Funny Car, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Top Doorslammer, Pro Alcohol, plus Sportsman Western Conference racing.

• Round 4 – Willowbank Raceway – 1-2 December 2023 – featuring Top Fuel, Pro Alcohol, Pro Mod, plus Sportsman Eastern Conference racing + QDRC Final.

• Round 5 – The Bend Dragway – 13-14 January 2024 – featuring Nitro Funny Car, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Top Doorslammer, Pro Alcohol, plus Sportsman Western Conference racing.

• Round 6 – Sydney Dragway – 26-27 January 2024 – featuring Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, plus Sportsman Eastern Conference racing.

• Round 7 – Willowbank Raceway – 16-17 February 2024 – featuring Nitro Funny Car, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Pro Mod, Pro Stock Motorcycle, plus Sportsman Eastern Conference racing.

• Round 8 – Perth Motorplex – 2-3 March 2024 (Westernationals) – featuring Top Fuel, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Top Doorslammer plus Sportsman Western Conference racing.

• Round 9 – The Bend Dragway – 6-7 April 2024 – featuring Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer and Pro Stock, plus the Sportsman National Grand Final.

• Round 10 – Sydney Dragway – 3-4 May 2024 (Nitro Champs) – featuring Top Fuel, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, Pro Mod, Pro Stock Motorcycle, plus Sportsman Eastern Conference racing.

• Round 11 (Grand Final) – Willowbank Raceway – 6-9 June 2024 (Winternationals) – featuring Top Fuel, Nitro Funny Car, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Top Doorslammer, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Pro Mod, Pro Stock Motorcycle, plus Sportsman Eastern Conference racing.

Update, 24 May

One of the few questions marks that was left after the announcement of the new National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) earlier this month was the question of whether ANDRA would continue to push on and run their own Summit-sponsored Sportsman series.

That question was answered today, with ANDRA and the NDRC announcing that they have reached an elegant compromise. In short, the Summit series will run as part of the NDRC Western Conference until the end of the year, with the points counting toward the NDRC 2023/24 championship.

From the 1st of January 2024, the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series name will be retired and all sportsman series events that are part of the NDRC will be branded as Aeroflow Sportsman Series events

Here’s the press release in full:

“The Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) and the National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) wish to confirm that they have reached agreement on integrating the contracted Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series rounds into the NDRC Sportsman Championship Western Conference, with a seamless transition to the Aeroflow Sportsman Championship starting from 1st January 2024.

As part of this agreement, it can now be confirmed that the ANDRA Sportsman rounds for 2023/2024 will be run as planned.

These events will count towards the NDRC points score for its 2023/2024 sportsman title, with the ANDRA-sanctioned events held prior to the 31st of December 2023 to be run as Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series events. By virtue of their locations, these events will form part of the new NDRC Western Conference.

As of the last Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series event held prior to December 31, point scores from the Summit Racing events will be recognised and flow into the new NDRC sportsman series.

From the 1st of January 2024, the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series name will be retired and all sportsman series events that are part of the NDRC will be branded as Aeroflow Sportsman Series events, with the Grand Final to be held at The Bend Dragway in April 2024, at which the inaugural NDRC Aeroflow Sportsman Series Champions will be crowned.

“Following consultation with the NDRC, ANDRA believes that bringing the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series and our scheduled sportsman series dates into the NDRC is the best way forward,” ANDRA Caretaker Chief Executive Officer, Ian Brown, said.

“We are excited to be taking these steps forward in partnership with the NDRC for the betterment of Australian drag racing long-term, to see unification in our sport once again while ensuring our regional member tracks maintain their place as hosts of national-level events.

“While we continue to work in a consultative manner with our NDRC partners on the finer details, we can now confirm that the dates previously published by ANDRA will be run as part of the NDRC, with those events to be held prior to December 31 to be held as Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series events. All events now and future held at ANDRA sanctioned tracks will be run under the ANDRA rulebook and with ANDRA stewards.

“When it comes to its conclusion on December 31, the relationship between Summit Racing Equipment and ANDRA will have spanned nearly a decade, and we could not be more thankful to the entire Summit Racing Equipment team for their backing of ANDRA drag racing and our members over that time. They have been true partners and worked with us and supported us through tumultuous times, including the challenges of COVID-19, and we will be forever grateful to them for their support.”

NDRC Co-Founder, Andy Lopez, said the future of Australian drag racing is looking brighter than ever.

“I really want to thank ANDRA for getting on board and working with us. The Board was very open about wanting the best for drag racing, respecting a long-time partner in Summit Racing Equipment, and protecting their members. I also want to thank Aeroflow for being really cooperative with the process around integrating the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series into the Western Conference. I’m actually not surprised we’ve gotten such a good outcome. Drag racing is full of people who want the best for the sport, and now we’re all getting aligned, showing trust and doing good things together,” Lopez said.

Further details regarding the full NDRC Sportsman calendar, will be released in the coming weeks.”

Update, 20 May:

The details of the broadcast deal for the new National Drag Racing Championship have been announced, with the NDRC partenering with the Seven Network.

All 11 Group One rounds will be broadcast live to Seven’s digital streaming platform, 7plus. We’re told this will include all classes, which is great news for sportsman racers.

Post-event highlights packages of the Group One action will appear on 7mate and 7plus.

International viewers will also be able to tune live and free via FloRacing.

The 11-round Group One NDRC calendar will be announced on May 26 from The Bend Dragway. Each meeting will alsso include a round of the Aeroflow Sportsman Championship.

Each round will be headlined by either Top Fuel or Nitro Funny car, with the two nitro-powered classes meeting in 2024 for the Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway.

The full calendar of standalone Aeroflow Sportsman rounds will still be TBC.

The story to here, 10 May:

After more than a decade of turmoil, the sport of drag racing is on the cusp of a new era that will see the return of national championship racing for Group One in 2023-2024.

The new National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) will see 11 Group One events that will be headlined by either Top Fuel or Nitro Funny Car, with both classes appearing at the 2024 Winternationals as the series grand final. Group One will also include Top Doorslammer, Pro Alcohol, Pro Stock, Top Fuel Motorcycle, Pro Stock Bike and Pro Mod.

Many benefits should flow from the new arrangement, including racers and tracks being able to communicate a clear vision to sponsors.

There will also be standalone events for the Aeroflow Sportsman Championship. Note that ANDRA’s 2023-’24 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series looks to be going ahead separately to the NDRC for now.

More on this below.

Key Points

  • National Drag Racing Championship announced
  • Single calendar and series for Group One and Sportsman racers
  • All 11 Group One events will be televised free-to-air, including Sportsman classes
  • Series will be sanction-agnostic
  • Aeroflow Sportsman championship will run in an Eastern and Western conference format
  • The 2023/24 calendar to be announced 26 May
  • Group One events will be held at Willowbank, Sydney Dragway, Perth Motorplex and The Bend
  • NDRC’s impact on 2023-’24 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman series yet to be determined, says ANDRA

How will the Sportsman Championship work?

While the old Group Three championships literally spanned the continent in days gone by, the sheer distances involved meant only a small number of racers competed in every round.

The NDRC solution is to run Eastern and Western Conference Championships, leading into a single, all-in Grand Final in 2024. The Western Conference will be run at tracks in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The Eastern Conference will take in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, although today’s announcement mentions that regional tracks in Victoria and South Australia will be able to join the conference that best suits their needs.

An NDRC Sportsman Advisory Group will be established to give Sportsman racers and officials a voice in the calendar, safety, rules and other issues affecting Sportsman racing.

Where will the NDRC appear on TV?

The broadcast partner for the 11 Group One NDRC rounds will be announced on 17 May.

All 11 rounds will be broadcast free-to-air, which will include all classes racing at those events, not just the big boys. There will also be a number of Group One highlight shows.

What sanction will the NDRC run under?

The championship will be sanction-neutral, running under either ANDRA or IHRA auspices depending on the track. For now, that will mean some racers will need both licences to compete in the full series; it is hoped a reciprocal arrangement can be negotiated in time.

Who is behind the NDRC?

The NDRC is the brainchild of Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez and broadcast guru Nathan Prendergast and is a progression of their work running the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship for the past two seasons.

“The National Drag Racing Championship represents a massive opportunity for the sport to go one way forward,” said Lopez in the press release issued today.

“One way forward has become our mantra,” he continued. “We’ve taken the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship to venues all over Australia, and that’s given us a good chance to listen to what racers and fans want. And racers and fans want a positive drag racing scene where racers fight for a single national title in their category. What is really clear is that everybody wants what’s best for the sport. We won’t all agree all the time, but if we’re respectful and positive, the sport will be in a good place.

“Drag racing is an awesome sport. Every day people head out to their track, put on a race suit and a helmet, and then belt down a racetrack as fast as they can. If you’re a fan, every seat in the house is a great seat, and you can wander the pits and see the cars and the drivers. It looks amazing on TV and there’s a racing win every couple of minutes. Drag racing should become Australia’s favourite motorsport, and to do that we have to win on and off the track. Once we get the Championship humming, we’ll focus on other challenges like pathways into the sport.”

What will happen to 400 Thunder and the ADRC?

The NDRC will replace both the 400 Thunder series and ANDRA’s Australian Drag Racing Championship (ADRC), meaning racers can once again compete for a single title, something that hasn’t happened at the top level of the sport since 2015.

The final ADRC round will be Nitro Up North in Darwin (16-17 June), while the last 400 Thunder Championship event will be the Winternationals at Willowbank, 8-11 June.

400 Thunder director Tony Wedlock said: “The National Drag Racing Championship is the next logical step for drag racing in Australia. We met with the NDRC team to hear their plans, and the 400 Thunder Board was satisfied that the NDRC is in the best interests of everyone in the sport we all love so much. Given that, it’s time to retire the 400 Thunder Series and we ask all racers to get behind the NDRC.

“The Board is proud of what 400 Thunder has achieved. We’ve brought high-quality drag racing events to venues all across the country, broken records, and have been part of growing the sport to a level where it’s ready for this next big step. The Winternationals 2023, headlined by the Nitro Funny Cars, is the final 400T event, and we can’t wait to see this next exciting chapter.”

See the full release and new NDRC Facebook page here.

What will happen to the ANDRA’s Summit Sportsman series?

While the NDRC is a major step forward toward a unified approach to national championship drag racing, not everyone is singing from the same song sheet. ANDRA issued their own press release in response to the NDRC announcement today as follows:

“The Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) acknowledges the release this afternoon of a vision statement for a new proposed series, under the National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) banner.

“The NDRC concept is being driven by Andy Lopez and Nathan Prendergast, the team behind the Burson Auto Parts Australian Top Fuel Championship, who are also the holders of the licence to run the Australian Drag Racing Championship (ADRC) established by ANDRA at the beginning of the 2021/2022 season.

“This vision proposes the retiring of the 400 Thunder brand and championship, and a new, national championship under the NDRC banner, for both Group 1 and Sportsman level racing.

“ANDRA Caretaker CEO, Ian Brown, makes the following comments regarding this afternoon’s release.

“‘We have had preliminary discussions with Andy Lopez re this vision statement, which was released by the NDRC this afternoon,’ Ian said.

“‘As agreed prior to the release with Andy, ANDRA will be undertaking further discussions with the NDRC team regarding the finer details of this concept, both overall and in particular, in regard to Sportsman racing, calendars, regulations and so forth.

“‘Before such discussions are conducted, it is too early for ANDRA to make any statement regarding potential impacts of NDRC on our Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.

“‘ANDRA and Summit Racing Equipment have delivered a comprehensive national Sportsman series to the ANDRA membership for a substantial period of time, and plans for our 2023/2024 season are well-advanced.

“‘The dates for rounds one and two have already been publicly confirmed, with entries now open via the respective host tracks, and a 12-round calendar is close to completion.

“‘As soon as more information is available, ANDRA will issue an update to its membership regarding its position in relation to the NDRC and any possible impacts on the upcoming 2023/2024 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series.’”