52nd Australian Nationals meeting cancelled

Sanctioning body change results in the cancellation of the 52nd Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway



  • Sydney Dragway replaced IHRA with ANDRA in September 2021
  • A new Sydney Dragway board was elected in December
  • A settlement between the two parties was reached in court yesterday
  • 52nd Nationals cancelled, organisers searching for new venue

February 3: Sydney Dragway has announced today that it has cancelled the 52nd Australian Nationals meeting. The statement reads as follows:

“Sydney Dragway is saddened to announce that the venue is no longer able to host the Australian Nationals on February 11 and 12.The recent changes in sanctioning means the event cannot be run in the way it was intended by the organisers.

“Sydney Dragway has explained the very difficult position we’re in to the promoters, and they’ve kindly agreed to release us from the contract and allow us to get our feet back on the ground.

“This is a very disappointing outcome for the more than 150 racers who wanted to come and race, and also hard for the Dragway team, and the promoters of the Nationals and Top Fuel – all of whom have put in a lot of work to stage another fantastic event to follow the success of the Top Fuel Championship in January.

“The promoters will make their own announcements as to their plans, but they will be refunding all entrants and ticket holders immediately.”

Sydney Dragway is saddened to announce that the venue is no longer able to host the Australian Nationals on February 11…

Posted by Sydney Dragway on Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Australian Top Fuel Association released their own statement on Facebook as follows:

“We’re disappointed to share the news that Sydney Dragway has had to withdraw from hosting the Australian Nationals and Round 02 of the Burson Top Fuel Championship.

“We’re gutted. Gutted for our team who put so much hard work into this event. Gutted for our mates at the Australian Nationals. Gutted for the racers and fans who’re going to miss out on top quality racing for reasons completely beyond our control.

“Full refunds are being processed now including booking fees.

“The Australian Nationals are a marquee event of the ANDRA Australian Drag Racing Championship, and racers were coming from all over Australia to compete for Championship points. Sydney’s change to IHRA only three days out from our event put us and the Nationals in an impossible position. IHRA were asked to allow Sydney Dragway to stage the event as agreed, but they chose not to do so.

“Top Fuel Australia will move forward with plans to bring Top Fuel back to more people at more tracks. Our next event and rescheduled calendar will be announced in the coming days, and we will be racing at the Australian Nationals as soon as that date is announced.

“That’s enough negative stuff! Let’s get on with racing. Support your local track no matter where that is.”

Top Fuel Australia co-promoter Andy Lopez added:

“While we had a contract with Sydney Dragway to run the event, we chose not to enforce that, as we don’t want to do anything to hurt the people who want to race at Sydney Dragway. We want to see the venue up and running at full strength.

“We put it to the IHRA that they had the opportunity to allow the event to go ahead and that we’d do it properly, with respect. They chose not to go that way.

“Running under IHRA sanction wasn’t an option, as the entrants had put their money down to race and chase points in the Australian Drag Racing Championships. It wouldn’t be the same event.

“There is some sadness there, especially after Round One of the Top Fuel Championships was so successful and positive.”

The story to here

February 2: The board of Sydney Dragway and the IHRA have today announced that the IHRA will resume work as the exclusive sanctioning body of the site until December 2024.

The venue has been running under ANDRA sanction since September last year.

This triggered legal action by the IHRA in the NSW Supreme Court for breach of contract. The matter was resolved yesterday, with the two parties reaching a settlement and the proceedings being dismissed.

The news, however, has thrown the future of the 52nd Australian Nationals – set to run at the venue on the February 11 and 12 – into doubt.

A Joint Statement from Sydney Dragway & IHRA Australia.

Posted by Sydney Dragway on Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Speaking to Street Machine on Wednesday following the news, IHRA Managing Director Maurice Allen said: “We felt that we hadn’t done anything wrong. We spent months negotiating with the previous board and it was obvious that we were in for a battle.

“The track was nearly brought to its knees financially. There was a vision going around to hand the track back to ANDRA at any cost, rather than doing work needed to keep the place going.

“That left us with no choice but to go down this path [of pursuing legal action]. It wasn’t something we wanted to do.

“Now we need to grow the sport and get it back to health. We’re looking to the future with initiatives like our new Real Street class.”

The situation now leaves the running of the 52nd Nationals in doubt. The ANDRA-sanctioned event was set to include round two of the Top Fuel Championship series, as well as a round of the Australian Drag Racing Championships and Summit Sportsman series.

Allen said the future of the meeting lays with the promoters and track, and wouldn’t be drawn on whether the IHRA will allow the meeting to go ahead under ANDRA sanction.

ANDRA CEO Brett Stevens made his own announcement last night, stating:

“ANDRA has been informed that today [Sydney Dragway] has reached a settlement with the IHRA regarding the court case that was underway in relation to sanctioning services at [the track].

“ANDRA is currently seeking legal advice regarding the impact of this settlement on ANDRA’s current contract with WSID Limited [the Dragway].

“ANDRA has received no communication directly from the Board of Sydney Dragway at this time, and will await that to consider our position. Following the consideration of legal advice, ANDRA will issue a further update as soon as possible.”

November 20: Racing at Sydney Dragway will continue under ANDRA sanction for the time being, after an application for a interlocutory injunction was withdrawn today in the NSW Supreme Court.

The IHRA released this statement:

The Sydney Dragway board published their own statement:

“At today’s court hearing there was no injunction put on WSID to stop ANDRA sanctioned drag racing events going ahead. This is a win for drag racers who race at Sydney Dragway who can continue to race and get back into the sport they are so passionate about after a long period of lockdown.

“WSID has made great progress this year in turning around the financial position of Sydney Dragway. The IHRA injunction would have stopped drag racing going ahead for an indefinite period and would have undone all of the hard work and financial improvement achieved throughout what has been a tough 2021.

“The claim by IHRA against WSID in relation to the purported sanctioning agreement between the parties will be heard by the Supreme Court in Sydney from 1 February 2022. WSID looks forward to being able to host major drag racing events including the Top Fuel Series on January 21st and 22nd under ANDRA sanction. We look forward to seeing you at the Dragway.”

29 October: After cancelling last weekend’s race meetings, Sydney Dragway has announced that racing will recommence with this coming Wednesday’s Race4Real meeting. The event will run under ANDRA sanction.

It was also announced yesterday that the venue will host the new Summernats Smash event, 27 November. Being a burnout-only gig, the event will run under Motorsport Australia sanctioning.

October 22: Sydney Dragway has announced today the cancellation of the remaining meetings for October following legal action being taken against it.

The venue said it has been forced to cancel the Test and Tune scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, October 23) and Aeroflow Race 4 Real – The Sunday Sessions on Sunday (October 24).

“[The Dragway] received filed court documents on Thursday, October 21 and [is] in the process of obtaining legal advice. We strenuously deny the allegations [both in the documents] and in the IHRA Australia press release issued yesterday afternoon,” a statement said.

“It is correct that IHRA is trying to stop any future drag racing events being held at Sydney Dragway until this lengthy court process is completed. Such a step is unnecessary and will have a devastating impact on the sport of drag racing in NSW.

“Drag racing events should be able to continue while the legal issues in this matter are resolved in the court. We will be opposing the injunction so that we can get back to racing events at Sydney Dragway as soon as possible.”

Grudge Kings promotor Po Tung also took to social media today to air his issues with Sydney Dragway GM and Board Director Darryl Stephen:

October 21: The IHRA has initiated legal action against Sydney Dragway for what is claims is a breach of contract – seeking an injunction to prevent ANDRA proceeding as the track’s sanctioning body. Sydney Dragway announced the track had moved to ANDRA control on September 30.

Other new developments at the track include ANDRA calling for racer input regarding the inclusion of the Pro Mod and Radial classes in the existing ANDRA Championship drag racing class structure and a full post-lockdown calendar announced last week (including a two day test & tune with three Top Fuel teams).A Bike Night meeting planned for tonight and last night’s Race 4 Real events have both been cancelled.”IHRA Entertainment LLC and IHRA Australia Pty Ltd (IHRA) today have initiated legal proceedings against Western Sydney International Dragway Ltd (Sydney Dragway) in the New South Wales Supreme Court,” a statement said. “This action is in response to Sydney Dragway’s unilateral and unlawful termination of its contract with IHRA on September 29, 2021, for IHRA to be the official and exclusive sanctioning body for all races taking place at Sydney Dragway up until December 31, 2023.

“IHRA is seeking an interlocutory injunction to prevent Sydney Dragway from proceeding with the purported contract Sydney Dragway says it now has with the Australian Drag Racing Association Ltd (ANDRA) in lieu of IHRA, until the matter is determined by the court.”IHRA has also notified ANDRA of the legal proceedings it has commenced today against Sydney Dragway.[It] has been on written notice from IHRA since July 2021 that if it wrongfully repudiated or terminated its contract with IHRA, [the latter] would be left with no option other than to commence legal proceedings to protect its contractual rights and entitlements. “As the matter is now before the New South Wales Supreme Court, IHRA will not be making any further comment about this matter until the legal process is concluded.”

September 30: The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) has said it is taking legal action against Sydney Dragway for allegedly wrongfully terminating its contract to sanction the track early.

The move comes after it emerged earlier today that the Australian National Drag Racing Assocation (ANDRA) has signed a multi-year agreement to take the venue over, putting an end to five years of IHRA sanctioning.

A statement issued by IHRA said the association has instructed its lawyers to begin legal proceedings over the matter.

“IHRA Australia is extremely disappointed to have yesterday received advice that the board of Sydney Dragway has decided to terminate its binding and exclusive contract with IHRA Australia and its parent company, as the official and exclusive representative and sanctioning body for all races, events or promotions conducted by Sydney Dragway,” said IHRA CEO Maurice Allen this afternoon.

“IHRA Australia has instructed its lawyers to immediately commence legal proceedings against Sydney Dragway for its wrongful termination of the contract, which still had a further two years to run.

“It is regrettable such circumstances have arisen, particularly having regard for IHRA’s popular and successful sanctioning of events conducted at Sydney Dragway for the past five years.

“As this matter will soon be before the courts IHRA will be making no further comment about these matters until the legal proceedings are resolved or determined.”

The change of hands will involve Sydney Dragway becoming part of the Australian Drag Racing Championships and the Summit Equipment Sportsman Series, starting with the 2021/2022 season.

A statement issued by ANDRA notes Sydney Dragway will be free to conduct ‘dry hire’ events with other bodies from time to time, leaving the door open for 400 Thunder to run activities at the track.

The news, however, has raised a number of questions around what the change will mean for existing IHRA licence holders, some of which ANDRA has addressed in its own statement.

“ANDRA has been working closely with the Board of Western Sydney International Dragway to ensure the transition is as simple as possible,” it said.

“The inclusion of all racers and minimising disruption has been our joint singular goal while developing a licence transition.

“ANDRA is offering an equivalent licence at no charge to all NSW residents holding a current IHRA equivalent that has less than six months remaining at the commencement date of the agreement with Western Sydney International Dragway.

“All other IHRA licence holders wishing to obtain an ANDRA licence will be able to do so with a single one-off administration fee for the balance of their licence term.”

Where licence numbers are available, ANDRA said it will do everything possible to convert over – recognising valid competitor IHRA medical certificates for a period of up to two years from the certificate’s commencement date.

“NSW residents holding a current IHRA logbook as at the commencement date of this agreement will also be provided with free logbooks where they hold a current IHRA one with less than six months remaining and a nominal administration fee for those logbooks with over six months remaining,” the statement added.

“ANDRA will ensure that free technical inspection dates will be made available for all NSW licence and logbook holders and those dates will not be limited to current logbook holders.”

The move leaves Queensland as the IHRA’s stronghold, with Willowbank, Palmyra and Springmount all running under IHRA sanction, along with the planned Wide Bay Motor Complex and the in-progress Townsville track.

In the southern states, Heathcote Park also operates under IHRA sanction, as does the Dubbo City Car Club.