Saskatoon International Raceway (SIR)
The Heritage Inn Hotel & Convention Centre in Saskatoon, SK is proud to be a sponsor of the Saskatchewan International Raceway (SIR). This week I decided to find out some more about this impressive organization. While perusing their website I noticed that SIR is Western Canada’s oldest drag strip and also, that it has only had TWO owners since it was built in 1966!! SIR has hosted some pretty big names in the past all while earning the reputation of “Best Organized” and “Most Fun Place to Race”. It was also named the 2010 National Hot Rod Association’s Northwest Division Summit Racing Series Track of the Year. Shawn “Skippy” Zezula, SIR Track Manager, was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about this exciting racing world:
1. I noticed on your website that SIR has earned the reputation of being the “Most Fun Place to Race”. In your opinion, what makes this title true about SIR?
SIR has come a long way over the years. It used to be more or less just men racing where now its turned into a family affair, as you see 1 parent racing and 2 kids also competing in the Jr. Dragster program. For the most part racers are very friendly and always willing to lend a hand especially to new comers. We have also been told from a lot of our out of province/country feature racers that we have the best fans ever! On top of it all we have a lot of long time staff at the track and it’s nice to see when someone has been there so long.
2. For all those first timers….what can they expect when they attend their first SIR race?
Well it depends, a street legal event is a very low key event. Basically anyone can race whatever they own as long as it passes a tech inspection. Throughout the event they just line up with anyone and make as many runs as they can as it is not a competition. A points race however is different. Once you have passed the inspection then you are designated to a class where you will make 3 qualifying runs. After that a ladder is generated and you will race your first round against your opponent from the ladder. If you win your round you will of course advance to the next round hoping to make the final by days end. If you lose then you are out of competition and await another day of racing.
3. What was the most memorable moment at SIR?
Wow, there have been a few. From racing from 1988-2002 and now taking on the role of Track Manager I have seen both sides. Every time a track record is broken is a big deal. For me, seeing Chuck Haynes in his Jet Dragster Volcano running 5.20 seconds @307.67 mph was huge. We also had a rocket car in 1977 run 4.88 @325 mph. A memorable one for myself is my first race as T/M in 2002 and it’s not one I like to remember is when we had our first and only fatality at the track. Erin Beck a 35 yr old RCMP officer who raced motorcycles crashed 70 feet off the line. That’s why we had renamed our season opener to the Erin Beck Memorial Race. Another most memorable thing for me is when a race goes off perfect without any type of a hiccup and the fans walk away satisfied and can’t wait for the next event. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, I’m proud of our track, my staff and the racers. Okay, the biggest just happened this past January. At the NHRA Division 6 awards banquet, SIR was announced as the “Summit Racing Series Track of The Year”. It was a huge honour which we had 19 tracks in the running for it. For one of the first times in my life, I was speechless. I was so very honoured to accept the award on behalf of SIR.
4. Who were the most memorable people to race at SIR?
Well SIR was a huge stop for a lot of the Pro’s in the late 60’s and 70’s. Saskatoon’s own Kenny Auchs, who is a huge real estate developer, was quite well known on the NHRA circuit in the Northwest US and Canada. Terry Capps and Ray Alley were here and both still hold track records. Tommy “TV” Ivo who also went on to be in many movies was a well know racer for his creative race cars. A couple of them are featured in the NHRA museum in Pomona, California. World Record holder Abe Lowen from Regina is a past Division champion who holds numerous event wins and still races on the NHRA Pro circuit. Anyone who was famous in that era made SIR a stop in the Northwest Division.
SIR has a page on Facebook (SIR – Saskatchewan International Raceway) and website www.racesir.com if you would like more information on this exciting organization!
Now for the fun part….I want to know your favorite car that you have ever owned or wanted to own. Comment with your answer on the Heritage Inn hotels page on Facebook.
Also, enter to win 2 tickets to one of any 2011 SIR Race Events: Test & Tunes or Points Races (excluding June 11 or Aug. 27) by emailing your name to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget to “Like” the Heritage Inn Hotels to stay tuned for more great contests!!