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IRG Sports + Entertainment Acquires Southwestern International Raceway in Tucson

Thursday, August 1, 2013
JUPITER, FLORIDA – August 1, 2013 – IRG Sports + Entertainment™ (IRG) announced today that it has acquired Southwestern International Raceway™ (SWIR), formerly Merle’s SIR Dragway, located in Tucson, Arizona. SWIR is a 110-acre venue located at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 10 miles from downtown Tucson. The track features a dedicated quarter-mile Drag Strip and first opened in August 1997.

“Southwestern International Raceway was a natural fit for IRG’s portfolio of tracks and companies. The acquisition at this time is right in line with our growth strategy for 2013, since January’s purchase of the International Hot Rod Association by IRG. With our Nitro Jam series already being hosted at this facility, the Raceway will continue to be a key stop on the Nitro Jam schedule with additional IHRA events being held there,” said Jason Rittenberry, CFE, the chief executive officer of IRG.

IRG acquired the track from former owner operators Jon Bradford and Tom Koenan. Over the last 16 years, SWIR has hosted such premier events as the International Hot Rod Association’s Nitro Jam and Thunder Jam, Pro Nitro Warm-Up, Super Chevy Show, Pacific Street Car Association (PSCA), Import Face-Off, and Tucson Dragway Reunion. With one of the largest shut-down areas in the country at almost three-quarters of a mile, SIR has run some of the fastest race cars in the world. Driving schools, professional testing sessions, private rentals, and corporate team-building events are also held at SWIR year-round.

“We are very fortunate for a group like IRG to believe in our city and track, and we look forward to a bright future for drag racing in Arizona,” noted former owner operator Jon Bradford.

Jon Baker, Executive Director of the Southwest Fair Commission, added, “The Southwestern Fair Commission is very excited to have IRG Sports + Entertainment as the new operator of Southwestern International Raceway. IRG’s commitment to the sport of drag racing is proven – and a clear win for drag racing enthusiasts in Arizona and the entire southwest. We look forward to a great partnership, and the success that SWIR will realize under their leadership.”

The IRG ownership group is led by managing partners, Michael Dezer and Gil Dezer of Dezer Properties, Joseph Lubeck of Landmark Apartment Trust of America, Inc., Edward Kobel of DeBartolo Development, and Jason Rittenberry, chief executive of the company. In 2008, the group purchased the historic Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Florida. After an 18-month, $30 million dollar renovation, the facility was re-launched as the state-of-the-art Palm Beach International Raceway™ (PBIR) along with the private membership club, Palm Beach Driving Club®. In 2011, the group acquired Memphis International Raceway™ (MIR) in Memphis, Tennessee, from Dover Motorsports, Inc. (NYSE: DVD), and in 2013, acquired the International Hot Rod Association™ (IHRA) from Feld Entertainment, Inc. Murray D. Schwartz, Esq. served as outside legal counsel for IRG Sports + Entertainment and has been added to the Board of IRG Sports + Entertainment.

IRG will immediately take control of the operations of the track and has retained the General Manager, John Mabry, and key staff in the areas of customer service, accounting and track management. An enhanced brand identity for SWIR is in development while the newly redesigned website for the track will launch in the coming weeks. The current website, www.SIRACE.com, will remain active while the new rebranded site is being launched.

IRG will continue to operate the remainder of the events on the 2013 schedule at SWIR, while adding new additional events for the 2014 season.

IRG Sports + Entertainment™ (IRG) is a leading purveyor of sports and live entertainment experiences and is the privately-held parent company of International Raceway Group™ and the International Hot Rod Association™ (IHRA). IRG owns and operates Palm Beach International Raceway™ (PBIR), Palm Beach Driving Club® (PBDC), Memphis International Raceway™ (MIR) and Southwestern International Raceway™ (SWIR). Located in Jupiter, Florida, PBIR is the company’s flagship and home to PBDC, a private members-only club for automotive enthusiasts. The facility features a challenging 2.034-mile asphalt Road Course, an exciting 1/4-mile concrete Drag Strip, and a thrilling 8/10-mile Kart Track. Acquired in January 2011, MIR is a highly acclaimed motorsports facility located in Millington, Tennessee, featuring a formidable 1.8-mile asphalt Road Course, a riveting 1/4-mile Drag Strip, and an enthralling 3/4-mile Tri-Oval Short Track. Owned and operated since January 2013 by IRG, IHRA is the second-largest drag racing and fourth-largest motorsports sanctioning body. The 43-year-old organization manages two national touring series, the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series™ and the Thunder Jam Series™. Located in Tucson, SWIR features a 1/4-mile Drag Strip and is host to both Nitro Jam and Thunder Jam events. With headquarters in Norwalk, Ohio, IHRA sanctions more than 100 motorsports facilities in the U.S. and Canada and has more than 12,000 racers of all skill levels as members. IRG’s subsidiaries now promote more than 800 motorsports, live entertainment and corporate events annually at its venues and series. For more information, visit www.IRGSE.com, call 561.622.1400 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Aidy Alonzo
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
IRG Sports + Entertainment™
17133 Beeline Highway
Jupiter, Florida 33478
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last modified on Thursday, August 1, 2013



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