400 Thunder will run a six round Sportsman Championship Series, with two rounds allocated in the current season at each of Australia's premier drag racing venues: Perth Motorplex, Sydney Dragway and Willowbank Raceway.
The 400 Thunder Sportsman Championship Series, which will support the 400 Thunder pro series at four rounds, with one standalone Sportsman event before the finals, will be sanctioned by the globally-recognised IHRA and is open to all current competitors.
The series will recognise results from the inaugural 400 Thunder event, the East Coast Nationals held at Sydney Dragway earlier this month.
Series spokesperson Gerald McDornan said the Sportsman Championship Series is a demonstration of 400 Thunder's commitment to revitalising drag racing in Australia, and the series organiser is excited to take the next step.
"Our goal has always been to re-invigorate the professional ranks of Australian drag racing, and as part of that revitalisation program our sportsman racers were always going to play an integral part because we recognise the importance of the Sportsman racers not only to the individual tracks but the sport as a whole," McDornan said.
"Sportsman competitors are the backbone of our great sport and in the two weeks since announcing our move to IHRA sanctioning we have worked tirelessly to put together a Sportsman Series to compliment 400 Thunder.
"We are proud to announce a new, six round 400 Thunder Sportsman Championship Series that ensures Sportsman competitors have their place racing at Australia's highest profile events, at Australia's premier drag racing facilities, in front of the biggest crowds."
McDornan also confirmed a local version of the IHRA rulebook is in the final stages of completion and will be available within weeks, while following the successful integration of the Racing Commission for the pro categories, a similar commission will be formed for Sportsman competitors.
"Work is well underway on a local rulebook which recognises the evolution of Australian regulations and brackets, and there will be minimal, if any impact for competitors," McDornan said.
"We have also been delighted with how the Racing Commission has begun for professional racers, and we strongly believe the Sportsman Racing Commission will follow suit – allowing competitors a direct say into rules and series regulations affecting their brackets and, importantly, how they will see their brackets evolve moving forward."
The next four 400 Thunder Sportsman Championship Series events will be run in the lead up to the finals, to be held at the biggest drag racing event outside the USA, Willowbank Raceway's Winternationals in June.
Rounds supporting pro series events will be live streamed around the world via 400 Thunder's Epicentre.tv broadcasting package, and 400 Thunder is working towards additional coverage for its Sportsman competitors to be shown on Fox Sports.
Each round will use the familiar elimination format, and competitors will be able to carry maximum 200 series points into the finals.
To be eligible for the title, a competitor must contest three of six events, including the finals.
For Queensland, New South Wales and West Australian competitors, the requirement will be two local meets, plus one interstate event.
For those without a home state round (i.e. Victoria and South Australia), they must compete in the finals and two other events of their choice.
In the event of a round being cancelled due to weather, points will be awarded up to the position where racing stops, with each racer attempting to qualify receiving 20 points if no eliminations have been run.
A minimum of six competitors must attempt to qualify in order for the bracket to be contested, with only 20 points awarded to each entered competitor on fields that don't meet the required number.
Brackets must also be contested at four of the six events in order to be eligible for championship status.
400 THUNDER SPORTSMAN CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES DATES
Round 1 Sydney Dragway 7-8 November 2015
Round 2 Perth Motorplex 5-6 February 2016
Round 3 Perth Motorplex 5-6 March 2016
Round 4 Willowbank Raceway** 2 April 2016
Round 5 Sydney Dragway 7-8 May 2016
Finals Willowbank Raceway 9-12 June 2016
** Standalone 400 Thunder Sportsman Series event