IHRA in renaissance

By Ben Mozart, December 5, 2014

IHRA-lead2Not for ten years would anyone have had such a thought, but, from all appearances, the IHRA is being revived to full competence.

During the past two years IRG Sports Entertainment purchased the International Hot Rod Association, its properties and its drag racing series—the Nitro Jam—from Feld Motorsports. In a sharply focused drive to restore both professional and grassroots quarter-mile drag racing, they purchased five drag racing tracks: Palm Beach International Raceway, Memphis International Raceway, Tucson Southwestern International Raceway, Cordova Dragway Park and two weeks ago they announced their acquisition of Maryland International Raceway at Budd’s Creek Road, Mechanicsville.

Twelve national Nitro Jam events are scheduled for 2015, starting in February in Tucson and ending in October in Memphis. Running on 12 different tracks, including the five they own, they will cross the border to host two national events in Canada, which will include a Top Fuel dragster program. US events will take place on Friday and Saturday while the two Canadian events will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Refreshingly, IHRA’s Nitro Jam initiates competitive drag racing across four or five classes including Nitro Funny Cars, featuring 250-260mph machines; Mountain Motor Pro Stocks; Jet Cars and Nitro Harley Davidson motorcycles, some of which race to 250mph.

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For Sportsman racers and sponsors the news is inspiring. Often regarded as an underclass, these stalwarts will receive much deserved promotion. As a result the best Sportsmen campaigners of the weekend will be highlighted by appearing in the Pro classes during the evening races. What a concept—the most agreeable advancement for grassroots drag racers in years!

Furthermore, the welcome return of the Sportsman classes to national event-style drag racing not only introduces prestige to the ranks of Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Quick Rod, Super Rod and Hot Rod but also pledges increased prize money and contingency.

And for the race fans the best news of all is access to the festivities at affordable ticket prices: $20.

Finally, IHRA is preparing a significant presence at the forthcoming PRI show, Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Dec 11-13. On Friday morning they will announce the debut of important new sponsors and furnish details of a new class of IHRA racing. See 2015 EventCalendar.


  1. BITCHIN’!!! Clearly the NHRA, which I have been a dues paying member of for nearly 40 years, is moribund. It has forgotten what gave it life and purpose, which was the provision of a safe set of rules and places to conduct a full spectrum of drag racing, and in the bargain, promote competition between the major manufacturers for performance supremacy.

    Now they exist to put on TV shows. They have concentrated almost to the exclusion of everything else, in making a TV friendly product. Some of the best racing, spectacular wheel stands and screaming engines is to be found in super stock and comp. Do these EVER get a mention, let alone attention in a broadcast? Only a few moments at the conclusion of the “sportsman” broadcasts. Pathetic.

    They have done a great job of pricing most of us out of racing, and, quite frankly BORING us to DEATH with not at all “super” c;asses. The racers themselves have perverted the original purpose; going fast for cheap, with their insistence on building cars that are two to three seconds quicker than their brackets; all worshiping at the holy alter of the throttle stop. A pox upon it!

    Look how many empty seats there are. It ought to scare the feces out of them. But instead, as long as they accept being the leprous red headed step child of ESPN, they are happy. If there was a clearer example of institutional “dissing” I have never heard of it. There’s an iceberg out there with their name on it, and yet they steam on at full speed, unconcerned.

    The argument that there is no longer a market for the “product”; competitive drag racing among dissimilar cars, the Pinks phenomenon of a few years ago puts paid to it. I went to the Houston stop. It was a GREAT drag race. There were at least as many people there as for a National Event, with nary a nitro burning car (don’t get me wrong, I love em too) to be seen. There was no TV coverage. They ran out of t-shirts. They drank it dry of beer. Most everybody stayed for the final round. It was fabulous.

    To make the sport a better value for the spectators, two seminal changes need to be made to the Nitro classes.
    1. Take away the clutch cannon. That would mean the cars COULDN’T burn as much fuel and wouldn’t go as fast, and that it didn’t, literally, take a rocket scientist to tune one of these things consistently. (ups the car count/levels the playing field between super teams and privateers, and makes the cost of running one dramatically lower. Just 2 sets of nozzles, not 3 or 4.
    2. Make the max displacement 7 litres.
    That would allow the restoration of the race course back to its natural, traditional 1320 foot length.

    Longer duration races mean more things can happen. Peddle fests would no longer necessarily go to the car that spun later. You can actually have somebody drive around a faltering opponent, and raise the contribution made by the driver to a victory. a better show for the paying spectator.

    Changes to sportsman classes could and should start with changes to the Super Stock engine rules that wouldn’t have passed comp tech, back in the day. Secondly get rid of all throttle stops and stutter boxes, except prior to the start of the race. Reinstate the break rule. Alternate stock and super stock with Fuel and Alcohol class runs. Up the game.

  2. That’s great news, because as many of us have known for years- NHRA meant
    Ask Shirley Muldowney what SHE thinks of the NHRA
    GO IHRA! GO!


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