LSU head football coach Les Miles named Grand Marshall for Mardi Gras Nationals

NORWALK, Ohio -- IHRA is proud to announce that Louisiana State University head football coach Les Miles will be the Grand Marshall for the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment Mardi Gras Nationals March 6-8 at State Capitol Raceway in Port Allen, Louisiana.

Miles, a native of Elyria, Ohio, has complied a 70-31 career head coaching record at two schools including a 42-11 record in four years at LSU and a BCS National Championship in 2008. He also has a Southeastern Conference championships coming in '07.

Miles has won championships and coached award winning athletes, but in a few short days he will be trading in his whistle and playbook for ear plugs and a cozy spot on the starting line as Miles and his family will open the festivities Saturday, March 7 by sending the first set of professional cars down the track.

"I enjoy going out and attending events such as these," Miles said. "I certainly enjoy the events that fit my family calendar because I enjoy taking my family wherever I go."

And there certainly will not be a shortage of things to see and do when the IHRA rolls into town.

Along with special ticket packages aimed at easing the cost to race fans, the IHRA will also throw in its own unique Mardi Gras twist on the action including a crawfish boil, wheelie contest, dash for cash and a parade -- with plenty of Mardi Gras beads, of course -- all piled on top of the already jam-packed lineup of professional and sportsmen racing.

Top it all off with the thrilling Saturday "Night of Fire" and the weekend of March 6-8 looks to be one of the biggest shows in IHRA history.

"I am really looking forward to it," Miles said.

And Miles is no stranger to the sport of drag racing.

In his younger days the adventurous coach, known by some in football circles as "The Mad Hatter," was known to get an occasional adrenaline rush from time to time at his local drag strip.

"I can pop a clutch as good as the next," Miles admitted. "I enjoy the speed and the mechanical strategy. Back years ago as a young man I enjoyed the occasional trip to the speedway and occasional drag race very much."

Now Miles will get a chance to relive those earlier years when the engines fire up for the first race of the 2009 IHRA season in a little over a week. The inaugural race, the first of 10 events on the '09 Nitro Jam tour, will feature three professional classes of racing including Top Fuel, Pro Modified and Pro Stock plus hundreds of sportsman competitors capped off by Saturday's "Night of Fire" which will feature the ground-shaking jet semi of Bob Motz, the blazing jet bike of Kevin Martin and much more.

The Summit Racing Equipment Mardi Gras Nationals will also mark the first time in years that professional drag racing has visited the state of Louisiana. But while it has been some time since big league drag racing has been to the area, the diverse history and uniqueness of Louisiana and its residents will provide the perfect backdrop for the season opener.

"I think the people here are so special," Miles noted. "They are very representative of our society and our country. It is a wonderful place full of very sincere, passionate people."

It is for those reasons and many more that the IHRA has teamed up with Louisiana State University and coach Miles for the upcoming Summit Racing Equipment Mardi Gras Nationals for a weekend of fun and exciting racing.

Along with Saturday's "Night of Fire," Friday night will be LSU Student Night where students with a valid LSU I.D. will receive admission for just $10. The weekend will wrap up with Belle of Baton Rouge Championship Sunday on March 8.

Top it all off with a weekend long Mardi Gras celebration and the Summit Racing Equipment Mardi Gras National will be one event that can't be missed.

"Mardi Gras is certainly very specific to Louisiana and this culture and there is a great spirit there," Miles said. "There is an enjoyment of life and a celebration of life that is, in my opinion, is one of the great things about Louisiana."

-credit: ihra