IHRA, Mountain Motor Pro Stock teams agree to multi-year deal ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- The International Hot Rod Association announced Sunday a creative partnership that will insure the future of the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class in a restructured...
IHRA, Mountain Motor Pro Stock teams agree to multi-year deal
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- The International Hot Rod Association announced Sunday a creative partnership that will insure the future of the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class in a restructured IHRA Nitro Jam series set to debut in 2010.
The alliance between the IHRA, operators of the racetracks that host the 10 events that comprise the Nitro Jam series and members of the newly-formed Mountain Motor Pro Stock Association has provided a creative solution to a problem created by today's difficult economic environment.
While Pro Stock wasn't a part of the revamped Nitro Jam program announced last week by IHRA President Aaron Polburn, the principals already were committed to finding a way to make the IHRA's oldest pro category viable within the new, streamlined format.
Following additional meetings last week during the IHRA's season-ending World Finals at Rockingham Dragway, IHRA officials, Pro Stock team owners and drivers and track operators hammered out a multi-year agreement that will retain the world's quickest and fastest pure doorslammers as one of the cornerstones of the IHRA series.
"There was a problem," Polburn said. "Everyone understood the situation and did what was needed to find a solution. It is really a tribute to the Pro Stock racers, national event track owners and our own Nitro Jam team that we were able to work together to come up with a viable plan. It was a collaboration of all three parties working together for a solution."
The driving force behind the agreement was the new Mountain Motor Pro Stock Association which will pay the event purses and bonuses and administer the program within existing IHRA rules and regulations.
"In the end, it's a win-win situation," Poburn said. "The IHRA will continue to provide Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars with a place to race and, in return, they will continue to provide an exciting and competitive show for the IHRA fans who love them."
The Mountain Motor association will govern a program in which 16-car fields will be qualified at most events in the Nitro Jam Series from a pool of more than two dozen race cars representing all the major American manufacturers. While the class will adhere to the new two-day IHRA format, drivers still will be afforded three qualifying opportunities on the first day of competition, whether it is Friday or Saturday, and four elimination rounds on day two.
The biggest changes will occur on the first day. Under the new "Chicago-style" format adopted in the NitroJam Series, a Pro Stock winner will be crowned on the first day in a runoff between the two drivers posting the quickest winning quarter mile times during the second of the three qualifiers. A separate champion will be crowned the second day utilizing a traditional single elimination format.
"It is a partnership deal," acknowledged Richard Freeman, one of the founding members of the MMPSA. "We have big plans for what the IHRA and the tracks have given us -- the authority and the wherewhithall to go out and seek sponsorship for our own class.
"I am completely floored by the camaraderie everyone has displayed," Freeman continued. "We had a meeting at Rockingham and, among the people that were there, the response was overwhelming.
"Mountain Motor racing as we know it is not changing at all," Freeman said. "The only thing that is changing is that we are cutting a day out of the program, which for us, as business owners, gives us a chance to be back at work on Monday instead of later in the week, and, instead of having to count on the tracks or IHRA to come up with funding, the Pro Stock Association itself is going to work toward solidifying a strong points championship fund and also a purse and a shootout fund."
"I couldn't be more pleased," said two-time Pro Stock champion Pete Berner. "We all love big motor racing. It is our heritage to be here in IHRA and we didn't want to see it go away. We got all of the racers together and had everybody at one of our trailers and we were just overwhelmed with support.
"We made some phone calls to some other racers and several of those guys have already signed up. We have nearly two dozen racers that are signed up and I think we are going to have the best package we have ever had.
"We already talked to some potential sponsors to help us with the points fund," Berner said, "and, when we started this association, it was based on a commitment from them. Everything we get is thrown back into IHRA Pro Stock racing, right back to the people who are involved, back into the purses and the marketing of the package. We are going to hit this thing pretty hard.
"When I first started, Harold Denton was racing Pro Stock and, in my mind, he was one of the best out there. Here is a guy that has been retired form racing, but he is here to cheer us on. Now is our opportunity to show what we can do. We have to thank IHRA and the track owners for really understanding that there needs to be a place for Pro Stock because this is where it started."
According to Rockingham owner Steve Earwood, there was a sense among the national event track operators that Pro Stock needed to be a part of any new IHRA format.
"The Mountain Motor Pro Stock class was an IHRA invention," Earwood said. "It's as much a part of the IHRA culture as anything else and we, as track operators, felt an obligation as good stewards of the sport to maintain a viable Mountain Motor Pro Stock series for the fans, for the pro racers and for the sportsman racers who aspire one day compete at the top level of true doorslammer racing."
Denton, whose five career victories span 15 seasons and include a 1991 win in the U.S. Open Nationals at The Rock, was particularly excited about the future of Mountain Motor racing.
"We raced with IHRA for 35 years," Denton said. "With the economy the way it is, the biggest thing right now is that IHRA has presented an opportunity for Pro Stock. Everything is costing more money, so what is the answer? If you love racing, you don't quit, you just figure out a way to regroup and make it work."