What is involved in your role as an international Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Division Director? Everything. All of it. During an awards presentation one year, a fellow employee made the Division Directors t-shirts that said: Being a Division Director is easy. It’s like riding a bike. Only the bike is on fire. And you’re on fire. And everything is on fire. And you’re in hell. That statement really holds more merit than we imagined when we laughed and put them on. The role involves more facets than one can train for. It’s about fixing problems and foreseeing possible solutions. It’s about being available 24/7 and never turning down a challenge. You graduated college with a degree in Communications, how did racing get on your radar post college? Is it something you wanted to be in growing up? While working on the college newspaper during my senior year a colleague stumbled across an ad for a PR position at the IHRA. He didn’t know anything about racing, but he knew it fit the bill for me and had something to do with cars, so he passed it on. Thank you, Dan Kadar. Fortunately, a more qualified person stepped into the role I was applying for, but the management at the time found me a role that fit even better. Q&A Do you find yourself applying the skills you learned in college through your daily activities at races or working with tracks? There’s not a direct link between my education and the day-to day here. I’m one of those cases where the degree simply led me to an interview. There are shreds of usefulness though. I wear out red pens editing copy, use similar design software to edit the rulebook and of course take a ton of photos. In a less direct manner, I use the skills I used to get through college here daily. I worked two jobs through school. At the college paper I learned how to work as a team, have a chain of command, work with a protocol and hard deadlines. At night and on the weekends, I was a pinsetter mechanic working on Brunswick A-2 machines from the early 60’s. That involved a lot of problem solving and working with outdated equipment, technical work, hands-on training, and a national certification process. Both of those things made me realize how hard it can be to overcome the day to day hardship and keep the bigger goal in mind. You got your start by developing and directing the Street Warrior series, what are some differences and similarities between IHRA? That series was designed to help the IHRA facilities introduce motorsports venues as an outlet for the burgeoning car scene. There was a big push to drive street racers to our tracks to have the same fun without the safety consequences of hooning on public streets. with Jon O’Neal IHRA Division Director We sit down with IHRA Division 1, 3, and 5 Director Jon O’Neal and learn how he got to his current position in the IHRA and what it takes to be a Division Director in the IHRA. 22