6 O’NEAL MAKES IMPACT OUT OF DRIVER’S SEAT DIVISION DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT There isn’t a manual. There isn’t a class that one can attend. Jon O’Neal explains that his job as Division Director for the International Hot Rod Association requires a constant learning curve and a desire to grow on a day-to-day basis. Now in his 12th year with the IHRA and a Division Director since 2009, the 36-year-old from Ohio covers a territory that stretches from Virginia to the Dakotas. He currently works with 35 facilities and has touched countless others, regardless of their sanction. It wasn’t what he planned to do after leaving the University of Akron with a communications and photography degree, but he said, “It’s been a fun and fulfilling journey so far.” “The job description outlines the need to put out all figurative fires, handle all issues and retain a semblance of composure through any obstacle that gets in the way,” he explained. “It’s a job that requires a constant learning curve and the continual endeavor to do better. The fact that this industry requires the desire to grow on a day-to-day basis keeps it interesting.” There are tough calls to make, and the job has its stressful moments. He’s thankful to his girlfriend, Lauren, for being understanding with him through the long hours and his time on the road. But, he enjoys the hands- on aspect of the job, the preparation of the dragstrip, the clean-up and work with the timing systems. He’s also passionate about IHRA programs like the Summit Sportsman National Championship and the Summit SuperSeries. by Jeff Birchfield