Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 405 4 Publications Ignite2X Managing Editor Jeff Birchfield Photography BME Photography Contributing Writers Rob Goodman, Michael Dunn, Skooter Peaco Advertising Sales Shawn Hackman, Dana Landry Art/Creative Ignite2X TM Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors & Chief Executive Officer Chris Lencheski Chief Financial Officer Lou Partenza President Michael Dunn Vice President Skooter Peaco Director of New Business & Industry Relations Dana Landry Director of Public Relations Jeff Birchfield Digital Marketing & Strategy Manager Ashley Partenza Director of Creative Marketing Manfred Eissner Membership Coordinator Bobby Carville Chief Revenue Officer Shawn Hackman Vice President of Administration and Logistic Darren Thompson Senior Director of Competition and Racing Operations Mike Baker Divisional Directors Josh Peake, Jon O’Neal & Frank Kohutek Special Advisor For Track Development Phil Gingerich The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) is owned and operated by IRG Sports + Entertainment™, a TPG Specialty Lending company. The IHRA promotes professional and sportsman racing for drivers of all levels. The IHRA sanctions nearly 100 motorsport facilities in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Bahama’s and welcomes 80,000 racers annually to their IHRA- sanctioned facilities. The IHRA oversees multiple sportsman racing programs including the Summit Sportsman National Championship and the Summit Racing Equipment SuperSeries. AT THE STARTING LINE What a difference a year makes! It’s hard to believe all that’s happened during my first year as IHRA president. Sometimes you have to step back before you can step forward, and that’s what we’ve done in the last few months. We made the difficult decision to delay our professional racing series, and we’re taking advantage of 2017 to focus on the IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship – it’s off to a great start with some big car counts. We’ve had some bumps in the road – like the scoring and timing issues at Palm Beach International Raceway, but with that cancelled Palm Beach race moving to Darlington for late-March triple-header weekend, we’ve moved on and are continuing to improve our product – on and off the track. The early season has also seen some really good racing. We’re proud of all our racers, and some are already competing at a very high level. We’ve highlighted a couple of them in this issue of Drag Review so be sure to check out their stories. Thanks to Summit Racing Equipment and all our contingency sponsors for supporting this great program. One of the best parts of the early season has been resuming our partnership with ESPN. It was great to finally be able to announce our agreement with ESPN after working on it for so long. I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship on ESPN3 – I know I have. Thanks to our partners at ESPN and Mark Walter and his team at J-Angel Productions for their work on our streaming broadcasts. We are focused on 2017, and at the same time planning for 2018. We have some exciting things in the works for next season, and I’m looking forward to being able to talk about what’s coming. You know the drill with this stuff – we can’t talk about it until everything is done and agreements are signed, but I can tell you this: what we’re working on will put IHRA in a positive spotlight it hasn’t enjoyed in a long time so stay tuned – there’s more good news on the horizon! That’s all for now – see you at the track! MIKE DUNN IHRA President Josh Peake once followed in his father’s footsteps. Now he’s making his own path in the world of drag racing. Peake, from West Columbia, S.C., is the son of longtime IHRA national starter, Clyde Peake. Josh’s role is different than his father’s. He’s now an IHRA Division Director, representing tracks and racers from Tennessee to Florida and as far west as Mississippi. A lot of his day is spent communicating with the race tracks, keeping up the relationships whether in person, by phone or e-mail. He wants to make sure all know they’re equally important, whether it’s a smaller track or one that hosts a national event. He’s also there for any questions or any challenges that arise. “The tracks will usually call and ask questions, including safety requirements,” Peake said. “When they’re doing upgrades to the racing surface or changing the retaining walls, they like to get as much detailed information as they can. Or if they’re having a track prep issue, they will reach out for that. “If they have something come up over an event weekend and there is a discrepancy, they want to pick your brain to see if they made the right decision. The track operator will sometimes have to make a decision and they will call and ask if they did the right thing. We’ll discuss it and talk about whatever happened and come to a mutual agreement.” Peake’s opinion is valuable, giving a perspective of someone who isn’t directly involved in the situation. The goal is a fair decision for both racers and track operators. He describes some of the tough decisions like walking a tightrope. But, he comes from a position of growing up around the sport and working in different capacities. “Obviously, drag racing is like other sports, you grow up around it and want to be a part of it,” he said. “I started working as a youngster, being able to travel with my dad and work the weekend for a little extra money. But more important, I got to be a part of something that I loved more than anything else in the world.” He worked a variety of jobs as a teenager and then was a divisional starter, where he also traveled to national events. One of his best memories was a race when he literally filled in for his father. “He wasn’t able to go to an event in Canada about 8-9 years ago,” Peake said. “They asked me to come, although I had never started a national event before. That was awesome to feel like I was following in my dad’s footsteps, doing something that I always wanted to do. That was a big step for me at the time.” He even worked on the safety team when they were lacking the firefighters and rescue guys. It led to him taking over as interim director of safety when Mark Kinton was unavailable. He filled in until the following year. Last season, he worked with the pro divisions. He got them in the staging lanes and kept them up to date with what was happening, scheduling-wise. It was a custom fit as the relationship with the racers is something he enjoys the most. “It is true to say that it’s a family sport. Whether you’re related or not, everyone truly does care about everyone,” he said. “The support I get from the racers, that’s something I cherish and I try to keep those guys close to me. I strive to have quality events at each race, to do whatever it takes to make it happen because those relationships are so important.” IHRA’S PEAKE CREATING HIS OWN PATH BY JEFF BIRCHFIELD DIVISION DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT