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Scott Gardner named President of IHRA

Thursday, 14 November 2013

IRG Sports + Entertainment™ (IRG), the parent company of the International Hot Rod Association™ (IHRA) and multiple motorsports facilities, announced today that Aaron Polburn has stepped down as President and General Manager of the IHRA and Scott Gardner, the longtime owner and promoter of Cordova Dragway Park (CDP), has been named the new President effective today. Polburn, who had been at the helm of IHRA since 2004, has stepped down for personal reasons and will transition the company to Gardner over the next two weeks. Gardner will lead the IHRA team based out of the current Norwalk, Ohio office.

Cordova Dragway Park, home of the World Series of Drag Racing and previously the host of Nitro Jam events, will return as an IHRA-sanctioned Member Track. Gardner will pass the day-to-day management of CDP to his wife and Vice President of CDP, Laura Gardner and Chris McMahan, Director of Operations. CDP will host a newly added 12th event weekend on the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series™ (NJDRS) 2014 North American Tour. The IHRA recently announced that the NJDRS 2014 North American Tour will feature a number of enhancements for the upcoming racing season including the addition of a national points fund, the return of traditional drag racing, a new Fan Zone pit experience and more.

As Gardner moves from CDP to lead the IHRA, IRG will acquire CDP as part of its portfolio of motorsports facilities and take over the management at the end of the 2014 season. Also under Gardner’s co-ownership, Eddyville Raceway Park in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and Cedar Falls Raceway in Cedar Falls, Iowa, will become IHRA-sanctioned Member Tracks. With the addition of these three Member Tracks, the IHRA now sanctions 112 facilities in five countries.

“It’s a great honor and a huge responsibility to take over the position of President of the IHRA,” noted Gardner. “The IHRA brand is something I have always felt was a viable drag racing organization. I am confident I can bring new ideas and renewed energy to the table, while staying true to the sportsman racing at the core of the organization.”

Ever since he went racing with his family at 8 years of age, Gardner has had a passion for drag racing, and he has been involved in drag racing promotions and management for more than 20 years. He raced in and served as Vice President of the United Drag Racers Association (U.D.R.A.) followed by a stint as General Manager of Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin. In 1995, Gardner purchased CDP and later became co-owner of both Eddyville Raceway Park and Cedar Falls Raceway. While these facilities have done well, CDP prides itself on outstanding facility operations and continues to host the world’s oldest and continuous major drag race. In 2002, Gardner was honored with the IHRA Man of the Year Award, and in 2004, he received the IHRA Track Operator of the Year Award.

“We wish Aaron the best and appreciate all that he has done for the IHRA over the years and for his service to IRG since our acquisition earlier this year,” said Jason Rittenberry, CFE, President and Chief Executive Officer of IRG. “We are very pleased to have Scott join the IRG as the new President. As a well-respected promoter in the drag racing industry, he was an excellent choice for us. With Scott leading the charge, the IHRA’s national touring series will be reinvigorated and revamped along with other exciting developments coming in the near future.”

IRG Sports + Entertainment™ (IRG) is a leading purveyor of sports and live entertainment experiences and is the privately-held parent company of International Raceway Group™ (IRG) and the International Hot Rod Association™ (IHRA). IRG owns and operates Palm Beach International Raceway™ (PBIR), Palm Beach Driving Club® (PBDC), Memphis International Raceway™ (MIR), and Southwestern International Raceway™ (SWIR). Located in Jupiter, Florida, PBIR is the company's flagship and home to PBDC, a private members-only club for automotive enthusiasts. The facility features a challenging 2.034-mile asphalt Road Course, an exciting 1/4-mile concrete Drag Strip, and a thrilling 8/10-mile Kart Track. Acquired in January 2011, MIR is a highly acclaimed motorsports facility located in Millington, Tennessee, featuring a formidable 1.8-mile asphalt Road Course, a riveting 1/4-mile Drag Strip, and an enthralling 3/4-mile Tri-Oval Short Track. Added to the IRG portfolio of brands in August 2013, SWIR is a 110-acre venue located at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 10 miles from downtown Tucson, Arizona. The track features a dedicated quarter-mile Drag Strip and first opened in August 1997. Owned and operated since January 2013 by IRG, IHRA is the second-largest drag racing and fourth-largest motorsports sanctioning body. The 43-year-old organization manages two national touring series, the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series™ and the Thunder Jam Series™. With headquarters in Norwalk, Ohio, IHRA sanctions more than 100 motorsports facilities in the U.S. and Canada and has more than 12,000 racers of all skill levels as members. IRG's subsidiaries now promote more than 800 motorsports, live entertainment and corporate events annually at its venues and series. IRG is also affiliated with the Dezer Collection Auto Museum and Event Space in Miami, Palm Beach Grand Prix, Super Chevy Show Series, Fun Ford Weekend, and Mega Mopar Action Series. For more information, visit www.IRGSE.com, call 561.622.1400 or send an email to Info@IRGSE.com.

The International Hot Rod Association™ (IHRA) promotes professional, semi-professional and local level racing for drivers of all levels. Headquartered in Norwalk, Ohio, the IHRA sanctions more than 100 motorsport facilities in the United States and Canada and has more than 12,000 racers as members. Under IHRA Motorsports™, Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series™ and Thunder Jam™ are its professional drag racing series comprised of events in cities throughout the United States and Canada. The IHRA also oversees multiple sportsman racing programs including the Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL, Summit Racing Equipment SuperSeries presented by AMSOIL, and Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL. Owned and operated by IRG Sports + Entertainment™ (IRG), the Association also publishes the monthly Drag Review Magazine which is distributed to its members and partners. IRG is a leading purveyor of sports and live entertainment experiences and is the privately-held parent company of IHRA Motorsports. For more information, visit www.IHRA.com, www.NitroJam.com and www.ThunderJam.com, or call 419.663.6666.


Aidy Alonzo
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
IRG Sports + Entertainment™
17133 Beeline Highway
Jupiter, FL 33478

Larry Crum
Public and Media Relations Manager
IHRA Motorsports™
300 Cleveland Road
Norwalk, OH 44857



Last modified on Thursday, 14 November 2013

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