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Hardy Named Official Starter for IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

HOUSE SPRINGS, Missouri — Brad Hardy brings a lifetime of experience to his new role as the International Hot Rod Association Official Starter for the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals and selected IHRA Summit Team Finals.

Working in various roles with the NHRA, including Chief Starter for three years, Hardy had a reputation for treating everyone fairly, but not one to play games with. That was evident in a 2021 Pro Stock race when he disqualified both drivers for wasting time in the staging lanes.

That’s because Hardy holds everyone to a certain standard whether he’s dealing with the biggest stars in the Nitro classes or someone making their first competitive passes down the strip. Drag racing is truly his passion, even part of his DNA.

“I grew up in the sport. My father raced Competition Eliminator and Super Comp,” Hardy said. “I’ve been around it my whole life and in 2000, I started working for LVMS (Las Vegas Motor Speedway). In 2001, I started with the NHRA, doing different roles including the Safety Safari. In 2018, I went full-time with the safari side and then I was promoted to Chief Starter from 2019-21.”

Unfortunately, personal tragedy took its toll as Hardy’s wife died in 2020. With the demands of being gone 200-240 days per year, he took a step back to get off the road and spend needed time with his sons.

The new role is a much better fit for Hardy and a great addition for the IHRA. He has a long history in bracket racing, even competing himself at Las Vegas in his rear-engine dragster with a small block. He appreciates the fact that one can bracket race without spending a fortune, adding that, “I can take my small block against that 632 and be competitive all day long.”


Beyond the calls at the line, a big responsibility of the Chief Starter is making sure the track surface is ready to go.

“You oversee everything and make sure the track stays the same throughout the weekend,” he said. “Whether it needs scraping, spraying, dragging, you do whatever it needs.”

He explained there have been so many advancements in track prep over the last two decades that what is done today is much different than 20 years ago. 

“Literally, it used to be spray it, run cars a few hours and keep going,” he said. “Now, it’s light years ahead with the chemical compounds. The stuff Kurt Johnson has come up with in scraping the track, it’s gotten a lot easier. There’s so much new technology with the track prep.”

Hardy still serves as Chief Starter at Vegas. He’s well equipped to deal with the hotter temperatures that can surface at a place like Holly Springs, Mississippi, site of the 2023 IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals.

“Used to, it would bother me when track temperatures would come up and how slick it would get,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve learned the thinner you keep the rubber, the less there is to mush around. We were at a race in Virginia a couple of years ago and the track temperature was over 140 degrees. Still, the Top Fuel cars were running 3.70s at 330 mph.”

With the IHRA, he sees the commitment to grassroots, Sportsman racing and is excited to be a part of a growing organization. His expertise and experience in so many facets of the sport are certainly welcome additions.

“I see the IHRA and everything is going in right direction,” Hardy said. “I feel like I can bring a lot of knowledge to help everyone out. I’m really looking forward to it.”