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Kettles Introduced as IHRA Director of Racer Relations

Wednesday, 17 April 2024

HOUSE SPRINGS, MO — Staci Kettles feels she has been preparing her whole life for a new role with the International Hot Rod Association.

The third-generation racer was recently named the IHRA Director of Racer Relations. It’s a natural fit for the Sikeston, Missouri resident who saw her grandparents and dad race, and her mom work as a crew member. It’s a tradition that Kettles is passing on to her own kids as one daughter helps her in the pits and another races Junior Dragster. 

“I literally live and breathe racing,” she said. “I want the racers to know I’m a racer too.”

Kettles is a racer first and foremost, but she’s also brings the diverse experience of working other roles. She’s been a track announcer, a track manager and has run her own No Prep series. Still, her biggest thrill is getting behind the wheel of the 1962 Plymouth that was her dad’s car when she was growing up. Built to be a 6.50 index car, she races it in No Box when time allows.

“I’ve worked so many weekends that I haven’t gotten much seat time,” she said. “The ’62 was my dad’s car the whole time I was growing up. I was able to take ownership of it before he passed away. I didn’t get to finish the build on it until he passed away and I’ve only had it on the track about a year.”

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Staci’s on-track history began racing a slant-6 Duster at age 14. But, the role as announcer at her hometown track is how she got to really know IHRA CEO and Owner Larry Jeffers. She appreciates how Jeffers has put his heart and soul into bringing the sanctioning body back to its former glory.

In turn, he saw the passion that Kettles has for the sport. So have the racers who have interacted with her. Kettles, who has been working with IHRA Membership Coordinator Heather Roth, has been visiting different tracks like Newport Raceway in Arkansas last weekend.

“We wanted to be at Newport at their first IHRA points race Sunday,” she said. “People are sometimes overwhelmed with the memberships online, so it’s good to have a physical body at the track.”

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Kettles plans to attend the races at Bonne Terre Drag Strip this weekend. She will again help with memberships as it’s the facility’s first season as an IHRA-sanctioned track. For Kettles, it’s a joy to meet the racers and make new friends. Thanks in large part to her history, she’s able to see things from multiple perspectives.

“It’s a huge benefit because if there’s a situation it’s easier for me to understand both sides because I’m a driver,” she said. “I love racing period, but bracket racing is where my roots are. Sometimes the racers just want somebody to talk to and tell a story. That’s where I feel I can help as a people person.”

Please welcome Kettles to the IHRA team. Racers feel free to contact her with any questions at skettles@ihra.com.

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