2 Yes. It did break our hearts. Like putting down the sick dog that hadn’t left your side since it was a puppy. We didn’t like it…but for its own good, we had to rip the bandage off. There are plenty of folks who will never understand that we care. They will call us names and spit at our image. But if that’s where you are in life than you probably weren’t our customer anyway. The people we strived to accommodate were those that knew we had an emotional and thoughtful connection to producing a great experience for those who wanted it. Those racers that were on a first name, how are the kids, basis with the weekend warrior officials that slaved in the sun all weekend for peanuts. Or the ones who weren’t afraid to approach us and offer a handshake or a “thank you.” The ones who offered advice and feedback as opposed to scrutiny and cursing. Those were the true IHRA class racers. And not having AT THE STARTING LINE Life After Class Racing by Jon O’Neal the ability to keep providing a place for them to run with our organization as a class is what hurts. We look positively about the time we had with you. But it had to happen. It was time. And yes, it sucks. If you care about the longevity of the nearly 50 year-old organization, don’t think this is the crippling blow. Class racing wasn’t a money maker. At least not since cigarettes, beer and sex were the main sponsors of motorsport. We did it because we cared for it. And on that note, the national events or pro classes weren’t the salary payers either. Just don’t try to convince the keyboard jockeys that haven’t done a burnout with us in the last decade. That’s a topic for another column though. Or maybe an entire magazine that allows cursing. It’s no secret that this move was coming. We had thrown all of our ideas, effort and money into trying to make a safe, fair and fun class racing experience. And we succeeded. If you looked at the 2017 program on paper it was unbeatable. The format was what the masses were begging for. The payout was ridiculous in comparison to the other options. The execution was pure undiluted IHRA passion. But we still failed to fill the staging lanes with enough cars to make it worth the effort. I feel proud, in a dark corner next to failure, that I had a small part of designing the brainchild season of Frank Kohutek, Josh Peake, Skooter Peaco and Mike Baker. That was all of it. Every bit. On the table. But neither class racing nor a national tour is where the heart of the IHRA, nor the bulk of its efforts have been. It’s all about the tracks. On paper, we’re a more economical option to gain insurance, unbeatable racer programs and a world championship. In the real world, we’re a voice on the other end of the phone that’s willing to help. We over-deliver to our sponsors and we work to prove we aren’t afraid to pick up the phone at midnight on Sunday or get our hands dirty helping. So now, we return to the pure and thorough constant role of a sanctioning body – the underappreciated track owners and operators of the IHRA. The ones who are dedicated to keeping this sport available to the grassroots of drag racing. We continue to offer our service to their cause, listen to their issues and help resolve dilemmas. We provide sponsorship dollars, programs and options for success. All while being forwarded the slander that smears boards and social media about the B-team that killed drag racing. Dish it out. We’ll take it. We’ll gobble it up and put it in a jar on the shelf. As long as we can continue to be of service to nearly 100 of the most important people in the world of drag racing and the tens of thousands of racers that support them.