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This month's 'InnerView" is with former IHRA President Aaron Polburn. Mr. Polburn has a career in the race promotion field organizing and promoting just about any motorsports related program from monster trucks to farm combine demo derbies to full on national event drag races that spans four decades. He was Bill Bader’s VP when Mr. Bader was the owner of the IHRA and was made president of the IHRA when Bader left. Mr. Polburn guided the sanctioning body for all of the owners that followed. He has a perspective of the IHRA over the last two decades plus that is unparalleled. Since his departure from the IHRA Mr. Polburn has not done an interview but he consented to answer some question for DRO editor Jeff Burk.
Other than writing a column for Drag Racing Online what have you been doing since you left the IHRA presidency? Have you done anything involving drag or any other type of racing?
AP: Most of my focus has been on the creation of the Caddy Shack Indoor Golf and Fun in Ashland Ohio. We have five simulators that feature 40 different golf courses, three different putt putt courses, three different driving ranges and virtual skee ball. We also have an auto racing simulator, pool, darts, corn hole, giant jenga and arcade games. We have a full bar featuring 50 craft beers and a menu that is based on fresh home grown ingredients. We are in the fun business and it has been very rewarding seeing this project blossom from an idea I had about 3 years ago. I still do a little consulting work in drag racing but no one listens anyway so I do it more to keep my toe in the drag racing water.
Just for the record, could you give us a list of the owners of the IHRA from when you came in with Bill Bader until Jason Rittenberry and the IRG bought the series and installed Scott Gardner as president?
AP: Even I can't keep it straight. It started out as Clear Channel, then went to Live Nation then Feld Entertainment. To be honest each owner was interested in the Monster Truck, Supercross element. IHRA just came along for the ride.
One thing that has puzzled me and other drag racing historians for a long time was the sudden and unexpected departure from the IHRA by then president Bill Bader. It was especially odd because the perception was that the IHRA was in the best shape as a sanctioning body it had been since the halcyon days of the Larry Carrier IHRA years. Can you tell us what the reason was for Mr. Bader's sudden departure and your appointment as his successor?
AP: I can but I won't. Dragging (pun intended) up dirt at this point serves no purpose.
You and Bill Bader were business partners in addition to your being his VP when he owned and ran the IHRA. Are you two still friends? Do you talk to each other?
AP: Just for the record I was a minority owner in IHRA along with being the VP. It's been a long time since I have talked with Bill and that probably is shame since we had a lot of good times to go with some of the dark moments.