Skooter Peaco

IHRA Director of Race Operations

Words by Ian Tocher

s a drag racing sponsor and competitor, Floyd H. "Skooter" Peaco long harbored ideas about how the International Hot Rod Association should conduct its business. For instance, along the way to winning the 2002 IHRA Division 3 Hot Rod championship, the former motorsports marketing manager for Summit Racing Equipment says he would pen his thoughts after each race and present them soon after to IHRA President Bill Bader.

"I would come home from an event and make a list of things that bothered me; that I thought from a competitor's standpoint or from a spectator's standpoint were wrong. Bill has always been one to encourage comments, so I would e-mail them or see him at the next race and I'd give him a piece of paper and say, 'Hey, you got 20 minutes? Here are the things I think you need to tune up and these are a list of things you are doing well.'"

His observations obviously struck a chord, since on Dec. 1, 2003, Bader officially named Peaco as director of race operations for the Norwalk, Ohio-based sanctioning body. In his new role, Peaco oversees the efforts of Mike Baker, director of competition and technical services; Tom Kreager, director of track development services; Phil Gingerich, area director for Divisions 4 and 5; Jim Weinert, director of field operations; and Sherrie Barbour, membership manager; and reports directly to Bader.

"Now the nice part becomes when you put me into the equation," Peaco says. "I've been a spectator, a racer, a sponsor, and a track manager. You couldn't build a resume better than that for this particular position."

Peaco, 34, grew up in North Ridgeville, OH, not far from IHRA headquarters, and was initiated to drag racing in the early 1970s by his father, "Skeet," the town's mayor. "He had an all-stock automatic car that was actually the AHRA L Stock record holder for a number of years," Peaco says. "We would travel around following AHRA and IHRA. I remember getting my homework for two weeks in advance and doing it in the van and maintaining some semblance of order while we were racing."

Late in the decade, however, Peaco's father didn't think the social atmosphere at the track was right for his young son, so he got out of the sport entirely. More than a decade passed before they returned to the strip in the 10.90-12.90 range with a rebuilt 1956 Chevy four-door wagon donated by neighbor, longtime friend, and current IHRA Pro Stock star Carl Baker.

"The biggest thing that I got out of all that was that my father was not one who sent anything out to be done. We either made it; or it didn't exist," Peaco states. "He taught me how to weld and measure and cut; just taught me everything; how you put a rear end together, how you put a transmission together. I really got a hands-on education in Drag Racing 101. There aren't a whole lot of guys out there that would have the guts to cut their car in half and make a whole new box-tube back end for the thing. We built all of our motors; there was nothing we couldn't fix or do. That was pretty cool as I look back today in the era of store-bought cars and motors."

Between races, Peaco attended Mount Union College in Alliance, OH, where he graduated in 1991 with a degree in sports marketing and business. He says he'd planned to do his senior-year internship with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers in their group sales office, but instead contacted Bader at Norwalk Raceway Park on his father's advice. "His rationale was that you're not going to get to work with [Cavs president] Gordon Gunn; you're going to be in a ticket office somewhere. You'd learn a lot with Bill because you are going to work next to him," Peaco says. "So I called him up and Bill didn't even know what an internship was. I said it meant I'd work for free, so he said, 'Can you be here tomorrow?'"

Within half a semester Peaco satisfied his internship requirements, so Bader hired him and he spent the next eight years at NRP, learning every job at the track, from ice cream vendor, to starter, to ticket salesman. "That's really what he (Bader) wanted to instill in me," Peaco says. "You can't be a good manager unless you can run every position."

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