Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 4, Page

By Jeff Burk
DRO file photos

According to most people it was at the IHRA San Antonio race in 2004 that then-IHRA President Bill Bader made the decision to retire, and later that year Aaron Polburn assumed the job. Since then the IHRA has gone through some serious changes. On March 26, 2006, during the IHRA season opener at San Antonio, TX, DRO editor Jeff Burk asked IHRA President Aaron Polburn to talk about the past, present and future of the IHRA’s eMax professional drag racing series. Polburn graciously accepted and he and Burk sat down with the tape recorder running for a free-wheeling and revealing conversation covering a wide variety of subjects. 

  You've had a bit over a year now as president of the IHRA. How has that experience been for you?

Polburn:  It's been great. The first year, I just told someone last week, I felt as though I was possibly 65 percent responsible for what happened because there were a lot of things that came with taking over the job. This year I’m 100 percent responsible and I feel much better in the 100 percent responsibility range. It's been a very good experience. I've said it a million times and one of the big reasons is that we’ve have surrounded ourselves with a great team and good people.

Actually, this is about the time that Bill Bader started thinking about leaving, wasn't it? At this race?

Polburn: Yes, it was.  It was the spring of 2004, and he finally pulled the plug on it in October.

Do you talk to Bill Bader much? Is he still involved with the IHRA?

Polburn:  He still owns 25 percent of IHRA. I don't talk to him as much as I used to, but, oh yeah, we still talk about IHRA, about Norwalk, about what he's doing, We still communicate.

  Does he still have any active roll in the day to day operation of the IHRA?

Polburn: No, none.

   I know you've only had one race, actually half of one race to look at the class, but how do you like the way Funny Car is affecting the IHRA so far?

Polburn:  I love it. I flew in Thursday, drove into the track, parked my car and walked back into the pit area, and just looked.  And when I saw the Funny Car bodies out of the trailers and the look, I mean, I just got huge goose bumps. I actually got a little emotional, and I thought, You know what, this is the right move. 

It was interesting how their presence has affected other racers. Jim Oddy comes running up to me, as excited as a little kid at Christmas time, you know, about the look, about the feel. Come on, it's elevated everyone's game a little bit. It's helped all of our confidence and it's a piece of content that IHRA definitely needed.

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