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: Bill Bader

Bill Bader talks about the sale of IHRA to
SFX and other things going on with IHRA.

As soon as DRO received the news that SFX Motor Sports Group had bought a controlling interest in IHRA we immediately called Bill Bader and conducted an interview with the man. We covered a wide range of subjects that weren't limited to just the sale of the sanctioning body to SFX.

DRO: Bill, we have seen the press release stating that you have sold a controlling interest in IHRA to SFX. Can you give us a little background on how this came about?

Bader: Well, first let me give you a little background on what’s been going on with IHRA. First, since we took it over four years ago we have quadrupled the financial size of IHRA. At the same time, though, IHRA went from being a regional sanctioning body for drag racing to a national sanctioning body. We also took a sanctioning body that had lost millions of dollars over a period of years to one that was in the black financially. That's the good story. The bad story was that IHRA had got to the point where we were having problems keeping the growth going and we were having some difficulties dealing with the larger companies that wanted to get involved with IHRA. I sensed this happening about the middle of last year.

DRO: How did SFX come into the picture?

Bader: Actually Aaron Polburn and myself have a fairly long relationship with some of the management people in SFX, specifically Charlie Mancuso, whom Aaron and myself dealt with when Aaron was promoting monster truck racing. He was involved with SFX buying that property from Aaron. When I purchased IHRA in 1997 some of the SFX people approached me about getting involved in some way with IHRA. I told them at that time I didn't have any interest in sharing IHRA with anyone. Each year since then they have asked me again about involvement. This year I said yes.

DRO: What changed your mind?

Bader: Well it was several things. I bought Norwalk when I was 27 years old. It took me 30 years of hard work to make it what it is today. I came to the conclusion recently that it was probably going to take 30 years to make IHRA as successful as I wanted it to be. I decided I didn't want to work until I was 80 years old to accomplish with IHRA what I did with Norwalk. So I let my friends at SFX know that I was interested and the rest is, as they say, history.

DRO: Can you give us any details as to particulars of the deal?

Bader: Obviously not a lot but I can tell you this that SFX bought a controlling interest. Myself and Aaron retain a percentage of ownership. I can also tell you that my management team and myself will continue to run IHRA. Also, the World Headquarters for IHRA will remain in Norwalk.

DRO: What will SFX do for IHRA that you couldn't?

Bader: Well, they have the resources to do a great deal. Obviously they have a very prestigious public relations firm in Cotter Communications that will help with that end of things. They own radio and television stations in every major market which will help promote the races and they have told me that long term they are very interested in upgrading our tracks and bringing IHRA into new markets. Plus, I've been assured that they will work on improving our television package.


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