DRO: What are
the biggest challenges facing IHRA today?
Polburn: No question,
the biggest challenge is the combination of
the economy and the war. At no time over the
last 30 years have we faced these kinds of conditions.
We've gone through three or four different recessions
before where I've been involved, and we've been
able to overcome all of them. But I've never
been in a situation where we faced war and a
recession at the same time, so it adds a new
challenge to us.
This is a time when you actually increase your
presence. You have to spend even more money
to get your word out. You become more customer-service
oriented than you ever have been before in your
life. If you think you were the best before,
you have to be even better now, because the
public will buy a ticket to an entertainment
event, but they want the A material. They want
to know that they're buying a ticket to see
the best there is, so it's up to you to create
that show and go after it.
no time during these types of conditions can
you back off. You have to pour it on, so we're
actually working harder and spending more money
to probably just maintain the same audience
we had before. And it will turn; these things
are actually pretty cyclical. They cycle about
every five or six years and right now we're
at the bottom part of that cycle. If the last
35 years are any indication, it'll cycle back
up and we just want to make sure that when it
does, we're in a position to knock 'em dead
DRO: You mentioned
the Edmonton race earlier. Are you at all concerned
about its success, considering the grumbling
from some professional racers about having to
travel so far?
this is just Aaron talking, but the only concern
I have is with Pro Stock. Top Fuel, no; Funny
Car, no; Pro Mod, certainly no; because there's
enough of all those cars and classes throughout
the United States, but there's only one IHRA
Sunoco Race Fuels mountain-motor Pro Stock,
and most of those cars are based in the east.
So there aren't any out west and they are going
to have to make the commitment to go out there.
Right now, as we stand here, I believe we will
have pretty much 16 cars. It could be less,
and that's my concern, simply because they don't
grow them out there.
So that's my concern, but it should be just
a fabulous race. Advance ticket-wise, the Reeves
family are just tremendous promoters, and we
do need to have a great partner going into one
of these races, so in that respect I'm not worried
at all. The race will be hugely successful and
I'm sure the fans out there will absolutely
love the end product.
DRO: Once the
first race is out of the way, will that make
it easier to go out there, or will it always
be a challenge?
Polburn: Yes and
no. It will always be a challenge simply because
of the geographics of it, but as IHRA continues
to grow west, we'll start to grow Pro Stocks
out there and we'll start
grow Top Fuel cars out there. The West Coast
Pro Modifieds is already a tremendous association,
and they have a great Alcohol Funny Car circuit
out there, so the difference to me will be in
how they're treated.
When you see how the Reeves family at Budweiser
Motorsports Park treats people and how the entire
Edmonton area is supporting this race, I look
at it as a destination race. The area is beautiful,
the people treat you like gold, and I think
people are going to have a tremendous amount
of fun there and will come back and say, "Yeah,
it was a few thousand miles away, but it was
the best few thousand miles we've spent going
to a race," and that'll be the way it grows.