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I’m hearing a lot of rumors regarding the future of the IHRA since the recent departure from the IHRA of former Palm Beach International and IHRA co-owner Joe Lubeck and IRG CEO Jason Rittenberry. Mr. Lubeck’s 50% stake in the IHRA was bought by the TPG investment group that is financing the new IHRA. Most of the rumors suggest that the IHRA is in financial trouble and is not paying salaries and bills. I contacted some of the people supposedly not paid and they told me that simply wasn’t true. Slow pay in one matter; no pay is entirely another. The IHRA pays its bills.
I would suggest that since IHRA’s parent company purchased four drag strips (Palm Beach International, Maryland International, Cordova International, and Memphis International), sanctions 100+ other racetracks through IHRA, and has a significant line of credit (reportedly $42 million), there is no reason to worry about them paying their bills nor the immediate future of the sanctioning body.
While it is true that the IHRA has had multiple races rained out and several others have suffered from bad weather on racedays, I’m of the opinion that the TPG is simply too heavily invested in the IHRA to fold it after one or even a couple of bad seasons due to bad weather.
However, the departure of Jason Rittenberry and former 50% owner Joe Lubeck will, I suspect, bring major changes in the way the IHRA does business in 2016 in order to make it a more profitable business. IHRA president Scott Gardner and VP Royce Miller are veteran track operators and have proven they know how make a profit with drag strips.
I would guess that next season the IHRA will trim their Nitro Jam schedule to cut expenses and increase the possibility of profitability by eliminating those 2015 race venues that don’t have a history of successful (profitable) IHRA national events. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2016 IHRA schedule had around 10 Nitro Jam events instead of 14.
It just doesn't make sense financially or fiscally that a large investment capital group with a great history like TPG would spend/invest millions of dollars buying and improving racetracks and a sanctioning body only to bail out of the project after 18 months and take a huge financial hit.
The NHRA’s newly appointed president, Peter Clifford, and the Pro Stock Motorcycle owners association both came away looking amateurish at best after their rancorous and well reported confrontation regarding a $60,000 shootout for the PSM elite teams at Sonoma during the NHRA’s “Western Swing”.
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