NORWALK, Ohio --
IHRA is pleased to announce that Top Sportsman and Top Dragster will be featured during the professional elimination rounds at all Nitro Jam events in 2010.
Since the mid-1970s sportsman drag racing and the International Hot Rod Association have walked hand in hand and in 2010 that relationship is going to become even stronger as the IHRA returns to its roots and places its quickest and fastest sportsman classes on the stage they deserve.
In an effort to showcase the best sportsman racers in Top Sportsman and Top Dragster and to provide even more entertainment value to its Nitro Jam show the IHRA will showcase first round of main event eliminations during the professional rounds on the first event day and have created an "Elite 8" program for the top qualifiers in each of these two classes to be run during the professional rounds on the second event day.
"Figuring out who has the quickest car in their class is what drivers live for. Bracket racing is fun and provides a level playing field for everyone, but there is just something magical about letting these competitors take the gloves off to see who has the baddest car on the property," said Skooter Peaco, VP of Race Operations. "It is interesting that, even with the many changes that have been made over the past year, we would take a page out of the IHRA history books to give us one of our most exciting additions yet.
"We feel that the cars and drivers in IHRA Top Sportsman and Top Dragster are among the best in the business and I can't wait to finally give them the stage they deserve. We spent last year featuring qualifying during the show rounds to get a feel for how the fans reacted to the classes. These teams did a great job, specifically in the reduction of oil downs last year. The 32 car format seemed to significantly reduce the downtime and increase the level of competition, so we are going to take the next step and build these classes into both days of the show."
The new program, called the "Elite 8", will feature a one night only heads-up showdown between the top eight qualifiers in the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster ranks taking place following the completion of the sportsman national event.
The winner in each of the two classes will take home a $1,000 grand prize and the runner-up $500. Competitors will also be eligible to set world records during the "Elite 8" race.
Nothing will change regarding the national event structure as drivers in these classes will qualify on the first day of competition and then compete for an Ironman and a spot in the Tournament of Champions on the second day. But once the sportsman national event is over the top qualifiers from day one will get another shot to compete in a heads up race.
During the second day of competition the top eight qualifiers in both Top Sportsman and Top Dragster will be placed on a ladder during the Nitro Jam show rounds and will run their rounds alongside the professionals until a winner is crowned.
Each of the participants in the Elite 8 program will take home $100 regardless of the outcome.
This announcement is in addition to the decision to keep the first round of main event eliminations for both Top Sportsman and Top Dragster during the Nitro Jam show rounds during the first day.
The new program will also guarantee wild doorslammer racing and even more dragsters at all Nitro Jam events in 2010.
"With the addition of Top Sportsman and Top Dragster to the Nitro Jam program we will provide fans with yet another opportunity to see some of the best drivers and some of the wildest vehicles in the country at each of our events," Peaco said. "Sportsman racing is a valuable asset to the IHRA and we hope to keep elevating the status of our sportsman drivers so that people can recognize the talent these drivers possess. Our plan is to get this program up and running and look for ways to build on it, as well as create similar programs for the other sportsman classes."
Elite 8 Program Details
. The Top Sportsman and Top Dragster "Elite 8" will run during the 2nd day of the event during the two professional show rounds
. Each class is run independently. We will take the Quickest 8 Top Sportsman and Quickest 8 Top Dragster cars based on the final qualifying order from nitro jam event qualifying.
. The "Elite 8" will be paired on a sportsman ladder and run heads-up during the first and second show rounds of the second event day.
. First round will run during the first professional round. The semi-finals and finals will be run during the second professional show round.
. Each qualified vehicle that runs in the first round will win $100 regardless of winning or losing. Each "Elite 8" winner will receive $1,000 and runner-up $500.