BAYTOWN, Texas -- In less than a year, Ari Yallon has established himself as one of the most dominant drivers of the NHRA Summit Import Drag Racing Series by winning every elimination round he has competed in this season. Yallon, from Dallas, is poised to continue that dominance at the inaugural Toyo Tires NHRA Import Nationals, Sept. 8-9, at Houston Raceway Park. The event is the fifth of six races in the $120,000 NHRA Summit Import Drag Racing Series.
The 26-year-old Yallon started his career in street racing before making the move to import drag racing in 1998 in his Mazda RX7.
"Like every 16 year-old with their first car I was racing everyone at every stop light," said Yallon. "I've always been fascinated with drag racing on TV and had been to some of the events at the Texas Motorplex and was just plain interested in the sport."
Yallon, the only driver on the circuit to remain undefeated, feels the hard work and long hours put in by his race team is the main reason for their success.
"Teamwork is essential, preparation is critical and a little good luck makes it all come together," said Yallon. "We've had some strong competition this year and managed to win so far. I hope our luck continues, but I know that nothing is guaranteed."
Winning isn't something new to Yallon. The New York native has won nearly fifty import drag racing events since getting involved in import drag racing.
"We started in '98 and did OK, then in '99 we started winning on a regular basis," said Yallon. "Our big year came in 2000. It seemed like we couldn't lose. We went to every race in Texas, every event on the IDRC circuit and several other events in Chicago, Florida and Oklahoma. Except for the last round in the IDRC finals in Palmdale (Calif.) where we had a couple of broken axles, we were able to win every single race."
Yallon, who finances his race team with his business RX7.com, believes that the increases in competition on the import drag racing series will lead to the needed support of traditional sponsors to battle the rising costs of racing.
"If it wasn't for the support of my company I couldn't be out there as much," said Yallon. "We use the race car and drag strip as a proving ground for the products we sell and try to advertise. The car has become a great promotional tool for the company, which has helped with the race expenses so far. But, as the competition gets hotter and the cost of racing increases, we may need to get some help from outside companies."
Yallon says he sees a noticeable difference at the NHRA Summit Import Drag Racing Series events in tech inspection, organization and overall professionalism and was thrilled when the NHRA decided to throw its hat in the import drag racing arena.
"I was personally very excited," said Yallon. "The name alone commands respect. NHRA credentials, organization and obvious lineage as the premier drag racing venue will bring a lot more prestige and respect to import racing. A new audience is being introduced to import drag racing. People that would have never thought twice about import drag racing are now getting exposed to the sport because of NHRA's involvement.
"This sport will definitely grow more, maybe to the proportions of
the NHRA's Winston Drag Racing Series. Import drag racing is a lot like the
advent of the NHRA in the '50s. People like the freshness of the import
scene, cars that they can relate to, and they know they can be out there
racing with their own vehicles."