IRG Sports + Entertainment (IRG), parent company for the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) and multiple motorsports facilities, announced today that Aaron Polburn has stepped down as President and General Manager of the IHRA and Scott Gardner, the longtime owner and promoter of Cordova Dragway Park (CDP), has been named the new President effective today.
Polburn, who had been at the helm of IHRA since 2004, has stepped down for personal reasons and will transition the company to Gardner over the next two weeks. Gardner will lead the IHRA team based out of the current Norwalk, Ohio, office.
Cordova Dragway Park, home of the World Series of Drag Racing and former Nitro Jam national events, will return as an IHRA-sanctioned Member Track. Gardner will pass the day-to-day management of CDP to his wife and Vice President of CDP, Laura Gardner and Chris McMahan, Director of Operations. CDP will host the formerly TBA 12th event on the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series (NJDRS) 2014 North American Tour.
The IHRA recently announced that the NJDRS 2014 North American Tour will feature a number of enhancements for the upcoming racing season including the addition of a national points fund, the return of traditional drag racing, a new Fan Zone pit experience and more.
As Gardner moves from CDP to lead the IHRA, IRG will acquire CDP as part of its portfolio of motorsports facilities and take over the management at the end of the 2014 season. Also under Gardner’s co-ownership, Eddyville Raceway Park in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and Cedar Falls Raceway in Cedar Falls, Iowa, will also become IHRA-sanctioned Member Tracks. With the addition of these three Member Tracks, the IHRA now sanctions 112 facilities in five countries.
“It’s a great honor and a huge responsibility to take over the position of President of the IHRA,” said Gardner. “The IHRA brand is something I have always felt was a viable drag racing organization. I am confident I can bring new ideas and renewed energy to the table, while staying true to the sportsman racing at the core of the organization.”
“We wish Aaron the best and appreciate all that he has done for the IHRA over the years and for his service to IRG since our acquisition earlier this year,” said Jason Rittenberry, CFE, President and Chief Executive Officer of IRG. “We are very pleased to have Scott join the IRG as the new President. As a well-respected promoter in the drag racing industry, he was an excellent choice for us. With Scott leading the charge, the IHRA’s national touring series will be reinvigorated and revamped along with other exciting developments coming in the near future.”
In addition, IRG has also announced the hiring one of new staff member and the promotion of another.
Franki Buckman, former vice president and general manager of Firebird International Raceway, has been appointed vice president and general manager of Southwestern International Raceway. Dale Gann has been promoted from executive vice president of operations to vice president and general manager of Palm Beach International Raceway.