While they may not have accomplished their ultimate goal of winning a world championship in 2012, Steve Furr and Jacob Elrod still walked away from the racing season with quite the resume culminating with two of the biggest awards in the International Hot Rod Association at the recently completed IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals.
Furr, of Harrisburg, North Carolina, was named IHRA’s Sportsman of the Year for 2012—essentially IHRA’s hall of fame award—and Jacob Elrod of Harrod, Ohio was named the Sportsman Driver of the Year at the recent IHRA Awards Celebration held at Memphis International Raceway following the completion of the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals.
Furr, a four-time World Champion in Super Rod and two-time IHRA Driver of the Year, was named Sportsman of the Year for his dedication and contribution to the sport.
Furr is also a great driver on the track behind the wheel of his ’68 Camaro. Furr won world championships in 2011, 2006, 2004 and 1996 and is a constant in the Summit Pro-Am championship chase. He had another great season this year, finishing sixth in the final Super Rod rankings with a Pro-Am championship in Division 2 and several big wins to his credit including the Summit Sportsman Spectacular at Maryland International Raceway.
“This season didn’t exactly end the way we wanted it to, but it was still a very good season,” Furr said. “This award definitely surprised me. I have won the driver of the year award before, but never this award. I know a lot of people that have won this award in the past and there are some awfully good racers on that list and to add my name as a winner of this award, I am very honored by that.”
Awarded since 1998, the Sportsman of the Year is awarded to drivers that show true class away from the track in addition to having success on the track.
While Furr had what anyone would consider a great season, someone who took that to a whole new level with a year unlike any other was Jacob Elrod, the 2012 recipient of the Sportsman Driver of the Year award.
Elrod made drag racing history in July when he won three races in three different classes all in one day—a first in the sport—when he won Quick Rod, Hot Rod and Top ET at the Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex. And as it turns out, that accomplishment was only the tip of the iceberg.
Elrod’s Grand Bend success vaulted him into a summer unlike any other as the Ohio native went on to collect seven victories on the Summit Pro-Am Tour in nine finals in four different classes. Elrod also captured two divisional championships by winning the Top Dragster and Super Rod crowns in the North Stars division. Thanks to all those wins Elrod actually qualified for the Tournament of Champions in an unprecedented four separate classes, but the rules of the TOC state that a driver may only compete in two classes at the World Finals.
Once there Elrod drove his 2002 Corvette to a seventh place finish in Super Rod at the World Finals and an unfortunate second round exit in Top Dragster. Still, despite the fact that he didn’t add a championship to his season, it was definitely a year to remember for Elrod and his famous racing family.
“This year we have been stupid lucky. This is the one year where I was good when I needed to be and lucky when I needed to be so really everything just fell into place,” Elrod said. “I have had so many people come up and congratulate me, and not just regular people, but really, really good racers that I respect and look up to. To have them come up and say ‘man you are doing a good job’ is really humbling.
“And while we didn’t win the championship, after the year we have had, I am certainly not going to walk away from this thing with a sour face. How could I after a year like this.”
Elrod was the unanimous winner of the award given out to the top overall driver from the racing season.