NHRA reorganizes for 'Leadership into the 21st Century'
Reprinted from the March 11, 1988 issue of National DRAGSTER
GLENDORA, Calif. -- In order to keep pace with the rapidly expanding, ever-changing sport of drag racing and to better streamline the operations of the association that has experienced unprecedented growth in playing the lead role in directing that sport, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) held an important series of reorganization meetings designed to meet those objectives.
At the instruction of the NHRA Board of Directors, meetings were called in late February to address the topic of how the Association should set itself up to deal with the changing dynamics of drag racing.
As a result, a number of important developments emerged out of those meetings.
Two new vice presidential positions were created that will become a part of a newly formed NHRA Management Council. Graham Light will become the new Vice President-Technical Operations, and Neil Britt will be the new Vice President- Publications.
They will join the current Council members: NHRA Board Chairman Wally Parks, President Dallas Gardner, Vice President-Field Administration Bernie Partridge, Vice President-Industry and Safety Carl Olson, Vice President-Competition Steve Gibbs, and Vice President Marketing and Sales Brian Tracy. Facilities Manager Wayne McMurtry and Controller Don Kraushar round out the council.
Stated NHRA President Gardner, "As even a casual observer can tell, the sport of drag racing has undergone tremendous change. More people attend drag races, more see them on television; more cars, racers, sponsors and technology are involved then ever before. This has called for correspondent changes on our part.
"We not only want to be prepared to deal with today's opportunities," he continued, "but we also have to take the long-range view, to be prepared for situations that could develop in, say, five years and beyond. These management moves put the resources in place to deal with all issues in our constantly changing sport.
"I feel we have done that with the formation of the NHRA Management Council. Each council member represents a main area of function within the Association. We have condensed and strengthened each of these areas by putting them under the umbrella of the Management Council. I have a need for more input to manage the intricacies of a growing association like ours, in order to stay in line with the diverse developments taking place in the sport. This centralizing of the heads of key departments will allow us to do that," concluded Gardner.
Certainly, the technical area qualifies as a key department because of the rapid emergence of items like multistage clutches and variable speed blowers. Light's function as Vice President-Technical Operations will be to head up the Tech Department.
"I think the important thing," stated Light, "is that the Tech Department will be a team effort. Dave Danish (National Tech Director) has a comprehensive knowledge of the nuts and bolts end of things as do the seven Division Tech Directors. What I bring to the party is a handle on marketing and public relations along with experience in dealing with Detroit automakers, aftermarket manufacturers, and racers.
"In the future, I will be utilizing the resources of a number of experts and consultants in certain technical fields so that we stay on top of what is developing out there.
"In the past," Light explained, "Tech Department leadership wasn't as clearly defined. The Technical Committee answered to a multitude of people. If you were a manufacturer who had created, say, an 18-71 blower, and you wanted NHRA to look at it, you may not have been sure how to go about it. Now you have a direct avenue through Dave and me".
It should be noted that the Rules Committee and Technical Committees will all remain intact.
NHRA's public face, short of its National events, is its publications, most particularly National DRAGSTER. The elevation of Britt, formerly Director of Publications, to the position of Vice President-Publications represents even more active involvement at the executive level with its publishing arm.
"Publications haven't been actively represented on the executive level since NHRA Founder Wally Parks became the Board Chairman," observed Britt. "Now it's time for that level of representation to resume.
"It's through National DRAGSTER that the NHRA communicates with the racers, fans, manufacturers, and sponsors, and in these days of rapid change and growth, it is crucial that those of us in the publishing end of the company have an active exchange of information and ideas with all other departments.
"This promotion and inclusion in the Council will allow me even more freedom to continue developing DRAGSTER and other publications to meet both the demands of the sport and the needs of the Association."
The addition of McMurtry to the Management Council is important because it comes at a time when NHRA is working closer than ever with track operators to develop our "ball parks" into motorsport arenas that offer all possible amenities. Kraushar has been given the responsibility of managing NHRA financial operations, and his representation on the council is a must.
After the meeting, Board Chairman Parks commented on the recent changes at the company he founded in 1951.
"There's a commercial on television out here for the University of Southern California. To paraphrase, it states something on the order of 'Leadership into the 21st Century.' While that's still a few years away, what came out of these meetings represents an all-comprehensive, long-range perspective reflected by NHRA. At each juncture where we feel changes within our organization need to be made, we do so casting an eye to the future of the sport, what's good for it in the long run. That was the dynamic at work in these meetings."