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The International Hot Rod Association, also known as IHRA, is the 2nd largest drag racing sanctioning body after the NHRA.

The Carrier Era

The IHRA was formed in November 1970 by businessman Larry Carrier. Throughout this period the organization was operated primarily in the south-eastern United Statesmarker from its headquarters in Bristol, Tennesseemarker. The IHRA initially followed the NHRA's professional class structure of Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock until the 1984 season when it decided to drop the premier Top Fuel category, an arrangement that only lasted three years before the class was reinstated for the 1987 season. Carrier is also credited with initiating drag racing's long-term sponsorship association with the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company's Winston brand, which has ended.


IHRA headquarters briefly moved to Waco, Texasmarker in 1988 after it was purchased by Texan racer and track operator Billy Meyer who made many changes to the organization, some of which proved controversial amongst racers such as completely restructuring the sportsman classes overnight. Another radical change came as a result of Meyer's ownership of the Texas Motorplexmarker, considered then to be the premier drag racing facility in the world. The Motorplex had previously been the NHRA's flagship track but for 1988 it hosted two IHRA national events and was the site of Top Fuel's first 4 second run by Eddie Hill. Other changes included the addition of a 'junior' Pro Stock class for small-block and V6 engines, named Factory Modified, which lasted until the end of the 1990 season. However, financial failure meant that Meyer's reign lasted just one year before the association was again sold on.

In 1990 an all new class, Pro Modified, was introduced which has since become a feature at IHRA events and has become one of drag racing’s most successful classes enjoying popularity in both North America and Europe. During this period Pro Modified became the IHRA's main asset in its recovery from the 1988 season that had nearly destroyed it.

However, the nitromethane powered Funny Car class was dropped for the 1991 season only the be reinstated for 1992 before being dropped again, not to return until 2006. In 2009 IHRA dropped the funny car class again due to sponsor problems caused by a deep recession in the American economy.

Bill Bader and Clear Channel

In 1998 the organization was purchased by Bill Bader who significantly expanded the promotion in the Great Lakes from his headquarters in Norwalk, Ohiomarker. He sold the IHRA to Clear Channel Communications, but remained as president until his retirement in October 2004. The headquarters remain in Norwalk, which was once the site of the IHRA's flagship World Nationals event.

The IHRA is currently owned by Feld Entertainment, who bought the Motor Sports division of Live Nation, itself a spin-off of Clear Channel's live event business.

Outside the Continental USA

In addition to tracks in 30 states in the continental United States, IHRA oversees tracks in Canadamarker, Hawaiimarker, and Arubamarker. Despite the "international" in its name the IHRA was for years based solely in the United Statesmarker. However, in recent years the organization has made significant inroads north of the border. The IHRA's first major event in Canada was a one-off in 1992 at Toronto Motorsports Parkmarker in Cayuga, Ontario but it wasn't until later in the decade that Canadian events became the regular fixtures they are today.

The IHRA is now the premiere motorsports sanctioning body in Canada, holding three national drag racing events. One event is hosted in the province of Ontario (Grand Bend) and one in Alberta (Edmonton).

In addition to Canada, there are IHRA tracks outside the Continental USA in Hawaii (Hilo Dragstrip), Alaska (Alaska Raceway Park), and Aruba (International Raceway Park Aruba).

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