Man, we love finding stuff like this. In doing research for another story we found an appeals court decision from 1974 settling a lawsuit brought against IHRA founder Larry Carrier by the AHRA and its leader Jim Tice. The suit is a breach of contract complaint claiming that Carrier violated his employment agreement with the AHRA by starting up a new sanctioning body called the IHRA. This is awesome stuff that literally tells the tale of how a sanctioning body came to be!
So first off we need to tell you that Larry Carrier was one of the owners of Bristol Motor Speedway and the man behind the creation of the famous “Thunder Valley” strip that resides on the same property as the famous oval track. He was a savvy business man, promoter, and leader.
Jim Tice was the high-flying, flamboyant, showman owner of the AHRA, the only real competing sanctioning body against the NHRA in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Tice was in many ways the anti-Wally Parks. He was concerned with entertaining fans, putting on a good show, and making dough. That’s not to say he was reckless, but certainly was not the same guy as the stoic and demure Parks.
There are many revelations in this document, for us anyway. Firstly was the information that Tice had appointed Carrier as an honorary VP of the AHRA who had the duty of sanctioning tracks in the Southeast. This appointment came almost immediately after the AHRA took over the sanction of Bristol from the NHRA in 1968.
The long road to lawsuit-ville started in the same year when Carrier met with a group of men who wanted to build a drag strip in Rockingham, North Carolina. Carrier, being the smart guy that he was saw an opportunity to “help” all three parties, which were the investors, AHRA, and most importantly himself!
He negotiated an agreement with the track that they would have two major AHRA races per year for five years and that the AHRA would not promote another race withing a 150mi radius of Rockingham for that same time period. He also negotiated a deal with the investors that he would work in a consulting role in both the construction of the track and the operation of the facility. His pay would be $5,000 of the gate at each major race the track held. We told you this guy was good.
Tice, by the sounds of the court findings anyway, seemed to be happy with this development and agreed to a deal with Carrier and Carl Moore (the other half of the Bristol ownership) that they would be the guys to negotiate any and all AHRA sanctioning deals in the Southeast, something that they could make very lucrative for themselves.
Things apparently started going south in 1969 when Tice decided to sanction and promote a strip less than 150-miles away from Rockingham, a clear violation of the contract. In 1970, after three years of AHRA events that drew few people, had many professional drivers no-show, and smaller than anticipated purses a rift developed between the track and AHRA. The breaking point came at a 1970 race where Tice would not allow people from the investors group to work the pit gates, apparently out of fear that they’s shanghai the money and leave him high and dry.
Almost immediately after this race the Rockingham investors got behind Carrier and the IHRA was born. Laying low until the sanction agreement with AHRA drew to a close on December 14, 1970, Carrier announced only three days later on December 17th that Rockingham would be the first track sanctioned by the new IHRA.
Call the lawyers, cue the music and let the circus begin.
We’re total drag dweebs and we realize that this type of stuff may not appeal to everyone, but we lap it up! Hit the link below to read one of the neatest legal documents you’ll ever see!