Well, holy smokes! Dawn Mazi-Hovsepian was the first to alert us to the fact that Ohio’s Dragway 42 has hired Aaron Polburn in a consulting role to work with the track in doing stuff like building the schedule, event planning, support system coordination, and a host of other things. He’s named the position, “Consultant of Stuff” and we think that the title is dead nuts accurate. For those of you who have short memories, you’ll remember that Polburn was the leader of the IHRA for many years and recently stepped away from the job. We weren’t sure if the drag racing lifer would hang up his spurs and move onto less strenuous stuff or if he’d throw his hat in the ring somewhere else in the sport. Guess this is our answer, huh?
Polburn an awesome history with Dragway 42 as he started working there in 1972 as an announcer after getting his start at Thompson Dragway. He actually worked at both tracks (we know another guy who was doing the two track boogie while in college….) and ran a taxi service to pay his bills during his studies at the University of Ohio. The humble beginnings at these two Ohio strips led him into a career that morphed into track management and ultimately sanctioning body leadership. Polburn shepherded the IHRA through the most troubling financial times of our generation and made bold and sometimes controversial decisions to maintain the health of the organization. He’s a guy lots of people love and a guys that lots of people….don’t send Christmas cards, too. That being said, no one in the world of drag racing has ever questioned his creativity and flair for the dramatic and cool. We think that this is a pretty epic story of a drag racing career coming full circle back to “home”. We’re not sure of another drag racing leader who has had Polburn’s breadth of experience taking a role at a local track to help it rise back to shades of its former glory. For anyone who thought that Ron Matcham and his team at Dragway 42 were going to be half-assing the revival of the facility you seriously need to think again. We’re excited to see what Polburn puts together for a schedule and what ideas and outside the box concepts he’s able to dream up and work on developing.
There’s the smiley, glowing, love-fest part. Here’s the reality part.
There is a TON of work left to do at the track , which is being constantly pummeled by a vicious Ohio winter. There are buildings to build, a track to repave, land to be leveled, cleared, and landscaped, events to coordinate, a schedule to draw up, and lots of fans/racers to win back after years of decline at the facility. If you’re wondering why we seem to be obsessed with this Dragway 42 story it is because there are precious few examples of legitimately historic facilities on their last legs being bought, fixed, and managed back into the public consciousness. We think that this may be one of those rare ones but the job will surely take time.
Thanks to Dawn Mazi-Hovsepian, we have some killer old scans and photos below. Jim Joyce shot the photo of Aaron announcing to the world how many friends he has back in the early 1970s. We’re not sure if that photo was taken at Dragway 42, but we sure hope that it was. We’d never seen the image before and knowing Aaron like we do, the photo really cracked us up.
The rebirth and reinvention of Dragway 42 has just begun but between the track and the staff, the place has all the right bones to be a top shelf drag plant in short order. We’re going to continue following the story. Maybe ol’ 42 would be a perfect location for a BangShifter get together this summer. Whaddya say?
(Jim Joyce photo)