Here they go again. The plucky IHRA has once again tree’d their big brother, the NHRA, in taking steps to ensure that racers can continue to compete for a national championship while not driving themselves into the poorhouse.
In the past, the only way for a dedicated sportsman racer to pursue a national championship was to chase the circuit all over the United States (and, in the IHRA’s case, into the wilds of western Canada).
The IHRA has now introduced a system called the Tournament of Champions. In order to qualify for a shot at the national title you need to win a national event. Winning an event qualifies you into the field of champions that will race for the ultimate prize at the season ending race in Rockingham, North Carolina.
This allows racers to compete at the races close to them and not have to feel the burden of traveling to all the events to win the title. The system also takes into account the divisional champions who also get into the field (and earn a first round bye in the actual race for the title).
We dig this system because it rewards event champs and we see it as valid because it will be a final race field filled with racers who have actually won national events. In the past it’s been possible to win a title simply by showing up at enough races and accumulating points through low-level round victories as IHRA has not had the strong traveling element that NHRA has. This removes that possibility and will theoretically pit the best performers from the past season against each other, death-match style.
A total of 35 racers can qualify for each category by either winning an IHRA national event, an IHRA Sportsman national event, winning their division, or by placing second or third in the their division.
This is an interesting move and again, the IHRA took the step to implement it. Rather than watch their car counts dwindle and racers bankrupt themselves trying to make the trips to all the events, they really stepped up to help the racers.
To learn more about the specific reasoning behind this decision and more details about the payout, execution of the race, and everything else you want to know, go here.