Alaska Raceway Park
IHRA Changes Process for Racing in World Finals
The Summit Super Series, IHRA’s largest and most prestigious program for weekly bracket racers, has taken the next step in the evolution of the series. Beginning in 2016, the Summit Super Series track champions of each IHRA member track will win the right to compete in the Summit World Finals held at Memphis International Raceway on October 14-16, 2016.
This change eliminates the traditional run-off of Summit track champions at each of the Summit Team Finals events. It also eliminates the variations of filling a 16 car field that the series has struggled with formatting that worked for everyone. Additionally, champions from each of the Summit Team Finals main events will be invited to the Summit World Finals to compete in the Summit Super Series World Championship race.
“Even though the IHRA team has done a great job of growing the Summit Super Series program to over 7,000 participants at nearly 100 member tracks, we tend to focus on what we can improve on, instead of what a great job we have done. With that in mind, I gathered all the division directors in a room during the rain shortened day at this year’s Summit World Finals and we talked about the two overwhelming issues with the Summit Super Series program,” said IHRA Vice President Skooter Peaco. “The first big problem is that the Summit Super Series field has always been tied to the track champion run-off at each of the Summit Team Finals. This year we had three Summit Team Finals events rain out and had barely any prospects for determining a winner in each division before the World Finals. We certainly can’t postpone the World Finals, so this year we were forced to bring the track champions in on a separate weekend in D3 and during the weekday in D1 and D9 to run those races. Fortunately everyone was able to make it to those run-off events, but losing or postponing Summit Team Finals events severely impacts a whole bunch of people that raced all year long to win the Summit Super Series at their track. We had to find a way to eliminate or minimize that component.
The second major problem was that the addition or subtraction of Summit Team Finals events has always had an impact on what method we use to fill the final 8 spots in the 16 car field. The number of open positions was constantly changing as we had to split some divisions to manage the growing number of member tracks and car counts participating at the Summit Team Finals events. Our member track count has gone from 60 to 100 during the last several years and the Summit Super Series final spots was always a moving target based on the number of Summit Team Finals events in a given year” said Peaco. “We had to come up with a system that would remain consistent no matter what happened at the Summit Team Finals level.”
“When we came back to the track the following day, IHRA division director Frank Kohutek pitched me an idea to simply eliminate the race at the Summit Team Finals and make one big race at the Summit World Finals. This World Finals event would be a true gathering of the best IHRA bracket racers that we have ever seen in one place. Each IHRA member track would be able to place its Summit Super Series champions in the running for the World Championship, which makes it more exciting and prestigious to win the Summit Super Series at your home track,” Peaco stated. “The idea to create one big race was a fantastic idea that got all the division directors excited about the magnitude of the race. It also solved the issues I mentioned earlier. Since this is now a much bigger race, the twist we added was aimed at making winning the Summit Team Finals more prestigious. To do that, we are inviting each of the Summit Team Finals main event champions to participate in the Summit Super Series World Championship race. The only thing we are going to require of the Summit Team Finals main event champions is that they were an IHRA member with a Summit Super Series X number registration on file no later than May 1st of 2016 and valid through the Summit Team Finals in order to be eligible. We think it is only right that all the racers competing in the Summit Super Series World Championship in Memphis were all in the program during the entire season. If a racer doesn’t want to join the program until later in the year when they see if they are going to make their track’s Team Finals roster, then that’s still fine and they can compete at the Team Finals. If they win the event they just won’t be eligible to come to Memphis to race in the Summit Super Series.”
“The rules package will remain the same as will the 1/8th mile format in 2016,” concluded Peaco. A new flyer is currently in the works that will be distributed to all member tracks and posted on ihra.com along with all the Summit Super Series program details in the coming weeks.