As the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) prepares to traditionally begin its 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season on the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona dragstrip with the 58th annual Lucas Oil Winternationals, the sanctioning body is also prepping for changes at the close of the 2018 campaign.
Following 34 years minding the technical direction of the series, NHRA’s senior vice president of racing operations, Graham Light intends to call it a career after the season-closing 54th Auto Club Finals at this same venue, acknowledged as NHRA’s ancestral home. Light retains his seat on NHRA’s board of directors and offers his services as a consultant to the sanctioning body.
It’ll take a village to replace Light and NHRA is going to use this season to prep a new group to assume Graham Light’s multitude of duties. Josh Peterson, current vice president of racing administration will expand his role in this shake-up; former director of racing operations Ned Walliser will be named vice president of competition and will rejoin NHRA this May to work and train with Light. Current vice president of technical operations Glen Gray completes the triumvirate that is set to take over Light’s duties.
Light’s institutional knowledge and passion for drag racing enabled him to rise through the ranks after joining NHRA in 1984; he took over all racing operations nine years later, in 1993. He started his career as a Competition Eliminator racer before owning and operating a track of his own near his Edmonton, Alberta, Canada home.
“We can’t thank Graham enough for all he has done for the sport,” Peter Clifford, NHRA CEO and former president. “We’re fortunate he has put in place a great team to support our racing operations as he begins his well-deserved retirement. With Josh Peterson heading up racing administration, Ned Walliser focusing on competition and Glen Gray heading up technical services, we will still have the best team in all of motorsports.”
Current president Glen Cromwell noted, “With Graham able to personally coach Ned in his new role, and the rest of the team already up to speed, we’re confident that, in 2019, we’ll be offering racing and team support that meets or exceeds the stands everyone has come to expect. We’re glad,” Cromwell continued, “that Graham will still be available to consult with us and serve on our board while we have the strong team of Josh, Ned and Glen to take over the reins. I look forward to working closely with all of them.”
With his background as a mechanical engineer, Peterson joined NHRA in 2007 after working with General Motors. There, he was involved in the company’s drag racing programs and other initiatives. He currently represents NHRA with the FIA’s American arm, ACCUS.
Walliser began his racing career in event operations before joining NHRA, where he worked from 1994-2000, first as Pacific division director and then as director of racing operations. Until accepting this new position, he was chief operating officer for MainGate, while also serving on the board of SFI Foundation, Inc.
Gray’s experience as a Delphi Corp. electronics engineer brought him to NHRA, where he’s been involved in motorsports safety initiatives, among other duties.