NHRA has made divisional updates to competition directors for three of its seven divisions, looking to upgrade staffing and insert people with the capabilities and passion to keep drag racing on an upward swing.
In Division 7, the Pacific Division, NHRA promoted Mike Rice to senior director of competition and added Matt DeYoung as division director. Rice has been with NHRA since 2001, serving as Division 7’s divisional director for 16 years. In his new post, he’ll lead tower operations at all NHRA National Camping World events, coordinate and maintain daily on-track schedules and communicate with race teams. Rice’s years of experience will make him instrumental in guiding other division directors.
“I’m excited to continue working with our racers, track operators, division directors and NHRA personnel to move drag racing forward,” Rice declared. “Facing and overcoming the challenges we face each week to complete a successful event for all of our stakeholders is something I relish.”
DeYoung, who previously managed Tucson Dragway for the past five years, will step into the Division 7 division director’s duties, now that Rice has received his promotion. He’ll be working with NHRA member tracks in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Hawaii. Explaining his excitement in stepping into the division director’s role, DeYoung noted, “D7 has always been close to my heart. This is the division I grew up in and the division that I spent so much time with while at Tucson Dragway. I look forward to building more community in our division, growing with our member tracks and showing the motorsports world what the NHRA can do for our racers, fans and families.”
The Pacific Division (D7) puts on several Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events throughout the calendar year, as well as NHRA National Camping World events at Wild Horse Pass motorsports Park, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and the newly renamed In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
“Mike Rice has been instrumental in the growth of D7,” said Josh Peterson., NHRA vice president of racing administration. “In this new role, Mike will help provide continuity across each National event. We are thrilled to welcome Matt to the team,” Peterson continued. “His passion for racing and background in track management will be a great addition to the team of division directors and NHRA’s Pacific Division.”
In NHRA’s West Central Division (Division 5), which includes NHRA member tracks in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin, the sanctioning body tabbed Nick Duty to oversee member tracks. Before coming to NHRA, Duty managed North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas and later worked at Thunder Valley Raceway Park in Nobe, Oklahoma.
“I have been involved in weekly drag racing, as an employee and operator, since I was 12 years old,” Duty explained. “I am looking forward to taking everything that I’ve learned at the track level and bringing a unique perspective to NHRA. Drag racing is evolving quickly,” he said, “and I”m excited about working for an organization that leads the industry and is embracing the future.”
The West Central division holds several Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events throughout the season, together with NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series National events at Bandimere Speedway, Heartland Motorsports Park and Brainerd International Raceway. “I’m excited to jump into the 2023 season,” Duty said. “I believe my experience operating local tracks will be an asset in working with the tracks that make up the backbone of NHRA and them them more successful.”
Josh Peterson is excited to have Duty on-board. “His passion for drag racing and background in track management make him a great addition to the team of division directors and to the NHRA’s West Central Division.”
Division 1, the Northeast Division has gained a new division director in Craig Curdie, who will oversee NHRA member tracks in Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Curdie will also be responsible for tracks in eastern Canadian provinces New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. For the past decade, Curdie has worked in production duties with Feld Entertainment, particularly with Monster Jam as a tour manager, and with the company’s Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey shows.
“I am looking forward to working with thousands of passionate and dedicated competitors, crew members and family members,” Curdie said, “to continue and expand upon the outstanding reputation of NHRA. I, like many others, used to be that little boy who took his toy cars everywhere, and would freeze when a louder-than-normal engine or piece of heavy equipment drove past. The ability to be part of the moment, where you can literally watch a little kid become a geared is truly indescribable,” he remarked.
The Northeast Division (D1) witnesses several Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events throughout the season, as well as Camping World National events at New England Dragway in New Hampshire and Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, PA. Peterson, in welcoming Curdie to the team of seven divisional directors noted, “His excitement about the role and experience in scheduling, setting up, managing and executing live events, makes him a great addition to the Northeast Division. We’re excited to see him in the role as he works alongside the member tracks and racers in the Northeast region.”