IHRA adds ‘Hollywood Cars of the Stars’ to enhance drag racing experience for fans

1 Comment

When IRG Sports + Entertainment took over the International Hot Rod Association last season, it was clear that while drag racing would remain the backbone of IHRA national events, there would be additional entertainment elements added to give race fans a more well-rounded experience.

To make that experience more fan- and family-friendly, the company has significantly increased its offerings, including more driver autograph sessions, hands-on activities such as a new Jet Technology Center and other interactive displays.

But one of the most popular additions to the 12-race IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series is one that fans will most likely identify with, as the company has contracted with the Miami Auto Museum to display a number of famous movie cars and celebrity vehicles at IHRA events as part of its “Hollywood Cars of the Stars” effort.

The collection includes such famous rides as the 1969 Dodge Charger – better known as “The General Lee” from the Dukes of Hazard TV series, the DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future movie franchise, the Batmobile from the 1960s Batman television series and cars from other hit movies such James Bond and Rock of Ages.

All the cars come from Michael Dezer’s personal collection of more than 2,000 rare and exotic vehicles from the Miami Auto Museum in North Miami, Fla.

After three races, the display has proven to be one of the most entertaining and attention-grabbing aspects for fans attending IHRA events – next to the actual drag racing, of course.

“The IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series is all about providing exciting, adrenaline-pumping racing and a great family-driven show for race fans of all ages. Part of that is providing fans with a great mix of things to see and do throughout the day at all IHRA events,” said Jason Rittenberry, President and Chief Executive Officer of IRG Sports + Entertainment.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.