NHRA president Tom Compton ‘away on personal, family matters’

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National Hot Rod Association president Tom Compton is on temporary hiatus as the sanctioning body’s leader, according to media reports.

“Tom has been away recently on personal and family matters,” NHRA media relations director Anthony Vestal said, according to Susan Wade of CompetitionPlus.com, who broke the story on Friday.

NHRA executive vice-president and general manager Peter Clifford is believed to have assumed Compton’s day-to-day duties during his absence, but that has not been confirmed by sanctioning body officials.

According to at least one other report, the NHRA board of directors reportedly met earlier this week to put Clifford in Compton’s place until the latter returns.

“The NHRA does not address rumors,” Vestal said, according to Wade. “We do have a great management team in place to run the company in Tom’s absence, and, as a result, our business and racing operations haven’t missed a beat.

“Again, Tom’s situation is personal and we hope you will respect that.”

The NHRA did not say how long Compton will be “away” from his post and the sanctioning body.

The news of Compton’s hiatus came at the start of one of the sport’s bigger races of the season, this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

Compton, who joined NHRA in 1993 as vice-president and chief financial officer, is only the third president in NHRA history. The late Wally Parks founded the sanctioning body in Southern California in 1951, with its first national event taking place in 1955.

When Parks retired in 1984 (passed away in 2007 at the age of 94), Dallas Gardner replaced him as NHRA president. It was during Gardner’s tenure that NHRA experienced explosive growth and became a major motorsports body in the U.S.

Compton then succeeded Gardner after the latter’s own retirement in 2000. Gardner remains as a member of NHRA’s board of directors.

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., the NHRA has over 80,000 members around the world. Its premier national touring series is the 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

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