NHRA shakeup: Tom Compton retires as president, Peter Clifford named successor

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In a surprise move, the National Hot Rod Association announced Wednesday that president Tom Compton has retired after 15 years as the sanctioning body’s chief executive officer.

Longtime NHRA executive vice president and general manager Peter Clifford has been named to replace Compton. Clifford becomes only the fourth president in NHRA’s 64-year history.

Dallas Gardner, former NHRA president and now Chairman of the NHRA Board of Directors, made the announcement of Clifford’s promotion Wednesday morning to employees at the NHRA’s Glendora, Calif., headquarters.

“Peter Clifford will be an outstanding president of the NHRA,” Gardner said in a NHRA media release. “Peter’s faithful and effective service to all constituents of the NHRA family will ensure a spectacular new era for everyone who loves our sport, and he brings a passion for the NHRA that is unmistakable.

“Peter is most deserving of his new appointment and we know he is more than up to the challenges and opportunities on the horizon.”

Peter Clifford has been named the new president of the NHRA, succeeding Tom Compton, who retired after 15 years at the helm of the sanctioning body. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

Clifford joined NHRA in 1997 as vice president and chief financial officer. He is also a member of the sanctioning body’s board of directors.

“I’m honored to accept the privilege and responsibility of leading the NHRA today and well into the future,” Clifford said.  “I have an incredible passion for the sport and will bring a great work ethic to my new role, at or away from the track.  My complete focus is to build our future. Our best stories are still to be told.”

No reason was given for the 56-year-old Compton’s decision. He has been noticeably absent from NHRA events for more than three months, prompting the sanctioning body to take the unusual step nearly a month ago to issue a press release that Compton was “away for personal and family reasons.”

Compton was installed as NHRA president on Jan. 1, 2000, succeeding the retiring Gardner. Compton helped lead NHRA’s continued growth into the 21st century, but the last few seasons have seen challenges including attendance levels at several tracks, and inconsistent TV coverage.

Compton preceded Clifford in the same role as vice president and CFO when he joined NHRA in 1993.

“Today the NHRA announces Tom Compton’s retirement,” Gardner said in a statement. “The NHRA thanks Tom for leading it during 15 years of progress, growth and success.

“Tom was named president in 2000 and since then has advanced our organization and sport in ways that will provide lasting benefit for our teams, drivers, sponsors and fans. Just as important, the NHRA has an immensely bright future with exceptional opportunities that we are ready to explore. As the NHRA embarks on its next chapter, we wish Tom and his family all the best.”

In a statement, Compton said his decision to retire came “after much thought and careful consideration of my own interests, those of my family and those of the NHRA itself. The more than 22 years I spent helping to build the great team, strong partnerships and robust operations the NHRA now enjoys makes this decision a difficult one.

“I want to thank everyone, including the NHRA, its partners, sponsors, track owners and operators, and all other NHRA-affiliated individuals and organizations for their generous and much-appreciated contributions to the success we’ve all enjoyed together. I am honored to have been an integral part of this collective effort, am proud of our collaboration and achievements, and am confident in the continued success of the NHRA in the years ahead.”

 

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Indy Lights: Askew wins at Gateway as Veekay’s tires wear off

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For the fourth consecutive race, Oliver Askew is an winner in Indy Lights competition, and with only four races reaming in the 2019 season, the 22-year-old Floridian is on the cusp of winning his first series championship.

After starting Saturday’s 75-lap event at World Wide Technology Raceway from the pole position, Askew was quickly passed by Rinus Veekay on the first lap. However, Askew continued to follow VeeKay closely before retaking the lead on lap 53, a lead which he would not relinquish through the checkered flag.

“I think our car was just better,” Askew told NBC Sports after winning his seventh race of the season.

“I understood that from the beginning that he [VeeKay] had more straight line speed than us, so he was more trimmed out, and I knew that he was going to lose his tires at the end, and he did.

“I just had to keep the pressure on and wait for my opportunity.”

With his victory, Askew now extends his lead over VeeKay in the point standings by 52 points.

For Veekay, who held on to finish second, the fight to remain in the title race will not be an easy one.

“I’ll try everything I can but it’s been very tough,” VeeKay said. “The team and I, we’re giving it all we have. That’s all we can do.”

Daivd Malukas finished third, while Ryan Norman and and Robert Mcgennis finished fourth and fifth, respectfully.

Dalton Kellett took the checkered flag where he started in the sixth position, and Lucas Kohl finished the race in the seventh position.

Toby Sowery finished the race in the eighth and final position after bringing out the lone caution of the race by spinning in Turn 2 on lap 12.

Indy Lights drivers and teams will now head out to the Pacific Northwest for a double header at Portland International Raceway on Saturday, August 31 and Sunday, September 1. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full race results 

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