WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The International Hot Association (IHRA) Summit SuperSeries program crowns Top (Box), Mod (No Box), Sportsman and Junior Dragster Champions each year.
The two ways to qualify for the annual IHRA Summit World Finals held in October at Memphis International Raceway are to win the Summit SuperSeries track championship at one of the participating member tracks or by winning the IHRA Summit Team Finals in your division.
Tracks across North America held banquets to recognize their 2019 IHRA Summit SuperSeries track champions including the Top, Mod and Junior Dragster champions from Little River Dragway, Holland, Texas.
Top champion Tony Livengood is a 53-year-old landscaping company owner from Kempner, Texas. Retired from the U.S. Army, he drives a 2005 M&M rear-engine dragster. His wife, Carmen, serves as his crew. He talked about clinching the track championship and going to the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals in Memphis.
“Going to Memphis for the World Finals, the way it was set up, the way it was ran, (IHRA Division Director) Frank (Kohutek) and his crew do a fabulous job,” Livengood said. “You can tell the Memphis race is a level above any other bracket race. At the home track, we had a double-points race. I won Saturday night and came back and finished in the semis the next day. It was my third Little River championship since 2007.
Mod champion Scott Niemann is a maintenance electrician from Thrall, Texas. The 54-year-old races a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and his wife, Myra, helps him as a crew member. He explained how he overcame adversity to win the track championship.
“Our last points race, the car broke the rear end in the first round. I was leading the points and by the time the race ended, we were tied in the points,” he said. “We had to repair the car and we had to have a tiebreaker the following Friday. We had to match race a motorcycle for the championship.
“My car is really a street car with everything manual. A lot of people are impressed with it. It’s an original 396 SS car.”
Graeme Rufenacht won the Junior Dragster title at Little River Dragway as part of a dream season. The 15-year-old from Round Rock, Texas is one of the most accomplished Junior racers in the country. With his father, Sam, serving as his crew, he wheeled his 2015 Half-Scale dragster to five track and series championships in 2019.
Still, Rufenacht’s home track of Little River has a special place in his heart as he talked about what made the 2019 season so memorable.
“I enjoyed hanging out and racing with friends at the track,” he said. “At Little River, the track owner is nice. All the people who work there and the people I race with are nice and we get to go out there and have fun every weekend.
“It was a good season. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to win the track and some series championships. I achieved my goal.”
Congratulations to the Little River and the other IHRA member track champions. We will highlight more of the track champions from across North America over the coming weeks.