FERRIS, Texas — The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) is run by racers for racers.
An example is IHRA Director of Track & Racer Relations Paige Hamlin, who won Saturday in the Pro Blue (No Box) class at Xtreme Raceway Park. It came one week after both Hamlin and her husband, Daryl “Scooter” Hamlin, reached the final round at another bracket race in Oklahoma.
Just as neat as the husband-wife duo’s recent success is the red Chevy Nova which both used to win rounds. The car is special to the entire Hamlin family. When he was 16, Scooter bought the Nova from a lady who had purchased the car off the showroom floor with the savings bond money he had won from racing Jr. Dragsters. In 2020, Scooter and his father Daryl Hamlin Sr. decided to restore the car and began to take meticulous care in fixing the paint and restoring every little detail on the car.
For Paige Hamlin, she found driving the race car down the drag strip like riding a bike in how it came back naturally. Although she’s only been in a race car about 10 times over the last three years, she instantly had the feel. Saturday’s victory was her first since 2016 in a racecar.
“The car and I just clicked right away,” she said. “I’m so thankful Scooter and his dad put me in such a great car and they love and trust me enough to get behind the wheel. These last two weekends have been amazing, and reminded me how much I missed racing. I was grateful even when I lost.”
“I can finally see God’s plan he had even when I didn’t see it. I didn’t always deserve the win, but he made a way to the winner’s circle.”
In between rounds, she was even signing up IHRA members.
Hamlin’s racing has been sporadic for the last decade. Her Chevy II was stolen in 2013 and she took a year off after that. She came back to win again in 2016, but she got pregnant March the following year and decided to focus on her career working more behind the scenes of some very popular big-money bracket races as well as promoting her own event at Xtreme Raceway Park the last two years.
During that time, the family’s focus was shifted to making the Nova the race car which Scooter always wanted. Through the hard work, he’s been one of the most accomplished drivers in the Lone Star State. He was the Xtreme Raceway Park’s IHRA Summit SuperSeries (No Box) champion in 2019 and has been the Super Pro and No Box champion at the IHRA Division 4 (Renegades) Summit Team Finals.
He’s also been a frequent winner in NHRA competition. He won the 2022 championship in Super Pro and runner-up in No Box at Ardmore Dragway despite having being bruised up and having to rebuild his other vehicle after a top-end crash in April.
As for Paige’s big win on Saturday, it was just a small part of the action at Xtreme Raceway Park, which featured over 350 entries throughout their bracket classes for the season-opener. She thanked the track’s operators and staff Gaylen and Celeste Smith, along with the crew including Grim Hernandez, Clyde Dean Watkins, and Kevin Howell for providing such a great atmosphere to race.
How it translates to the IHRA’s overall vision, Hamlin knows her time in the race car helps her understand what’s needed to create good experiences for all the IHRA-member racers.
“We’re putting a program together that we ourselves would want to be a part of,” she said.
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