GLENDORA, CA – May 5, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – NHRA officials announced today that Mike Gittings, most recently the chief starter in NHRA’s Northwest Division and a certified team member of the NHRA Safety Safari presented by AAA, has been named the official NHRA Chief Starter, one of the most storied positions in all of NHRA Drag Racing.
Gittings is the fourth chief starter in the sport’s 65-plus year history, following the late Buster Couch (1955-1996), Rick Stewart (1996-2011) and the late Mark Lyle (2012-2016). He will begin his tenure at the important post starting with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, May 13-15 at Atlanta Dragway in Georgia.
Gittings served as the interim Chief Starter under difficult circumstances in early April at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas following Lyle’s sudden death during a swimming accident on March 27 while on vacation in Mexico.
“It’s emotional taking over this position because I stood behind Mark for all those years,” Gittings said. “But I learned so much from him and I know he would want me to do this. I have had involvement in the sport of NHRA Drag Racing at many levels, from being a grass roots racer, to event worker, to managing races and working with sponsors. I am looking forward to this challenge and I want to do a great job and always remember Mark when I am out there.”
Gittings was the NHRA Northwest Division starter since 2012 and was a member of the Northwest Division certification team, a race master and starting line track prep worker since 2007. From 2000-07 he worked as the starter at Pacific Raceways in Seattle and prior to that he was a track employee there and was the 1998 Pro category track champion.
“Mike worked very closely with Mark over the years and we feel he is ready for the challenge,” said Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president of racing operations. “Through his years of experience as the Division 6 and Pacific Raceways Chief Starter, Mike has earned the respect of the racers and acquired the skills necessary to handle this very demanding and critical position.”
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.