It was the summer of ’98, a tumultuous time for me. At what would be my final local drag race of the year, the NHRA National Open at Mission, I was introduced to a new ‘boss’ – a guy named Chris Blair. He was younger than most other NHRA Division Directors, was university educated, and from what the rumors said, knew squat about drag racing.
The kid from Kentucky came from NASCAR land, knew everything about roundy-round racing and was coming off a two year stint with PACE Motorsports, producers of Monster Truck shows and Supercross among others. Not exactly drag racing material… or so we thought.
That version of Chris Blair was quickly put to rest as he took charge of a four state, three province region known more for it’s rain than it’s drag racing.
That 1998 National Open did not go well for me, but less than a week later, Blair sent me an e-mail personally inviting me to a major Seattle race as his guest. Probably the classiest intro I’ve ever had from somebody I had never met. Little did I know it was to be the start of a great friendship.
Chris Blair’s nearly four year run as the Northwest DD featured more promo and new events than we had seen around here in years. He was instrumental to the introduction of Pro Street in the northwest as well as a big supporter of Nitro Harleys.
My business enjoyed it’s greatest years during his reign. I was going to races throughout the division, selling videos like crazy, with the always positive support of a guy who used to be a motorsport writer.
The new century saw Blair, his wife Heather and young son Austin take a huge gamble and move to Las Vegas where he would manage America’s greatest drag racing facility – THE STRIP at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
At the high point of my career I was making as many as a half dozen trips there a year, producing videos, posters, and other promo items for the track. I had full reign over the place – it was a photographers dream.
Blair faced plenty of obstacles here, but overcame them all and made the best track on the planet even better. His communication with racers was always better than most at his level of management, and his promotional skills second to none.
Midnight Madness, Rockabilly Reunion, Street Car Super Nationals, Mopars at the Strip…it goes on and on. He would later be promoted to VP of Race Operations and took over the paved short track known as the Bull Ring.
More success there with unique promotions, along with an new twist in the life of the Blair family as Austin had become a full-fledged oval driver well before he could have an actual drivers license!
It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Chris, but we have kept in touch, though not nearly as much as we used to.
Now I hear he’s going to a new position with the McMurray Group. I have a pretty good idea he may be coming in this direction, but until I hear for sure, it’s more rumor around the most professional, decent, hard working man I have ever had the pleasure to know.
Drag racing was very, fortunate to have had Chris Blair. So was I. Here’s wishing him many cold Kokanees and Canuck victories.