Traci Hrudka – Chairman
The Hrudka name is synonymous with drag racing and the Mr. Gasket Company, founded by her father Tom Hrudka and Uncle Joe Hrudka epitomizes the term “Life in the fast lane”.
Traci started her business career after graduating from Palm Springs High School (Palm Springs, Calif.) in 1981, and began working for the Mr. Gasket Company in 1982. Starting as a computer operator and “racing” up the ladder, she became the Manager of Sales & Marketing, overseeing the customer service department and handling over triple digit million dollars in annual sales. She was charged with overseeing the customer’s racing contracts, pricing and co-op advertising. She said at one time, “There was not a department at ‘Gasket’ you wouldn’t find me involved with!”
Traci was rewarded with a “Person of the Year” award from the Performance Warehouse Association in 1997.
After the sale of Mr. Gasket Company to Echlin in 1997, Traci moved to the Automated Data Collection Arena (Intermec Technologies) where she achieved four President Club awards for over achievement in sales as an Executive Sales Director.
But she missed her roots and the industry she was born into. She wanted to come back home. With that said she attended several race events and aftermarket shows and saw a hole in the industry she so dearly loved, which was “Where is the history of our sport and the performance aftermarket”?
Well to know Traci that once she gets an idea in her head there is no stopping her. It was time to go back to her roots where everyone she knew and grew up with was at. And so it began, Quarter Mile Foundation along with Project 1320 was born.
We have all been enriched with a very unique industry and the people that built it. It is now time to give back what was so passionately passed on to us.
Steve Cole – Marketing Communications, WRITEWords
For over 30 years, Steve Cole has been a marketing communications professional – editor, public relations manager and marketing communications company owner, specializing in the motorsports and high performance automotive aftermarket.
His multi-faceted career has included involvement with tractor/truck pulling as the editor of The Puller the house publication of the National Tractor Pullers Association, plus serving as the association’s Director of Public and Industry Relations. He served as editor of the International Hot Rod Association’s Drag Review magazine. He also was the long time editor of Babcox Publications’ Specialty & Custom Dealer trade magazine.
He also served as the Director of Communications for the Mr. Gasket Companies, Holley Performance Products, Inc., Barry Grant, Inc. and Flaming River Industries, Inc.
He was the owner of In-Motion Communications, a marketing communications firm throughout the 1990s. In addition to marketing communications for aftermarket clients, he provided editorial services to such publications as Performance Racing Industry, SEMA News, Trackside, Super Stock & Drag Illustrated and Speedway Illustrated.
Presently, he is the owner of WRITEWords, a marketing communications firm located in Medina, Ohio, near Cleveland and Akron.
Don Ewald – Creator of WeDidItForLove.com, Pioneer Racer
Don Ewald has been involved in drag racing for 48 years. Born and bred in Long Beach, Calif., which was the home of Lions Drag Strip, he got the bug in 1962 and by 1966 was driving an injected fuel dragster. From 1968 to 1979 Ewald owned and drove a variety of Top Fuel dragsters making the transition from front engine to rear in 1972.
From 1974 to 1979 he served as Director of Racer Relations for the legendary Keith Black Racing Engines. In late 1979, he went in a completely different direction going into the television industry in the capacity of cameraman for CBS which led to his own production company and a long venture into high end home entertainment products. All the while keeping close ties with the drag racing community.
Starting with the first California Hot Rod Reunion in 1993 he returned to an active involvement in the sport. In 1997 he sold his business and moved to Oregon where he started a small website with a few photos of dragsters. It was dubbed “We Did It For Love” based on the fact that in the day there was little or no money to be made in racing so you had to love it. Twelve years later, WDIFL.com is the largest drag racing photo and history website in the world.
Aside from maintaining WDIFL.com, he publishes Cacklefest.com and other sites relating to nostalgia top fuel racing. His knowledge and love of drag racing history make him and We Did It For Love a perfect fit into PROJECT 1320.
Harry Hibler – Advertising & Marketing
Harry Hibler is currently the President of UNI-MARKETING, LLC, an advertising and marketing firm that is focused primarily on the automotive high performance market. Hibler has a long history of involvement with performance automotive industry starting in 1952 when he first began building and racing a variety of vehicles. During his early years, he was the manager of San Fernando Raceway for over fifteen years where he interfaced with a large share of the drag racers of that era. He was also a partner in a General Contracting firm during that period.
He went to work for the Petersen Publishing Company in 1969 where was employed for nearly thirty years. During his tenure at Petersen, he was at various times the national advertising director for Car Craft Magazine, Publisher of several PPC magazines including Hot Rod, Car Craft, Circle Track and Event Scene. During his 11-plus years as Publisher of Hot Rod, the magazine’s circulation increased to the point it had the largest readership of any automotive title in the world.
He has served three terms on the Board of Directors for the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) and was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame. In 1994, he was inducted into the Northwestern College Hall of Fame for his contribution to its High Performance Motorsports Education Program. He was named California Business Man of the Year for 2002 by the Business Advisory Council. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Quarter Mile Entertainment Foundation/Project 1320, the Board of Selectors for the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the SEMA Hall of Fame committee and Task Force.
In 2013, he was inducted into the prestigious International Drag Racing Hall of Fame (a part of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Ocala, Fla.).
Carl Olson – Racing Legend
Carl Olson is one of the most versatile individuals in the automotive aftermarket and motorsports world. Championship winning competitor, business executive, sanctioning body executive and industry leader all describe various facets of Carl Olson’s career.
He has been an owner and/or driver of several well-known Top Fuel cars, was IHRA World Champion in 1972, but perhaps the most important win came on December 2, 1972 – winning the last Top Fuel race at the Lions Drag Strip in Wilmington, Calif., over Jeb Allen on the final pass ever made on that revered quarter mile.
Over the years, Olson’s career has included the General Manager’s role at Trans-Dapt and Waterman Racing Components, 25 years at the NHRA in a variety of positions – leaving as Vice President, Insurance, Risk Management & International Relations, three terms on the Board of Directors of SEMA (plus a term as the organization’s Secretary), President of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) Drag Racing Commission (responsible for all international drag racing activities), and currently serves the Motorsports Manager of the SFI Foundation, Inc.
He was awarded membership in the prestigious SEMA Hall of Fame in 1991, is a member of the Cragar 5-Second Club (1974 -5.94 sec.), Bonneville 200 mph Club (1994 – 2-way average – 234.276 mph) and received the NHRA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. As a hobby, he restores race cars – midgets, sprint cars and dragsters, and is an avid deep sea sport fisherman.
In 2012, he entered two prestigious drag racing Halls of Fame, the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame (a part of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Ocala, Fla.) and the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Wayne Wolfe – Board Member
Wayne Wolfe has been a longtime fixture within the motorsports and performance aftermarket as a tech. sales person, a media salesman and manufacturers’ rep. for his adult life. Across his career, he has worked in the industrial design group for Goodyear, in Akron, Ohio, and then moved to Michigan, where he was with Holley Carburetor for 10 years. During that span, he worked the outdoor events, drag races/street rod meets, plus worked all the major warehouse distributors in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and eastern Canada.
He gained valuable OEM experience with Cars & Concepts, Special Vehicles Group, where he was involved with the Pontiac “Banshee” program.
During his career in media sales, he worked for the two leading publishers at the time, Petersen Publishing Group and Argus Publishing. He then moved to SLP Engineering , where he was the Business Development Manager for the company’s Automotive Group, which developed General Motors vehicle packages (Ram-Air Grand Prix, S-10) which were marketed through automotive installers nationwide directly to new car dealers. Currently, he is self-employed as a Manufacturer’s rep involved with private brand parts creation and sales to specific customers.
Drag racing has been a part of his life since the early 1970s, when he had unique opportunity to travel with Wally Booth and Dick Aronís Pro Stock team. He has always carried a passion for the golden days of the sport, and currently is involved with restoration of the AMC “HORNET X” Pro Stock car.
Don “Big Daddy” Garlits – Drag Racing Pioneer
Don (“Big Daddy”) Garlits began his racing career in 1950 and scored his first major victory in 1955. His first NHRA National event win came in 1963 at the Winternationals in Pomona, California, and he has won the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals a record 8 times.
The name “Big Daddy” is synonymous with drag racing – even to those who have only a fleeting interest in the sport. He has been dubbed the “King of the Dragsters,” and could be considered the patriarch of Top Fuel drag racing. Garlits’ distinct ability to conceptualize his dreams has allowed him to be master over the end result. The Drag Racing Museum and Classic Car Collection in Ocala, Florida, the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, 17 World Championship titles and numerous racing milestones are all reality because Don first saw them as worthwhile dreams.
Across six decades of racing, Don’s famed “Swamp Rat” series of hand-fabricated black race cars – 34 in total — carried him to 144 national event wins. “Big Daddy’s” living legacy and racecar design innovations are so significant that his record breaking Swamp Rat XXX is enshrined in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
His decades of drag racing have filled the pages of seven books. The list of significant honors is a testament to Don’s innovative spirit, his indomitable desire to compete and win, and to the recognition of his staying power with race fans and his fellow competitors.