SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION 4 HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS
DALLAS, TX – Former NHRA Division Director Craig Hutchinson and Division Administration Assistant Sue Hutchinson will join the ranks of legendary South Central Division personalities that include Kenny Bernstein, Raymond Beadle, Billy Meyer, Richard Tharp, and Dave McClelland when he is inducted into the Division 4 Hall of Fame.
Hutchinson, who was only the division’s third director, was one of a group of second-generation NHRA division directors who took over the reins from the position’s founding fathers of the 1960s. When Hutchinson was hired in early 1988, he replaced George Raglin, the interim director in 1987 after Dale Ham’s retirement in 1986. Hutchinson had developed a solid reputation while working with Charlie Allen at Firebird Int’l Raceway in the early 1980s.
Hutchinson, a native Arizonan who grew up bracket racing his Pinto at tracks such as Beeline Dragway and Tucson Dragway, had been working with partner Buddy Murphy to bring a track to the Phoenix area in the early 1980s. When Allen learned that he would soon lose the lease on famed Orange County Int’l Raceway in Southern California, NHRA’s Wayne McMurty hooked up Allen and his partner, Bill Guptil, with Hutchinson and Murphy, who already had done much of the legal legwork, and fellow partners Bob Bayer and Dick Scott to make Firebird a reality in early 1983. Hutchinson’s name was on the track’s long-term lease.
Hutchinson left Firebird in late 1987 and was running a computer services company, American Micro Solutions, in Phoenix when NHRA Vice President-Field Administration Bernie called and “changed my life.” Hutchinson relocated immediately to Conroe, Texas.
The first years were tough. Hutchinson spent more than 200 days a year on the road and consulted regularly with Ham, P.J. Partridge, and fellow directors Gene Bergstrom and Lex Dudas. Wife Sue joined the team later in 1988 and continued to be his right-hand person throughout his long tenure.
“When you talk about me as a director, you’re also talking about Sue because we’re a team,” Craig said. “We’re the last of the husband-wife director teams from the old days, when you had Bernie and P.J., Dale and Gynanna [Ham], and ‘Zim’ [Darrell Zimmerman] and Polly.”
Together when Craig and Sue Hutchinson retired after close to 50 years of combined service, they left their positions boasting the fourth-longest tenure in the history of NHRA’s division director program.