Mark Lyle, longtime starter in NHRA’s Division 6 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. There have only been two chief starters in the sport’s 60-plus-year history, Buster Couch (1955-1996) and Rick Stewart (1996-2011).
Beginning at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Feb. 9-12, Lyle will command the best view in the facility, standing alongside every kind of drag racing vehicle, most notably the 7,000-horsepower Top Fuel and Funny Car machines featured in NHRA’s marquee Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
“It is simply the highest honor anyone in my position can have,” said Lyle, who resides in North Bend, Wash., with his family. “I really have to thank Kenworth Northwest for being flexible with my NHRA work schedule over the years and for allowing me to pursue my dream. To follow in the footsteps of two iconic and legendary figures in NHRA history is beyond words. I am looking forward to sending off the first pair in Pomona.”
Lyle has worked in the automotive industry his entire professional career, all the while spending countless weeknights and weekends perfecting his craft on the starting line or working as a safety team member in the sport he has loved since his youth. He started as the official starter at Pacific Raceways in 2000 and since then has been a certified team member of NHRA’s Division 6. He was named the official starter of the division in 2005. Lyle worked alongside recently retired NHRA Chief Starter Stewart at many national events the last several years.
“Throughout his time as a starting-line official, he has demonstrated the characteristics necessary to take on this very important position on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series circuit,” said Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president of racing operations. “He always has safety first and foremost in his mind and strives to be fair and just in his decision-making.”