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There were a couple of dramatic and potentially game changing announcements made regarding the sport of drag racing at the Brownsburg, Indiana, race car shops of Don Schumacher racing last Saturday January 16.
The first announcement came from the National Hot Rod Association. They are going to become a worldwide sanctioning body following the lead of the International Hot Rod Association that some years back sanctioned races in Europe and Canada.
The NHRA has attempted to venture beyond the friendly confines of the U.S. before. In the Sixties, at the urging of founder Wally Parks, the NHRA sent teams to England, and in the 1980s NHRA sent teams to Japan for a series of exhibitions. In addition, NHRA has sanctioned races in Canada and Mexico. Many U.S. race teams have run in Europe or Australia over the years. One year even Don Schumacher took his AA/FCs to England.
The sad fact is none of these offshore ventures really served to make the NHRA brand international. NHRA has had a presence in all of the countries with Carl Olsen and more recently Graham Light heavily involved in the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile). [Note: the FIA website lists its Automobile Competition Committee for the United States, FIA, Inc. (ACCUS, FIA) “seven member clubs: Grand-Am, IRL, NASCAR, NHRA, IMSA, SCCA, USAC, and affiliate WKA.]
But now NHRA is taking a much more aggressive attempt to spread the NHRA brand of drag racing to international fans and racers. In announcing that they were launching the NHRA Worldwide they did something radically different. They offered tracks around the globe the ability to hold an NHRA-sanctioned event complete with awarding “Wallys” to the winners.
But at the same time the NHRA took it to the next level by establishing a division of the NHRA complete with a division director to help any tracks that decide to hold an NHRA sanctioned event using all of the resources that NHRA currently offers its North American member tracks. It also means that if a European, UAE, or Australian track were to have one of these NHRA-sanctioned event, the cars and tracks would be required to abide by the NHRA rules and regulations. The first of these races will be held in the United Arab Emirates country of Abu Dhabi at the newly finished Yas Marina circuit.
It should be noted here that while the NHRA is exporting its brand to the UAE, they certainly are not the first sanctioning body to do that recently. Kenny Nowling’s American Drag Racing League is in the country of Qatar as I write this with a crew of his ADRL people overseeing the five race doorslammer series that the UAE country hold each year. The races are run under strict compliance to ADRL rules, even to a mandated eighth-mile track length. The driving force behind drag racing in Qatar, Shiekh Khalid Al-Thani, also just happens to own the Alan Johnson Top Fuel and Funny Car team.
At the same time that the NHRA made their announcement, Irishman Richard Cregan, the CEO of the Yas Marina racing complex in Abu Dahbi, announced that they had entered into a long term agreement with Don Schumacher and DSR to buy two complete -- and I do mean complete! Top Fuel teams. They showcased the two teams at the new Yas Marina shop, which is adjacent to the DSR shop. Not only had DSR in just 60 days delivered two complete state-of-the-art Top Fuel teams with two complete cars and transporters filled with all the spares necessary to run a season, they did it without using a single used part.