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ast week the fans and mainstream racing media leaped all over the story – and deservedly so -- of 61-year-old John Force winning his 15th NHRA national championship. But there were some other equally important news stories that will have an instant and lasting effect on the sport that went largely unreported. So, in the interest of full drag news disclosure, let me fill you readers in.
First there is the under-reported that fact that Sheikh Khalid Al Thani became the first foreign-born team owner to win an NHRA professional class championship. It should have been a big story for no other reason than for the amount of cash he pumped into this sport to pursue his hobby. You would have thought the investment he made with both the NHRA and ADRL drag racing alone would have warranted some serious coverage by the North American racing press but it didn’t.
Sheikh Al Thani also made some news not related to the accomplishments of his NHRA team. The ADRL, of which he owns a large portion, asked ADRL co-founder, driving force, and CEO Kenny Nowling to step down from that job and replaced him with drag racing car builder Tim McAmis. Prior to this happening, McAmis was named CEO of Al Anabi Racing USA which controls the ADRL along with other companies. Nowling was promoted to another position.
And last but not least, the IHRA has announced that they will have FIVE nitro classes for the 2011 season.
While these stories didn’t get much play with the mainstream automotive press, they could have tremendous impact on the sport of drag racing in the U.S.
First let’s deal with the resignation from John Force Racing by long time crew chief Austin Coil. Amazingly, JFR evidently didn’t know the resignation was coming, as the news was broken by Coil with a press release to a message board/chat room and there was no statement immediately from the JFR media folks.
The team of tuner Austin Coil and driver/front man John Force was factually the most successful team in the history of professional motor sports. The pair won fifteen NHRA World Championships as a team in a very competitive professional class.
No other driver and tuner in professional motor sports has won that many championships. Perhaps the only team close to this might be Richard and Maurice Petty in NASCAR but Petty, who won 200 NASCAR Cup races, only won seven championships.
Not only did Coil resign, but he said he was open to work for another team, and according to JFR he didn’t give Force any advance warning and so far has refused to talk to Force about it. Eventually John Force Racing issued a cursory two-paragraph press release regarding Coil’s resignation (see Agent 1320) and Coil gave an interview with an online mag that basically parroted what he said in his press release.
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