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He’s baaack! ADRL founder Kenny Nowling is returning to drag racing after a two-year hiatus from the sport caused when he was forced out of the ADRL and then signed a non-compete agreement.
For the past two years Nowling and his wife, Jessica, have spent their time successfully starting and promoting a mixed martial arts series. Now, in a somewhat strange scenario worthy of a soap opera plot, Sheikh Khalid Al Thani has sold the ADRL to the Nowlings' Fight Hard MMA, LLC, after buying Nowling out of the ADRL two years ago. When Nowling was ousted as President of the ADRL he was replaced by Tim McAmis.
McAmis then spent two years attempting to re-invent the ADRL. When McAmis took over the ADRL, the free ticket program that was Mrs. Nowling’s brainchild and had been in place for five years was ended and the series was revamped to closely imitate the NHRA’s racing philosophy, rules, and business methods.
For many reasons (ticket sales, the economy, cost of racing, and lack of major sponsorships) the revamped ADRL did not generate enough cash flow to sustain itself without continuing financial support from owner Sheikh “KH” Al Thani and the Sheikh was evidently no longer willing to keep financing the series. So although no official press announcement regarding the purchase has been released. it appears that the Sheikh has sold the ADRL back to Nowling for an undisclosed amount that reliable sources indicate to be in the six-figure range.
Whether or not the final transaction takes place, Rockingham Dragway’s Steve Earwood has announced that he will hold two events produced by Kenny Nowling in 2013.
So, the burning question on everyone’s mind is, if he gets it, can Kenny Nowling return the ADRL to the status it enjoyed in its heyday when the National Guard was its multi-million dollar sponsor? Will ADRL races that in the past had full grandstands have them once again, and will the NHRA and the industry again regard the ADRL as a major player in the sport and business of drag racing?
I think that most questions regarding the future of the ADRL will be answered in the next couple of weeks at the the PRI Show at Orlando and the IMIS show at Indy. If Mr. Nowling can go to those two trade shows and convince businesses that rely on drag racing to sell their products to re-invest in the ADRL, then the future of the series is looking good.
As for the series itself, apparently Mr. Nowling isn’t going to change the format much, retaining the eighth-mile track length and most of the classes, maybe add some more classes, and change to Saturday-Sunday instead of Friday-Saturday events. He plans to return to the free spectator ticket program and bring the series to the site of its greatest successes, Steve Earwood’s Rockingham Dragway for Dragpalooza in March and Dragstock next September.
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