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Was that a cool breeze or was it just Hell freezing over?
I’ll be 72 years of age in March of this year. I’ve been involved in drag racing for almost 55 years and during that time I’ve seen some outstanding and astounding races and racers. I’ve seen an equal amount of historically good and bad races and racer performances.
But I’ve not been witness to any -- and I do mean any -- single event or race in the history of drag race promoting that compares to the unprecedented action taken by Kenny Nowling just two weeks before Christmas 2016.
Nowling is a promoter who was forced out of his job as president of a sanctioning body (ADRL) by through a hostile takeover after being accused of (but never formally charged with nor taken to court over) some pretty bad financial moves. The promoter drops out of drag race promoting and moves on to a successful career promoting MMA fights and an Arena Football team.
Then after three-plus years away from the sport he answers to a “Jones” only those also afflicted can understand and resuscitates the ADRL with financial help from racecar builder and track operator Larry Jeffers, who bought the ADRL name and intellectual property.
Nowling then promptly went on a podcast show with Drag Racing Illustrated editor Wes Buck and announced he was going to be at the 2016 Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis and would pay all racers who were owed money for the Battle for the Belt fiasco of 2013. He somehow got the money from investors and at the PRI Show 2016 paid the champions plus every other racer who was owed the money by the ADRL for that season. Nowling paid around 60 racers and teams over $250,000! And all checks have cleared.
There are many examples of big-money drag races or series where the promoter wouldn’t or couldn’t pay the racers at the end of a season. There are probably an equal number of examples of failed nitro team owners who have left the sport owing the drag racing business community a lot of money. Not one of those groups expects to collect those debts.
That is why what Kenny Nowling the promoter did last December for a bunch of racers who basically helped run him out of the sport was simply mind-blowing and unprecedented.
Nowling loves drag racing so much that in order to get back in the promotion business he probably borrowed a quarter million dollars to settle the debt to the racers.
The truly amazing thing about Nowling’s actions is that he could have probably gotten back into promoting without settling the old debt, but he is a promoter and man who does care about his reputation and honors his word.
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