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Photos by Jeff Burk
The most talked about subject in drag racing since the official end of the professional drag racing season with the running of the NHRA World Finals is the sale of the eighth-mile doorslammer series known as the American Drag Racing League to its founder Kenny Nowling and his Fight Hard MMA, LLC, partners and the announcement of the start-up of a similar league (Xtreme Drag Racing League) by a Texas-based group of racers including Jeff Mitchell who is in the oil and gas business. DRO editor Jeff Burk had the opportunity to sit down with Kenny Nowling for his first interview in over two years to discuss a wide variety of issues including what caused him to be fired and what he will be doing as the head of the new ADRL. Here's Part Two of our interview.
: Now that you’ve got the ADRL back and are getting ready to start the season, what is your general plan going forward for the ADRL?
Kenny Nowling: My wife, Jessica, has dubbed it ‘the original ADRL’. We’ve used phrases around the office such as ‘getting back to our roots’, and things of that nature. So really, going forward we have to go back in time to do it. I think in the last two years it (ADRL) went backwards. I think the general perception may be that the ADRL is a tired old horse. I don’t think so. I think it’s still a thoroughbred, but I don’t think it’s necessarily been trained or raced properly. So for us it’s just about getting back to our roots, doing what was successful before. Certainly returning to the free tickets program that I feel set the ADRL apart from all other series.
: When you say going backwards, what do you mean?
KN: I’d better be careful how I say this. I mean going back to the things that worked, focusing on the things that our racers… Let’s just call it like it is. Any way you look at it, fan attendance for instance: backwards. Series sponsorship: backwards. Revenue: backwards. Car counts and participation: backwards. Car counts as a whole were up because they added classes, but the car counts in the core classes were down.
: So what will you do to turn those situations around?
KN: I think focusing on our racers, making sure that we remember that they are our number one priority. Without them we literally don’t have a product. I think that by doing that and sticking to that as our principal foundation, the product on the track is going to be super exciting. I’m tremendously excited about the new classes we added to increase car count and participation. We’re adding Top Dragster and Top Sportsman. I’m not a big fan of bracket racing, but if you’re going to do it, do it fast.