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(Richard Muir photo)
: So let’s fast forward to 2012. What happened that brought you back to the ADRL and another partnership with Sheikh Khalid al Thani of Qatar?
Kenny Nowling: I would get pictures and emails, from people who were still my friends, of the empty grandstands (at ADRL races) telling me how much it (ADRL) sucked. And the racers would call me and I’d take their calls and have conversations with them... but they didn’t understand the depth of how much losing the ADRL hurt me.
I’m not embarrassed to tell you right now that if it weren’t for Jessica and my kids that I would have swallowed a bullet. I lost something that had cost me my first marriage, and even though in my own mind my priorities were so out of whack that it wasn’t funny, the ADRL had become more important to me than anything else. I was spending weeks, months in Qatar away from my small children doing stuff for the ADRL. It was very difficult for me.
: Again what caused you to decide get back in the drag racing business and buy back the ADRL from the same guy that had fired you a year earlier ?
KN: My good friend Jack Switzer [a partner with him in the ADRL] came up with an idea while we were driving down I-70 one day in August of 2012. “What if we just do one drag race?” he asked me.
Well, I told him I can’t have anything to do with drag racing because I’m still under a non-compete clause. He didn’t know that they had voided my contract and I had signed an agreement. I was done with drag racing.
But, over the course of the next few days, because of my addiction to drag racing and my wanting to get back in, having watched the ADRL – let’s face it – go from its peak at the end of 2009 when the ADRL was definably -- whether it was attendance or sponsorship revenue -- the number two drag racing property in the world to where it was at the end of 2012, I decided to give drag racing another shot.
: So how did you get around the non-compete clause?
KN: First, we had put out there that Jack and (my wife) Jessica – who were not under a non-compete clause – we were going to promote a race at Rockingham called 3-9-13. We put up a Facebook page. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you by saying I wasn’t doing the work; I was. But on the surface I couldn’t. So Bubba (Corzine), who I love dearly and had told that I was getting back in drag racing, was (working) at the Shakedown at E-town that year, he said to some camera guy “Kenny Nowling and me are doing.... and then “Oh,” he said, “I mean Jessica Nowling and I” – were doing an event at Rockingham.
: How did you then end up going from putting on one race to buying back the ADRL and promoting a series?
KN: I had told Bubba Corzine about the plans for one race and at some point Bubba had a conversation - either Mustafa Atat called him or he called Mustafa Atat - and was told that the Sheikh and Tim (McAmis, President of the ADRL at that time) hadn’t talked since July, that the ADRL was done and that we could buy it back for a million bucks. So Bubba flies to St. Louis and we start talking.
What (getting the ADRL back) would do for me would be two things: A) I could get my baby back, which you know I’m addicted to like heroin, and B) I wouldn’t have a non-compete clause anymore because I would be buying the company I had the non-compete clause with. So now I can get back into drag racing fully fledged.