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NOWLING CHALLENGES NHRA
Written by CompetitionPlus
Friday, 27 February 2009
ADRL President Issues Challenge/Compromise to the NHRA in ASO Controversy …
Don’t issue a challenge unless you’re prepared to receive one in return.
The NHRA contacted ADRL President Kenny Nowling earlier this week with an ultimatum ordering him to hold injected nitro percentage to the same rule as the NHRA’s standard for the combination or risk losing their Alternative Sanctioning Organization [ASO] status at NHRA sanctioned tracks.
Houston Raceway Park, site of the season-opening ADRL event next weekend, was also reportedly threatened with the loss of their NHRA sanction just a month before their NHRA national event if they allow the ADRL cars to run outside of their established injected nitro maximum.
Last night Nowling fired back with a challenge of his own.
“I’ll ban nitro from the ADRL period if they’ll [NHRA] stop running past 660 feet and killing my heroes,” Nowling said when contacted by CompetitionPlus.com. “I offered that to them. If it’s such a concern and I’m such a %$#&*) danger to everybody I’ll quit nitro today. It’s not about anything but everyone being held to the same standard.”
Nowling declines to discuss the details of the behind-the-scenes skirmish. The NHRA, through a company spokesperson, has declined to speak at this moment but will address the controversy in the days to come.
“At the end of the day, our safety record is impeccable but we are not invincible,” Nowling continued.
Nowling’s anger over the issue can be traced to drag racing fatalities in the last half-decade, one that happened in the same year he founded the ADRL on the premise of drag racing on an eighth-mile race course.
“The hardest thing I ever had to do in my professional career and it had nothing to do with planning events, distributing tickets or selling t-shirts – it was in eulogizing Steve Engle and holding his wife as she cried and knowing d*** well if I had done a better job on convincing him to run the ADRL than to run that other $%^& he’d still be alive today,” Nowling said, discussing the Pro Modified driver who died this past fall, the result of injuries sustained at an NHRA event.
“He might have [passed away] but it wouldn’t have had anything to do with a drag strip. Call S.F.I. – velocity and speed, that’s what is killing people in all forms of motorsports. I’ve reduced our velocity by only running half of the distance.
“It scared the hell out of me to think what these cars are capable of and after watching the Shakedown at E’town [An outlaw Pro Modified event] and Dave Hance is a great guy and he’s got a great event, but it scares me to death to see the speeds those Pro Extreme cars are running and the weights in which they are doing it at.
“I can tell you this today. If the ADRL ever runs an event past 660 feet you can rest assured there will be a different name on my office door.”
Another inspiration in his defiance of the standard 1000 or 1320 feet stems from an interchange with his impressionable young child.
“After my son came to me when he lost his favorite driver Darrell Russell, and on top of that watching it happen, he gathered the courage to get back into watching the sport and who would he fall in love with but Eric Medlin,” Nowling explained. “When I was told of Eric’s accident, I left the office with tears in my eyes and headed home to tell him.
“You know what he told me? I’m not going to pick favorites any more because they die. I don’t think the NHRA is to blame for those deaths but I do believe that if you are going to allow them to run those kinds of speeds and ET’s, there’s a certain responsibility you have to take.”
That’s why Nowling is as adamant about racing to the eighth-mile as he says the NHRA is about enforcing their nitro restrictions. He can’t help but wonder if other underlying factors have inspired their decisions.
“All we want to do is run our company,” Nowling said. “The ADRL is a Texas-based, limited liability company that pays its taxes and abides by the laws of the Unites States of America and has the proper insurance as required to run our business. What the NHRA thinks … what the IHRA thinks or anybody else, I couldn’t care less about.
“Ask yourself this. Is it any coincidence that none of the other sanctioning bodies approached me about an ASO for the entire year of 2005 or before. I didn’t even know what the acronym stood for. In 2006 after we blew the fences off of Rockingham Dragway then everyone is climbing up my a** about being an AS-whatever?”
Nowling has issued the following compromise to the NHRA regarding the ASO situation.
“I will ban nitro tomorrow if the NHRA and IHRA start racing to the eighth-mile,” Nowling said candidly.