News and Analysis

ADRL 2013

This year the question that has been asked most by fast doorslammer racers, fans, and manufacturers is: What is going to happen with the ADRL? 

Until the last couple of days no one outside of ADRL president Tim McAmis and ADRL owner Sheikh Khalid al Thani had any idea of the answer. Since the ADRL season ended with the final race at the Texas Motorplex some facts have surfaced that indicate that for the 2013 season (at a minimum) the ADRL will be a viable and active eighth-mile drag racing series thanks to the business savvy of Tim McAmis.

Here is what is known. ADRL president Tim McAmis, who is an astute businessman, realized that the ADRL as it was in 2011-12 wasn’t a successful (read: profitable) program for itself or the tracks it raced at. Since moving away from the free ticket program that was its original business model, spectator attendance at most ADRL events was what could be characterized as abysmal.

As one fan told me concerning the attendance at last week’s ADRL finale at Texas Motorplex, “There weren’t enough people there to start a fight.” That has been the issue for most tracks that hosted ADRL events this season because those events were only profitable if large crowds of fans paid for parking and bought a lot of food and beverages.

Mr. McAmis recognized that issue and the fact that many of the tracks the series raced at in 2012 weren’t going to have an ADRL race next year if the status for the races stayed the same. So he came up with a new program for the series.

In 2013, I am told by several sources, tracks will “book in” the ADRL series for a flat rate of $25,000. The track will get somewhere between 85 and 100 percent all of the revenue generated from ticket sales, parking, and concessions. The track will also be responsible for placing and paying for the promotion and advertising of the event.

In addition to the $25,000 fee that ADRL charges the track, the ADRL will get 100 percent of the back gate (entry fees, pit passes etc.) and be responsible for paying the race purse and for the cost of track prep. 

It would not be too strong of a statement to say that Mr. McAmis’s revamping of the way the ADRL does business has saved the all-doorslammer series from extinction, and he deserves the gratitude of the fans, sponsors, and especially the racers.

The fact is that without an ADRL series in 2013, the Pro Extreme and Pro Nitrous cars that are built strictly for 1/8th mile racing, not to mention the Mountain Motor Pro Stock teams, probably wouldn’t have any series to race with. For those cars and teams that would have been disastrous.

So, the ADRL will return next season, but the series still faces some unique hurdles to overcome if it is to survive beyond 2013. The most critical of those is the ability of the tracks to promote the races and to get ticket-buying fans in the stands. That is something the ADRL wasn’t very successful at doing when they were spending their own money to promote their races.

The idea is that individual track management knows more about promoting races at their track year around than the ADRL management, who only come to the track once a year. How difficult will that goal be to achieve? Pretty tough in my opinion, as the track will probably invest $50,000+ for advertising and booking fees and that doesn’t include operating expenses. I would estimate that the tracks are going to have to sell 2500-3500 tickets to make a reasonable return on investment.

Sources indicate that 8-10 tracks will have ADRL races in 2013. Most are tracks that had races in 2012 and a few new ones are on the schedule.

Here are the tracks we have been told will have ADRL events in 2013. We have no idea what the dates will be: Martin, MI; Richmond, VA; Charlotte, NC; Bristol,TN; Memphis, TN; Budd’s Creek, MD; and Madison, IL.

Tracks ADRL won’t return to are: Houston, TX; Reading, PA; Norwalk, OH.

The second problem is the ADRL’s. They have to generate enough income combining the booking fee with the entry fees, pit passes, and other charges they assess the 120+ core ADRL race teams to pay the purses for the eight classes they currently support and the operating cost of running the sanctioning body. That seems to me to be a tall order and in all probability the current owner of the ADRL, KH Al Thani, will have to sink more money into the series to keep it afloat.

Despite the problems, Tim McAmis and KH Al Thani, deserve kudos for insuring a 2013 ADRL season. Drag racing needs all of the success it can get in these difficult times.