:You first met him there?

KN: I’m obviously pretty busy at these events so I’m not sure. We took a couple photos with the Arabs that were there. There were no official introductions made but later I found out that he was in one of the photos with me. I’m not sure if he attended our Maryland event, but a couple of weeks after that event, I received a phone call on a weekend. My wife and I were supposed to play golf all that day, which is the only reason I remember it. It was raining, and we stayed in and played Tiger Woods golf on the Nintendo Wii instead. The phone rang and he (Sheikh Khalid Al Thani) told me who he was and what he wanted to do. We had a lengthy conversation. After the phone call I went on Google to see if this person was who he said he was, because I’d never really met him before and had no idea who he was. It turned out he was the real deal. He invited myself, Dave Wood, Tommy Lipar, and [Nowling’s girlfriend at the time and now wife] Jessica to come to Qatar in November 2008. Dave Wood was unable to make the trip due to prior commitments, but Tommy Lipar, Jessica, and I did make the trip. We were treated very kindly. We were lavished with gifts and stayed at resorts, took private planes, and just were seeing a side of life that I had never been exposed to.

The second night we were there we were flown to Dubai for a race in Um al Kuwain. After the first night of the race we were taken back to Khalid’s penthouse at the Monarch in Dubai.

What came out of that 2008 meeting was essentially that they were going to do some sponsorship through the Speedtech company for the 2009 season and were going to finish the dragstrip they had just started, which is now known as the Qatar Racing Club, and at some point we would have the Arabian Drag Racing League there and use the same template, rules-wise, give or take a little, that we had used for the American Drag Racing League and for the 2009 season, they were going to sponsor it.

2009 was also the year that the National Guard went from the presenting sponsorship of the American Drag Racing League to the title sponsorship of the American Drag Racing League.

During the 2009 season, we obviously saw an exponential amount of growth. Other companies, Ford Motor Co, Hardee’s, Safety-Kleen, Mickey Thompson, Summit Racing Equipment and several others had gotten involved in the ADRL.

I’m a man who has committed many sins, but my dedication and loyalty to the American Drag Racing League and especially the racers has been unwavering since day one.  From the very first day that I went to work for Dave Wood, running the then-AMS NHRA Pro Mod Challenge, my agreed upon salary was $120,000 a year, which is roughly what I was making prior to that in my other business, but I had to sell my previous company and put all effort into running that series full time.

(DRO file photo)

Dave always paid me on time every time, and the agreed upon amount. That was the same amount that I continued to get paid even after we landed all of those major sponsorships.  And the reason I point that out is, I guess, to defend myself. When we got the $2.7 million from the National Guard in 2009 and our purses increased by a million plus, I still paid myself $120,000 when I had every right, as CEO of the company, to increase my salary if I had wanted to. I made the same amount from the day I started to the day I left: $120,000 a year with the ADRL.

:How did the Sheikh become involved with the ADRL while it was still sponsored by the National Guard?

KN: He had an ADRL sponsorship program through the nitrous oxide company he owned, Speedtech.

:Did that sponsorship or any other involvement with the ADRL bother the National Guard? 

KN: Yeah. When we started sponsor discussions at the end of the 2009 season at some point while I was in Qatar I was called back to Washington, DC, and basically was told that there were a couple of vehicles, specifically one of Scotty Cannon’s race cars that had the Flowmaster ADRL presented by the National Guard series decal on it and there were pictures of that car taken in the Middle East that surfaced on the Internet. That raised some major red flags with the National Guard in DC. (The car they were upset about may have been purchased by Bader Ahli, but it was driven by Bader Ahli) and I was called in for a meeting. I flew back from Qatar for this meeting that turned out to be a critical meeting for the ADRL’s future.  I was told by National Guard representatives, and I quote, “If I didn’t quit doing business with “those f*cking ragheads” our National Guard deal was going away.

That was how it was put to me. The representative’s words, and I’m paraphrasing a little bit, “if you don’t quit doing business with those f*cking ragheads, we’re going to quit doing business with you, and you may think we’re all pals because we have a base there and whatnot, but the people in my office look at them as terrorists. And we don’t want our decals on cars over there.”

One of the photos that was referenced – among many – was the one of Scotty Cannon’s car with the Flowmaster American Drag Racing League presented by the National Guard series decal on it.