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Once again -- as it has since 1986 -- the Pro Modified class is dominating the off-season drag racing conversation. No other professional doorslammer class in the history of drag racing has been in a seemingly continuous state of turmoil and controversy as Pro Mod and survived and even thrived. Controversy as much as performance seems to be the stock and trade of Pro Mod.
The big news this year has been the sale of the American Drag Racing by owner Sheikh Khalid Al Thani back to the founder of the organization, Kenny Nowling.
Nowling was fired as the president of the ADRL two years ago by race car manufacturer and then president of Al-Anabi Racing’s U.S. operations Tim McAmis, who then became the league’s CEO. McAmis restructured the ADRL, then owned by the Sheikh, from a series whose business model was free admission for fans and racers and which was financed mainly by securing major sponsors like the National Guard, Flowmaster, and Hardees.
When McAmis took over he changed the way it was run to more reflect the NHRA and IHRA does business despite the prior departure of both the National Guard and Flowmaster, who had sponsored the ADRL under Kenny Nowling. McAmis’s change was that fans would have to buy tickets and racers would have to pay to race. The ADRL even began requiring the racers to pay for an ADRL chassis certification even if they had an NHRA chassis cert and ditto for competition license, and memberships in order to generate cash flow.
Several sources close to the ADRL have said that during the 2011 and ‘12 seasons the Sheikh invested about $1.5 million a year just to keep the series afloat. The 2013 season would have seen even more radical changes with the ADRL under McAmis. Instead of renting the track and paying for advertising, the ADRL would instead charge the tracks a flat fee of $25,000 for having an event. Under the new system the tracks would assume most of the liability and get most of the revenue. All of the tracks that had ADRL races had agreed to the new program.
Then, for perhaps nearly three million reasons, Sheikh KH Al Thani decided to cut his losses and put the ADRL up for sale. He had no shortage of bidders for the series but chose to sell it back to Nowling, who says he wasn’t even the highest bidder.
According to my sources, the highest bidder was a group from Texas led by racers and businessmen Jeff Mitchell and David Hubbard. They apparently didn’t care much for losing the bidding war for the ADRL and within a day of the news leaking out that Nowling and his Fight Hard MMA, LLC, partners had won, the group led by Mitchell and including many of the former ADRL employees formed their own entity, naming it the Xtreme Drag Racing League.
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