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XDRL Cancels Races, Blames Internet, Releases Statement, Is More Than Likely Dead And Gone

XDRL Cancels Races, Blames Internet, Releases Statement, Is More Than Likely Dead And Gone

While we were in prep mode for the 60th World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova, news was coming out regarding the short and long term future of one door slammer drag racing league. The ADRL and XDRL have been at loggerheads (whether they want to admit it or not) all year with series essentially competing for the same racers, the same audience, and the same dollars from fans and sponsors. The bad part is that neither of them seem to be attracting much from any of those categories. The XDRL has seemingly had it worse in 2013 or it has done an inferior job of deflecting its shortcomings than the other series has to this point in the year.

It was no big secret that the XDRL was in trouble shortly after the first couple of races in the 2013 campaign. With the very fruitful purse that the series had to cover along with all of the other expenses, XDRL needed to gets its legs under it in a quick fashion and that simply never happened. Spectator counts were dismal. It has been surmised by several racers and sources that we trust here at BangShift that the paid attendance at the St Louis ADRL meet was less than 900 people for the weekend. Even if it was double that, when one looks at the hard numbers, the weekend would rank near the top of all time financial disasters in the history of a sport that has had more than its share. Jeff Mitchell, the owner of the series has made statements in the past to the likes of Drag Illustrated Magazine and others that there was enough money in the till to support the XDRL though a weak financial season. With the number of racers who are currently awaiting purse money from multiple races (even after a water company stepped in an promised to cover the purse at the Maryland race, which apparently did not happen) those statements appear to be dubious.

The other shoe dropped on August 23, when the XDRL posted a pair of statements on their FB page. Here’s the first:

“While we understand the power of open communications and acknowledge its importance in today’s digital world, our industry does struggle to attract new corporate money, followers and fans when this power is used in such a negative way. It can cause certain companies to avoid the relationship for fear of being attacked for aligning themselves with the sport. Racers, race tracks and all promoters have a hard enough time finding new resources to operate on without this added distraction.” 

We will continue to press on and look forward to a time soon when the low lights of inaugural season are behind us and can once again look forward with the excitement and enthusiasm that is The X-DRL.

While we can’t be 100% sure who this statement was directed towards we can say that there have been a growing number of cat calls from unpaid racers around the internet, raising hell that they have not received their paychecks from races that they finished “in the money” at. We know of at least one mountain motor pro stock racer who is owed several races of pay and who was depending on the money to keep his operation on the race track. The chances of seeing that are slim to none, especially after this second statement was released on the XDRL FB page the same day. Here’s the second statement –

We would like to thank all of the racers, fans, sponsors and track partners who have continued to support us as we work through these un-forseen financial difficulties. We continue to work on completing our financial restructuring through our financial partners and sponsorship partners that will allow us to pay all past obligations, inclusive of all racer payouts and vendor payments, and move forward in a positive manner. In the meantime, regrettably, we are canceling Thunder at the Heartland scheduled for September 20-21 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and Southern Slam scheduled for October 4-5 at Montgomery Motorsports Park. We are hopeful that we will work through these issues and be able to finish the season with the World Finals in October at Charlotte.

This may be the last gasp we actually hear from the XDRL. Reading this statement, several things are clear. Financially, they are in shambles. They don’t have the money to pay the people they owe, they don’t have the money to host the next two races on their schedule, and they’re pretty much done. It seems completely insane to even consider the running of their “World Finals” in October because the other races have been such horrendous failures in both car count and spectator count and because they have such ill-will from the pro mod and doorslammer racing community built up, the most intense action could be happening in the race control room with stiffed drag racers demanding payment for events they won or placed in months ago!

We’re not reveling or celebrating the XDRL’s implosion. We’re not playing “I told you so,” and we’re not taking a side. It is a newsworthy event when an organization starts up, announces a nationwide series, and then suffers the fate that the XDRL is apparently suffering right now. It always seemed like a strange plan from the get go because the ADRL’s pay for ticket structure over the last couple of seasons was largely a disaster and these guys were doing virtually nothing different from that. The ADRL, which has gone back to the free ticket deal isn’t exactly filling places like they were in the old days either and rumors swirl about their ability to cover the huge payouts at the upcoming Rockingham race.

All of this leads to an important question. What in the hell happened to pro mod? For most of the 1990s and well into the 2000s it was the most explosive and exciting class in heads up drag racing. Seriously, the ADRL’s first go-round was less a drag racing series and more a cultural revolution. We all saw the photos and heard the stories of tracks literally having to shut their gates to people because they were blown out to capacity. Rockingham’s Steve Earwood famously called the ADRL Kenny Nowling “Champagne Kenny” for the huge crowds he’d bring to the track. Those days seem to be largely over for everyone who isn’t promoting a nostalgia funny car race.

Was the complete division and diaspora of the class over the drag racing landscape enough to water it down so far that no one cares anymore? When it was the IHRA owning the class and match races elsewhere, the guys running in the front were rock stars. Scotty Cannon, the Stotts, all of them. Today? Not so much. The cars are running harder and faster than ever before and they’re doing it in front of “crowds” that would be unhurt if bazooka practice took place in the bleacher next to them.

So it looks like the XDRL is gone. Cry not for them….cry for the complete lack of interest in pro mods these days. How does that get fixed?


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31 thoughts on “XDRL Cancels Races, Blames Internet, Releases Statement, Is More Than Likely Dead And Gone

  1. Shawn

    Well one problem is that their so call “pro classes” all look the same and in the 1/8 mile they only perform a few tenths off of eachother. so for the casual fan, hell even the fan that really knows drag racing can have a hard time telling the classes apart.
    Also not trying to step on any toes but only racing to the 1/8 mile on a 1/4 mile track is boring and goofy, no different then watching fuel cars run to the 1000ft,

  2. jerry z

    Promod mostly lost the audience when the 1963 Corvette body came out. From then on usually half the field were Vettes, diversity was long gone.

  3. orange65

    IMO- I enjoy Pro Mod but there is not that much separating it from a lot of the drag radial classes. Pro Mods are for the most part race cars- built not from a production car in contrast with a drag radial car which is build from a production car. I think that that is a draw for drag radial cars and has taken away from Pro Mod.

    Either way, it is bad to lose a series that supports drag racing. I hate that the drivers got stiffed and crowds did not show up. I was considering going to the Montgomery race to spectate.

  4. OldBob

    It now seems like most ProMods are the same. I really think 1/8 mile adds to this. I still believe that it can be exciting, hopefully good cars that have diversity will increase, and maybe stay in it another 660 ft. Hope so.

  5. Don

    With the economy in such shambles, Im surprised anything beyond bracket racing mom and pops station wagon is surviving in the world of drag racing. Major sponsors are pulling out left and right. Drag racing is likely in big trouble nation wide.

  6. Rob-UK

    Surely it doesn’t help that NHRA have separated the Pro Mods out too, I remember watching the NHRA on TV years ago and Pro Mod was ran alongside all the Top fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock. But now I have moved the the USA and wanted to go to my first NHRA event and I see that the pro mods are not included with the main series and run a separate schedule. Whats up with that!

  7. Nytro

    What happened to pro-mod? The same thing that happened to NASCAR before they took huge enough losses that forced them to listen to the fans – the cars don’t look like cars anymore, they look like distorted rounded blobs with headlight and taillight decals.
    I remember the pro-mods of the 80s and 90s and you knew instantly what each car was when it rolled into the lanes.
    NASCAR went to generic looking blobs and suffered what qualifies for them as very low revenues during that time, now they’re back to more realistic looking cars and they’re already reporting improved tv audiences as well as race attendance.
    We like cars and car races, not blobs and blob racing.

  8. Raw

    What took away from promod???
    1. Chopped cookie cutter, weg type body styles…
    2, Torque converters and automatic shfters.
    What got Pro Mod to Rock star status were cars that were a beast to wrestle to the other end. They had a clutch peddal, (some still do, but they are few), pulled lenco levers and didn’t look like cookie cutter prostock cars.
    ProMod needs to take a lesson from nostalgia funny cars. Go back to what got you here.

      1. Jeremy "Taco" Patterson

        The 1/8th mile isn’t the devil. Don’t get me wrong, I love that second half as much as the next guy, but that also leads to a lot more broken parts, and most importantly, higher risk of fatalities at such insane speeds.

        Yes, we all know that’s a risk at 60′, but I think an 1/8th mile is a great compromise in excitement and safety.

  9. crazy

    The cars lost their soul, many racing styles have this issue, with the almighty aero over look. It kills the “draw” Prostock has the same issue, funnycar gets away with it, because of the name of the class,
    Only reason to run 1/8th on a 1/4 is your junk won’t live for a 1/4. Only good reason is if the track is only a 1/8th mile track..PERIOD…
    Fact is even the top fuel cars had more pull of ticket sales when running 5sec passes
    There is a point were the cars are to fast, and the “show” to short.. The 1-2 minute build up for a low 4sec pass is a bore to most fans in the stands.. They’ve shown the cars can run the numbers, now show them down with bringing back some character to the sport and the cars.
    Drag racing was hot when the kids/guys in the stands watched and thought I can do that, And even tho they still can, most never see those cars run. As they car not part of most national events programs and if they are, they are shelved if any time issue pops up.. No one looks at a car with a 20k+ bullet in the nose and says to themselves I could do that..THIS IS WHERE DRAGRACING HAS FAILED..
    Speed is nice, but it’s All about the SHOW.. and a bunch of cookiecutter race cars lined up blasting off run after run ,one run looking just like the last is boring as hell.

  10. Jeremy "Taco" Patterson

    LISTEN TO THE FANS. For the love of God, the ADRL was so ridiculously close to taking over the NHRA as the premier (and fan-favorite) sanctioning body, then the s&$t hit the fan… I went to ADRL Memphis, the most recent ADRL event, and truly enjoyed it.

    One reason: CLOSE racing. There were few aborted runs and the racing was all very tight and fast.

    Another: Al Tucci and Kenny Nowling’s announcing. They could have taken a breather here and there, but the announcing tandem was STELLAR at building the crowd.

    Another: “The Burndown”. NHRA would have squashed it and probably fined both drivers. Tucci and Nowling used it to build the crowd into a FRENZY!!! I was taking photos from the left tower behind the starting lines and could EASILY hear the roar of the crowd over the cars as they say! It was electrifying.

    ADRL has some assets going for it, but they need a team of “surveyors”, not walking around with clipboards and making it all official, as many fans would decline to participate. Just a team of folks walking around with ADRL shirts on, asking as many fans as possible what they do and don’t like.

    Sure, they could ask on Facebook and Twitter, but 99% of those respondents aren’t going to a race anytime soon, so their opinion shouldn’t matter anyway.

    What answers will they get? Hard to say, really. I know a lot of fans would like to see, as has been mentioned here, a “stock” car they can REALLY relate to. I like what the X-DRL did (or tried to do) with the “Supercar Showdown”. I think it would REALLY need factory support to get the car count up, or maybe reconfigure the rules to something similar to one of the most popular classes in all of racing right now, X275 Drag Radial. Factory bodies, stock suspension, Drag Radials, and actual OPTIONS for powerplants. Fans LOVE it. No Wheelie Bars leads to excitement when they drag the bumper and still run 4.90’s in the 1/8th. The fans seemed to love Pro Drag Radial (Limited Street) at Memphis, I don’t see why they wouldn’t love X275 as well.

  11. Mr. Harder

    I agree that the cookie cutter cars, and the HUGE budgets these teams run have killed classes like Pro-Mod (pro-mod is not alone here). Like mentioned above, the radial tire / small tire cars are easier for the fans to relate to because they still look like a street mustang/camaro.
    I don’t know what the answer is, i don’t agree that restricting the cars backward in time will help. Progress is good. maybe make bodies have to pass approvals, and limit engine displacement.
    In the end, bad ass door cars have to be exactly that… bad ass door cars… not pro-stock cars on roids

  12. Adam

    Bad economy. Doesn’t help that 70% of all the cars going down the track are 69 camaro’s. I hate to say it but also the track prep probably got too good. Well the racers and crew love it, the fans don’t get to see the “stereotypical wild and crazy pro mod” passes. ADRL is looking as good as it can in this bad economy in my opinion. When our team wasn’t competing, I would still travel to spectate at ADRL events but I just cant afford to do it any more. If this economy ever turns around, I believe the attendance will also. If you notice, attendance is down in nascar and nhra also.

  13. Hotrodcharlie

    As a casual fan, I thought that the ADRL and XDRL were the same series. I went to an ADRL show at Martin about 5 years ago when it was free, just paid for parking. The place was jam packed. And there were still different bodies being used.

    I think what drag racing lacks today is known drivers. Rivalries, and identifiable cars. John Force is the face of NHRA, like it or not. I have no idea who races pro mod now. My pro mod heroes are all retired. Remember Charles Carpenter, Wild Bill Kuhlman, Rob Vandergriff, Scotty Cannon? Nitrous vs. Blower.

    The drag racing crowd is getting older too. Not to mention how many different entertainment options there are today. And with the economy not doing so well, some people have to go without entertainment. The younger generation have video games and extreme sports.

    Brian, the story you wrote here sounds quite similar to the demise of the AHRA. And it’s never good to hear that racers are not getting paid. There is no quick fix for the issues that most of racing is dealing with right now.

  14. Anonymous

    “It’s the economy” is a crock.

    When every kid is seemingly glued to a $$$ smart phone, millions of households spend $100+/month on cable/satellite/internet, the illegal drug industry is flush with cash, and the bars and casino parking lots are overflowing, there are still oceans of coin being blown on “entertainment.”

    The “product” is just not convenient or competitive anymore. And that includes Indy, NASCAR, and pro drag racing.

    Blaming “the economy” is just an excuse. Might as well blame NHTSA, CARB, and the EPA for killing off cheap RWD performance cars . . . .

  15. greg m

    !/8th mile is some of the problem. Ive heard a lot of fans of drag racing say they wot go to an event because of it. Kids now a days dont care because they cant relate to the cars either. They dont have a clue how big a motor they run.

  16. M.W.E.B.

    Money is tight these days, but if you wanna bring back pro mod, it would help to at least get them some T.V. time. Pro mod cars are great around the world. Blown and injected door cars will never get old. They’ll come back

  17. Jeff Lee

    I am going to relate this to my experience working at the sanctioning body that started Pro Mod. This dilution and Pro Mod war is why IHRA no longer has Pro Mod or Pro Stock as competitive classes and has a booked in show for Nitro Jam and Thunder Jam events (which do sometimes include Pro Mod). It’s low overhead and they have a solid show to promote to fans and sponsors. This was Bader’s model for his Night Under Fire show and coupled with customer service/happiness and that is why and how the Bader’s succeed and the tracks who run these events (Thunder Jam specifically) succeed. I have a lot of issues with how some things were run during my time at IHRA, but this is one thing they did very well. This was pure economics. SFX, Clear Channel, Live Nation, Feld, Bader and Polburn were all business.

    When we made that call to eliminate Pro Mod and Pro Stock (and AFC) people who supported IHRA for years were really mad about it. Back then guys were spending half a million or more per year to go to 10 IHRA events. They felt betrayed. But again if you take the emotion out of it and look at the big picture, it was all economics.

    Bader just took Norwalk Raceway to NHRA which was a huge blow to our credibility when the president who turned IHRA around turned his back on IHRA. However now that I am out, I understand that it was personal and economically motivated. The financial crisis was happening shortly after that. Hooters left. Werner left. Emax was a sham company. So was Torco. Evan Knolll’s tax fraud implosion decimated funding of somewhere around 20-25 teams by my count. And they were the IHRA series sponsor! Well funded IHRA PS, PM & Nitro guys saw this mess and started dropping out or moving up to NHRA. There was room in NHRA because a lot of the NHRA guys got taken out by the Torco swindler or were fraudsters on their own.

    ADRL formed and NHRA started their Pro Mod program (both initiatives led by Kenny Nowling and Mike Ashley) and further diluted Pro Mod. Regional associations were forming and diluting the once great IHRA Pro Modified program. So Pro Mod became a commodity and we cut it loose. There is only so much to go around.

    All of this is just my view on why XDRL was DOA. IHRA was started because of a track owner’s grievance with NHRA. ADRL was started because of a racer’s grievance with IHRA. And XDRL was started because of an employee’s grievance with the ADRL. The Drag Racing world does not need another sanctioning body. It needs unity as racers and sponsors look at all this childish drama and mismanagement and don’t want to continue to throw their money at it.

  18. cloyce kemp

    guys MONEY IS TIGHT,and our nations leaders could care less,people out of work and such.a ticket on sunday to nhra is around$60.00 ,$10.00-$15.00 to park is rediculous,plus [email protected] live about 1hr.from memphis ,i have not been to a BIG RACE since it reopened,i liked the old i h r a .also when you go to the city of memphis your chances of getting robbed ,killed or carjacked are likely. pro-mod is like pro-stock its the cookie cutter class it has no idenity,[email protected] ,no 57 chevys willys or anything else.just my 5cents worth.

  19. Jon Jones

    What Happened ? …like maybe the easiest question in the world…. NO MONEY ! They didn’t have the capital to even survive the first year, it was doomed to fail even before the first race. Pro Mod Racing is alive and well ! The low attendance is due to the economy, It cost me a nice little chunk of change to go out of town for a two day race.
    Until the cost of living is corralled, expect all of the Drag Racing world to suffer. Support your local tracks and pray we get some intellectual leadership in Washington. Until then hang tough guys !

  20. Anthony Castillo

    Some very good comments. I agree with most of them. I still love Pro Mods, but I have to amplify the cookie cutter/blob car and 1/8 mile seniments. When I first found out about ADRL I was stoked. Then when I found out it was all 1/8 I didn’t care any longer, no matter how cool the cars looked. Now the cars are looking less cool with each passing year. There has to be rules to deal with body mods. So what if cars are less areo, thus slower. If they look cooler and you know what you’re looking at, so be it. It would more than make up for the loss in ET. I’m sorry, but I hate 1/8 mile racing (and 1000′ TF). What’s next 60′ drags?

  21. owen chester

    it started going away when the cost started to sky rocket..put it back like it used to be. all cars were running on limited budgets and having fun for the love of the sport

  22. Davey

    Fans can’t relate to the cars … as stated above… they are all Sprint Cup like blobs. No brand attention, no rivalries. I also believe social media and live streaming have killed many events. Why would I spend $40 a head to sit in the heat with a bunch of (other) smelly fans and disorderly drunks when I can watch the event for free in the comfort of my house ?? Cheaper beer as well. I also believe that for the most part the drivers have lost focus on what pays the bills… the fans. Showmanship is gone and racers these days believe they are entitiled to big pay outs but fail to make the connection between fans in the stands and money for payouts. Many racers I’ve talked to hate the fans ans consider them a nuisance. Super gas used to be top of the heap for fan appeal… now it’s cookie cutter cars and throttle stop racing (read that as BORING) and an excuse to hit the concessions…

    Just my 2 cents

  23. Anonymous

    I am growing so tired of people ranting about 1/8 mile Pro Mod. Galot Motorsports, Farber, R Smith, Flamholc , Al Anabi team and so many other don’t have your problem, even Erica Enders is coming back for more. Rickie Smith is a very serious guy and does both on extremely regular basis. 1/8 has always been part of Pro Mod, it’s in the roots no one can change that and if it was not for the support of those narrow 1/8th tracks early on, it may never even have turned to what it is. Let Top Fuel be unique and Pro Mods be unique or we are going toward extremely boring. Stay home if you don’t like it but stop the boring rants!

    Indy has 26 cars entered. ADRL is about to have it’s biggest race of the year and had huge number of cars in PX at Memphis, over 25 if I recall. Where do people see the car counts going down because of cost? From their living room, may be, not at the tracks for sure. I’m not saying cost is not a factor, but the cars are there, I’ve seen them, I’ve touched them. And I can tell an altered 55 Nomad from a ’13 Camaro, a Willys, a Corvette a 65 Mustang, or a school bus, all seen at Memphis. Kids want their pictures in front of the school bus by the way. Come on people, get out go see it for yourself, it’s well alive at the track, just go see for yourself.

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