The Nostalgia Drag Racing League Interview with Troy Wilson
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last three years, then you probably have heard about the NDRL (Nostalgia Drag Racing League). They came on the scene in 2011 stomping a path across in the Midwest and are poised for their biggest season yet. With nitro, 200 mph passes, 7.0 door cars, and wheels-up gassers, they offer a fresh approach to the nostalgia scene. For our first issue, Nostalgia Drag World decided to sit down with NDRL President Troy Wilson for some winter time bench racing and shop talk.
NDW - Tell us how the NDRL came about?
After the sudden pull out of the Good-Guys Drag Racing program in November 2010, it was pretty much evident that quarter-mile nostalgia racing could possibly come to an end in the Midwest. The idea was tossed around between Mark Vaught and Allen Robbins to possibly make a try at putting something together but it wasn’t acted on immediately. A month or so had passed and several racers were invited to meet and discuss it face to face. The first week of January, we all agreed to meet at Freedom Racing Engines in Brownsburg, Indiana and it’s freaking snowing like crazy. In all honesty, I dang near stayed home, but we all plowed thru the white stuff to get there and looking back I’m glad we went. Assembled were racers from each class to get an idea on what needed to be done to make it a success. We left there with the NDRL being born and the first season bluntly staring us in the face.
NDW - What happened then?
Well, of course, first things first. We had to make a logo and get a website up. Social networking is key so a Facebook page was created and a message board was added to the site. The classes were easy as it was the same format laid out by the Good-Guys and close to what the Reunion was doing. We did alter the rules some but it was to make the cars safer and open it up for more people to try it. Another thing you don’t instantly think of was filing for nonprofit status, finding an accountant, banking, mailing…and the list goes on. The biggest thing we did was gather up the IAMAW as a title sponsor and we are fortunate enough to have them going in to 2013 as well.
NDW - How would you rate that first season?
Rate the first season? Well, we had a lot to learn in a hurry but, yeah, it had to be a success or there would not have been a second season. You have to remember, we left Brownsburg on January 8th with an idea and that is all. We had no sponsors, no drivers, no web presence, and most importantly, no race tracks to race on. It took a total team effort to make this happen. We all knocked on doors for sponsors, contacted the racers that we knew, and started looking at track schedules trying to find dates. Kurt Johnson was managing IRP at that time and came to a meeting where he gave us a date with no questions asked. Dallas Jones at Bowling Green backed up Kurt and gave us our second date, then Edgewater was onboard making it three races. Quality over quantity was the motto to keep it cheap for everyone as we still didn’t have a dollar to pay out.
NDW - That sounds very politically correct!
You caught that huh? I’m not going to lie to you….we stumbled a couple of times and we told the drivers going into Indy that we would and we did. The problems were corrected as soon as possible and we moved on. It was hard to do; man, some tracks were just not interested. Sponsors were the same; the amount of pipe dreams they have to mess with is probably mind boggling. Plus we had to deal with the naysayers - or haters if you like that word better - but we survived it.
NDW - Haters in drag racing, Come on?
For every idea that comes up someone will tell you that you are wrong. We have been told we were wrong, from the amount of races, the payouts, the rules, the classes; even to the way that we announced it to the public we were opening shop. This gig takes some thick skin and that’s a fact!
NDW - There are now two seasons down and the NDRL is starting on year three. What has changed?
The biggest change was going to five races. Dallas has been very good to the League and has asked for two races again this year. Kurt and Bill Bader were re-launching the Blue Suede Cruise again so there was the third race. Dave worked tirelessly with the NHRA’s Steve Gibbs and they adopted the NDRL rules for use at the Reunions in Bowling Green and in Epping this fall and letting us use the Reunion in BG as a points race. We have added a full time Race Director in Jason Becker. He comes with a list of references and is also a Certified NHRA Tech, so that will be a plus. We have also picked up some new sponsors for this year like Briggs & Stratton, Steele Rubber Products, and Hot Heads to go with the list we already have. With their paying guaranteed money, the sponsors are very crucial to survival and we are proud to have each and every one of them.
NDW - You keep referring to “We.” Who is that?
This deal takes a group effort by the Board, the Committee…whatever you want to call us. Al, Mark, Michelle Lewis, Wayne Sears, Dave Mullin, Sally Walczak, and I make up the inner workings. Bottom line is that this is a total team effort and, along with our spouses, it takes all of us to make it go. Skip Lewis, Donna Mullin, and my wife, Amy, all help out with whatever is needed to be done at the track or at home. We can also include the racers and sponsors too. This is a democracy in a sense and it takes each and every one of us to make it go. You got to remember, we are racers too…all we want is a place to race and if we have to build and maintain it… we will!
NDW - Where do you want to be in five years?
That’s a tough one there…. we’ve never sat down as a group and discussed it. There are always fires that need put out or something that needs to be taken up in discussion, but asking me, we need to stay on our current path of four to five races, all in the tri-state area. I would love for us to get back to Indy and that is something that I will continue to work on. For now we’ll deliver what we promised: honoring our sponsor commitments and giving the racers the absolute best we have to offer!
NDW - Editor with Troy Wilson; Photos by Steve Fuhrman