NATIONAL DIRT RACING ALLIANCE
A plethora of definitions exist for the acronym NDRA. Among the many ; National Defense and Research Authority, National Drug Regulating Authority, NOPI Drag Racing Association, and National Dirt Racing Association. However, we have decided to link with tradition and add to the list the National Dirt Racing Alliance.
In 1936 William France Sr moved to Daytona and raced the Daytona beach stock car sand track. He finished 5th and became enamored with stock car racing. He took over running the course in 1938. After becoming aware of the inequities in the sport he concluded racing would not flourish without a formal sanctioning organization standardizing rules, schedules, and an organized championship. On February 21, 1948 he created the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing – NASCAR. The very first NASCAR sanctioned stock car race was held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1949. Glenn Dunaway took the checkered flag but in post race inspection was found illegal for modifying the suspension removing some leaf springs. He was disqualified giving the win to Jim Roper. Coincidentally Jim Roper’s son Dean Roper became an accomplished racer and is tied in second place for most wins in ARCA’s annual DuQuoin State Fairground’s 100 with the NDRA founder and 2019 National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee Billy Thomas, who also holds the record for most laps led at the Magic Mile.
Fast forward 30 years and a young ambitious promoter Robert Smawley was about to shift the paradigm for late model dirt racing. He held a race at Newport Tennessee with an unprecedented $10,000 to win 100 laps. Jimmy Thomas, founder of East Alabama Motor Speedway ( now in its 47th year of successful family operation) took his race team, comprised of his 2 talented son racers Billy and Bobby Thomas and racing legend Buck Simmons. Jimmy and Billy were also the founders of Jig-A-Lo chassis which Jimmy’s team raced exclusively. Billy started on the outside pole and the big win went to Buck Simmons. Jimmy recognized the tremendous potential of such a successful event and convinced Smawley that taking the 10K event on the road would become The Greatest Show on Dirt. Jimmy enlisted the aid of Scooter Brothers Engine builders from Memphis and Vaughn Winters of famed Winters Performance Products to partner with Smawley. Jimmy offered East Alabama Motor Speedway as a launchpad. On August 5, 1978 the inaugural National Dirt Racing Association 100 lap $10,000 to win event was held at EAMS and the face of late model dirt track racing was changed forever. The NDRA brought the obscure shadow sport to the forefront of mainstream recognition.
After Bobby Thomas won the first event in a Jig-A-Lo chassis the win had other drivers like Charlie Hughes in a Jig-A-Lo winning most of their races and setting fast time at most of the tracks. Sales at Jig-A-Lo skyrocketed. A virtual Who’s Who of late model dirt racing drivers placed orders for the new car. Billy said when Jimmy hit on the lightweight tubular jig built frame with Billy’s custom built Chevrolet motor, the innovation was the perfect formula for speed and control. They had created the fastest dirt late model of the era. With the NDRA’s high purses other sanctioning bodies were formed like World of Outlaws and Lucas Oil Late Model Series and now the top drivers could earn a decent living with a fast car and a major race team..
Fast forward another 30 years or so and after an illustrious career spanning 50 years, Billy Thomas, out of altruism, created the National Dirt Racing Alliance. More than a sanctioning body offering common sense rules and regulations. The NDRA ushers in a new era for its associates. Participants will benefit surreptitiously from Billy’s vast knowledge of the sport.Track owners can learn new ways to create revenue streams and marquee events. Promoters get tips on securing sponsorship and maximize dollars spent on advertising using social media to increase ticket sales. Concessions – how to provide high quality food at affordable prices through bartering and trading resources. Track maintenance – how to select the proper soil for your track to reduce dust and gain a fast surface. Lean how to shape the track to create a multi-grooved surface to increase passing and generate more excitement. Proper watering and packing also play an important part of having a good track. Learn how to purchase an adequate sound system on a budget and choose the right music and announcer. Lighting – how to have 100% shadow free visibility all the way around the track. Drivers can learn new tactics for moving to the front and securing your position. Also learn to select tires, shocks, and gears to chase a changing track. Associates need only to ask.
The NDRA creates affordable packages controlling costs for tires, shocks, and motors for a level playing field. Its about evolving the sport in a positive fashion to ensure all participants have the quality of entertainment that lasts a lifetime. Join the NDRA and experience excellence.