Drag Racer Dixon sues the NHRA over two-seater
By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Multi-time World Champion Larry Dixon has sued the NHRA over his two-seat dragster, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. In the lawsuit, he claims he was hit with a wrongful suspension and blacklisting.
Dixon — who last competed full-time in 2015 with Bob Vandergriff Racing — believes he has been wrongfully suspended for the past two years. During this same time, he believes he was blacklisted by the governing body.
The lawsuit was filed on April 11 in Indianapolis, Indiana claims that he is blacklisted from “more than 140 NHRA-member racetracks,” according to the story. He believes that this has given other two-seated dragsters a ‘competitive edge’ over his operation.
“[It was] an obvious effort to use NHRA’s unfettered control over professional drag racing to control the market in which two-seater exhibition cars compete for business,” the lawsuit alleges. “[Dixon] “has now been entirely deprived of his livelihood and sole source of income by this unjustifiable suspension—which is, in effect, a lifetime ban from NHRA—unless he relinquishes an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as the future profits that he could derive from that investment.”
The three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion did not want to file the lawsuit, but he had no other options. He has been involved in the sport since 1995.
“It’s disappointing it’s had to get to this point,” Dixon told IBJ of filing the suit.
Dixon, who now owns Larry Dixon Racing, believes this lawsuit could better understand why the governing body targeted him.
“There’s a lot of it I don’t understand,” Dixon said. “This has absolutely put me out of business as a professional racer. I don’t want anybody else to have to go through something like this.”
The NHRA did not comment on the lawsuit.
Dixon raced for Don Prudhomme’s team, before moving to Al-Anabi Racing, which is owned by tuner Alan Johnson. He also worked for BVR, before forming his own team.
The dispute comes after Dixon and Nick Salamone formed Championship Adventures LLC to develop a two-seater Top Fuel Dragster. It was at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas in 2017 that changed everything.
Dixon billed the adventure as the Larry Dixon Top Fuel Experience, which was revealed as the “fastest ride in drag racing.”
The two-seat Top Fuel Dragster was billed as a “ride of a lifetime with acceleration up to 4 GS and 250 miles per hour in a 1/8th mile rule with the 62-time NHRA national event winner at the control.”
“We got huge, huge response, and literally got over 1,000 email inquiries on that car,” Dixon said to IBJ about the two-seater’s unveiling. “It went off better than I expected.”
However, while it was a hit with a lot of people, the NHRA was not one of them. An NHRA Inspector found an expired NHRA sticker on the dragster while at the SEMA show, which led to major problems for the long-time driver.
The lawsuit claims that the inspector visited the Championship Adventures booth when Dixon was not there to conduct an ‘inspection’ of the two-seater. Dixon claims that the expired sticker was because the dragster was previous commissioned to compete in the NHRA.
“No one had removed the sticker, as there was no need to remove an expired sticker when the car was not built as a competition car,” according to the complaint.
The NHRA inspector in question requested that the sticker be covered up. A person at the booth removed the sticker, which Dixon later found out about.
Following the SEMA show, Dixon reportedly received a “statement of action against participant” from the NHRA. In the letter, it alleged that he had violated terms and was suspended indefinitely.
He could not work as a driver, team owner, or crew member under the suspension. The letter claimed that the sticker “implied NHRA’s approval” on the dragster when that was not what Dixon intended for it to be.
“As you were told by NHRA officials on multiple occasions, NHRA has not and will not approve a two-seat top fuel dragster for a variety of reasons,” the notice stated. “The two-seat top fuel dragster concept presents serious safety concerns that have not been satisfied and that we do not believe can be satisfied.”
He also admitted that the suspension had ‘crushed him.’
Dixon said that he attempted to appeal the decision on numerous occasions. But he believed it was a ‘sham.’
“NHRA in its more than 66-year history has never announced that an expired sticker must be removed, nor had it ever issued a penalty for the display of an expired sticker,” Dixon’s complaint stated. “NHRA’s intent was not to protect the integrity of NHRA-sanctioned races; NHRA intended to destroy [Dixon’s] ability to compete in the markets at issue in this case.”
The lawsuit also claims that Dixon could not have counsel, or see the things that the NHRA has against him in this case.
One year ago, the NHRA claimed he could not compete as a driver or owner if he never raced the two-seat dragster ever again. They also asked him to destroy the car.
The NHRA declared “Mr. Dixon guilty of all charges, but with his suspension purportedly lifted for ‘time served’” in July 2018.
Dixon had his two-seater banned from all of the NHRA member tracks. In addition, according to the lawsuit, the governing body asked ‘others not to do business with Dixon.’
The NHRA does have two-seater experiences at their national events, and even come to their member tracks. One of them is the Doug Foley Pure Speed Racing company — which Foley sold in 2018.
“NHRA member track owners had no choice but to comply with NHRA’s request given NHRA’s monopolistic power over professional drag racing and its concomitant power over member tracks’ financial wellbeing,” the complaint stated.
Dixon claims that he has lost his source of income by not being able to compete. He believes his income will continue to be impacted until the NHRA “correct those defamatory statements.”
He is seeking damages in the lawsuit. Besides the damages, he is also asking for the NHRA to cover his attorney’s fees and a jury trial. Dixon is demanding that the governing body clear his name.
“Technically the [suspension has] been dropped, but they haven’t let anybody know that,” he said.