ADRL Plans Tribute to Fallen Racer
O'FALLON, MO (Jan. 15, 2008) -- Calling him "one of my honest-to-God heroes," American Drag Racing League (ADRL) President Kenny Nowling vowed to honor the memory of race driver Steve Engel, 49, who died Sep. 14, at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Engel succumbed to complications from severe back injuries sustained in a high-speed crash Aug. 30, while competing in an NHRA Pro Modified race at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Indiana.
"Any time we lose a member of the drag racing community it's very difficult; however, this is especially tough since Steve was not only a member of and competitor with the ADRL, but also someone I had known for several years and considered a personal friend," Nowling said. Engel last raced with the ADRL in August 2007, at Norwalk, Ohio, in the eighth-mile series' Pro Extreme class. "My heart goes out to Steve's wife, Tonya, and his young sons, Stevie and Michael, at this obviously difficult time."
Nowling has been asked to speak at Engel's funeral Sep. 19, where he also will present the family with a unique ADRL tribute. The ADRL also is planning a tribute to Engel at its season-ending national event at Dallas, Texas, in October, where each competitor's car will carry a memorial decal currently being designed for approval by the Engel family.
Furthermore, although Engel's accident did not occur under ADRL sanction, Nowling said the ADRL has already started work on a behind-the-scenes initiative with one of drag racing's leading chassis builders to examine how to improve the safety aspects of ADRL-style cars.
"The ADRL is committing the first $10,000 to the Steve Engel Project and I'm confident others in the racing community, regardless of affiliation, will support it, too," Nowling said. "These guys go out there and literally put their lives on the line to entertain the fans and we owe it to them to do everything we possibly can to make it as safe as possible for them."
Memorial contributions may be sent in Engel's name to the Drag Racing Association of Women (DRAW), a Charleston, Illinois-based, non-profit organization that provides financial and emotional support to qualified individuals involved in drag racing accidents at a track. A donation form for DRAW is available at www.drawfasthelp.org.
Services for Engel will be held at St. Aloysius Church of Shandon, 3350 Chapel Road, Shandon, OH 45063, with viewing scheduled for 1-9 p.m. Sep. 18, and the funeral at 10 a.m. the next day.
"Steve will be greatly missed. I feel very, very fortunate to have got to know him these last few years," Nowling said. "I will carry many special, wonderful memories of him for as long as I live."