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Mon, 7 Nov 2005, 02:03 PM

AMS Staff Leasing Ends NHRA Sponsorship
Courtesy of Duke Ritenhouse

Pro Mod Challenge Canceled for 2006

DALLAS -- After an investment of millions of dollars and thousands of hours, AMS Staff Leasing President Dave Wood announced Monday that his company will no longer be a sponsor for the Pro Mod Challenge that has competed at NHRA national events for the past five seasons.

"AMS Staff Leasing has gladly invested in the Pro Mod Challenge over the past several years, but always with the hope of finding other sponsors who would join us in the effort," said Wood, whose company took over as the Pro Mod Challenge's title-rights sponsor before the 2002 season and also backed various entries driven most recently by Troy Critchley. "At this point, I feel that our company can no longer justify the expense, time, and effort that would be needed to maintain the series at the high level to which it is accustomed.

"This is one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. I have made many good friends and have many wonderful memories from racing with the NHRA. It is my sincere hope that another sponsor will step up in the near future to build on the work we did to make the Pro Mod Challenge a success. I would also like to personally thank all of the drivers, teams, fans, and sponsors who have supported our series for the last four years: I wish them all nothing but the best."

Wood's announcement comes just days after Torco Race Fuels owner Evan Knoll, through PR representative Bobby Bennett, withdrew his offer of future sponsorship for the Pro Mod Challenge, leaving AMS Staff Leasing without a financial partner and effectively canceling the 2006 season.

"This is a day I hoped would never come, both personally and professionally," said Kenny Nowling, the Pro Mod Challenge series administrator since 2002. "Like Dave Wood, I have poured countless hours into making the NHRA Pro Mod class the best that it could be, and I have treated the Pro Mod Challenge like my fourth child. The success we've enjoyed, along with the many wonderful relationships I've established over those years, will always be memories I cherish.

"I think all Pro Mod drivers, teams, sponsors, and fans owe Dave Wood an enormous amount of gratitude: his investment, in both time and money, has been second-to-none. At the same time, as someone who is in business for himself, I can understand both Dave and Evan needing to make decisions that they feel are best for their companies and their futures."

Wood and Dallas-based AMS Staff Leasing began sponsoring the Pro Mod Challenge in 2002, following NHRA's limited one-year, five-event experiment with the class in 2001. Beginning with the 2002 season, the Pro Mod Challenge competed in at least 10 NHRA national events per year and steadily raised its profile through purse increases, rules changes, exciting championship battles, and some of the best side-by-side drag racing found in any class. The recently concluded 2005 season featured Mike Ashley winning his second consecutive AMS/ TLR Cup world championship and Jay Payne posting the quickest and fastest Pro Mod runs ever recorded (6.000 at 239.23 mph).

"I had hoped that by working with [presenting sponsor] Tommy Lipar in 2005 and Torco Race Fuels in 2006 and beyond, we would ensure the continued development of the class," Wood said. "However, much like I hope Pro Mod fans respect my decision, I respect the fact that Evan Knoll has a business to run. As a businessman, he had to make the decision that he felt was best."

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