Meet Drag Racing's Unlikeliest Sponsor

Sheik's son has colossal budget, love of motor sports
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2009 10:20 AM CDT
Meet Drag Racing's Unlikeliest Sponsor
In this photo from NHRA, Larry Dixon races to the No. 1 qualifying position in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to take the lead in Top Fuel Friday on Feb. 20, 2009 in Chandler, Arz.   (AP Photo/NHRA, Richard Brady)

The biggest name in American drag racing is an unfamiliar one: Sheik Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani. The 22-year-old son of the emir of Qatar has a deep love of fast cars and even deeper pockets—his new team's budget is estimated at $10 million, reports the Wall Street Journal. "That's the ultimate sponsor, because he's the guy who loves drag racing and has unlimited funds," says one competitor.

The all-American world of cars that hit 300mph in 4 seconds might not seem the logical place for a Middle Eastern royal, but Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing has received a warm welcome. "It's a little nutty, but it's competition, and competition is good," says one owner-driver. "If someone from a foreign market is interested in our sport, I say, 'Come on in.'"
(Read more Qatar stories.)

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