The reputation and expertise of Canadian engine builder and tuning expert Al Billes has for many season’s been wide encompassing — however even that horizon has been expanded….
Billes, whose Barrie Ontario-based ABR company has been and remains one of the most elite sources for new and innovative applications within supercharged Pro Modified class racing – has over the last two years added in an even further dimension to his resume.
Within the upswing PDRA (a fast growing and very competent new cornerstone sanctioning body for 1/8th mile professional level drag racing) Al Billes is now also a crew chief, tuner and trusted advisor for one of that circuit’s most dynamic and interesting new teams.
NAS (Nad Al Shiba) Racing Team, based from Dubai, have multi-factioned racing facilities established both in the Middle East (in UAE) and also in South Carolina. That team has spared no expense while entering the North American drag racing market which includes hiring an impressive supporting staff of knowledgeable drag racers – in support of their pair of very impressive and very similar 1969 Camaro Pro Extreme class cars.
Those supercharged cars are being driven by Mustafa Buhumaid and Bader Ahli. Al Billes is tasked with overseeing the machine driven by Mustafa Buhumaid while co-tuning legend Bob Newberry calls the shots for the car driven by Bader Ahli.
So far in 2015 – the team has been very impressive – with Mustafa Buhumaid winning the P/X title at the PDRA season opening event in Texas and then placing runner-up at the subsequent second race of the year in Rockingham (to hold the overall points lead going into this weekend’s PDRA race in Louisiana).
“For me, things began to happen with this team back in 2013 — but I didn’t come aboard officially until last year,” Al Billes revealed. “I was originally contracted to just fly in and help to tune the cars – but they made some more changes in 2014 and I began to play a higher role.”
“Our goal in their first year was to help to build some team synergy – get the drivers some experience – and make the cars go down the track competitively. We made some more changes for 2015 and so far everything is working out well – the cars are both going quick.”
While the fact that a Canadian citizen is playing such an important role within the aspirations of this international racing team is interesting news for sure, Billes is quick to play down that aspect.
“I guess it’s true that doesn’t happen everyday,” Al confided. “But for me drag racing is really a sport without borders. Every team out there has different personalities and upbringing. There is a common denominator with the people on the team that is all about the sport. It’s not about where they come from, language or anyones beliefs – none of that matters.”
The association with NAS Racing team has provided Billes with some interesting new opportunity to be sure. That includes being able to travel to and from the middle east — which he has really enjoyed.
“That is a really long flight back and forth,” he laughed. “But it was great to check out another part of the world.”
But maybe a surprising dimension for this racing association however is the fact that very little actual ABR technology is used on this teams race cars — so far.
“What P/X teams run is nothing like what we run on the NHRA Pro Mod legal side,” Al added. “There are none of my signature supercharger programs over here. The basic power plants are the same but those motor programs are run very differently. The power these P/X cars make is really phenomenal and there is a big difference in the way the cars are step up. So the fact that it’s not my stuff being used is an attraction for me — because I’m learning all the time.”
The NAS Racing team’s #1 focus is on winning the PDRA’s P/X championship title this season. They are also promotional innovatores, uniquely using the sport of drag racing to help promote and advertise Dubai’s bid for the 2020 World Expo.
For more information the NAS Racing Team – check out their website : HERE
Post and photos by: Bruce Biegler