Darrell Alderman, two-time National Hot Rod Assn. pro stock drag racing champion from Morehead, Ky., faces a possible ban from racing after his plea of guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine.
Alderman, who won a record 11 of 14 national events last year in a Dodge Daytona, was indicted March 21 in Fayette County, Ky., but a series of postponements delayed a hearing until last Friday. At the time of the indictment, the NHRA announced that "a person is presumed innocent unless proved guilty or otherwise pleads guilty."
The four-member NHRA competition committee met Thursday to make a ruling, after the unexpected guilty plea. The committee is composed of Steve Gibbs, Graham Light, Cary Menard and Mike Lewis, all vice presidents of the Glendora-based organization.
Spokesman Denny Darnell said an announcement will be made today by Dallas Gardner, NHRA president. The drag racing season will start with the Winternationals at Pomona Fairplex Jan. 31-Feb. 2.
"The delay in making a decision occurred because two of the four members, plus Gardner, were all vacationing at the time Alderman pleaded guilty," Darnell said.
Judge Henry Wilhoit set March 6 as the date for sentencing. The guidelines range from 51 to 63 months in jail and a fine of $10,000 to $100,000.
Alderman was hospitalized for 22 days in a substance-abuse program after having himself admitted May 6. It was the day after the Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, at which he lost in the final round to Warren Johnson.
"Darrell is insistent that he never drove while under the influence, nor showed up at a race track under the influence," said Janet Dougherty, a spokeswoman for the Mopar/Wayne County Speed Shops team, for which Alderman drives. "He admits to using cocaine, between 1988 and early 1991, but that he was not a seller and did not finance a drug operation."
Dougherty said she and Alderman would attend an All-America team banquet Saturday night in Burbank at which he will be honored as one of the members.