motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy

NHRA Announces 2018 M/T Top Fuel Harley Schedule

Photos by Tom McCarthy

The Top Fuel Harleys will race ten Mello Yello events in 2018, up two races from last season. Add the US Nationals and the Gators to the list.


Its official, the National Hot Rod Association has announced the 2018 Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley racing schedule and they have expanded this year’s eight race schedule to ten events for next season.


This is very exciting for the racers and the fans of Top Fuel Harley, motorcycle drag racing for several reasons. That the NHRA and Mickey Thompson Tires is willing to embrace the big bikes and include them in the big show is no small endorsement. But more significant is that the T/F Harleys will now have four pro qualifying sessions like the rest of the professional classes and the Top Fuel bikes will now run Mello Yello events at certain races while NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle is in session. No escaping it, the Top Fuel Harley motorcycles are now part of the big show.


Most exciting in the announcement is that fact that the big Top Fuel bikes will be running during the 2018 at Gatornationals and The Big Go: Indy. Yes, it’s true; the Top Fuel Harleys will be running during the 58th running of the NHRA US Nationals. That, my friends, in drag racing is as big as it gets, to race during the NHRA’s biggest, most prestigious race of the season.


The official NHRA Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley schedule for 2018 is: February 8-11 the Winternationals; February 23-25 Arizona Nats, March 15-18 the Gatornationals; April 6-8 Las Vegas; April 20-22 Houston; May 18-20 Topeka; June 15-17 Bristol, TN; July 6-8 New Hampshire; August 3-5 Seattle; and August 29-September 3 the US Nationals.


That the Harleys are now running ten national events within the NHRA Mello Yello series and growing, is great – that their 2018 racing season will conclude during the US Nationals is just the stuff dreams are made of.


With the Top Fuel Harleys expanding their racing with the NHRA, their need for corporate sponsors to fund teams is now paramount. There is no question that the big bikes will have serious TV coverage and national exposure for all ten races. But this begs the obvious question: Which teams can find major sponsorship backing before next season’s first fire-up? I’m reasonably sure that the Top Fuel Harley motorcycles can give the most ROI dollars for advertisers, for a ten-race NHRA national event season. It will be interesting to see which team lands a major sponsor first, to back their 2018 racing program. Right about now, every serious T/F Harley racer in the USA is beating the bushes, looking for corporate dollars to race with next year.

Dean Comunal


In other Top Fuel Harley racing news, T/F HD pilot Dean Comunal, of Pennsylvania, was injured by a motor explosion while competing in Numidia, PA, at the AMRA Nitro Nationals. Dean was racing during eliminations on Sunday, August 20, when his motor let go shortly after launch. The motor explosion was violent enough to break the upper frame rails of the Top Fuel motorcycle he was piloting and severely damage his chest and major internal organs.


Dean was transported to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA, where he has undergone multiple surgeries. As of mid-September, Dean is still dealing with this incident and is in guarded condition. DRAW, the Drag Racing Association of Women, has stepped forward to assist him. Dean is receiving the best possible treatment that can be provided, given the circumstances.

In Sportsman Racing: The BAMF title sponsored by DRAGBIKE.COM, is heating up with two-time champ Dustin Lee in the lead and Ben Knight putting on the pressure. With a handful of races left in 2017, Lee will have to keep his game face on to capture a third consecutive BAMF title, setting the bar high for all future BAMF wanna-be contenders.


The BAMF title is awarded to the sportsman motorcycle drag racing bad ass who enters and wins, or can R/U, at the most sportsman national events in one season. Points are accrued for the season based on this and come November, the baddest sportsman motorcycle drag racer of them all is crowned. Because points can only be earned at major sanctioned national events, a large amount of interstate travel is required as well as winning on various tracks all over the USA. Can Ben Knight close the gap or will Lee crush him once again?


HATS OFF: to Rikard Gustafsson, of Falkenberg, Sweden, for winning the EU Top Fuel motorcycle championship. Ian King, the ten-time EU champion has spent all of 2017 in the USA with his motorcycle in Man Cup competition and Ian currently sits in fourth place with two races remaining in a five-race series. For Rikard, who is relatively new to Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing, his win is a great achievement. With the Man Cup series “World Finals” just two months away, many hope to see Rikard come race in the USA at the last race of the year.


IN NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle: The annual NHRA Countdown to the Championship, points chase was wrapped up at the Big Go. The top ten NHRA PSM racers to make it into the Countdown to the Championship are: L.E. Tonglet, Eddie Krawiec, Hector Arana Jr., Jerry Savoie, Matt Smith, Andrew Hines, Scotty Pollacheck, Joey Gladstone, Karen Stoffer and Angie Smith.


These ten racers will now square off in a final season ending six-race series to determine the overall series champion for the 2017 racing season. In NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racing, as close as it is, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out ahead in this one.



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