motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy

High speed is great, high speed crashing, not so much.


Photos by Tom McCarthy

On Monday, March 19, 2018, Land Speed Record racer Valerie Thompson, while driving the Bub 7 streamliner owned by Dennis Manning, crashed at close to 343 MPH, ending the team’s efforts at the three-day Lake Gairdner World Speed Trials at Lake Gairdner, Australia. She was up and inspecting the liner’s damage right after the crash, which was very good to see on the spot.


The good news is, while doing preparatory runs, she exceeded her old LSR mark of 304 MPH with a 328.467 MPH preliminary run, good for a new “Fast Lady on The Lake” award. The bad news is, the Bub 7 Streamliner she was racing received extensive body damage. While crashing at close to 350 MPH, the motorcycle wreckage components were spread out over close to one mile of race course.


Fortunately, the excellent design of the liner and the engineering that went into it caused the parachutes to deploy quickly during the crash and brought the motorcycle to a reasonably safe stop. In fact, the damage overall was limited by the great build of the motorcycle, so hats off to Mr. Manning’s design and fabrication team.


Valerie commented in a post-race release “Without their dedication to high speed safety engineering, I would not be talking with you now. Nobody has ever walked away from a 340+ mph crash on a motorcycle. I’d also like to thank the DLRA and all their race course workers who helped ensure my safety.”


Denis Manning commented, “Valerie did an incredible riding job, doing everything she was supposed to and more. We’ve not determined what caused the problem, but we’ll know more once we analyze the onboard data collection systems and review films in more detail.”


Also in Land Speed Record racing news: Philip Stewart of the Grand Cayman Islands, who races a Suzuki Hayabusa, crashed badly during the March 23-25 event at the Texas Mile, held at Victoria Regional Airport, in Victoria, Texas. Philip’s “Open Class” motorcycle became unstable at high speed and he was seriously injured during the crash. The latest reports indicate that after more than one surgery, as of the writing of this story, he stable and on the mend.


In NHRA motorcycle drag racing news: The 49th annual NHRA, Amalie Motor Oil Gator Nationals kicked off on Friday, March 16, with 40 professional motorcycle drag racing teams in the pits. The NHRA had to cap it at 20 entries each for Pro Stock Motorcycle and Top Fuel Harley teams. This is the first time anyone can remember both TFH and PSM were in competition at the same time at an NHRA national event, with both classes chasing NHRA championship points.


This was historic for motorcycle drag racing in more than one way: a new speed record was set for the Pro Stock Motorcycles. Hector Arana Jr. made a pass of 6.93 seconds at 200.23 MPH during Q2. This was the first official 200-MPH pass by an NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle during NHRA-sanctioned competition. This insures his name forever in the history books as the racer who first broke the 200-MPH barrier for the Pro Stock Motorcycles. Later during Q-4, Hector repeated the deed with a 201.01 MPH run, which now stands as the official NHRA new top speed mark for NHRA PSM.


Overall, the top qualifier for the Pro Stock motorcycles was Andrew Hines on his Harley Street Rod PSM, with an elapsed time of 6.77 seconds as the quickest of the 16-bike qualified field. Andrew’s team mate, Eddie Krawiec, qualified #2 with an excellent 6.78 @ 199.67 MPH. They both race for Harley Davidson, as well as part of Vance & Hines racing.


In Top Fuel Harley qualifying, the quickest of the twenty entries was Doug Vancil of the Vance & Hines Top Fuel Harley team, tuned by Mike Romine. Doug was the quickest and the fastest of the Top Fuel Harleys with a 6.28 @ 233.80 MPH clocking. TFH races with an 8 bike qualified field for NHRA racing, so it was a dog fight for the 20 bikes, to earn a place on Sunday’s competition ladder. The number eight qualifier, Beau Layne was in the show with a 6.62, so three tenths of a second separated the eight fuel bikes.

This image shows the progression of both Krawiec and Hines down the Gainesville track.


On Sunday, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines met teammate Eddie Krawiec in the finals and Eddie defeated Andrew 6.82 to 6.85 for his first win of the 2018 season.

In the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley race, Tii Tharpe defeated Bobby Malloy 6.31 to 6.54. In doing so, Tii captured his second consecutive win in NHRA TFH racing.


In Top Fuel Motorcycle news: Jimmy Brantley, a former T/F motorcycle racer of note, has made the move and he’s returning to the field of Pingel Top Fuel Motorcycle drag racing with the ManCup motorcycle drag racing sanction. Brantley is an official member of the MTC Engineering 5 Second Club and he’s announced that he is having Larry and Stevie McBride build him a new, state of the art Top Fuel motorcycle at Cycle Specialist, Larry’s home base.


“That’s right” he quipped in a recent interview with Jack Korpela, “I can’t wait to get out there and go fast again.”


Brantley was the second member of the MTC 5 Second Club when in November of 2005, he joined Larry McBride in the 5’s by running a 5.993 at an official AMA/PROSTAR event. Jimmy is a serious man about what he does and by going live on camera and announcing to the world it’s happening, that’s that. Larry McBride has confirmed that the new bike is in progress and he hopes to get Jimmy back in the hot-seat soon.

Beau Layne


After three races of a ten-race series are completed for the NHRA Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harleys, Tii Tharpe and Doug Vancil are tied in championship points with 183 each. Next up is Rickey House who is getting tired of that #2 plate and then you see the name Beau Layne, just 54 points out of first place.


Beau is in his first year of Top Fuel Harley racing, he’s a ROOKIE and he’s swimming with the sharks ahead of big names like Jay Turner, Randal Andras and Mike Scott (all of them past TFH champions). If Layne can keep pace, will he be considered for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award? I frankly don’t know the answer to that question, but he should be. 



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, high speed crashing, not so much.

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