VOLUME XX,  NUMBER 2 - FEBRUARY,  2018

motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy

Sometimes Rumors are True

 

Photos by Tom McCarthy

 

In the January issue of this column I eluded to the rumor that a high-profile TF Harley racer may be returning to competition for 2018.  Well, I'm pleased to inform you all that the rumors of Doug Vancil returning to Top Fuel Harley competition turned out to be true.

 

In fact, less than ten days after I contacted VHR about the rumors, they released a statement confirming “He's back!” My call to VHR was of course met with “who?” but that's to be expected.  After all, Vance and Hines Racing is not in the habit of spilling beans before they are counted.

Doug Vancil, after a ten-year absence from Top Fuel Harley racing, has come back into the sport in a big way: he qualified #1 at his first race back and won the NHRA Winternationals.

 

But be that as it may, the fact is, Doug Vancil, the former IHRA, multiple times national champion and former national record holder is back in competition, sponsored once again by Vance and Hines Racing.

 

It’s been a while since Doug was in the saddle of a Top Fuel Harley, as best as he can recall. “Hey, last time I competed was in 2008 Las Vegas can't remember if it was AHDRA or NHRA.”  He has not had any rides in the last ten years, but he recently made some runs in Phoenix to get up to standard on his NHRA T/F Harley license

 

Back in the day, close to a decade ago, Doug was one of the quickest and fastest Top Fuel Harley competitors on the planet. “I had run a 6.15 back then, but didn't back it up.  We held the record for a while with a 6.223 at 230MPH.”

 

As quick and successful as he was, why did he suddenly step away from motorcycle drag racing? “Everything took a hit, and I was burnt out, lots of driving; I needed a break.”

 

So, what brought him back into competition?  “Middle of 2017, Terry (Vance) and I were texting about the nitro bikes, not real impressed with the progress since we stopped running, so I asked him, do you want to go fuel racing again? He said, I think it's time. So we went from there.

I am ready to rock and roll. With Mike Romine's knowledge and what I can do, we should be trouble. Not sure we will get into the five's but we should be close. We are not even sure if they are going to let the bikes that are close with superchargers run in the class with NHRA, if they do they need fuel restrictions or C.I. limits, otherwise it will ruin the class.”

 

After a weekend of getting reacquainted with the current VHR T/F bike, (the ex-Doug Horne bike, I’m told,) Mike Romine, Doug’s crew chief, packed everything up and headed off to Pomona, CA, for the NHRA Lucas Oil, Winternationals.  During qualifying for the Mickey Thompson Tires,Top Fuel Harley class, Doug, after a ten year break in competition qualified #1 with a stout 6.30 @ 231.04 MPH.

 

There were eight bikes entered into the event and Doug Vancil won the race defeating Rickey “Nitro Shark” House in the final round.  It was good to see the Top Fuel Harleys get four rounds of qualifying at this event, but the drivers were not part of the “Driver Introductions” as part of the Sunday morning ceremonies, and the results of their competition are included in the Sportsman press release.

 

Of Note: Present at the Winternationals were many of the Pro Stock Motorcycle racers from the NHRA class: Angie and Matt Smith, Andrew Hines, Scotty Pollacheck, Joey Gladstone and former NHRA P/S motorcycle champions Matt Hines and none other than Terry Vance.

 

In related news, Jay Turner Racing got off to a rough start for their 2018 season: on their way to Pomona their trailer broke loose from the coach and suddenly they were going down the highway watching in horror as their trailer was disconnected and heading off into the middle median part of the highway!  Thankfully, there was little damage to their rig, or its precious content, multiple T/F motorcycles.  It took a while to get everything properly repaired, so Jay and Tii Tharpe missed out on the season opening race.  But the good news is, no one was hurt and they very luckily had minimal damage to their equipment.

Mike Scott of Calgary, AB, Canada, qualified second at the NHRA Lucas Oil Wintenationals with a 6.47 at 223 mph. The former IHRA T/F champion is out to earn the 2018 Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley Championship and add that to his resume.

 

Speaking of five-second elapsed time Harleys, the Man Cup motorcycle drag racing sanction was pleased to announce on February 7 that the official Pingel Top Fuel Twin Five-Second Club is now open. Wayne and Donna Pingel, of Pingel products, long time staunch supporters of the Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing class, jumped with vigor at the chance to sponsor the new award.

 

There are five spots to the new official Pingel Top Fuel Twin 5-Second Club, and the first five T/F Twin drag bikes to run in the five’s during sanctioned Man Cup competition will be welcomed into the club.  Whoever runs the first five in Man Cup sanctioned competition will receive a $1,000 award from Pingel Products.  Any Top Fuel Twin or Top Fuel Harley, running in Top Fuel class or Top Fuel Twin will be eligible for the cash award and substantial bragging rights, not to mention a big page in Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing history.

 

In a recent social media exchange, some NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle luminaries were mixing it up with heavy hitters of the Pro Street Bike community.  The interesting and newsworthy part of this is the open exchange about “What if Pro Street Bike were to come to NHRA drag racing?”  The concept of having six-second, 200-MPH no-bars bikes that actually look like the street bikes people drive, out there in NHRA competition is a timely discussion, and has been talked about quietly between racers for a while now.  The big question is what’s best for the sport?

 

In speaking of the sport, on February 10, NHRA Director of Operations, Mr. Graham Light announced he is in his final season with NHRA in this very important position.  Light is part of a decision making team in the upper level of NHRA operations and his word carries a lot of weight behind closed doors.  He has been a big friend to and a supporter of the motorcycle drag racing community as a whole and he has always been open minded about Top Fuel motorcycle competition.  With Light stepping down, we can only hope that his replacement will be as much a friend to motorcycle drag racing as he has been.  

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