motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy

Summer Sizzlers

On the weekend of July 5-7 the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series came to New England Dragway in Epping, NH, for the 7th annual, New England Nationals.  It’s hard to believe the NHRA big show has been with the premier Northeast drag strip for seven years now, but there it is, bold as can be. It was a blistering hot weekend of racing, despite the big thundershowers that washed out Q-4 on Saturday. 90’s plus moderate to high humidity made the track, which is only 90 feet above sea level, suddenly over 3,300 feet ABOVE sea level. So, the injected Top Fuel Harley's of the Mickey Thompson Tires class certainly had a struggle to contend with. While the 133-degree track temps were no one’s friend, the atmospheric conditions rendering the track at a over a half-mile altitude just made racing naturally aspirated bikes all the more challenging.

Yet for the 12 Top Fuel bikes that entered at Epping, number one qualifier was Doug Vancil with a 6.33 @ 229 MPH, proving if you have the tuning and driving skills, a team can run the number in most any conditions.


The bump was a 6.51 occupied by Billy Jackson and this left Rich Vreeland, Peter Geiss, Jay Turner and Bob Malloy on the outside looking in.

Tii Tharpe 


On race day, it was hat-trick time for 2018 champion Tii Tharpe as he won his third race of the year, snatching the points lead from Beau Layne for the first time in seven races. Tii defeated Rickey House, 6.39 to 6.42, and was just a wheel ahead of the hard charging House right at the stripe. Tharpe is now standing tall with 451 championship points to Layne’s 410 points and with three races remaining in the M/T Top Fuel Harley 2019 season: it’s Game On!


On June 23 Maryland International Raceway and its XDA motorcycle drag racing sanction held a weekend of great racing with over 600 entries. The Mid Atlantic continues to be a hot-bed of motorcycle drag racing. With Englishtown gone, this assures Cecil County and also MDIR at Budds Creek will continue to flourish with lots of motorcycle action.

Ehren Litton 


In the Orient Express Racing Pro Street class of racing, Ehren Litton out of the Williford Racing stables rocked everyone’s world with a stunning 6.489 in qualifying, bring the world’s quickest and fastest no-bars bikes officially into the 6.40’s. Just a month ago all the talking heads were in a tizzy about 6.50’s going to happen, but that became old news in less than 30 days. Then came the BOOM on Sunday – race day.


Jeremy Teasley won the event with a 6.422 and Litten officially set the high speed mark at 232.59 MPH. No one doubts that 6.30’s are now on the table for the taking -- BUT who can afford to compete at this level is the new big question looming in the background. How many teams are capable of building and fielding competitive P/ST motorcycles that can run sub-6.50’s? IS PRO STREET doing itself more harm than good?


Other winners at the XDA event included: DME Real Street – Jeremy Teasley; Pro Xtreme – Kevin Clark; APE Nitrous Bulls – Dave Norris; Monster Bulls – David Page; Vance & Hines 4.60 – Mac McAdams; FBR Shop 5.60 – Bob Carlson; Shinko Tires Crazy 8’s – Bobby Holland; MPS Pro ET – Shayne Proctor; Brocks Performance Street ET – Dustin Lee. For full race results in all classes visit www.xdaracing.com.


Across the pond, in trans-Atlantic motorcycle drag racing action, on the weekend of July 5-7, the EDRS (European Drag Racing Series) held a race in Kauhava, Finland. At that event, in Top Fuel motorcycle, Filippos Papafilippou of Greece, piloting the Gulf Oil Top Fuel motorcycle formerly owned by Ian King, rode to victory over Thomas Petterson, who could not make the final-round call. Papafilippou still put the throttle to the stops and recorded a fine 6.07 ET during the competition single. During qualifying, Rikard Gustafsson ran a best of 5.836 @ 254.51 MPH and Papafilippou was in the books with a 5.865 @ 232.47 MPH. These runs clearly demonstrate the racers in the EU can run with the best in USA any day.


In Super Twin, Marcus Christiansen was the #1 qualifier and advanced to the final round only to fall victim of mechanical problems. This gave the win to Harri Piensalmi. In Super Street Bike (EU-Pro Street), the big dog, Vesa Ruhanen was the No. 1 qualifier and stormed to the final and met up with young EU rising star Ida Zetterstrom. She was the number-seven qualifier and she dusted two heavies who will take her a lot more seriously next time, to fight her way to the final round. Vesa overpowered her in the finals for the win, but she made her point by earning her way to the final round. In fact, on social media she made it clear she was honored to have advanced well and had to race against the best in the EU for her R/U spot.

Sam Wills 


Man Cup motorcycle drag racing action returns on July 12-14 at Ohio’s Dragway 42, for the Fast by Gast Nationals with all classes running, including the Pingle Top Fuel motorcycles. Rumor has it Sam Wills and his Nitro Conspiracy team will be in attendance. Could this mark the return of a very prominent team to Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing?  



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