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The Harleys are coming, the Harleys are coming! Not exactly a warning of eminent danger due to some form of British invasion, but with the Top Fuel Harley motorcycles commanding the spotlight at the start of the 2017 season, well, it is, as they say, what it is. Top Fuel Harley-Davidson motorcycles have taken the center stage at the start of motorcycle drag racing this season and the fans are loving it.
On Friday, February 10, at the 57th Annual NHRA Circle K Winter Nationals, which kicked off this year’s NHRA Mello Yello racing series, ten T/F Harley drag bikes entered the fray, giving a full field from the first race of the season. Low qualifier was Jay Turner with a fine 6.44 elapsed time to lead the pack. On the bump-spot was Andy Beauchemin with a 6.82 and a full six-second qualified field started off 2017, Top Fuel Harley racing in fine form. While two racers had to occupy the DNQ spots, (Dustin Werner and Ron Gledhill) it’s good to see teams willing to fight for their positions on the ladder to race on Sunday. It’s good for the fans and good for the sport.
The NHRA announcers had no shortage of things to talk about during qualifying. Dustin Werner during Q-1 on Friday had a motor pop back on him and it blew back through the intake tract. This caused an intake runner to blow open from overpressure and a fragment of the motor pierced the leathers on his right forearm. After bringing his bike to a safe stop, Dustin was observed by the announcers holding his arm and one announcer stated his arm was broken. But such was not the case; his arm was pierced by the motor fragment, but not broken. This required six stitches to close at the local hospital and he was charged $1875.00 for the ambulance ride. It’s not known if his medical bills exceed the cost of his motor damage, but this took Dustin out of the race for the weekend.
Sunday’s eventual winner was Jay Turner of Julian, N.C. Jay “the Bull Dog” Turner has held the T/F championship title with the NHRA for two years consecutive and he’s more than ready to defend his title. If he can retain his title in 2017, it will be another fine feather for this man’s cap.
Just two weeks later, as the NHRA road show traveled on, the NHRA Mello Yello series brought the Denso Spark Plugs Arizona Nationals to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Arizona. Once again nine Top Fuel Harley-Davidson drag bikes entered the race from as far away as Saskatchewan, AB, for the All Steel Builders team of the Pelrine family racing effort and Edmonton, AB, for Kevin Boyer Racing.
Number-one qualifier at the Arizona Nationals was Bob Malloy with an excellent 6.23 and it was exciting for the fans and racers to see the big Harleys digging deep into the six’s this early in the season. Rickey House, Jay Turner, and Bobby Malloy have all been in the 6.20’s so far this year. The bump spot for this race was a 6.76 by Jake Stordeur. It’s interesting to note the diversity of the T/F bikes in the class so far this year. Bobby Malloy’s Boninfante Friction Inc.-sponsored bike is direct drive - no transmission. Mike Pelrine’s bike is supercharged via a belt driven Pro-Charger, Ricky House’s “Shark Attack” bike is a 196 CID monster guzzling 98% nitromethane injected directly into its enormous 5x5” bore/stroke Hawaya racing motor. Clearly the NHRA and its fans are in for an exciting season of Harley Davidson Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing.