motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy
What is next for the IDBL? And lots more.
Photos by: Tom McCarthy
Sportsman racer George Babor qualified third in the Grothus Ultra 4.60 class on Saturday, June 3, before the race was rained out on Sunday.
MAJOR happenings in motorcycle drag racing litter the first week of June 2017. Racing for the various sanctions went well in May, but it’s the politics that shapes the sport taking center stage at this time. For the direction and speed of the sport comes from the helmsman, my friend. And the helmsman’s actions are controlled by the politics.
On May 27, 2017, DRO’s Agent 1320 broke the news that IRGSE has let go of Chris Lencheski and other top officials that once held the reins of power over the IHRA and IDBL. This impacts the shackles that once bound Jason Miller, former front man of the IDBL and the prime architect of the MIROCK motorcycle drag racing series. How long will it take for Jason to return to his roots in motorcycle drag racing? That’s the big question.
On April 22, 2016, IRGSE announced the appointment of Jack Korpela as the new President of IDBL after Jason Miller stepped aside from the helm, due to politics. Now that the leadership of IHRA and IDBL is reforming, how this plays out can have a major impact on all of motorcycle drag racing. Within the months ahead, watch for new developments here that can greatly impact the future of the sport.
IDBL had a great race on the weekend of May 19-21 at Budds Creek Maryland, the home track of the International Drag Bike League. The race went off without a hitch from weather, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the motorcycle drag racing action was hot and heavy. In fact, it was record setting late Sunday when the world’s quickest side-by-side pass was recorded in Pro Street competition.
Richard Gadson, the number one qualifier for the event, took it to the final round against Rodney Williford and they squared off on a historical pass. Williford crossed the stripe first after a 6.69 elapsed time, just ahead of Richard’s 6.74 ET. The difference at the finish line was a slim .009 MOV (margin of victory).
IDBL also scored big in Real Street action with 16 bikes entering the fray. Johnny “Turbo” Dobrin won the class with a stout 7.89 at 192 MPH over Dave Stewart. The $5,000 to win offered up by CP Carrillo rods, 1 Stop Speed, MTC and SRW attracted the racers who filled the class nicely. By all accounts, the MTC Summer Nationals was a much needed success for the IDBL.
VOLUME XIX, NUMBER 6 - JUNE 2017
DRAGRACINGOnline will be published on or around the 8th of each month and will be updated throughout the month.
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Editor & Publisher, CEO Jeff Burk
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ET DRAG RACING
NEWS & ANALYSIS
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Eric Hochstetler (right) talking to Terry Kizer, was the title sponsor of the recent IDBL, MTC Nationals. Eric, who owns MTC, is a proud sponsor and staunch supporter of motorcycle drag racing.
NHRA Top Fuel Harley is once again big in the news; on June 3 Mickey Thompson Tires announced that they will be picking up the tab to be the title sponsor of the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series. M/T has signed a “multi year deal” with the National Hot Rod Association to sponsor the series, stating that starting in 2018, racers will be competing for $97,000 in total awards between year-end prize money and eight races are slated for 2018.
Ken Warner, VP of Marketing for M/T stated, “Mickey Thompson has been number one in motorcycle drag racing tires for more than 20 years. We are excited to engage with the NHRA fans this season and show them our complete line up, including our truck tires and wheels.”
This is huge news for Top Fuel Harley racers and their fans. They can now ratchet up their sponsorship efforts and start hunting for sponsorship dollars with the clout of national TV exposure assured and thousands of fans in the stands. This is what all the Top Fuel Harley teams have hoped and worked for all their very existence: a shot at the big time and the big bucks to go racing with. That time is now and the door of opportunity is officially wide open.
As of the month of June 2017, the T/F Harleys have two races remaining within NHRA competition, June 16-18 in Bristol, TN, for the Thunder Nationals, then again in Seattle, WA, on August 4-8 at the Northwest Nationals, which will conclude the eight race Harley T/F bike season for the thunder bikes. For the remainder of the season, most teams will move on to some AMRA racing and explore the ADRL events as well.
How many T/F Harleys will show up at the Man Cup World Finals will be very interesting this year. Per Bengston’s “The Beast” is due to be at the race from Europe and with November 17-19 slated for the event, it’s the last blast of the year. This should produce record numbers for motorcycle drag racing in more ways than one.
On June 2-4, the ManCup motorcycle drag racing sanction rolled into Memphis, TN, for the 29th Annual Retail Fixtures, LLC, Blues City Bash, sponsored in part by B & C Trailer Services, at Memphis International Raceway. Regrettably, weather was the biggest news of the event, rather than the racing, which was excellent for two of the three days devoted to the event. Racers had Friday, June 2, for a test and tune day, then qualifying for Pros on Saturday, and the usual eliminations set for Sunday. And it wasn’t the weather so much as the threat of bad weather that deeply impacted the event.
All of the on-line weather services showed a grim forecast for the race weekend, so most racers did not even attempt to attend. Even local race fans avoided going to the track because at times the sky looked so threatening. Yet on Friday and Saturday, the track was dry and each was just another great day of racing. This left the racers and race promoters scratching their heads as to “where the heck is everyone?”
The answer was squarely within the internet and the plague of cell phone weather forecasting and social media town-criers who saw the powerful storms on weather radar and just stayed away. The problem was was all around the track for two out of three days, but not on the race track. Contrary to the popular opinion that the sanction did not promote the event in advance, the truth is, the ManCup advanced efforts in handing out flyers and doing cross promotions with the Outlaw Street Car Reunion IV event in March via the Pro Street bikes; their efforts were stellar. Yet all of the advance promotions were in vain due to the immediacy of social media and instant cell phone weather forecasting.
Meanwhile, as people stayed home staring at their cell phones, out on the race track Larry McBride qualified #1 with a 6.09 and Dave Vantine thundered through the traps at 232.03 MPH saying “What weather problem?” In Hawaya Pro Fuel Michael Ray was the front man, Brad McCoy had a 4.06 in Pro Mod, Ryan Hable was low qualifier in Pro Street with a great 6.85 @ 210 MPH -- the bikes were flying. Then came Sunday and the bullet that ManCup had dodged for two days caught up with the sanction.
Sunday morning racing started off on time, just after 9 a.m. and at 10:10, just as they were getting ready to call the pro teams into the lanes at 10:30, the weather pattern shifted over the track, ending the day. Race promoters pulled the plug at 12:10, knowing the weather would swirl and repeat all day. Money was refunded on the spot and, because this was a double-points event, the racers who did attend were justly rewarded.
In other racing news, ADRL is set to continue its racing season on June 30 at Martin, MI, for their “Summer Drags” and they have shifted gears in the motorcycle drag racing arena once again. They have dropped the Pro Mod bikes and added the nitro Harley class of Pro Fuel to their events. So ADRL has announced that the two premier fuel burners will be a part of the ADRL big show.
To complicate matters, the ADRL is willing to honor a major rule change to Pro Fuel increasing their CID limitation of 120 up to a new 125 CID standard. It is not clear at this time how other motorcycle drag racing sanctions will respond to this. All racers who participate in Pro Fuel motorcycle drag racing are encouraged to write to or contact their various sanctions about this topic.