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The crisp spring weather couldn’t have been better as the Midwest’s largest motorcycle drag racing series took over T.T. Jones’ Huntsville Dragway for the NHDRO Season Opener on April 15-17. A lively crowd from all over northern Alabama and south Tennessee came to see what Brian and Niki Welch’s Yankee NHDRO series had to offer. What they saw was a major win by the home team.
Chris Garner-Jones, son and teammate of track owner T.T., qualified number 1 in HMH Motorsports Coatings Pro Open with a 4.118 — just a tick quicker than Richard Gadson’s 4.119 on the Billy Vose-tuned, Jeff Jones-owned, Fast Time Motorsports Suzuki.
But Garner-Jones broke the clutch hat on raceday, while Gadson improved to a 4.06. It was with great confidence that diminutive Gadson faced big rider T.T. in the final, so it was a perplexed Lil’ Richard that looked over his redlight time slip later while T.T., wife Angelia, son/tuner William, and the whole family celebrated in their own winners circle.
Gadson wasn’t the only final round favorite that went home disappointed. Justin Doucet and Derek Miller had their Two Wheel Werkz/ HMH Motorsports turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa set on “kill” all weekend, qualifying number 1 in McIntosh Machine & Fabrication Pro Street with a 4.65 at 167 mph on Hunstville’s eighth mile. “Mothug” Doug Gall was a step behind with a 4.66 at 168, followed by Quicktime Motorsports’ Rudy Sanzottera with a 4.67.
So it was a tight field that entered raceday, where Doucet improved to a .64 and faced fellow finalist Gall. But weather that had been dry and moderate turned suddenly hot under the relentless Alabama sun. “Track temperature’s gone way up,” noted a worried Miller as he rolled Doucet to the waterbox.