motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy

When Failure is Success

At the recent New England Nationals, NHRA Mello Yello event held July 6-8 at New England Dragway, in Epping, NH, Top Fuel Harley pilot, Mike Scott failed to qualify for the event.  Yes, it was his turn to DNQ or in drag racing speak so common folk can understand it; he Did Not Qualify for the event.


Mike Scott and his team that prepared his 1000 HP, Mickey Thompson Tires, Top Fuel Harley, while competing out of the Jay Turner Racing stable, failed to produce a suitable qualifying time that would crack the eight-bike field for Sunday’s race. Eleven bikes were entered, there are only eight spots on the eight bike competition ladder; they failed to qualify for the race.  That hurts.


Mike is a pipe-line welder from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and he leased (or rented if you prefer) a Top Fuel bike from Jay Turner Racing to compete in the New England Nationals. This cost him a good chunk of change to do this, plus his lost wages while not being at home working and you get the picture: this is a substantial investment of his time and money to go TFH drag racing.  Which is exactly where he wants to be. But he won’t be racing on Sunday in the big race because he DNQ’d.


No one wants to DNQ, ever, yet when 20 Top Fuel Harleys enter an event, as they did for the NHRA Gatornationals in 2018, yes, there will be some long sad faces on Saturday night, there is no escaping that. Frankly, it’s enough to piss-off the Pope sometimes when a racer DNQ’s.  BUT, it’s also part of drag racing. Someone has to win, but for that to happen, someone has to lose too. It stinks to be them, but there it is.


Was Mike Scott pissed or even upset that he DNQ’d? No. He and his team failed, but, no, Mike was not raging through the pit area like a bull in a china shop. In fact, he was as far from that as you can get. He and his teammates failed, but in that he found a measure of success.  You just have to know where to look.

Mike was talking to Jack Romine after Q-4 and they shared some heartfelt words about the bigger picture and the day’s events. It’s important to note here that Jack and his brother Mike Romine are veteran Top Fuel Harley pilots who have more than one championship under their leathers. They have been racing fuel bikes since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Believe me when I tell you, the Romines, like Jay Turner, when they tell you something about fuel bike racing, it’s in your best interests to pay attention to what they are telling you.  This is not the time to be an ask-hole. If they tell you something, you’d do well to take it to heart and count your blessings that they think enough of you to share what they paid over 40 years to learn.


Jack Romine said to Mike Scott: “Don’t be down. It’s about being the best at all times, not just when you are qualifying, but at all times. You are an amazing rider, don’t get down on yourself.”


Mike Scott thought about it and who he’s racing with. He’s racing in the presence of Jack and Mike Romine, Doug Vancil, Jay Turner; these are some of the best minds in Top Fuel Harley motorcycle drag racing in 2018. Mike responded with “It’s racing. I’m with the top minds in the game and I will be on top by the end of the year.” Mike then explained why he believes this “I have a ton of respect for the Romines, Doug Vancil and Beau Layne; I’m in the right place.”


Mike won the IHRA Top Fuel Harley championship in 2014 while racing out of the Jay Turner Racing stable. He’s won his share of national events and a major sanction championship too. Mike Scott clearly know how to win and pilot a Top Fuel Harley. His failure to qualify at the New England Nat’s – that was just racing.  This is a sport that humbles you and there is no avoiding that. Mike Scott knows this, he’s a former national champion and he will be one again – because he’s learned his lessons well.


This is when failure becomes success.


Drag racing to the average person is an acceleration contest between to contestants. That’s a dim view shared by the majority of people who really don’t know a damn thing about drag racing and certainly don’t know what it takes to become a champion in the sport.


Drag racing, at the highest levels is a test of wills and skills. It’s an easy hit to say it’s about money and do you have enough to win, but if you think you can go buy a championship in any of the top classes, try it. You’ll fail and end up in debt with misery as your only companion.  It’s common knowledge that in drag racing if you want to make a million dollars in the sport, just start off with two million. You’ll be down to one million in no time flat.


Old clichés aside, Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing is very much a test of character first and foremost. If you’re not made of the right stuff, you won’t get far. You see you have to pay your dues, after you pay for your bike and equipment.  You have to fail first before you can succeed for failure is initial the path to success.


Mike Scott failed to qualify at the New England Nationals in 2018.  So did Chris Streeter and TFH racer Billy Jack. But know this: each of these racers were already making phone calls and ordering replacement part on the very day they DNQ’d. For this is drag racing and this is what it takes to win. 



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