Jay Turner’s New Harley

Boosting Performance in ‘Lucky 7’

Words and photos by Tom McCarthy

It’s no secret that Jay Turner Racing is boosting performance levels in Top Fuel Harley motorcycle drag racing. At the 2018 NHRA US Nationals, Jay Turner of North Carolina delivered a stout 6.225 elapsed time at 233 MPH, as the low qualifier leading the quickest field of Top Fuel Harley bikes in the history of the sport. The eight-bike field had 15 entries, featuring a 6.33 bump spot that Turner covered on his first run, right off the trailer during Q-1. Then just for good measure, Jay ran a 6.244 elapsed time on his next pass just to confirm his initial statement; Jay Turner knows where to find Top Fuel Harley high performance when he needs it.

Now he’s built a state-of-the-art blower bike to race in Top Fuel Harley. Why? “Well the Top Fuel Harleys have been in the teens and low six-second elapsed times before,” stated Jay during a recent interview. “We all know the injected bikes can run low 6’s, but it’s a whole new ball game to run in the 5’s and I think it will take a supercharger to bring these bikes to the next level. It’s a huge step to go more than two tenths quicker than current performance levels. So, when one of my sponsors, Bobby Buckley, decided to build a new bike with me, we decided to go supercharged this time. We want to see what we can do.”


Bobby and Jay have collaborated many times on building Top Fuel Harleys. In fact, they named this bike “Lucky 7” as this is the seventh TFH they have created to go racing with. When asked if they did it expressly to go after the first five-second elapsed time in Top Fuel Harley motorcycle drag racing, Jay replied, “We did it for two reasons basically, one was to usher in a new level of performance for these bikes, but also, yes, to take a shot at running the first five-second elapsed time ever run by a Top Fuel Harley.”

In the world of Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing everyone knows it was Larry “Spiderman” McBride who ran the first 5 at Baytown, Texas, Oct. 31, 1999. Larry’s “First in the 5’s” was a landmark achievement for Top Fuel bikes the world over. No one off-the-cuff knows or remembers who the second guy was, but everyone remembers who ran it first. The first Top Fuel Harley racer into the 5’s will be a great historical achievement for Top Fuel Harley drag racing.


Interestingly enough, McBride ran that number during the NHRA Matco Tools Super Nationals during an NHRA national event. After he lit up the score board with his 5.99, when McBride was towed back to the starting line, down the return road, the fans went nuts! The NHRA stopped the race briefly and did a live broadcast short interview with McBride, so he could thank the fans and share the moment. It was a pivotal historical moment for all of drag racing.


Now the big push is on to see this happen for the Top Fuel Harley drag bikes. One year ago, at the Man Cup World Finals event, Nov. 17, 2017, Tak Shigematsu of Ehime, Japan, recorded a jaw dropping 6.01 elapsed time during qualifying. Astonishingly, Tak’s handle bars broke about the 900-foot mark during his pass and he was off the throttle by the 1000-foot clock. Had his bars not failed he would have breached the 5’s on that pass, no question about it.


Tak tried repeatedly during the 2018 season to take his Pro Charged, Mickey Thompson Tires, Top Fuel Harley into the five’s, but could not do so. And Tak is not alone in his supercharged efforts to bring the Harley’s into the 5’s.

Another supercharged Top Fuel Harley, the machine built by Jason Pridemore of Ohio has also taken a big swing for the fence. During the 2018 US Nationals, Jason qualified his bike with a new personal best of 6.28 @ 223 MPH, and he is a prime contender to breach the 5’s. Two years ago at an NHRA LODRS event, Jason recorded a 4.0 elapsed time at 193 MPH at the eighth-mile marker, clearly showing his bike had the potential to run the number.


Jay Turner has chosen wisely to join the ranks of the supercharged bikes, to help develop the technology necessary to boost the power of Top Fuel Harley drag racing to the next level. He did his homework on this, and both Jay and Bobby have been looking at this for a long time. “We have had the chassis, which was originally made by Sam Wills, Innovative Frame Works, in Oklahoma City, since 2013. We just were not sure if we wanted to go injected or blown with this bike,” commented Jay Turner.


“I liked what Don Newlove did in building Mike Pelrine’s blower bike, so I thought about that, then when Bobby and I decided to make our next project a supercharged bike, I had my own ideas on how to do this and in 2017 we got serious about building this bike.”

What followed was Jay and his fabrication team at Jay Turner Racing, located in Liberty, NC, made mock-ups and started looking at where the major components needed to go in the chassis. The basic outline of the bike, the 102” wheel base was correct, but almost all the internal framework was removed from the bike and relocated. The location of the Pro Charger, the intercooler, the drive unit all influenced where the motor and the B&J 2-speed would have to go: not to mention it all had to balance perfectly on the left-to-right side axis when finished.

The work required everything to be mocked up and moved repeatedly, fluids added to tanks, but the results were worth it. Once finished, the bike will now stand up on its own, perfectly balanced, and the payoff is it runs straight as an arrow each pass. While competing in its first race, the AMRA Jim McClure, Fall Nationals, Oct. 13, 2018, Jay Turner drove the bike to a 6.40 elapsed time. Good for the #1 qualifier spot with the machine running on its second full pass down a drag strip.

Better yet, JTR has made jigs and saved all the CNC programs, so they can replicate this bike for any customer who wants one. While Jay Turner Racing is out to put “Lucky 7” into the history books, it should be noted that like all of Jay’s TFH creations, this bike is for sale and so is the technology that goes with it.


Jay Turner Racing has contributed much to the sport of Top Fuel Harley drag racing on many levels. Jay tuned Tii Tharpe to his first NHRA, Mickey Thompson Tires, Top Fuel Harley championship in 2018 and he did so while tuning his own bike to a 3rd place finish and he also put Randall Andras into the 5th spot in championship points. Mike Scott came late to racing with Jay in 2018, but he too finished, 7th in points, netting JTR four bikes out of the NHRA top-ten. It’s not uncommon for Jay Turner’s racing operation to bring four or more Top Fuel bikes to a national event.

Jay has one race remaining in 2018 and will be racing with the Man Cup sanction on November 16-18 at SGMP to continue his sorting out the new bike. Man Cup does not run NHRA TFH rules but opts to recognize Top Fuel Twin rules, which allow OHC and 4-V configurations, as well as superchargers of any kind. The Pingle-sponsored Top Fuel Twin class has an official “5-Second Club” which features a cash bonus of $2,000 for the first racer to run a 5-second elapsed time during Man Cup competition. There are five places in the Pingel 5 Second Club and the remaining four racers who follow the initial barrier breaker will receive $500 cash each. Tak Shigematsu, Jason Pridemore and Jay Turner are all prime candidates to collect that $2,000 bonus and a place atop the pages of history.

Looking ahead to 2019, Jay intends to devote his season to racing Lucky 7 to its full potential. Jay commented “I want to see what we can do with this bike and combination. We will test and race as often as we can like we do every season.”  This means Jay is fully committed to racing this bike, whenever and wherever he can. “I do intend to race this bike the full season with NHRA, unless there are changes.”


As of October 10, 2018, the NHRA has made no changes to NHRA TFH racing rules, which currently allow supercharging. While rumors were rampant during the NHRA US Nationals that the blower bikes were outlawed, the rumor turned out to be just pit gossip and nothing more.


Jay has stated for the record, “If NHRA outlaws the blower bikes, I will sit down with my sponsors and my team and figure out what we want to do. I don’t believe anyone but active NHRA TFH racers should have input as to the future of these bikes. I’m not opposed to perhaps limiting displacement or compressor sizes or whatever is fair, but the blower bikes and the injected bikes can live and compete together -- we just need to figure it out.” 



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