motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy

And the Winner Is…

As the winner is: Mother Nature! That’s the big news and the big headline going into the month of September for motorcycle drag racing. Hurricane Florence, one of the worst storms in decades, headed straight for the Carolinas coastline just as Man Cup was set to race at GALOT Motorsports Park on September 14-16 with the second annual MTC Nationals. The category 4 storm, set to make landfall just at the start of the weekend, forced cancellation of the event on Monday, before the storm hit.


The other major motorcycle drag racing sanctions, NHDRO and XDA have also had wash-outs and weather impacted events this year as well. Overall, it’s been a very tough year for motorcycle drag racing sanctions losing a lot of revenue to Mother Nature. However, the racers are a resilient bunch and they have made great use of the sunshine when possible.

Tii Tharpe (far lane) took the championship and the win at the U.S. Nationals against Doug Vancil. 


In the NHRA Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley series, which concluded on September 3: it was happy Labor Day to Tii Tharpe who defeated Doug Vancil by 7 points to win the 2018 NHRA TFH championship. He did so on the last pass, during the last race of the season. Doug Vancil and Tii were squared off in the final round of the 2018 US Nationals and Vancil’s bike faltered, shortly after launch, and Tii’s bike, tuned by Jay Turner, went the distance under full power, for the win.


Jay Turner Racing missed the first race of the year due to a trailer hitch problem and as a result, Jay Turner and Tii Tharpe only raced in 9 of 10 events during the 2018 season. Yet Tii and Jay finished #1 and 3 in points, respectively. It was a great effort by Doug Vancil, tuned by Mike Romine, to finish second after a 10 year lay-off. But the big victory went to Jay Turner Racing who made it happen in 2018.


NHRA has announced is 2019 schedule for the TFH bikes and they will return for 10 more events.




Feb. 7-10: Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, CA

Feb. 22-24: NHRA Arizona Nationals, Phoenix

March 14-17: Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, FL

April 12-14: NHRA SpringNationals, Houston

June 7-9: Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, KS

June 14-16: Fitzgerald NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, TN

July 5-7: NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, NH

Aug. 2-4: NHRA Northwest Nationals, Seattle

Aug. 15-18: Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, MN

Aug. 28-Sept. 2: Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis


Now that the NHRA season is over for the big dogs, they will all start testing their new machines for next season. Some of this will be done in private testing, others will be testing during AMRA races. The big AMRA event set for Rockingham Dragway on October 13-14 may see a few new supercharged TFH motorcycles if all goes well.

And invoking the subject of supercharged V-Twins, we had the Run Heard Round the World, on Saturday, August 25, at Tierp Arena in Sweden. Vesa Lipponen (near lane) of Truku, Finland, ran a 5.9205 elapsed time @ 350.65kpm (217.88 mph) to officially run the first ever 5 second elapsed time in the class of Top Fuel Twin. He did this while racing in the EDRS, the European Drag Racing Series, during the Summit Racing Equipment International event, held August 23-26.

Not to be out done, Jaska Salakari of Vanta, Finland, unleashed his personal best, a 5.83 @ 206.74 MPH to become the #1 qualifier and the second man in drag bike racing history to run a five second elapsed time in Top Fuel Twin. In reviewing the run, Jaska’s bike dropped the parachute at just about the 660’ mark. He lost at least a tenth of a second, if not more on the pass, not to mention 15 to 20 MPH off his recorded time. At least one notable expert in motorcycle drag racing is convinced had that parachute not deployed when it did, it’s not unreasonable to deduce that Jaska’s run may well have eclipsed Larry McBride’s 5.61 world record for Top Fuel motorcycles. Not too shabby for a 103 CID Super Twin!

Jason Plummer


Also kicking butt and taking names in the V-Twin world is Jason Plummer who together with Todd Leatherman put on a great show with NHRA front man Brian Lohnes during an episode of Put Up or Shut Up, with Motor Trend On Demand TV. That’s right, Top Fuel dirt bikes made it to television, bringing their unique brand of entertainment to the small screen.


 “Put Up or Shut Up” is now in its second season with Motor Trend On Demand, Brian Lohnes is the host. There were six episodes filmed in 2017 and so far in season II, three more episodes are in the bag. Episode 9 Top Fuel Motorcycle Shootout was released on September 5. The T/F Harley of Jason Plummer was spectacular in defeating the I-4 bike of Todd Leatherman. Plummer’s bike has clocked in with an elapsed time of 3.15, over 300 feet of measured time/distance, with a top speed of 150 MPH. You have to admit, that’s a heck of a dirt bike!


Filming was done at the Blair-Bedford Dirt Racers facility in New Enterprise, PA, during the month of August. It was a drizzly, miserable day, yet the Motor Trend On Demand film crew and the racers gave it their all. The episode can be seen here.


In other motorcycle drag racing news, the XDA sanction is hoping to wrap up their first season on September 21-23 at their home track, Budds Creek, Maryland. On August 24-26, the XDA sanction hit the ball out of the park at Virginia Motorsports Park with a highly successful event that featured Jeremy Teasley with a stunning 6.64 in qualifying. The official GOAT List record stands at 6.61, held by Rodney Williford, run in July of 2018, also at an XDA event.  



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