motorcycle memo's w/Tom McCarthy

Duo Duel in Top Fuel

At the NHRA Arizona Nationals, on February 17, 2019, the last race of the day in the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley class featured a match-up between racers Beau Layne and Doug Vancil to decide the winner of the event. This was the obvious match-up, but what spectators and fans of Top Fuel Harley racing were missing was behind the scenes, this was a duel in Top Fuel between the brothers Romine. Mike Romine calls the tune-up shots for Doug Vancil and his brother Jack calls the shots for Beau Layne. So, while the two racers were about to go at it on track, what happened off track was just as important as Jack and Mike prepared the 1,000 HP T/F bikes for battle.

Jack (left) and Mike Romine. 


In setting up the Sunday scenario, Doug Vancil qualified third with a 6.33 and Beau Layne qualified fifth with a 6.43 elapsed time. Both racers were well into the field and squared away for battle. As eliminations began, Beau defeated Rickey House during E-1, with a 6.30 at 223 mph, his quickest pass ever, to Rickey’s 6.68. Also during the round, Vancil took out Tii Tharpe, 6.28 to 6.49 to send the brothers Romine into E-2.


During that round, Beau Layne had Kevin Boyer and with lane choice, they chose the right lane. Jack Romine stepped it up a slight amount, knowing he had a smoother racing surface to work with. The result was the bike spun the tire a little bit, but not enough to “drop a hole” and it slowed to a 6.54. Unfortunately for the Boyer Racing machine, mechanical difficulties took over after the burnout, giving Beau a solo into the final round. As for Vancil, his previous 6.28 was matched with a 6.29 during E-2 as he took out Bobby Malloy and set the stage for the brothers Romine T/F duel.


Jack knows Mike and his combination just as Mike knows Jack and his combination. Truth be told the bikes are basically twins, the same CID, fuel system, ignition, etc. So, going into the final round it was brother versus brother on the tune-up. The drag bike racers, Beau Layne, the sophomore nitro pilot, versus Doug Vancil, the veteran with a few decades of experience under his leathers.


As the racing action ensued, at the first indication of green, Vancil was out first with a .020 RT to the tree and Layne was right there with him like a shadow carding a .025 RT. But by the time the two bikes had cleared the starting line Christmas tree, it was all over. Vancil’s rear tire went up in smoke and Beau motored down the left lane with his earlier tune-up, this time posting a 6.38 ET and a win light for his first ever NHRA national event win.


When asked how competitive the brothers Romine are, Jack responded with, “Everything I know about racing nitro Harleys I’ve learned from my brother Mike. And Doug Vancil too, he’s always ready with helpful tips and comments.”


He further elaborated “Doug helps Beau too, sharing things on driving these bikes, so while we won, don’t forget there’s still a lot of Vance & Hines Racing in our bike too. We didn’t do this alone.”  Jack then opened up a bit, “Sure Mike and I are competitive, we’ve matched up before and I’ve beaten him before. It’s like 20 to 1 now!”


Mike, listening in on this exchange smiled and quipped, “Yeah, now it’s going to be closer to 40 to two,” he chimed in with a big grin. For the Vance & Hines Racing team, whether or not it’s Top Fuel racing or Pro Stock motorcycle drag racing, there is a palpable level of competition between the racers and teams - but team work is the predominant theme.


While on the topic of VHR, with the NHRA Gatornationals coming up March 14-17, this will be the 50th running of the event for the National Hot Rod Association. Angelle Sampey, who is now part of the V&H racing enterprise has won the Gatornationals twice previously. Her teammate Eddie Krawiec has won the event five times and is the winningest motorcycle drag racer to compete in the Gators.


When the Gators ran last year there were 20 official entries in Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley class. Two more TFH teams were turned away as the pits were just full-up and there was simply nowhere else to shoehorn in teams with their transporters. For 2019 there are 16 Top Fuel Harleys entries, just three days before the start of the event.


Of special note from the NHRA Winternationals, NHRA PSM 14-time champion and motorcycle drag racing notable Terry Vance made a donation to Doug Herbert’s B.R.A.K.E.S. organization of $1,000,000 out of his pocket. That’s actual money out of his bank account, not VHR or any other source. He believes that strongly in Doug’s “Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe” program for young drivers.

From left, Doug Herbert, Terry Vance and NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart.


Doug Herbert lost his teenage sons, Jon and James, to a terrible car accident in January of 2008 and in the aftermath of his recovery from that loss, Doug vowed to help others so that they may never have to endure the terrible loss he suffered. Vance enrolled his sons into Doug’s safe driving program, where experts teach advanced driving skills to young teens. Terry and his sons were so impressed with the program, they invested in it to help others.


This selfless act by a member of the motorcycle drag racing community will likely help save lives. Hats off to Mr. Vance for his support of us all!


The 2019 motorcycle drag racing season will kick into high gear starting the first week of April. The Man Cup Spring Nationals will be held at South Georgia Motorsports Park on April 5-7, followed by the NDRO event April 12 at Gainesville, FL. The XDA will begin the season April 26-28 at MDIR, while the AMRA will host the Harleys at Beech Bend, KY, also on the weekend of April 27-28.


BREAKING NEWS: This just in, the NHDRO and Man Cup have partnered and motorcycle drag racers who race the NHDRO, Gainesville race (April 12) or the Man Cup Dragway-42 event (July 14), will garner championship points from each sanction respectively, for each event. So now Man Cup and NHDRO racers can now pick up extra points by racing in the affiliated sanction. A Win-Win situation if ever there was one!  



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