A couple of weeks ago I suggested that if you haven’t attended a flat track, aka dirt track, race, you’re missing some of the best racing in the motorcycle world. That still holds true, but I’ve got another form you’re probably not seeing.
On the surface, drag racing seems about as simple a motorsport as is possible, but the truth is that this form of racing has as many intricacies as any other form. And it’s equally as thrilling as it is fast!
Though most major drag race events are primarily cars, or more correctly, things that have four wheels, the bike side is comparatively small in terms of participants and categories. But all the fans love ‘em! And when you consider that the pilot of the inherently unbalanced machine is astride it, not in it, whilst going in the neighborhood of 190 mph in a quarter mile in roughly 7 seconds in the Pro Stock race, well, the cars seem, kinda… ordinary at that point.
I had the opportunity to attend the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma County, CA, in late July of this year. I’d never been to a drag race of this level before. I came away a convert.
The media, courtesy of H-D, were able to spend time in the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod pit, and get a first hand look at what’s involved at this level in the sport. What impressed me most was how involved the riders, Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, are in the preparation and maintenance of their respective bikes. Both riders jump right in and are 50% of the two-man crew that services each bike. Wow! There they were, two of the most successful names in the sport, wrenching on the bike side-by-side with the mechanic.
When you think about it, they have to be involved. As Hines told me later that evening, they need to know exactly what is happening to the bike mechanically so they can then assess what it’s doing as it goes down the track, and then make specific adjustments back in the pit after each race.
Now, what’s equally as impressive as these guys is watching the Top Fuel cars. We were allowed to stand right next to the start line when these things explo… er, um, left the line. The forces these “vehicles” produce is like nothing you’ve ever felt. The concussion from the exhaust nearly knocked me on my ass. The sound penetrates every part of your body.
I could spend the next 2000 words trying to describe to you what it’s like to experience this, and I’d never come close to relating the feeling. It is unbelievable! You have to experience it for yourself. Reading about it, hearing it, seeing it on T.V., nothing can come close to being right there.