By Tom McCarthy
With the new year of 2019 firmly in place, the various motorcycle drag racing sanctions have settled on their venues and are ready to rock the house with plenty of action from coast-to-coast, beginning with the 59th annual NHRA Winternationals. The Lucas Oil Winternationals will happen February 7-10, 2019, at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, to kick off the ten-race Mickey Thompson Tires, Top Fuel Harley season with the National Hot Rod Association.
The ten events will span nationwide, beginning in California and ending at the US Nationals at Indianapolis on September 2nd. If you are into seeing the big nitro bikes go wheel-to-wheel at over 220 MPH, carrying the front wheel in the air for a full quarter of a mile, then NHRA action is for you. A quick look at the Top Fuel Harley program for 2019 looks like this:
Feb. 7-10, Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, CA
Feb. 22-24, NHRA Arizona Nationals, Phoenix, AZ
March 14-17, Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, FL
April 12-14, NHRA Spring Nationals, Houston, TX
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, WA
Aug. 15-18, Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, MN
Aug. 28-Sept. 2, Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, IN
Jay Turner Racing will be fielding four bikes in 2019, including last year’s TFH champion Tii Tharpe, veteran Mike Scott, Randal Andras and Jay “The Bulldog” Turner, who will be on his brand new blown-injected TFH named “Lucky-7.” And of course JTR will not be alone on the entry list.
Doug Vancil of Vance & Hines Racing will be out there, he finished national #2, right behind Tharpe, and Doug will be looking to take his Mike Romine tuned bike up a notch this season. Rickey House, who has finished in the bridesmaid spot more than once, will also be gunning for a #1 plate this season.
Other fan favorites racing in the NHRA Mello Yello series will include: Beau Layne, Chris Smith, Dennis the Nitro Menace Fisher, Jake Stordeur, Billy Jackson, Bobby Malloy, Mike Beland, Tony & Steve Ruggiero, Kevin Boyer and Jason Pridemore. Please see NHRA.com for details.
For motorcycle drag racing fans who want more of a laid-back feel to their racing weekend, with camping in the adjacent pit areas and perhaps a campfire at night, AMRA drag racing is just right for you. The pits are lively and informal, vendor food is carnival-like and best of all, you can ride in and out on your street bike with a proper wristband.
Very family friendly, the AMRA drags are a throwback to yester-year, great drag racing with everything from crusty-street bikes to spit & polish Outlaw Street or Hot Street (very radical street looking all-out drag bikes). The American Motorcycle Racing Association is the last remaining “All Harley” drags that are true to their V-Twin fans, nationwide. Fans can see the Top Fuel Harleys here too at select events. Please see the 2019 schedule for which ones, subject to change. Top Fuel racing standouts like Armon Furr, Tracy Kile, Lyle Newton, Chris Streeter, Rich Vreeland and many of the NHRA TFH racers also race AMRA. Fans get extra nitro bikes at AMRA events with not one, or two, but three Nitro Harley classes.
AMRA features Nitro Funny Bike (N/FB) and Pro Fuel (P/F) to the delight of the fans. Rich Vreeland took the (N/FB) title in 2018 and in Pro Fuel, Tyler Wilson was the man with the #1 plate at season’s end. Fuel racing standouts like; Kirby Apathy, Rocky Jackson, Jimmy Doyle, Gary Stroud, Janette Thornley, Ryan Perry, Walter Halonski, Jim Martin, Jay Beasley, David Larson, John McConnell, Preston Bartlett are among the names you’ll see in 2019. And there are new nitro pilots coming out every year, so watch for that. There are seventeen classes of drag bikes with the AMRA, pick one and go racing!
The AMRA racing sanction was sold just before the start of the 2019 season, and the four new members of the AMRA owners’ group are working a full season with Marty and Jane Vandenheuvel, who have run the AMRA for the past eighteen years. By working a season together, this will assure a smooth transition for AMRA racers.