If you’ve never been to the drags to see Harley Davidson V-Twins battle it out, you DON’T know what you’re missing. If the sights, sounds and the scent of burning rubber don’t impress you, maybe a good whiff of nitromethane will help wake you up to the excitement of motorcycle drag racing in 2018. Imagine if you can, drag bikes that can go from zero to 100 MPH in less than two seconds? That’s how quickly a Top Fuel Harley can actually accelerate. If you don’t believe me, ask an NHRA, Mickey Thompson Tires, Top Fuel Harley racer like Tii Tharpe or Jake Stordeur to show you their time slip; you can see for yourself why these are some of the most impressive motorcycles on planet earth.
By Tom McCarthy
A 14” wide rear tire that will wrinkle like your Granddaddy’s grin upon launch, has to hold back close to 900HP from generally about 196 CID of motor. How about a 5” bore and 5” stroke combination, guzzling about 2.5 gallons of CH3NO2 nitromethane in six seconds? That ought to get your attention. Pistons the size of coffee-cans hammering out sounds like shotgun blasts with every spark from the magnetos. It’s no wonder the Top Fuel (T/F) bikes belch flames for 1320’ (1/4 mile) of race track, even in daylight conditions. These bikes are just pure excitement on two wheels.
In 2017, the TFH bikes were in competition at eight NHRA Mello Yello drag races, in 2018, the National Hot Rod Association has added two more events and the big bikes will be running at 10 National events with the NHRA in 2018. See the Quick Throttle Calendar for schedules for NHRA drag racing, BTW bring hearing protection!
If you’re into history, it just might be your lucky day in attending an event this year. The Top Fuel Harleys (TFH) are on the verge of running in the five-second elapsed time zone and this will be a historical achievement as no Harley has ever run quicker than 6.0 seconds in the history of motorcycle drag racing, which dates back to about 1950.
I point this out because Takeshi Shigematsu of Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan, on November 17th 2017, during the Man Cup Mann Hill Garage, World Finals, Tak (also known as “Crazy Tak”) posted a time of 6.021 seconds at 194.91 MPH during qualifying for the World Finals. What’s not readily apparent by the elapsed time is that Tak had to abort the run by 1000’ as his handlebars broke. On February 8-11, 2018, Tak will be racing at the NHRA, Winter Nationals, in Pomona, California, to start the 2018 racing season.
While the NHRA may be considered the premier drag racing sanction by racers and fans alike, they are not the only place you can see Top Fuel Harley racing. The Man Cup drag racing sanction has five events slated for 2018 and at the Man Cup World Finals, November 15-18, in 2018, you will not only see the biggest and best the class has to offer, you can see Top Fuel bikes from all over the world who flock to the Man Cup World Finals every year. See the Quick Throttle Calendar for schedules.
If you’re a die-hard Harley drag racing fan, you’ll be happy to know the American Motorcycle Racing Association is doing just fine and they have a five event schedule set for this season as of this writing. The AMRA is a Harley’s only sanction and it’s delightfully old school drag racing with modern safety in place for the racers. Marty VandenHeuvel, the President of the AMRA, takes great pride in making sure his races are run safe and on time. And there are great perks to attending AMRA drag races.
The cost to enter and watch an AMRA event is very family friendly and most often AMRA events feature inexpensive camping at, or nearby the event. It’s different for each venue, so be sure to check the AMRA website at: http://www.amraonline.com/ for details.
Another perk to attending an AMRA drag race is that the racing is not only all Harleys, but it’s all classes too. You’ll see baggers, hot street bikes and bracket bikes having fun– and the fuel bikes include, Pro Fuel, Nitro Funny Bike and of course, Top Fuel motorcycles.
If you’re brave enough, you too can go motorcycle drag racing at AMRA or Man Cup events. There are specific rules that apply, so go to the websites and read the rule books before you go try and enter a race. Safety first is always the wise choice in motorsports.
Motorcycle drag racing, unlike other forms of motorsports: One ticket of admission gets you right into the pit areas where you can walk right up to your favorite stars and get an autograph. You can stand within a few feet of a nitro bike as it warms up before a run. Generally the nitro bikes fire up about one hour before they go out onto the track. Teams warm up the bikes, which are astonishingly loud, check the systems for proper function and then shut them down. It’s important for nitromethane burning machines to have proper heat in the motor before they go to the starting line for runs. If you’ve never stood next to a nitro bike before, stay away from the back of the exhaust pipes as the nitromethane is a bit like tear-gas and will have a dizzying effect on newbies.
There are two things every fan really should bring to a motorcycle drag race. One is a camera; because you’ll want to capture memories you’ll never forget and talk about for years to come. The other is good hearing protection and that’s no joke. Drag bikes, especially the nitro bikes, are extremely LOUD. Never let your children wander about the pit areas without ear plugs or earmuffs in place.
Quick Throttle Magazine is pleased to announce that we will be covering select motorcycle drag races in 2018 and bring the action to our readers not only in the pages of QT, but in near real-time, as veteran M/C drag racing journalist Tom McCarthy will be posting updates from the races on Social Media via Quick Throttle websites. Come join in the fun!