by Tom McCarthy
The eighth race of the ten race NHRA series for Top Fuel Harley kicked off on July 6th, 2018 at New England Dragway in Epping, NH. All of the pre-entries were in the pits, set up, ready to race by Thursday afternoon. Jay Turner, Rickey House, Doug Vancil, Beau Layne, Peter Geiss, Chris Streeter, Mike Scott, Billy Jack, Tii Tharpe, Tracy Kile and Bobby Malloy; eleven of the best.
In starting off the day on Friday, the rains came early. In fact, rain washed out the entire morning of racing action, so the run schedule was shifted for a 2PM start. The Q-1 qualifying session began, with Peter Giess leading things off with a solo pass. The quickest run of the day on Friday was a 6.318 ET, coupled with a 214.95 MPH charge by Bobby Malloy of Glen Mills, PA, good for the #1 spot on day one.
On Saturday, final qualifying took place, Tracey Kile coming out with pipes blazing as the first bike to run in Q-3. He laid down a 6.70 pass, putting him squarely into the #7 qualifying slot right away.
The next bike out was Mike Scott and he suffered his third consecutive N/T (no time) pass during qualifying. Things went wrong right at the hit of the throttle; his rear tire lit-up-in-smoke and that was all on his Q-3 effort. Unfortunately for Mike, Q-4 was a repeat of Q-3, ending his weekend with a DNQ (Did Not Qualify) . Billy Jack then ran a 7.33 at 209 MPH, which was a valiant effort for Billy Jack Racing, but he also got a DNQ for this race.
As for the elite eight, Q-4 ended with Doug Vancil moving into the #1 qualifying spot with his 6.30 at 222 MPH, followed by Bob Malloy (6.31), Jay Turner (6.32), Rickey House (6.36), Beau Layne (6.39), Tii Tharpe (6.44), Tracy Kile (6.66), and Peter Geiss (6.89).
On Sunday, elimination rounds began under bright blue sunny skies, with a track temperature of 124 degrees. The first pair out was the Rickey House and Beau Layne match up. We had the classic cagey veteran and the rookie going at it. First off the line was Beau Layne with a .049 reaction to the green light and he was off like a shot. “Sharky” as Rickey is aptly nicknamed, responded with a .082 reaction time and pulled away quickly. Storming across the finish line first was Rickey House with a 6.28 to Beau Layne’s 7.21 elapsed time.
The next pair out were teammates Jay Turner and Tii Tharpe. They are the best of friends every day; but on the starting line, someone has to go down. Jay jumped out first with a .049 RT to Tii’s, .058 that put him almost a tenth in the hole, right at the start. Down track, Jay’s 6.35 @ 225 was more than Tii’s 6.47 elapsed time could cover.
In the Bobby Malloy vs Tracy Kile pairing, it was two old veteran drag racers duking it out. Tracy had a best of 6.66 in qualifying and facing Bobby who posted a 6.31 right off the trailer – TK knew he had his hands full. Tracy got out first with a .054 reaction time and Bobby, knowing he had Tracy by a bunch, took it easy on the tree with a .101 RT. In the end, Tracy’s 6.62 was no match for Bobby’s 6.31 and that was all she wrote for Tracy Kile.
In the final pairing, the Doug Vancil vs Peter Geiss matchup was the #1 qualifier (Vancil 6.30) taking on the #8 qualifier (Geiss 6.89) in classic underdog match up style. Peter Geiss was first off the starting line with a .112 reaction time to the tree. Doug Vancil responded with a .128 RT and the race was on. At the big end of the race track where it counts most, Doug Vancil got there first with a 6.31 to The Thug’s 7.01, which ended Peter’s race weekend.
When the semi-final round match-up unfolded, Rickey House and Doug Vancil went at it first. Sharky was out for blood and he struck first getting off the line with a solid .056 light to Doug’s, .064 RT. His lead was short lived as Doug pulled steadily away with the quickest ET of the weekend so far, a stunning 6.26 pass at a thundering 226 MPH, that just ran away from the Cat Spot Racing bike of Rickey House who slowed after mid track.
The Jay Turner/Bobby Malloy match up next was vital for Jay Turner who was #3 in points coming into this race. Knowing this was a close round of racing, Bobby Malloy chopped the tree, but too close as he went red by .014, while Jay took off on his quickest pass of the weekend, clocking in at 6.263 @ 228.31 MPH, a new TFH track record for New England Dragway.
In the final round, for all the marbles, two of the best faced off to settle this race. Doug Vancil fired first and they both did good smoky burnouts for the crowd. Jay got away first with an excellent .039 RT to Doug’s .046 light. As they thundered down track, Doug got the better of this match up by hitting the win stripe first with a 6.283 elapsed time to Jay’s 6.48, to secure the win.
While there are two races remaining in the NHRA TFH series following this event, Doug Vancil’s Vance & Hines Racing Top Fuel Harley, tuned by Mike Romine, continues to distance itself from the pack.