Man Cup presented by Vance & Hines
41st annual Man Hill Garage World Finals
South Georgia Motorsports Park
November 16-19, 2017
Written by Tom McCarthy
Man Cup Delivers World-Class Results
From November 16th, 2017, through November 19th, 2017, the Man Cup motorcycle drag racing sanction delivered the goods for the best motorcycle drag race of the year, if not the finest event of its kind in the last decade.
The 41st Annual, Man Cup, Mann Hill Garage World Finals delivered world-class results in almost all of its 16 classes. In the seven professional classes, many new records and personal best numbers were achieved and in the nine sportsman classes, the racing was so close that even .000 reaction times were sometimes not enough to win a round of racing. The quality of racing was that intense. And that’s just the “for the record” over-view of the World Finals, as an event.
Then there’s the “One that got away” type of runs like Takeshi Shigemitsu’s qualifying pass of 6.021 seconds at 194.91 MPH on Friday. His 6.01 was good for number 1 qualifier, and it was the quickest run by a Top Fuel Twin in the history of the sport, but if he was not forced to let-up on the run, he’d have made the first five-second elapsed time pass ever on a Top Fuel Harley.
Tak had a one piece drag bar set up on his front end when he began the pass, but at about 900 feet he suddenly had two separate handlebars, one in each hand, while driving a rampaging, blown, injected, nitro-Harley at full speed, about to cross the finish line! His Pingel Top Fuel Twin started drifting quickly to the wall in the right lane and he was forced to back off the throttle by 1000’ and he did, in fact, tag the wall briskly, scaring the XXXX out of everyone, but he brought the bike to a safe stop and never missed a round of racing. Tak’s 6.01, had he continued his rate of acceleration and run it out the back door was stated to be a potential 5.80’s elapsed time pass, after a review of his incremental numbers.
No one knew it Friday evening, that Tak’s “almost-a-five” run was but an omen of things to come for the weekend. Drag racing is a sport where the “combination” is everything to achieve high performance. It starts with proper track prep, then the weather conditions have to be there, the tune-up must be precise to the conditions, then the driver must bring it all together. It’s rare all the elements come together in one place at the same time, but when they do, magic happens. Such was the case at this race.
Motorcycle drag racing as an organized sport has been around since about 1967. Never before in the history of the sport has anyone witnessed mid five-second elapsed times at nearly 260 MPH from a Top Fuel motorcycle, nor a 4.29 1/8th mile ET from a Pro Street bike, or a six-second carbureted Pro Fuel bike pass. Low six-second elapsed times have become the norm in Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing, but clearly, the future will one day see five-second qualified fields of Top Fuel bikes in both classes.
And people who attended the 41st Annual Man Cup Mann Hill Garage World Finals can say in 2017, they were there and witnessed the future first hand. If you were to ask the fuel bike pilots, and there were 25 nitromethane powered drag bikes at the event, more than half of them ran new personal best times and speed at the World Finals. The air had a chill to it, the track was tight, the bikes were set on kill, and the combination was there. And man oh man did it all come together like a perfect storm.
2017 Champion: Larry McBride
Winner : Larry McBride 5.611 at 249.49
Runner-up : Mitch Brown 6.85 at 191.27 mph
#1 Qualifier : Larry McBride
Pingel Top Fuel racing brought thunder and lightning, header flames really, to the storm front. It all began with qualifying where fans got to see Larry McBride unleash a 5.72 @ 258.27 pass that just stunned the place on Friday evening.
People stopped what they were doing and it got quite as we all just gawked at the scoreboard as if to indicate, “Are we really seeing this?” Dave Vantine’s 5.84, Ian King’s 5.91, Rikard Gustafsson’s 5.97, Sam Wills 5.99, Mitch Brown 6.24, Chris Hand 6.39 – all were header flames into the night, passes to kick off professional class qualifying.
It should be noted here that for Rikard Gustafsson and Ian King, traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to compete in a drag race is highly commendable. It takes a herculean effort to race drag bikes on a global level and these two racers are the two fastest and quickest globetrotters in motorcycle drag racing today. They both were rewarded with some of their personal best numbers ever recorded in competition for their Top Fuel motorcycles.
On Sunday, race day, when it all counts the most, the man with the plan, the man to beat, was Larry “Spiderman” McBride. Having gone 255 MPH at the last Man Cup race and 258 MPH in qualifying for this race, everyone knew Larry had more power than the entire Top Fuel bike field by a bunch. The only question to be answered was, can his team put it to best use when they need it most? With respect to the new Pingel Top Fuel World Cup trophy: Larry had every intention of making sure his name would be the first engraved on the new Trophy.
Larry’s great power was almost his undoing, as in E-1 he went up in smoke on the hit of the throttle, but had a bye-run, so no harm, no foul. Rikard Gustafsson then unleashed a furious 5.87 @ 242 MPH on Sam Wills who shut off early. Rikard’s aggressive driving style and solid team effort showed his motorcycle and team can win anywhere, any place, anytime.
During E-2 action, Mitch Brown had a solo shot, sending him on to the final round, his first ever as a Top Fuel pilot. Then came the big match up everyone was waiting for: Rikard Gustafsson Vs Larry McBride. The two five-second machines did perfect side-by-side burnouts and staged with no games, this was serious business! Larry’s .072 RT was average for him and Rikard’s .220 RT did him no favors in facing the Cycle Specialist prepared powerhouse of McBride racing. Rikard’s 5.85 was a fine run, but the Spiderman was long-gone by over a bike-length when Gustafsson hit high-gear. Larry’s 5.74 to Rikard’s 5. 85 was a sight to see for all, and the Spiderman moved on to the final round, saving the best for last.
Larry McBride’s last run of the weekend against Mitch Brown was nothing short of awe-inspiring. His team’s decades of hard work and over seven years of building this bike came to the forefront on the last pass of the last race of 2017. Mitch Brown in the other lane could only watch as McBride’s header flames thundered off into the night, once the starting line tree flickered green – for Larry just blasted off down the 1320 of SGMP into the history books: 5.611 seconds later, Larry recorded the quickest pass ever in the history of Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing.
Larry’s 249.49 MPH clocking was incidental to the main event: McBride was once again the quickest and fastest Top Fuel motorcycle drag racer on the planet, once again. The celebration on the starting line went on for a bit and the applause came from all corners of the race facility. Somewhere up above, a man named Elmer, along with Big Carl, Bo and Jim beside him, they were applauding too. Beware the Swedes, they’ll be back!
Winner : Jay Turner 6.198 at 222.55
Runner-up : Tii Tharpe 6.310 at 216.38
#1 Qualifier : Takeshi Shigematsu 6.021 at 194.91
Pingel Top Fuel Twin was also a stellar performing class at the World Finals from qualifying through eliminations on Sunday. 14 Top Fuel Twins from many countries entered the fray. Takeshi Shigemitsu’s qualifying pass of 6.021 seconds at 194.91 MPH, which he ran on Friday night, was the #1 qualifying elapsed time, but Tak’s impressive number was but a number in a very big show.
Tii Tharpe’s 6.17 elapsed time was not only good for the #2 spot but it placed him deep on the GOAT list for Top Fuel Harleys. It’s not often that Top Fuel Twins run in the “teens.” If showmanship was a criteria for qualifying, few would disagree that Per Bengtsson’s T/F Twin named “The Beast” may have stolen the show during qualifying. With Tommy Grimes piloting the bike, fresh off their EDRS Championship season, the team ran consistent deep-six-second elapsed times, flames belching out both sides of the bike, every pass. It was a spectacular sight to behold every run. Their 6.22 @ 236 MPH put them at the #3 spot in with the heavy hitters club of Nitro Harleys. Jay Turner 6.29, Rickey House 6.341, Tracy Kile 6.344, and Anders Hornstrom 6.39, made up the bottom half of the ladder. Lyle Newton 6.76, David Larson 6.77, Greger Johansson 7.00, Jaska Salakari 7.03, Mike Beland 7.50, Jake Stordeur 9.78 and Jim Page, rounded out the qualifying entries.
When eliminations began, as so often is the case, beware of dog signs should have been posted in the staging lanes where the nitro Harleys were gathering because Jay “The Bull Dog” Turner was in the house and the big dog came down off the porch to lead the pack. Jay dispatched Jaska Salakari in round one with a thundering 6.28 elapsed time, to Jaska’s 7.50. Then during E-2, Jay sent Greger Johansson packing with a 6.22 @ 226 MPH blast. Jay’s teammate Tii Tharpe was busy doing similar damage to opponents along the way to set up a great race in the semifinals between old nemesis Tommy Grimes and Tii Tharpe.
During Tommy’s NHRA Top Fuel Harley championship times, while driving for Ray Price Racing, Tommy and Tii matched up more than once and they were eager to have at it again in the semis. Tommy got out first with The Beast with a .051 reaction to the tree, and Tii was close behind with a .094 effort. By 1000’ down the track it was evident that Tii’s Jay Turner Racing horsepower was pulling away from Tommy. The Beast clocked a great 6.25 @ 211 mph, but Tii Tharpe’s spectacular 6.16 @ 229 mph, was better for a trip to the final round. Meanwhile, Jay Turner made quick work of Jim Page, 6.20 to 6.94 to set the stage for an all Jay Turner Racing final round match-up.
The Bull Dog showed em all how the big dogs run by unleashing a winning 6.19 @ 222 mph over Tii Tharpe’s 6. 31 @ 216 mph which didn’t stand a chance against Jay’s hard charge to the winner’s circle. Over the winter months, Jay will be busy building Bobby Buckley’s Lucky 7, a new Top Fuel Harley based on a Sam Wills chassis and sporting a new supercharger. 2018 is starting to look like the year of the first five second elapsed time for a Top Fuel Twin. The big question is: Who will step up and sponsor the official “Five Second Club” for Top Fuel two-cylinder motorcycles?
Champion : Preston Bartlett
Winner : Kirby Apathy 7.14 at 182.08
Runner-up : Michael Ray 7.908 at 129.70
#1 Qualifier : Kirby Apathy 7.048
In other two-cylinder news from the World Finals event, in Hawaya Pro Fuel class racing, Kirby Apathy won the race, but Preston Bartlett won the war by clinching the 2017 Pro Fuel class championship after he qualified 3rd behind Kirby Apathy and Michael Ray. Kirby’s historic 6.855 @ 183 mph he posted during E-1 was the talk of the track as no P/F bike in the history of P/F motorcycle drag racing had ever run in the six’s before. At the World Finals in 2016, Kirby and Michael Ray traded 7.0 runs, threatening to crack the sixes just a year ago, but this time it was no threat, Kirby ran the number and history for all time will show it was the Kirby whodid the deed.
In the final round matchup, it was all Kirby all the way for 1320’ over Michael Ray, 7.14 to 7.90, for the win to Mr. Apathy. Kirby has a new Nitro Funny Bike and may retire the P/F bike in its world record breaking glory for 2018, but that’s not etched in stone at this time. And as for Michael Ray, I doubt you’ll see him on a P/F Harley in 2018. Don’t be surprised if you see him on something a bit bigger next season.
Champion : Brunson Grothus
Winner : Chris Garner 3.997 at 175.80
Runner-up : Brunson Grothus 4.049 at 174.28
#1 Qualifier : Paul Gast 3.99 at177.09
Falicon Pro Mod qualifying had the fans on their feet, and the racers full attention when Paul Gast unleashed a 3.99 @ 177 MPH during Q-1. The qualifying rounds were as tight as one would expect for the class, nine of the qualifiers right behind Paul Gast: Brad McCoy, Chris Garner, TT Jones, Brunson Grothus, Eric McKinney, Jeff House, Ashley Owens, Travis Davis and Deshawn Wheeler – were all 4.0 qualifiers. Spencer Allen, Tyron Lemons, Charlie Prophit, GT Tonglet, Connell Smith and Gernald Smith, also rounded out the 16 bike ladder for fast and furious 1/8th mile monsters.
When the Falicon Performance Pro Mods to the lanes on Sunday, all eyes were on Brunson Grothus who qualified 5th, behind Brad McCoy the #2 qualifier, as they were one and two in championship points, going into this, the last race of the season. Brad took out Connell Smith, 4.02 to 4.43 and Brunson eliminated Spencer Allen, 4.05 to 4.13, as both points leaders advanced to the quarterfinal round.
There, Brunson took out TT Jones, 4.02 to 4.48 and Bad Brad eliminated Jeff House, 4.05 to 4.12 respectively. In the semi-final round, things changed: Brad fell to Chris Garner 4.0 to 3.99, ending his championship bid. Brunson then eliminated the very tough Ashley Owens, 4.01 to 4.04 to clinch the 2017 Falicon Pro Mod championship.
In the final matchup of the race for the class, Brunson’s 4.04 run was insufficient to run down Chris Garner’s 3.99, which gave Chris Garner a well-earned win for the event. Chris’s 3.99 @ 175 and 3.99 @ 175 run consecutively in the final two rounds of racing showed just how amazing these machines and racers can really be.
Champion : Mark Rendeluk
Winner : Tommy Saxon 6.559 at 198.88
Runner-up : Keith Browne 7.186 at 171.86
#1 Qualifier : Niki Zak 6.432 at 205.22
In the Nitrous Express Pro Open class action, Niki Zak took center stage during qualifying on Saturday, November 18th, 2017 with a stunning 6.40 elapsed time at 207 MPH for the #1 qualifying spot. Her beloved drag bike she refers to as “Pony,” has been running like a bracket bike lately, as her Dan Wagner tune-up has been dialed in to the max. And a racer needs that kind of consistency to win in Pro Open.
The class accepts late entries on Sunday morning up to 10AM, and when the Tech Cards were all in, there were 20 Pro Open bikes ready to have at it on race day. With Niki holding the #1 qualifier spot, she drew the number twenty entry of Rudy Sanzottera for the first pair. On the fire up, Niki stalled the bike and they could not get it to re-fire, handing and unexpected victory to Rudy, who responded with a fine 7.0 pass at 204 MPH. While the race win eluded her, Niki ended 2017 as the quickest and fastest woman in motorcycle drag racing, doing proud by her team for the season. But the season was not over for championship point’s leader Mark Rendeluk, who came into this event, only 27 points ahead of Brunson Grothus.
Brunson qualified 5th and Mr. Paint was sitting in the 3rd spot as the ladder was set for Sunday morning. During E-1, Brunson Grothus went out in round one in a VERY close race with Tommy Saxon, and then Mark broke against Brad Christiansen, ending their point’s race, with the championship going to Mark Rendeluk.
As the Nitrous Express racing carried on, Tommy Saxon, a great Pro Mod racer, advanced to the finals to meet Keith Browne on the very popular turbocharged Harley Davidson, created by Keith’s brother Pete Browne. Their 6.99 pass in round in round one against former P/O champion Rob Giard was their best run of the weekend for the Turbo Harley. In the final round matchup, Keith cut a solid .046 light against Tommy’s .075 RT, and the big nitrous Pro Mod of Saxon just ran the Harley out the back door, 6.55 to 7.10, carding the win for Tommy Saxon. Pete Browne announced after the race, the next generation of the Browne Racing Turbo Harley is already in the frame jig and will be race-ready before springtime. Keith and Pete are looking for mid-6’s out of the bike and won’t stop till they get there – or deeper!
2017 Champion: Jeremy Teasley
Winner : Rodney Williford 7.159 / 184.04
Runner-up : Mark Paquette 11.77 / 67.07
#1 Qualifier : Frankie Stotz 6.70 / 202.98
PRO STREET SHOOTOUT
Winner : Rodney Williford 6.722 / 221.85
Runner-up : Jeremy Teasley 6.769 / 216.51
#1 Qualifier : Mark Paquette
The APE sponsored Pro Street class racing at the World Finals was just as good as it gets in motorcycle drag racing. It began on Thursday and Friday with the DME All-Star Shootout, featuring $10,000 cash on the line, prior to Q-1 for the Pro Street bikes in Man Cup competition. As a story has already been devoted here on DBC to that event, suffice it to say; congratulations to Rodney Williford and the Williford Racing stable for their winning the DME All-Star Shootout!
As for the action that carried over into the APE Pro Street action, #1 qualifier Frankie Stotz just STUNNED everyone with a 6.70 @ 202 MPH that got everyone’s attention. He also recorded a 6.84 in qualifying that revealed a 4.29 1/8th mile elapsed time that was just mind bending. His Kent Stotz prepared Honda was flying like never before. It was plain to see the battle for Pro Street supremacy was game-on!
With a full 32 bike ladder set for Sunday, the big battle to watch for was the performance of Jeremy Teasley and Ehren Litten as they were battling it out for championship points with Teasley in the lead by 27 markers.
With Jeremy qualified 8th, and Ehren qualified 9th, neither racer was giving quarter to the other. But that battle ended after E-1 when Ehren broke and lost his first round to Rocky Tinker. Jeremy won his round against Jake Henderson, 6.79 to Jake’s 8.12, easily. Jeremy’s DME prepared Pro Street bike was producing bracket-bike like consistency throughout the All-Star Shootout and into the Pro Street fray on Sunday. During eliminations, Jeremy logged in runs of 6.79 (E-1), 6.82 (E-2), and 6.85 (E-3), before running into Rodney Williford in the semi-final round where his performance dropped to a 7.40, as Rodney stormed by with a resounding 6.67 @ 223.39 to end Jeremy’s day. He lost the battle but won the war and the 2017 Man Cup Pro Street title in the process, so all-in-all, a great day of racing for Jeremy Teasley.
But this left Rodney Williford and Mark Paquette for the final matchup in Pro Street. Rodney was away first with a .030 RT to Mark’s .063 and after that, it was Williford all the way for the win. Because Rodney won the DME All-Star Shootout ($10,000) AND the Man Cup World Final event, Man Cup added a $1,000 bonus to the $3,000 winner’s purse.
So Rodney walked away from the Man Cup World Finals $14,000 richer than when he drove through the gate on day one. His team, Williford Racing, was flawless in their racing execution. Swapping out motors, preparing his bike, they cleaned the table and they earned it: The whole team.
Champion : Johnny Dobrin
Winner : Johnny Dobrin 8.029 at 180.89
Runner-up : Anibal Merced 8.032 at 181.94
#1 Qualifier : Spencer Claycomb 7.79
In the Shinko WPS Real Street class, Johnny “Turbo” Dobrin had a lock on the class with 120 point lead going into the final event of the season, so once he qualified #2, his 2017 Man Cup Real Street Championship was locked-down. But just to keep things interesting, Spencer Claycomb qualified #1 and the race was on for Sunday.
Johnny took out Ron Arnold in E-1, 7.96 to 9.45, then Johnny dispatched Jamie Lopez during E-2, 7.96 to 9.20, then found himself with a bye into the final round to meet the always tough, Anibal Merced. For the last round of drag racing by the professional classes, they made it a great round of racing indeed.
The reaction times of Dobrin (.069) and Merced (.070) it was like they were glued together at the launch. On the big end, at the stripe, Johnny’s 8.029 against Anibal’s 8.032 was so close, the scoreboards lit up at about the same time. Only the silvery win light gave the results away.
Sportsman to the Lanes
Sportsman motorcycle drag racers at the 2017, Man Cup Mann Hill Garage World Finals had just awesome racing conditions at their feet, throughout the event. The ambient air temp almost never rose above 60 degrees/f, and when it did the temp was short lived. Cool dry conditions were the norm throughout the four days of competition. So the racers racing in more than one class and sometimes on more than one bike, were able to do so without the draining heat complications that sap racers energy. Over all, this made for closer racing and a smoother running race event.
It should be noted here that 612 racers entered into competition at the World Finals event. That the whole event unfolded nearly right on schedule, over the five days of racing, was amazing all on its own. This was one of the smoothest running events in Man Cup history.
2017 Champion: Tony Mullen
Winner : Terry Hoke 4.808 at 123.59
Runner-up : Les Stimac 5.993 at 77.75
#1 Qualifier : Ronnie Procoppio
In the Grothus Ultra 4.60 class, coming into this event, Tony Mullen was locked into a close point’s race with Brunson Grothus: only 22 points separating them. With Mike Chongris only 12 points behind Brunson and George Babor only 17 points behind Mike Chongris: it was anyone in the top four who could clinch the title. The only question remaining was who could tough it out and make the fewest mistakes to achieve the 2017 championship?
Keep in mind that 4.60 class drag bikes are not unlike Pro Street bikes in their power levels. I’ve seen more than one Pro Street bike time slip with a six second elapsed time showing a 4.60 at the 1/8th mile marker. These bikes are POWERFUL! The cool air and tight race track were just right for the big bikes and they were storming at the World Finals. Here’s how the race day on Sunday unfolded.
Brunson Grothus came out swinging first by defeating Curtis Winston in the first pair out for 4.60 class racing. Tony Mullen had an easy go of it when his opponent, Roy Sears broke, then Mike Chongris took out Randall Cross who also broke. In E-2, Tony Mullen took out Rock Sanders, 4.75 to 4.76 in a tight one, then Ronnie Procopio eliminated Mike Chongris, 4.67 to 4.92, ending Mike’s racing weekend.
Then in E-3 Tony, fell to Terry Hoke, who also took out Brunson Grothus in the next round, sealing the championship for Tony Mullen, who was the Top Gas Man Cup champ, back in 2013. In 11 seasons of racing, Tony Mullen, supported by his twin brother Jimmy, now has 9 championships to his credit.
As the racing stormed on, Terry Hoke, of Louisville, KY, who had the hot hand for the day, continued his winning ways, all the way to the winner’s circle. In the final round of racing, he defeated the very tough Les Stimac by strapping a .017 RT on him at the tree and followed it up with a 4.80 ahead of Les who clocked a 5.99, well short of the 4.60 index.
Champion : Peter Chongris
Winner : Ricardo Marte 8.214 at 149.20
Runner-up : Charles Mackey 8.151 at 153.34
#1 Qualifier : Dan Howe
Star Racing Top Gas at the World Finals was also a high-speed contest worthy of the event. The 8.20 index class is a staple of sportsman racing, many advance from T/G into professional classes and Pro’s who no longer race in the upper, more expensive classes still find satisfaction racing in Top Gas. Star Racing, now “Star Power” has long sponsored the class and Man Cup racers are the better for it.
During World Finals racing: it was Ricardo Marte, from San Juan Puerto Rico, who captured the crown on race day. Ricardo was tenth in championship points coming into the final event of the season and while he had no point’s contention for the title, that had no effect on his excellent racing skills he put to the best use possible.
In E-1 he took out Quinn Brumfield, 8.21 to 8.33, and then next round he sent John Davis to the trailer 8.24 to an 8.16 break-out pass. In E-3, Ricardo won a close one with Hank Ackerman, 8.27 to 8.41. Round four found Ricardo with a bye-run and next up, he sent Don Chavous packing, 8.37 to 8.50, giving him a final round match-up with Charles Mackey. The two veteran T/G racers hit the tree tight and left together. Announcer Bill Hahn Jr. was right during live broadcast: this meant one of them was likely to break-out and sure enough, Charles Mackey went .049 under the index, sending Ricardo off to the winner’s circle.
2017 Champion: Dusty Brazel
Winner : Wade Smith 9.766 at 117.94
Runner-up : Dusty Brazel red light 8.904 at 149.85
#1 Qualifier : Dustin Lee
World Wide Bearings Crazy 8’s was a tough battle for the racers and they knew it would be going into the race. Dusty Brazel was leading in championship points by 27, just ahead of Ben Knight, who was only ahead of the BAMF, Dustin Lee, by seven points. It was anyone’s race to win, not just for the event, but for the championship title. These three monsters of the Crazy 8’s class came into Sunday with teeth bared ready to do battle.
When E-1 began, Dusty eliminated Chuck Hoover with a .062 RT to a .190, as Hoover ran right on the index, but Dusty got to the stripe first. Ben Knight didn’t make it to the race, so Dustin Lee was the only spoiler for Dusty to contend with. During E-1, Dustin took out Colin Nash 8.93 to 8.97 and it was a dogfight between Lee and Brazel into the semifinal round where they met up to settle the score. Lee was out first with a .011 RT to Dusty’s .052 effort, but on the big end, Dusty Brazel got to the stripe first with an 8.89 to Dustin’s 8.94 and that was all she wrote.
In the final round matchup, Dusty faced off with Wade Smith, a true assassin of the sportsman ranks, and while Wade won the race, Dusty won the war and the 2017 World Wide Bearings Crazy 8’s championship – his first ever, for Dusty Brazel. Dusty commented after the race,”Honestly it feels amazing. I have worked for several years to get to this point and it finally paid off!
Champion : Dustin Lee
Winner : Gary Russell 8.945 at 140.25
Runner-up : Ron Arnold 8.979 at 134.42
#1 Qualifier : Harvey Hubbard
In MTC Super Comp racing, the tables were reversed on the Dustin Lee, Dusty Brazel battle: going into the last race of the season, in Super Comp, Dustin Lee was the championship point’s leader, by 20 points ahead of Dusty Brazel. So when the battle began on Sunday, it was all out war.
During E-1, Dusty eliminated Robert Williams as the 7th pair out. Dusty’s 8.91 on the 8.90 index was closer then Robert’s 9.06 by a bunch. Meanwhile three pairs later, Dustin Lee took part in a double red-light start with Spencer Claycomb and Spencer’s .019 happened before Dustin’s -.006, so Dustin advanced automatically. Then during E-2, it was all over concerning the championship point’s race.
As the second round of eliminations unfolded, Stephen Knight caught Dusty napping at the tree and delivered a devastating .006 RT to Dusty’s .154, and he was toast 1320’ later. Lee, cut a .039 light on Mike Perry, who responded with a .035, for a knock-down, drag-out race to the stripe. Dustin’s 8.94 to Mike’s 8.97 was all the spread Dustin needed to advance to round three and seal up his Super Comp championship.
In E-3 Dustin matched up with New England Dragway favorite John Civitarese and they battled it out like the tough guys they are. Dustin’s 8.92 on the 8.90 index was spot on and Civi’s 8.85 was close, but too close on the wrong side of the index, so it was back to Massachusetts for Civi and on to the quarter-finals for Lee.
It was round four where Dustin went down to Stephen Knight, the Giant Killer. Stephen strapped a .024 light on Dustin, who’s .067 was okay, but not in late rounds racing in Super Comp, and that was all for Dustin Lee, who locked up another championship. As all this was unfolding, it was Gary Russell and Ron Arnold who were quietly eliminating everyone and everything in their path. They just went through the field like a scythe and met up in the finals on Sunday evening. These two pros, who race in the sportsman ranks like they were ex-PSB champions, they race it like they stole it. Their final round matchup was excellent. Gary Russell, who’s been leaning on drag bars and twisting throttles since his NMRA days in 1980, cut a .020 light on Ron, who’s a veteran racer as well, and Ron responded with a .030 – it was game on from the launch. At the stripe, Gary’s 8.94 elapsed time to Ron’s 8.97, coupled with the reaction times, equated to victory for Gary, who ended his season on a high note.
Winner : Stephen Knight 9.532 at 133.78
Runner-up : Dustin Lee 9.540 at 124.14
#1 Qualifier : Dean Moore
In Wiseco Street Fighter racing, close to forty bikes paired up on Sunday to battle it out in the popular 9.50 Index class. Great racers like John “Spooky” Markham, Stanley Russell, Brandon Mitchan, and many more, lined up to chase points leader Chris Roelse, Wade Smith and Dustin Lee, to see if they could shake the tree a little bit.
Stephen KnightDustin waded through five rounds of racing to meet up with Stephen Knight in the final round of Street Fighter. Stephen, going for the jugular, cut a .010 light on Dustin, who responded with a .037 RT and they raced it all the way to the stripe, 9.532 for Stephen and 9.540 for Dustin, with the win light coming on for Stephen Knight. Ben Knight couldn’t make the race, but for Stephen, he found his way to the winner’s circle just fine.
Champion : Vance Houdyshell
In the Vance & Hines V-Twin class, Vance Houdyshell has been on a tear all season and came into the last race of the year with almost a 100 (98) point lead over Barry Pryor Sr, to clinch the championship, just by entering the final event of the season. Yet being the hard core racer he is, Vance gave it all he had in the last race of the season for the V-Twin racers.
Five rounds of racing into the fray on Sunday; it was Vance and Don Horta battling it out in the final round. Don Horta gave it all he had, but the juggernaut on the blue, 2008, Buell which dominated the class all season, did the deed again, wrapping up the win and the championship in the process. Vance Houdyshell had a spectacular season of Man Cup racing in 2017, one he will long remember.
The Cycle X Super Eliminator class at the World Finals was a treat, as it always is, to see the variety of machines that show up and assault the senses with sights and sounds only heard at this race, which brings a flavor all it’s own to the World Finals. Seventeen drag bikes paired off on Sunday, with the bye-run going to Alex Hughes, on his 1972 Kawasaki drag bike.
Alex waded through four rounds of racing to meet up with Aaron Cunningham for the final round match up. Aaron dialed in on a 9.03 number while Alex stuck with his 7.89 dial, throughout the race. Aaron was in trouble right off the launch with a .162 RT as Alex left with a .065 light that shined like a win-light, right from the gate. On the big end, it was all Alex Hughes two-stroke power, screaming across the finish line for the win. Alex is becoming a favorite with the Man Cup racers and fans, that old H2 is a terror that harkens back to an era when drag racing was all about man Vs machine, and technology played little part in winning races. To see and hear his bike, which sounds like a chain-saw on steroids, takes many racers back to the old NMRA race days when there was one as Pro Stock motorcycle, with Dave Schultz upon it, racing with Paul Gast. That’s right, an NHRA P/S motorcycle 2-stroker. It was a feared motorcycle, so light, so quick, so powerful.
Champion : Ted Harvey III
MPS Pro ET racing at the World Finals was just WOW, and we all knew it would be. Over 25 pair of drag bikes were paired-off, for E-1! It took six rounds of racing to set up the final round match-up of John “Spooky” Markham Vs Harvey Hubbard. Harvey dialed a 8.20 and the Spooky Man dialed up a, 8.80 number and they lit the tires.
At the flicker of green, Markham was away first with a .026 RT to Harvey’s .041 light. A double breakout ensued on the top end, with the win light coming on for John “Spooky” Markham. John puts a TON of effort into his racing program. When he’s not in the seat ready to race, you can often see him trackside, watching closely, his opponents every move. He knows what his competition likes and does not like and he uses this to his advantage. It’s no small wonder he wins and does well at many races; he works hard for it.
Champion : Brian Dale
In the C&S Custom Street ET class, the racing was as intense as it was for the Pro ET racers. Again, over two dozen pairs of drag bikes lined up for E-1 racing. Six rounds of racing later, well into the evening, it was Dusty Brazel and Fittipaldi Pietersz matching up for the last race of the event. Dusty dialed 8.82 and Fittipaldi chose a 9.50 dial – and they were off! Dusty’s .036 was crucial for the win as Fittipaldi’s .155 RT was his undoing. Fittipaldi was closer to his dial, 9.59, but Dusty’s 8.89 coupled with the .036 RT, earned Dusty some gas money for the ride home to Moultrie Georgia.
All in all, with over 600 entries in 16 classes of racing, with racers from all over the world present, the Man Cup did a spectacular job in putting on this event. The South Georgia Motorsports Park crew, the support staff of Man Cup, from Tech through Registration, they all did a phenomenal job in executing this event on time. For the Man Cup staff, they were on the premises by Monday night, and they were set-up by Tuesday morning. They didn’t pack it all in and leave for a full week. It was the biggest race of the year and they gave the racers the race of the decade. Well done by all involved.