30th Annual DME Nationals at Rockingham Dragway: One for the books
The Man Cup 2017 DME Nationals, held at Rockingham Dragway, September, 23/24 2017, was a race for the books – the record books that is. The event was full of great side-by-side drag racing at a first class race facility, and the on track performance by the racers was nothing short of stunning.
The historic part of the weekend started off during Q-1, Nitrous Express Pro Open class qualifying, when Niki Taube Zakrzewski made a 6.51 pass down the 1320’ of Rockingham Dragway racing surface, then stopped the MPH clocks while posting a 200.65 miles-per-hour speed that entered her, and Man Cup, forever into the history books. With that run she became the first woman motorcycle drag racer to crest the 200 MPH mark in competition. Dan Wagner provided the tune up, and the honor goes to Niki who drove her drag bike into the history books. She then went on to win the event in Nitrous Express Pro Open over Mark Rendeluk.
The racers and fans were already a-buzz for Niki, from Sam Wills 5.90 ET @ 234MPH pass, which led the Pingle Top Fuel field after Q-1 for that class. All of the I-4 fuel bikes were in the 6’s, the race was shaping up to be a good one, which is typical at Rockingham Dragway. People expect records to fall at The Rock; it’s that kind of place to race. But Sam’s opening round thunder was stolen by the Spiderman, who tried to rotate the Earth like his mentor before him: Elmer Trett.
Larry McBride racing did well; qualifying #2 behind the Nitro Conspiracy team. But then team McBride came out in Beast Mode on Sunday. E-1 became E-! when Larry and Chris Hand uncorked Man Cup’s first ever side-by-side 5 second elapsed times in Top Fuel motorcycle competition. Chris Hand’s 5.88 @ 222 MPH, was a personal best for the Red Neck Express on that pass, then thundering past Chris was Larry McBride with a 5.95 @ 248 that was preceded by a hole-shot, which gave McBride a .0014 MOV!
Team McBride then unleashed the beast on Dave Vantine during E-2 with a run that will long be remembered in motorcycle drag racing history. Larry McBride, on his next pass stopped the Rockingham Dragway MPH clocks at a historic 255.29 MPH speed! That my friend’s is the fastest pass ever recorded by a drag bike in motorcycle drag racing history as of 24/Sept/2017. There was bedlam on the starting line by all the Top Fuel motorcycle team members. McBride then went on to defeat Sam Wills in the Pingel Top Fuel class final round, to add to his championship points total lead.
In Falicon Pro Mod action, Ronnie Smith started tongues wagging with a 4.04, right off the trailer. No one knew at the time that by the end of Q-3, the top 6 qualifiers in P/M would all be 4-Oh’s! Talk about a tight field for Sunday’s eliminations. Ronnie Smith maintained his momentum all the way to the final round where he defeated Travis Davis, for a commanding victory in Falicon Pro Mod.
APE Pro Street, in qualifying was also stellar with Rodney Williford delivering a 6.70 at over 220 MPH. No one knew at the time this would not be his best run of the weekend. That would happen on his next pass to kick off E-1 with a blistering 6.66 @ 225 MPH, which sent Rodney to the top of the Orient Express GOAT List of “Greatest Of All Time” runs in P/St competition.
Rodney fell to traction woes next pass, vaulting his team-mate, Ehren Litten to the finals. There, Ehren defeated #2 qualifier, Terence Angela, to take the win in APE Pro Street.
Hawaya Pro Fuel, always a crowd pleaser, had solid wheels up performance from its entries; Michael Ray, Preston Bartlett, Jay Beasley and Tyler Wilson, who qualified exactly in that order. On race day, the team of Johnny Vickers tuning, with Michael Ray driving was the team to beat and Preston Bartlett with Walter Halonski did their best to do so. In the final round of Hawaya Pro Fuel racing, Preston’s 7.36 was close to Michael’s 7.35, but not quite close enough, with Michael Ray taking the win.
In the Shinko/WPS Real Street class, Dave “Super Dave,” Stewart turned heads with stellar performance all weekend. His 7.66 was good for the #1 qualifier spot, which earned him a bye-run in E-1. He saved the best for E-2 where he uncorked a world class 7.652 @190.89 MPH that had everyone shaking their heads. In the final round, Dave matched up with Johnny Dobrin and dominated the event by taking out Johnny “Turbo” Dobrin, 7.74 to 7.79, for the win.
Sportsman racing at the DME Nationals kicked off on Saturday morning, just after 9 AM EST, with MPS Pro ET, C&S Custom Street ET and the Vance & Hines V-Twin series racers. MPS Pro ET on Saturday was won by Stephen Knight with John Markham in the R/U spot. C&S Custom Street ET was won by Brian Dale over Spencer Claycomb and The Vance & Hines T-Twin race on Saturday was won by Barry Pryer Sr., over Manny Carrasquillo.
In the index racing series, the Grothus Dragbikes Ultra 4.60 class, the top-ten qualifiers were all listed in the 4.60’s on a 4.60 index, with Ronnie Procopio’s 4.604 being the closest run to the number, good for the #1 qualifying spot. When the smoke cleared on race day, the winner was Broderick Jackson with a 4.60 over veteran Tony Mullen, who broke out trying to run Broderick down.
Star Racing Top Gas, running on the traditional 8.20 Index, saw Alan Fields out front after qualifying, his 8.208 was best with Spooky’s 8.22 as the next best. The #1 qualifying spot earned Alan a bye run in round one, but he had to take out Ben Knight in round two and did so. In the final round, Alan matched up with Pete Chongris, who bested him as Alan encountered mechanical problems, ending his day of racing.
As for the Super Comp racers, going at it on the 8.90 Index, Jeremey Teasley’s 8.904 was but a tic better than Spooky’s 8.098 for the #1 qualifying spot. John “Spooky” Markham at Rockingham was one tough customer all weekend long. Teasley, who’s a highly skilled racer as well, just stormed through the field to meet up with Shawn Welch in the final round. In the last match up, it was all Teasley, going 8.961 on the 8.90 dial for the win.
In World Wide Bearings Crazy 8’s racing, with competition, with racers working off the 8.88 index, qualifying on Saturday showed that veteran Ron Arnold’s 8.885 was best just ahead of Dusty Brazel’s 8.889 effort. After qualifying #1, Ron got to work right away by eliminating Ben Knight in E-1, and Keith Brown in E-2. On to the finals, it was Ron Arnold and Dusty Brazel again, with veteran Ron Arnold getting the better of Dusty, who’s come oh-so-close more than once this season, but is still chasing that elusive win.
The Wiseco Street Fighter class, racing on the 9.50 index saw Chris Roelse take the top spot on Saturday during qualifying. Sunday on race day, it was Jason Herron in the winner’s circle after he defeated Pablo Gonzalez. Jason’s P/St bike broke a motor, so he hopped on the spare bike, and brought home the win in Wiseco Street Fighter.
MPS Pro ET on Sunday, Ted Harvey defeated Eric Griffith by strapping a .009 light on him to start the race, then went 8.12 on a 811 dial, to wrap it up. During C&S Customs Street Et action, John Fernandez was the top dog after he defeated the always tough Ron Arnold. John’s 8.364 on a 8.360 dial was just spot-on.
In wrapping up the race: in the Vance & Hines sponsored V-Twin series, Vance Houdyshell took a much needed win after matching up with Barry Pryer Sr., as the two of them were butting heads all weekend. Barry won the class on Saturday and Vance won the big one on Sunday. Both racers are looking forward to going at it again in November during the Man Cup Mann Hill Garage World Finals, which is shaping up to be the biggest drag race of 2017.