Two in a Row for Tii

Spevco’s Tii Tharpe powered “Maddy” past Bob “Opie” Malloy for the first-ever NHRA Gatornationals Top Fuel Harley win. Malloy had the early advantage, his bike sashaying a bit under power while Tharpe’s was straight and contained. But Bob dropped a hole and nosed over at the eighth mile, allowing Tharpe thundered to by with a 6.313 at 230.29 miles per hour to Malloy’s 6.546 at 172.89.

Here’s an interview with Tii, Mike and Maddy Lehman, and Jay Turner:

Jay Turner Racing tuners Jeremy Hoy (left) and Rex Harris. MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS

Spinning while suspended on both ends makes for a cool pic but a losing round. #1 qualifier Doug Vancil against #8 Beau Layne in E1. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Layne then lost to Bob “Opie” Malloy in the semis. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS

Malloy beat Jay Turner in a brutal first round match-up. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Turner’s bike unloaded the tire on a bump in Gainesville’s right lane in his loss to Malloy. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Mike Lehman and the Nitro Santa—Don “DJ” Johnson MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Ricky House made a strong run to qualify third with a 6.34, then lost to Billy Jack in the first round. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS

This shot shows why Jack lost to Tharpe in E2. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Jack’s “Weekend” had a strong weekend indeed, qualifying 6th with a 6.55. before losing the semi to Tharpe. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Jay Turner, Steve Moore and Armon Furr MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Dennis “The Nitro Menace” Fisher qualified his small, high gear only bike just behind Billy with a 6.60. It was a real achievement for this team to put this bike in this competitive field. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Chris Smith just missed the cut in 9th. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Jim Page had another great outing on his Don “DJ” Johnson tuned bike, missing the field by two spots in 10th. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS

Tracy Kile (far lane) was 11th in the order MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Armon Furr was one of many who did not make the small 8 bike field. Armon was 12th with a 6.86. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Excitable fans who hoped for a 5 second TF Harley pass saw those hopes dashed when Tak Shigematsu only made 13th in the order MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Mike Scott was 14th in the order MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Mike Scott in the staging lanes MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Lyle Newton was 15th in the order MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Chris Streeter and his brother Matt have always been two of my favorite people to run into at the races—a pleasure I haven’t had for many beers—uh, I mean years. They’re learning a new-to-them Top Fuel bike, having moved up from their old high gear Funnybike. Chris sandwiched himself between Jay Turner Racing customers Lyle Newton and Randal Andras in 16th. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS

Randal Andras landed 17th MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Andras in the staging lanes MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Jake Stordeur struggled in 18th MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Kirby Apathy’s DJ-built Top Fuel bike MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS

Steve Moore! MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Tii Tharpe, Maddy, and the Jay Turner Racing team. MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS

Saturday: Vancil #1 in Strong Gators TF Harley Field

Doug Vancil powered to a 6.28 at 233 mph for #1 Top Fuel Harley qualifier at the Gators. This pic is from his Friday night pass, where his chute failed to deploy and he showered the top end with sparks from bike and boots. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS
Mike Romine’s building and tuning has Vancil running like 10 years away from the game never happened. MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Vance & Hines’ backing sure doesn’t hurt. Here Doug and Julie Vancil enjoy a staging lanes sunset with Matt Hines. MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS

Vancil back in the game sets a natural rivalry (some might call it a bitter war) with defending champion Jay Turner, Dorothy Olson, and Spevco’s Tii Tharpe. Phoenix winner Tharpe is qualified with a 6.32, while an unusually inconsistent Turner sits 5th with a 6.36. MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS
Bob “Opie” Malloy’s strong 4th place 6.34 means that he and Turner with race each other in E1—a brutal first round pairing. MORE NHRA TOP FUEL HARLEY PHOTOS

Kirby Apathy and crewman Kevin Zdunczyk showed up with a high-gear only, injected 150″ bike. It’s a Don “DJ” Johnson-built piece formerly piloted by Tracy Kile and the late, great Drums Brancaccio. Apathy didn’t make the field and expressed his frustration with flying without carbs. MORE NHRA CANDID PHOTOS

photos, video and story by Tim Hailey

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