Steve Rice alerted us to the passing of New Zealand iconoclastic motorcycle drag racer Laurie Webster in a crash on his turbo Kawasaki Funnybike at Meremere Dragway. “To my racing family, please remember—although racing is a fun game—this really is a matter of life or death,” Rice said in making the announcement.
“Lived in his shop, self-described ‘problem solver,’ great welder, nice man, dedicated to what he did,” is how Rice described Webster, who he’d been working with for 10 years or so.
“Because of (Webster’s remote) location, issues he ran into were cost and availability so whatever he did and had he had to make it himself. A lot of innovative stuff.
“My favorite is how he built this rotating stand that allowed him to take the cases apart to service the transmission and crankshaft without taking the engine out of the frame.
“His goal was to run a 7 second pass this year. He had a bunch of ideas how to do it with his own clutch, chassis, boost controllers etc. I sold him a fuel system and the four speed I ran in my bike
“Anyway, after a bunch of years of semi-failures with the home grown stuff, he was ready to throw in the towel. This year he decided to do what I suggested and got rid of the majority of his contraptions. He sent the fuel system back for inspection, did the motor, fixed some other issues, and built a new clutch as I suggested.
“And it started to come around, his last pass was an 8.20 at 165 mph—his best ever.
“According to Shane Eperjesi—who was in the water right behind him— the shutdown is bumpy and he might have gotten on the brakes, making it go into a tank slapper. It threw him off the bike after the finishline.” Webster’s helmet apparently came off in the accident. “It was over fast,” noted Rice.
“That was a real shitty deal for everyone,” said Eperjesi, who was riding a Pro Mod. “I had just met him about 10 minutes before that. I was going to be running him but they changed it.”
“Very interesting fellow,” finished Rice. “Went out on top, I guess.”
story by Tim Hailey, photos courtesy of Steve Rice via Laurie Webster