Doubling up wins on an NHDRO race weekend is a big enough achievement, but doubling up AND securing a championship at the Midwest’s largest all-motorcycle drag racing series is something else all together! But three of the world’s toughest sportsman racers— Joe “Big” Deck, Dustin Lee, and Ron Arnold—did just that this past weekend at NHDRO’s Kenneth R. Schwartz, attorney at law Motorcycle Madness Nationals and World Finals at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Madison, Illinois—just across the river from downtown St. Louis.
Deck—pictured above with his 330 foot scowl—won the Hardcore Cycles Top Gas race and championship, and added an MPS Pro ET win as well. The Top Gas runner-up was popular Chicago no-bar racer Michael D’Addio, who gave up .060 at the tree. Deck’s MPS Pro ET final round victim was Bill Hormuth of Hampshire, Illinois. Deck and Hormuth both had great lights (.017 and .018 respectively), with Deck’s 8.18 sticking closer to his 8.16 dial-in than Hormuth’s 8.91 on an 8.87. David “Skywalker” Thompson was the Top Gas number one qualifier.
In the winners circle, Deck told two child-friendly jokes about an elephant, a giraffe, and a refrigerator, with the take-away that his key to success is “We don’t overthink things. I’ve been chasing a championship since I started racing Top Gas, and I’ve finally done it. When you’re the last man standing at the end of the day, it makes you feel good.
“I’d like to thank Donnie Emerson, I wanna thank God for giving me everything I do, my wife and my kids, my racing family, and Dave Page. Dave does my motor work and I literally beat the eyeballs out of it. We appreciate Kenny Schwartz for sponsoring the race, and I wanna thank Nike and Brian (NHDRO owners Brian and Nike Welch) for doing what they do and putting themselves out there on the line for us.”
Here’s Deck’s full interview:
Saturday’s MPS Pro ET was winner Dustin “Biscuits” Lee, who also won Kevin Dennis Insurance Street ET on Sunday (after going to the semis on Saturday) and the Street ET championship. “A win on Sunday and the semis on Saturday, it feels deserving to me,” the Tennessean said about his championship.
“And winning Pro ET is always special to me at NHDRO, because myself being a no-box racer, it takes luck and I’m glad I had it.
“It was another great season at NHDRO. One championship, a second, a third, and a fourth. I wanna thank Brian and Niki for what they do for us!”
The Sunday Street ET runner-up was Jeremy Teasley, who redlit by -.006. The Saturday MPS Pro ET runner-up was Joe Klemme.
The MPS Pro ET champion is second generation racer Dalton Markham. “Would like too thank my awesome sponsor Ray Mancini and Xtreme motorsports, crew chief Scott Trodglen for all his help all year long, and my dad John Markham for getting the bikes to and from the races all year long,” said Dalton. “Couldn’t have done it without them.”
Saturday’s Kevin Dennis Insurance Street ET winner was Ron “3-Way” Arnold who also won the M2.Shocks Crazy Comp race and the Penske Racing Shocks Street Fighter championship for a real multi-class weekend of success.
“Thanks NHDRO!” said Arnold. “Thanks Fun For All Motorsports for all they do, and all my other million dollar sponsors like dragbike.com, eatmyink.com, Brock’s Performance, Renegade Racing Fuels, and Montgomery Motorsports. Thanks to all and I’m looking forward for next year.”
Arnold beat second generation racer Colton Gordon in the Street ET final and Pete Hubbard in the M2.Shocks Crazy Comp final. Arnold’s .030 light to Hubbard’s .110 set the table for Arnold’s feast. The one and only Joey DeSantis was Crazy Comp number one qualifier, and David Beshara is the M2.Shocks Crazy Comp champion.
Beshara—who had his bike stolen at his home last year—started this season off with mechanical carnage. “Went to Maryland at the beginning of the year just before the Morocco NHDRO race and damaged the head,” said Beshara. “We only had two weeks to get it fixed so I sent it out to Vance and Hines to get repaired. We get it back and put back together the Wednesday before the Morocco race and we end up winning the race.
“I test the weekend after that and we blow up the motor. We had a cam chain break and take out the newly freshened up head and break all the buckets. So I had to buy a new head and have Vance and Hines make a brand new head.
“We get the new head back days before the Dragway 42 race. We go to the race and we spin the number three rod bearing. Take the motor back to Dave Page for new bearings.
“So we go to the season final tied for first place with John Markham. John redlights in the first round, losing to Dustin Lee. I win round one and redlight in the second round. So that puts me out of the race and not gaining and more points.
“Now Dustin is in third place tying to catch me, but he goes out in the second round and puts me solely in first place. Now Ron Arnold is in fourth place and goes on to win the race. By the end of the day I win the championship by 15 points. If I didn’t win round one, I would have lost the championship to Ron by 5 points.
“It was a great year and a hard fought year to end up with the championship. I have to thank my wife and my Jeremy Teasley Racing teammates and Dave Page for their support on many of occasions. Thanks also to Brian and Niki for a place for us to race. See everyone next year.”
Arnold may have won the Penske Racing Shocks Street Fighter championship, but Nathan Hollingsworth qualified number one and won the Street Fighter race. He beat Andy Bailey in the final with a reaction time difference similar to Arnold and Hubbard’s—.034 to .103. Both riders broke out.
“I been so focused on all our other teammates bikes with tuning them via Holleys that I have neglected me as a racer and focused primarily on them this year,” said Hollingsworth. “But lot of the guys wasn’t able to make it to this race so I was able to try and stay focused on my race program this weekend. Although I’ll do anything for anyone at the track, it was nice to finally make a win for me. I’m so used to just helping others and making sure they’re dialed in that I forget about me. But I’m OK with that ‘cause it’s what I love to do help others succeed.
“I came off the trailer win a 9.50 with a 8, and decided to not make any more qualifiers, and that was enough for me to be number one qualifier.
“First round I had competition bye. After a couple heavy hitters in the game, I was able to squeeze past Jeremy England in a very tight race and then Ron Arnold. The finals (with Bailey) was a good race. I had him covered the whole way from the tree to the stripe. I was just on my game this weekend and that’s that.
“It was nice to be the last person to win Street Fighter as a class at NHDRO since next year they’re changing it to Dirty 30. I’m pretty sure I won the very first Street Fighter race at NHDRO as well, so that’s something kinda cool.
“Must make mention that Bill DeShong at Porttech Racing keeps all our bikes healthy and is really the backbone to a lot of our success. Without him none of this would even be possible. And thanks to NHDRO for making sure the coverage of our events gets out to the media.”
Lots of second-generation racers made news last weekend at Gateway, but none did it with as much style as Chase Van Sant winning Pro Ultra 4.60 on his dad Bruce’s beautiful old Pro Mod.
Van Sant beat number one qualifier Terence Washington in round 2, which was also a crucial round in the season championship. Smokin’ Joe Rodney beat points leader Broderick Jackson despite destroying his tranny when Jackson broke out by .001! So even though his transmission still didn’t shift against Van Sant in the semi, Smokin’ Joe claimed the 4.60 championship by one point!
Riding a bike that’s older than he is, 21 year-old Van Sant then beat veteran racer Johnny Bond in the final for his first NHDRO win.
“My dad Bruce and Rusty Kramer built the bike prior to the 1996 IDBA and Prostar seasons and started racing Pro Mod in 1997 (the year Chase was born),” said Chase. “They built everything themselves, from the chassis to the motor and even the paint and fiberglass work. It’s unique and kind of known for running a GSXR head and a GS1150 bottom end.”
The elder Van Sant ran a personal best of 6.91 at 195 mph and finished 3rd in Prostar points in 2000. He stepped away from racing to focus on family and the business, which is now Trick-Tools.com. He ran the bike at a couple events between then and 2003, but after that it sat without being run for 15 years until Chase was ready to give it a shot.
The motor Bruce raced Pro Mod was 1395cc due to the rules then, but he built the same motor to 1428 when the rules changed after 2003. “The combination we run now in 4.60 is the same 1428 motor he built after his last race in 2003,” continued Chase. “We still run the GSXR cylinder head from back then as well. The bike is almost exactly the same except for a 4-speed auto transmission instead of the 5-speed he used to run. We still run the original Pro Mod Schnitz box as well, so we haven’t added any electronics. It’s pretty much the exact same as people remember it from back in the day.”
Chase started racing Junior Dragsters along with his brother when he was 10 years old until he was 17. “That’s what really got us back into the racing scene. I started making passes on a Suzuki Hayabusa when I was 16 and raced a little bit of both motorcycle and Junior when I was 17. Motorcycles were always what I wanted to get into and I remember growing up wanting to race Pro Mod just like my dad did. I always loved what he did and wanted to follow in his footsteps, so getting to be on a motorcycle was perfect to me.
“We were trying to decide where to go with racing and just around the time I was done with Juniors, the 4.60 class started to take off and it seemed like a perfect deal for us. We decided to get the bike out and use it as a good opportunity to do some great racing and get my feet wet with a big tire wheelie bar bike. We have loved the class and have had a blast trying to get a hold of the old bike again. This class is so awesome to be apart of and can be a great steppingstone into Pro Mod or something heads-up. We’ve talked about what’s next for us and we aren’t sure where to go, but for now we’re loving the class and trying to be competitive with some great racers!”
Gabe Frederick has taken most of the season off to be a new father, but stepped right back into his winning ways, qualifying number one and taking the Pro Street win over Indy winner Dave Roisen in the final. Even with a stout 203 mph trap speed, Roisen’s 7.14 was no match for Frederick’s 6.85
“Due to having (his newborn son) Nash, working full-time with limited vacation, and starting up a used Powersports dealership, this summer was pretty hectic, with not a lot of free time to race,” said Frederick.
“I started out the weekend with the goal of just trying to learn more about the bike on a new set-up with methanol. Friday night was very chilly, but I was actually really impressed with the job that Kane Daily with Total Venue Concepts and the other crew at Gateway did with the track—especially with the amount of cars that they were putting down it. Those guys had to deal with four oil-downs from cars in back-to-back passes.
“We didn’t learn anything Friday night due to a oil leak coming from the valve cover, but I did get that resolved afterhours and had the bike set to go for Saturday morning.
“We decided we would test before qualifying and got to make one pass and had some issues with our AMS2000. But the bike still made a clean run on the wastegate, which gave us some good information. We had another AMS2000 in the trailer so we switched that out and got it working again and just took a shot in the dark on a tune-up for Q1.
“The weather was much better and Kane had that track surface on point. It was a lazy tune-up but it worked and we got down through there with a 6.90 @ 208. Q2 was a little better with a 6.89 at 207, but still not quite where we wanted to be. We planned to make a big change to the clutch set-up on the bike for the third qualifier, but the rain squashed everyone’s third chance on Saturday evening.
“On Sunday morning I decided that I wanted to play it safe for first round, and I knew I would have a bye if I could make it to the second round, so that’s exactly what we did with a 6.94.” That was against Brett Ware, who ran personal bests of 7.20 and 200 mph.
“Second round we had the bye, so I tried what I wanted to try on Saturday evening, but with the temps much lower on Sunday. The DA was about 1000 feet better than it had been on Saturday and I over-powered the track off the starting line.
“Being torn between knowing what the bike needed, but not wanting to risk losing rounds, I chose to just stick with the setup that would get me in the mid-to-high 6.80s for the rest of the race. The plan worked out good with a 6.88 (against high-wheelieing Brad Christian) and 6.85 in the final.
“We got a lot of information to work with for the Shootout and Man Cup finals and I’m looking forward to getting back down to where I was last year as far as ET’s go. We will hopefully have this bike making some respectable numbers at the NHDRO events next year.
“While the qualifying list and eliminations ET’s didn’t really show that the track conditions were there, I can assure anyone that wants to question it that the truck was on-point every round. It was as good as I have seen Gateway in a long time for a motorcycle race, probably since Tyler Crossnoe prepped up there for NHDRO a few years ago. It would’ve held whatever I was able to throw at it this weekend, but due to lack of runs and information I just didn’t have the opportunity to try and make mine go much faster than it was this weekend. Kane and the Gateway crew did an excellent job and it was exciting to know I wouldn’t have to worry about track conditions for the rounds.
“I would like to thank my dad for running with me when he can and being my pit crew. I can be pretty demanding on the old man. And Josh Affholder for helping this weekend as well. The whole Williford race team, but especially Ehren, Rodney, and John Gover for helping me get through the switch to methanol. Without them it would have been nearly impossible. Brian and Niki Welch for giving the Midwest racers a place to race when our only other option is to drive 15 to 20 hours for decent track conditions. Green Bay Anodizing for all my anodizing and Cryo needs. RPM Powersports for any parts I’m not able to get myself. Worldwide Bearings for keeping this thing rolling smooth. Firecore spark plug wires.I would also like to thank my wife for being supportive of my racing and taking care of Nash and holding the fort down while I’m gone on these trips.”
With a large field of Midwestern grudge bikes on the grounds and the starting line crowded with the people who love them, Saturday night’s VooDoo Grudge session was prepped to set off some true St. Louis Chaos. But a steady rain settled in and scuttled the program, pushing grudge action to the light of day on Sunday. One of the highlights was NHDRO regular Wiggle winning an all-Kawasaki ZX14 battle against Gold Mouth.
Next year is a big one for NHDRO, with all races moving to the centrally located, hallowed grounds of Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis. Brian and Niki Welch wish everyone a fabulous off-season and look forward to welcoming the NHDRO family back to action in 2020.
NHDRO thanks M2.Shocks, Kevin Dennis Insurance, MPS, Penske Racing Shocks, Hardcore Cycles, Liguori Drag Racing, Kenneth R. Schwartz, attorney at law, CC Powersports, Schnitz Racing, Voodoo Custom Motorcycle Components, Vanson Leathers, BB Racing, Quinn O’s Bike Sales, and APE
story and photos by Tim Hailey