Many of you may know that I recently wrote a very long article about Dustin Lee’s bikes and methods for Race Engine Technology’s “Drag Racing Technology” annual. Rickie Smith, Erica Enders and David Grubnic are also featured in this issue, so you owe it to yourself to get a copy and see your nemesis Lee in that hi-tone company. And if you want to be on the cutting edge of race engine development, you really should subscribe to RET. It ain’t cheap, but neither is winning.
Lee’s won 24 championships combined in NHDRO, XDA and Man Cup, and is a three-time winner of Dragbike.com’s coveted B.A.M.F (Bad Ass Mother Fucker) award.
In the article, Lee intricately describes his Suzuki Hayabusa builds for the dragstrip, such as the earlier ‘Busa he refers to as Haterade. “I built that bike with just stock everything—ECU, I put a clutch in it, put a DME arm on it—and that bike, right out of the box, impressed me so much that it could do stuff I couldn’t do in 2012 and 13.
“It took me a long time to learn the set-up, but now it’s just simple to me. But it took me ten years to figure out what was the perfect setup for me. It may not be perfect for other racers, but it is for me.”
Lee says that he biggest change that he’s made to both of his current bikes is the Holley ECU. “It’s a big accomplishment to get a company like Holley to sponsor a bracket racer, so I run as much of their stuff as I can.
“And then I guess number two is probably the clutch, even though all the haters hate it. The Gen II is the airshifter of this decade.”
If you’re gonna beat the best, you’ve gotta learn from them. In the complete article, Lee details every component of his current bikes and how they work in unison for success. He even talks about what changes he’s making next, and his strategies for taking the stripe in the midst of a run. You really need to buy the mag (it’s not online—print only) and read it for yourself.
And as long as the article in DRT is, I still had to cut a lot of good stuff. But fret not—I’ve got the cut stuff for you right here!
In the article, Lee talks about his observations of other racers and how he uses what he learns. But some of his opinions had to be cut for length, including this one:
“When me and Jeremy (Teasley) race, it’s a barnburner every time. It used to be easier, honestly. I used to beat him a lot easier than I do now. And the reason being is, Jeremy’s bracket raced a little bit more than he used to.
“But he’s also added things to his bike that makes it better, like the clutch. You know, it used to be a hand clutch on everything he raced. Hand clutch to hand clutch, he already has an advantage. Now, with a clutch (like the MTC Gen II), he focuses on racing more than riding.
“And that’s what it’s (clutches like the Gen II) about. It’s just like an air-shifter—you focus on racing versus shifting the bike.”
Was it Jeremy that Dustin was talking about when he said this in DRT? “When he’s getting ready to let out, I can tell by the way his body is. I’ve watched him race so much that I know when he’s going to lift. I’ve caught him doing it, and I’ve caught him letting out on me, and I’ve won so many races that way. “
Lee also talks about safety in the heat of battle, and how he runs less tire pressure on his front than many of his competitors to increase his contact patch for more control.
“I get people all the time, probably five times a weekend, say ‘Hey man, your tire looks low.’”
That’s in case he—in spite of knowing he shouldn’t—will touch his front brake at the stripe.
“Yes, I do use front brakes down there, but you cannot let your racer overrule your rider. It can be a great move for the racer, but a bad move for the rider. Even if I grab the lever fast, I still make sure I apply easy pressure. But if I ever do crash, that’s probably where it’s gonna be, unfortunately. And it might just be because someone leaked some oil down there and we didn’t know it.
“And if I do crash, bring biscuits, ‘cause there’s gonna be gravy all over the place!”
Lee might find the top end to be not so far off if he follows the itch to go 4.60 (eighth mile) racing. “These guys are bracket racing old school Pro Mods, basically. You’re at the 330’ mark and you’re three seconds into the run, and you’ve got a second and a half to play out that next eighth mile.”
Lee’s attention to detail knows no limits—even his raceday diet. “If you eat a cheeseburger for lunch, it’s going to affect your reaction time. Usually during the day, I just snack around and drink water and stay alive. And then when I’m done racing I eat what I want.”
Most of all, Lee likes to control his attitude. “I’m not tense, not worried, not nervous, just being calm.
“My biggest weakness is myself. Ben Knight (fellow racer) has even said that—“The only way to beat Dustin is to let him beat himself.’
“There are times you lose because the other guy is better, but it’s still my fault that I wasn’t better.”
These cut fragments are a pale representative of the actual article, so make sure you get a copy.
story and track photos by Tim Hailey
parts photos courtesy of the manufacturers