Tharpe Thrilled with McClure Win

“What an honor to win the Jim McClure Nationals on the Jay Turner Racing ‘Throwback to the Judge’ while Phillis McClure was in attendance!” Tii Tharpe said after winning the Ray Price Top Fuel Shootout portion of AMRA’s 29thannual Jim McClure All-Harley Nitro World Finals. 

NC homeboy Tharpe (of Pfafftown) beat MILFord, Ohio’s Ryan Peery in the final. The two nitro Harley studs left with identical .070 lights and both crossed the finshline at 202 mph, but in between was a world of difference as Tharpe ran a 6.491 to Peery’s 7.981. “He spun the tire, and I let it head toward the center line,” reported Tharpe. “It got a little too close for comfort, so I rolled out, and then got back into it. Ryan came after me.”

“I got too aggressive and spun the tire at the hit,” said Peery. “I actually had a 1.04 60 foot in qualifying, then pulled weight off the clutch and thought I was safe. But the right lane wasn’t as good as the left.”

Tharpe started the weekend off on the FuelTech-controlled, hybrid fuel “Original Maddy” but switched to “Maddy Too” while the other bike continues to get sorted. “Foot-dragger from way-back” Tharpe had to adjust to riding “Maddy Too,” which has short pipes on both side instead of the long pipes on the right that he’s used to. “It’s amazing how good that bike rides,” said Tii. “There’s something to having pipes on both sides.

The win was particularly meaningful for Tharpe since he was a DNQ earlier this year in the All-Harley Drag Racing Association Spring Nationals at Rockingham, and was shut out of the winners’ circle this year in the NHRA Top Fuel Harley series he dominated in 2018 and 2019. “I knew it had to change eventually!”

It was a relatively easy day for Tii, who qualified No. 1 at 6.287 seconds, 225.67 miles per hour and had quick time of every round during eliminations. Peery upset new NHRA champ Randal “Fast Coonass” Andras in the semifinals.

Louisiana native Andras won six of the eight NHRA races contested during the shortened pandemic season. Andras previously won the McClure event in Nitro Funny Bike (2013) and Pro Fuel (2007). He qualified second behind Tharpe this time around but slowed to a 7.613 in the loss to Peery.

Tharpe thanked JTR, his own Spevco inc, and Samson Exhaust.

Nashville, Tennessee’s Chris Smith mopped up in Nitro Funny Bike.  During qualifying, Smith recorded the quickest time in class history at 6.473 seconds, but subsequently could not muster the required back-up run that would have certified the mark as an official AMRA record.

Smith had to be satisfied with hoisting the winner’s trophy after final round foe Tadashi “Reggie” Saito of Tokyo aborted his run.

In Pro Fuel, Palatka, Florida’s Preston “President” Bartlett turned the tables on South Carolina’s Sam White. White won when the two raced last spring in the AHDRA final at Rockingham, and won both at AHDRA’s Gainesville race last weekend.

This time, though, Bartlett had both the starting line advantage and the performance edge, denying White what would have been his second straight McClure title. Bartlett is the reigning AMRA and AHDRA champion.

Other pro winners included Mike Motto of Richlands on his FuelTech bike in Pro Street, Billy Doherty of Lake Charles, La., who prevailed in both Pro Gas and Pro Modified, and Troy Young of Writz, Va.,  who won in Hot Street and just missed a second title as runner-up to Virginia veteran and many-time McClure winner Gary Douglass in Modified.

Terrell’s Ken Strauss won in Top Eliminator; Bob Drapp of Winter Haven, Fla. in Super Gas; David Doremus of Loveland, Ohio, in Super Pro; William Grove of Dallas, Ga. in Pro; Donnie Huffman of Lakeland, Fla., in Baker Street Eliminator; David Dennick of Eighty-Four, Pa., in Pro Dresser and Jim Kennedy of Mattoon, Ill., in Street Dresser.

The weekend’s most interesting victory, however, may have come in the Dial-In Eliminator class won by NHRA Pro Stock racer Andie Rawlings of Lakeland, Fla., who used an 11.054 time against an 11.010 target to force final round foe Kevin Laughman of Spring Grove, Pa., into a breakout foul. That made her the quickest-ever on a Harley-Davidson Livewire, topping former Vance & Hines/Harley-Davidson rider Angelle Sampey’s timeslip form Indy testing in August.

Results from the 29thannual Jim McClure Memorial All-Harley Nitro World Finals at Rockingham Dragway.  Hometowns are North Carolina unless otherwise indicated. Results include reaction time, track time, target time when applicable and finish line speed.


Qualifying – 1. Tii Tharpe, Pfafftown, 6.287, 225.67 mph; 2.  Randal Andras, Amelia, La., 6.405, 217.53 mph; 3. Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, 6.509, 219.86 mph; 4. Tracy Kile, Ashville, 6.541, 186.23 mph; 5. Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., 6.618,  201.64 mph; 6. Tim Kerrigan, Novato, Calif., 6.737, 198.12 mph; 7. Robert Stewart, Gloucester, Va. 6.876, 197.59 mph; 8. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Cove, 6.930, 164.41 mph.

Round 1 – Tracy Kile, Ashville, .115, 6.544, 215.10 mph, def. Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., .107, 7.033, 163.37 mph; Randal Andras, Amelia, La., .074, 7.970, 171.64 mph, def. Robert Stewart, Gloucester, Va., .129, 21.405, 48.28 mph; Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, .287, 6.816, 168.60 mph, def. Tim Kerrigan, Novato, Calif., no time; Tii Tharpe, Pfafftown, .154, 6.371, 216.62 mph, def. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Cove, no time.

Semifinals – Peery, .241, 6.853, 178.19 mph, def. Andras, .025, 7.613, 199.55 mph; Tharpe, .105, 6.395, 210.08 mph, def. Kile, .086, 6.507, 206.13 mph.

FINAL – Tii Tharpe, Pfafftown, .070, 6.491, 202.15 mph, def. Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, .070, 7.981, 202.27 mph.


Qualifying – 1. Chris Smith, Nashville, Tenn., 6.473, 211.23 mph; 2. Tadashi Saito, Tokyo, Japan, 6.877, 178.33 mph; 3. Keith Browne, Semora, 6.894, 179.76 mph; 4. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., 7.377, 187.18 mph; 5. Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass, 7.524, 203.77 mph; 6. Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., 7.543, 167.16 mph.

Round 1 – 1. Tadashi Saito, Tokyo, Japan, .285, 6.937, 203.58 mph, def. Michael Balch, Palmerton, Pa., .100, 9.325, 106.50 mph; Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., .215, 7.510, 165.68 mph, def. Keith Browne, Semora, .318, 9.581, 103.33 mph; Chris Smith, Nashville, Tenn., bye; Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass., .175, 7.261, 194.49 mph, def. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., no time.

Semifinals – Saito, .224, 7.164, 199.23 mph, def. Jackson, .190, 7.606, 161.38 mph; Smith, .138, 6.827, 165.48 mph, def. Doyle, .137, 7.467, 140.85 mph.

FINAL – Chris Smith, Nashville, Tenn., .133, 6.921, 192.55 mph, def. Tadashi Saito, Tokyo, Japan, no time.


Round 1 – Sam White, Chapin, S.C., .182, 7.726, 165.76 mph, def. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Cove, no time; Jay Beasley, Winston-Salem, .300, 22.498, 52.53 mph, def. Jay Urban, Kentwood, Mich., no time; Jim Martin, Palatine, Ill., .424, 7.786, 140.87 mph, def. Brian Greenwalt, Yukon, Pa., no time; Preston Bartlett, Palatka, Fla., .185, 7.608, 168.98 mph, def. Kersten Heling, Shawano, Wis., .217, 8.185, 162.63 mph.

Semifinals – White, .138, 7.520, 166.52 mph, def. Beasley, no time; Bartlett, .044, 7.558, 168.79 mph, def. Martin, foul.

FINAL – Preston Bartlett, Palatka, Fla., .137, 7.533, 168.72 mph, def. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., .193, 7.613, 168.07 mph.


FINAL – Mike Motto, Richlands, .890, 8.421, 157.28 mph, def. Tim Grindle, Uniontown, Pa., no time.


FINAL – Billy Doherty, Lake Charles, La., .062, 8.497, 153.88 mph, def. John Price, Emmitsburg, Md., .167, 8.626, 150.60 mph.


FINAL – Billy Doherty, Lake Charles, La., .075, 8.680, 148.76 mph, def. Donnie Huffman, Lakeland, Fla., .070, 9.036, 141.19 mph.


FINAL – Troy Young, Writz, Va., .156, 9.696, 133.72 mph, def. Brian Conley Jr., Country Club Hills, Ill., .259, 9.601, 136.51 mph.

TOP ELIMINATOR (9.30 target) – Ken Strauss, Terrell, .043, 9.649, 125.74 mph, def. Scott Schenkel, Palmerton, Pa., .114, 9.704, 135.10 mph.

SUPER GAS (9.90 target) – Bob Drapp, Winter Haven, Fla., .046, 10.027, 114.42 mph, def. Paul Anderson, Clarkston, Mich., .054, 10.054, 126.68 mph.

SUPER PRO (10.30 target – David Doremus, Loveland, Ohio, .065, 10.453, 109.73 mph, def. Rick Miller, Pensacola, Flla., .287, 10.314, 124.20 mph.

PRO ELIMINATOR (10.90 target) – William Grove, Dallas, Ga., .152, 10.881, 119.93 mph, def. Crosby Blair, Georgetown, Tenn., .085, 10.857 breakout, 107.72 mph.

BAKER STREET ELIMINATOR (11.50 target) – Donnie Huffman, Lakeland, Fla., .040, 11.667, 94.51 mph, def. Loren Potter, McDonald, Tenn., .154, 11.681, 111.62 mph.

MODIFIED – Gary Douglass, Staunton, Va., .176, 9.340, 140.37 mph, def. Troy Young, Writz, Va., .085, 9.547, 135.59 mph.

PRO DRESSER – David Dennick, Eighty-Four, Pa., .179, 9.848, 138.46 mph, def. Chris Wood, NA, foul.

STREET DRESSER – Jim Kennedy, Mattoon, Ill., .251, 11.403, 115.28 mph, def. Roger Auxier III, Roseville, S.C., .140, 12.073, 105.88 mph.

DIAL-IN ELIMINATOR – Andie Rawlings, Lakeland, Fla., .116, 11.054 on an 11.010, 110.14 mph, def. Kevin Laughman, Spring Grove, Pa., .125, 11.751 breakout on an 11.910, 95.86 mph.

story by Tim Hailey and Steve Earwood; photo by Moto Lenz

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