Ryan Peery has found his sweet spot, and winning his third AHDRA all-American motorcycle drag race in as many events while at his home state is sweet indeed. That’s what the Milford, Ohio, based Top Fuel Harley racer did this past weekend at National Trail Raceway, as the AHDRA brought it’s nitro and gas V-Twin road show to the facility just east of Columbus.
Peery’s day job is building train bridges all across the country, and he’s clearly built a sound, TKR & Associates Top Fuel team that’s carrying home some heavy AHDRA hardware.
Ryan was asked what it takes to assemble and operate such a well-oiled machine. “A lot of hard work and really good oil,” he laughed. “I can’t take all the credit. I have some great help in my corner. Everyone at Jay Turner Racing, Midwest Containers, and P&C Johnson Trucking.
“It’s a great feeling when all the hard work you put in, all the late nights, early mornings, 16 hour days, weekends, and all the long drives—it’s very rewarding when it all comes together and you run well.
“I really enjoy the tuning challenges, but this past weekend was really tricky. The air (hot and humid) was really tough on the bikes. Plus getting rained out on Saturday and only having one qualifying pass Sunday morning really put the pressure on.”
Pressure enough that Peery let number one qualifier slip away to Cecil County winner Tracy Kile. Tracy posted a 6.54 at 220 while Ryan clocked in at number two with a 6.64 at 212.
“We weren’t aggressive on the tune-up and just wanted to get down the track in order to dial in the tune-up, and we did just that,” said Peery. “Consistency will win races and Tracy had it going on this weekend, getting into the .40s (6.48 on his round one bye), so we just tried to be consistent in order to give him a good run in the finals.”
And they did indeed meet in the finals. Kile kept it planted while the usually consistent Rich Vreeland blew the tire off in their semifinal pairing. Peery beat Frank “Brother” Capone in round one, then fellow Ohio racer Jake Stordeur in the semi despite his “Eleanor” dropping a hole at 1000 feet. Jake dropped one earlier in the race.
So Kile had lane choice for the final. “The bike gave me exactly what I wanted, a mid .50s pass,” said Peery. “And fortunately, Tracey had some issues at about 1000 feet and we got the win.
“Another amazing weekend and a perfect Father’s Day, as I had my son Eli there with me. I’m so thankful for all that are in my corner.”
Hawaya Racing Nitro Funnybike
Atlanta winner Michael Balch picked up his second Hawaya Racing Nitro Funnybike win, beating Peery’s other bike “Big Nasty” in the final with Buddy Johnson in the seat of “Nasty.”
Also the number one qualifier with a 6.81, Balch took the tree .084 to .204 in the final and motored to a 7.0 for the win.
Balch was feeling similar pressures as Peery on Sunday morning. “With the rain on Saturday, making Sunday a one day event, It put a little bit of pressure on me with only having one qualifying run,” said Mike.
Also like Peery, Balch has a strong team on his side—bike owner/tuner Red Rhea and GMS Racing’s Gregg Dahl. “Having Red and Gregg in my corner, it helped me to remain calm and stay focused.
“Coming out with the number one qualifying position was great. Racing against Buddy Johnson on ‘Big Nasty’ in the finals, I knew I had to be on top of my game. Gregg gave me advice in the pits and it helped me get my reaction time to a .084. I feel like I’m getting better with every run. Red is the best thing to happen to my career. I love that man.
“Winning the event really put my confidence to another level. It’s great to have such a fierce group of young guys in the Nitro Funnybike class. I’m excited for the class and the sport, I hope it keeps growing.”
Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel
Peery may have three wins to his credit this year and Balch two, but Preston “President” Bartlett has won all four Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel races this season.
Bartlett gave up number one qualifier to Sam White, who snatched the honor with a 7.35 and then dropped another number to 7.34 on his round one bye. Preston raced past Jim Martin, whose bike has suddenly developed a habit of moving to the right.
Bartlett took the final at the very start. His .105 light to White’s .142 was enough for his 7.522 to take the win against Sam’s quicker-but-losing 7.490. “It was another close one down to the wire,” reported Preston.
“I’m very blessed to have the greatest team and friends that make this possible. We hurt our starter cart before we even got to qualify, so Sam let us use theirs until we had them in the finals, then Jim let us use his. Thank you both very much.”
GMS Racing Pro Open
AHDRA champion Mike Motto qualified number one in GMS Racing Pro Open, but must have damaged his crank in the process because it broke on his way to the staging lanes for the first round of eliminations.
So the class boiled down to Paul Vicory and Gary Burkley in the final. Neither racer will want to brag on their lights, as Burkley took the tree .255 to .261. But then Vicory’s turbocharged Bagger ran its quickest and fastest lap of the day—9.45 at 156 mph—for the win.
Zippers Performance Pro Modified
Cecil County Zippers Performance Pro Modified winner Shane Pendergrast did the deed again at National Trail. Pendergrast qualified number one and raced John Price in the final. Price took the tree by .005, but Pendergrast’s 8.70 drove around Price’s 8.82 for the win.
“Just want to thank Bill Rowe with AHDRA for a good event, and our sponsors Hotshots, Popes Automotive, and SA Racing,” said Pendergrast.
Rockingham Pro Modified winner Gary Douglass won Pingel Modified this time around, as the 71 year-old racer put his focus squarely on the class. “Could only handle one bike this weekend, so I took the Modified,” said Douglass.
“The weekend was a tough one—rain on Saturday and two rounds of qualifying and eliminations on Sunday. It was hot and the air sucked big time. No one ran close to normal times.
“I qualified second with a 9.59. Ran a 9.45 in first round and had a bye in the second with a 9.44. Made a minor clutch adjustment between rounds and it worked. Ran the number one qualifier (Gregg Gross with a 9.57) in the finals with a 9.34.” Gross slowed to a 9.86 in the final, after a .362 reaction time (Douglass had a .159).
Douglass notes that the final round pairing with Gross exhibited a combined 144 years of living. “Don’t see that very often in motorcycle drag racing,” said Gary. It was also a pair of exceptionally beautiful bikes.
The winlight came on just in time for Douglass, whose bike clocked out for the day. “Bike shut off after the stripe and wouldn’t start,” said Gary. “Maybe it had enough of the weekend.
“Thanks goes out to my daughter Jody Simpson and grandson Jacob Bush for their help in the pits, it would have been tough without them. Thanks to our sponsors Energy One (the best), Vreeland’s Harley-Davidson, H-D of Lynchburg, CP-Carrillo, and Pingel for sponsoring the class. Thanks to AHDRA for giving us a place to share our passion of Harley drag racing.”
Law Tigers Pro Bagger
Speaking of good-looking bikes, Law Tigers Pro Bagger winner David Miller shows that a Frankenstein assemblage can be as handsome as any bike at the track.
“It’s a 2001 Road King that my friend and crew chief Brad Reiss Jr. built a year ago,” reports Miller. “It has a Mad Monkey swingarm and isolators, and Buell Firebolt wheels from a crash job that I saved about 10 years ago. The 103 inch motor is a collection of spare and leftover parts that myself and Brad had laying around—JE pistons, H-D cams, and most importantly the NOS fogger set-up squeezed between the cylinders.
“Still waiting on a few things for the big motor, but by the time the next race rolls around it should be in and ready to go.”
Colorful Rylan Mason was a little more ready to go in qualifying, running 9.94 at 139.83 mph for number one. Mason was also quick at the tree in the final against Miller, with an .056 to David’s .389 “Pontiac” light. But Mason had slowed to the 11s in eliminations while Miller was steady in the 10.teens—good enough for a 10.16 to 11.51 win for David.
“A win against any of my competitors is great, ‘cause there is never a lack of talent in the far lane,” said Miller. “For me, the coolest part of the past weekend was three people from Pennsylvania won—Mike Balch, Brad Reiss Jr. and myself—and that we all started racing at the same track: Zinc City.”
At 63, John Shotts is not as old as the Pingel Modified finalists, and still young enough to take on a new challenge. The 2020 AHDRA 9.70 Super Gas champion found a way to take an extra 4/10ths off his Destroyer’s ET and enter 9.30. Turned out to be a good idea.
“After winning the championship last year, Jimmy (John’s 66 year-old brother) and I decided to just have fun this year and not chase the points.”
So they tried 9.30 for the first time, and won. “It was really exciting for this old man,” laughed Shotts.
Runner-up Dave Doremus is right there in the same age range as the Shotts brothers. Doremus qualified number one and took the tree .090 to .114 in the final, but Shotts stayed closer to the index for the win as everyone was slowing down in the heat of the day.
Shotts also runner-upped in Vreeland’s Harley-Davidson 9.90, where he lost the final by .039 to previously mentioned Brad Reiss Jr.
Reiss’ .058 advantage at the tree allowed him to take the stripe with a 9.98 to Shotts’ 9.96.
“I like the index classes,” said Reiss, who has a motorcycle shop in Walnut Port, Pennsylvania. “I’ve always raced heads-up and just got tired of the cheating.”
Reiss brings two bikes to the track, and won this weekend on his red one—an 84 inch Sportster-based motor with nitrous and Buell bodywork that Brad shaved and adapted to the chassis he built. He shifts by foot, with no shiftlight, “And no sissy sticks,” he adds.
“My biggest sponsor is Barnett Clutches. I want to thank my wife Alicia, and my buddy Dave (Pro Bagger winner Miller) that I race with.”
Reiss has raced with AHDRAs Rowe family for about as long as he can remember. “I’ve known Billy Rowe my entire life. My dad and Billy’s dad used to race against each other.”
So when Bill Rowe bought and revived AHDRA, Reiss joined right in with the chase, winning the 10.90 championship last season and chasing two championships this year.
Crosby Blair was number one qualifier.
Universal Fleet & Tire 10.90
Blair also qualified number one in Universal Fleet & Tire 10.90, and carried that honor for the win this time around. Runner-up Clayton Danford took the tree .069 to Blair’s .098, but Crosby ran closer to the index with an 11.18 to Danford’s 11.27.
Nate Carnahan was another racer scoring a third straight win, taking the 10.30 index final over Reiss Jr.
Carnahan put .079 on Reiss at the tree, pushing Brad to breakout big time. “He knows I like to take the stripe and uses that against me,” laughed Reiss.
“BC Racing had another great weekend,” said Nate. “Getting three wins in a row is very exciting. It was a great Fathers Day gift for my dad, who was able to come out to see the race.
“We had a rough start with some ignition issues, as well as the starter going bad in the bike. It was a busy day facing awesome competitors.
“Thanks to all that came out and thanks to the AHDRA for putting on another great event.”
Gary DeZee qualified number one.
Kevin Winters apologized at Rockingham for not winning as much this year, but at National Trail he did something about it. Winters froze Loren Potter at the tree by .103 in the all-Buell, 11.50 index final. Kevin put up an 11.52 while Loren broke out with an 11.43. Kevin thanked Energy One clutches for getting things rolling in the right direction.
Number one qualifier Charlie Walker lost to Winters in round two.
Mad Monkey Motorsports Eliminator
Cody Rozeski took the Mad Monkey Motorsports Eliminator win, taking the tree by .026 over final round opponent Robert Willis and running an 11.551 on his 11.50 dial-in. Willis ran 9.705 against his 9.68 dial.
“It was a very special win for me, being that it was my first-ever personal race with the AHDRA,” said Rozeski. “And that I brought it home for dad and my brother on Father’s Day makes it that much better.
“Back in the early 2000s, my family had a pro dragbike. We traveled the East Coast, and my brother also ran in ET and 10.90 class.”
Rozeski credited the help, wisdom, and support of his family for his winning ways. “I also wanna thank my wonderful girlfriend Shannon for her patience, the endless support, and love she gave me throughout the entire trip. Thank my sponsors Cycle Motion out of East Palestine, Ohio; Igneous Gear fireproof clothing line; B.B. Rooners out of Salem, Ohio. My biggest thanks goes to my lord and savior for his guidance keeping me safe each pass I take, and the ability to do what I enjoy and blessing me with everyone who had supported me throughout the journey.
“I’d like say I’m very blessed to have been able to run the race. I wanna thank Bill and the entire AHDRA crew for their hard work. They did an excellent job.”
T-Man Performance Bagger Eliminator
Victor Gotay had some transmission issues with his Atlanta Pro Bagger-winning 187 Custom Cycles bike, so his team switched focus to T-Man Performance Bagger Eliminator. That’s where Gotay was able to take a win against his 187 teammate Crystal Lynch. Victor put .120 on Crystal at the tree and ran 10.22 on a 10.20 dial, while Crystal broke out with a 10.84 against a 10.90.
187 boss Patrick Lynch pointed out that Victor’s times on the ET bike would have been very competitive in Pro Bagger.
Donny Herbert may have been slow at the tree with a .303 light, but ran dead-on with a .003 for the Trophy win. Final round opponent Ron Sprout took the tree with a .215 but broke out.
Bill Rowe, his family, and the AHDRA community look forward to recovering from several hot weekends of racing before returning to action at Sturgis Dragway on August 8-10.
AHDRA is owned by Pulse Marketing, the Hellertown, Pennsylvania-based motorsports promotion company run by veteran drag racer Rowe and his family.
AHDRA thanks Cox Double Eagle Harley-Davidson , Vreeland’s Harley-Davidson , Gainesville Harley-Davidson , MTC Engineering , Hawaya Racing , Pingel , GMS Racing Engines , T-Man Performance , Zippers Performance , Horsepower Inc. , Mad Monkey Motorsports , Vanson Leathers , Law Tigers , Universal Fleet & Tire , and Racers For Christ
Story and photos by Tim Hailey