Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s Chris Smith won Nitro Funnybike for the second time in three years at Rockingham Dragway’s 31st annual Jim McClure Memorial All-Harley Nationals. Smith rode Ryan Peery’s “Big Nasty” at the unusual AMRA and AHDRA event.
Smith’s final round was an easy one when number one qualifier Michael Balch was unable to make the call. “The fuel system was not having any of the fuel regulated, it was pushing about 150 pounds of pressure to the BDK,” said Balch. “We thought it was a faulty BDK or EM box. But about 10 minutes after we figured we weren’t gonna be ready, and the final was run already, Damon found that it was a faulty connector from the EM box. It was repaired but we just did not find it and diagnose it in time.”
“We have really struggled with the bike this year trying to figure out some new clutch parts,” said Smith. “Really glad we were able to put it together and find our tune-up again.
“Prior to the semifinals, we actually broke a rocker arm, lifter and hurt two pistons. We had to tear the motor all the way down to the block and crank and replace everything else, which was an absolute thrash. My team was such a huge help and we were able to turn it around. Big Thanks to Ryan, Buddy (Johnson), and Dad and Jay Turner for the parts.”
“Chris did a great job rebuilding his complete engine in between rounds and I feel very confident that if we would have found the issue we would have had something for the fans to watch in the finals,” said Balch.
“I hate that Balch was having fuel issues and couldn’t make the finals,” said Smith, who laid down a monster burnout with no final round opponent. “I was looking forward to a good race with him.”
“I would have done just as big of burnout as Chris did, and hopefully came away with the win,” said Balch. “It would have been a great race. But that’s drag racing, you live and learn. It was an overall great event, run well, and I look forward to being there next year.”
Smith reminds us that Big Nasty is up for sale. “That was my last race on her so it was great to send her off with a win.
“I also wanted to congratulate Jim Doyle on his AMRA championship. Over all the years that guy has never given up. He has continued to dig and always shows to races that he knows he has to race people.”
“It was a year of racing that was hard fought for,” said Doyle. “I didn’t have a lot of help but I got some help from different people from different parts of the country. It’s always harder to win a race with a new crew.
“I was quick at some events and consistent at other events. The finals in Rockingham were a struggle with bad tires and a clutch lock-up failure in the first round. But we had earned enough points during the season to win the championship.
“A new Funnybike is in the works for next season. I plan to keep racing as long as I can throw my leg over the bike. See you all next season!”
A surprise Nitro Funnybike competitor at The Rock was AHDRA owner Bill Rowe. Good on ya Bill!
NITRO FUNNYBIKE results
Top qualifiers – 1. Michael Balch, Uniontown, Pa., 7.166, 194.88 mph; 2. Chris Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 7.174, 190.00 mph; 3. Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., 7.522, 153.14 mph; 4. Bill Rowe Jr., 8.730, 148.49 mph.
Round 1 – Michael Balch, Uniontown, Pa., .137, 7.688, 191.29 mph, def. Jim Martin, Palestine, Ill., foul; Chris Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn., .078, 7.013, 171.08 mph, def. Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass., .110, 19.101, 62.83 mph; Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., .164, 7.358, 165.92 mph, def. Bill Rowe Jr., .221, 11.684, 69.85 mph.
Semifinals – Balch, bye; Smith, .120, 6.909, 199.08 mph, def. Furr, .099, 8.779, 109.60 mph.
FINAL – Chris Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn., .107, 6.922, 195.42 mph, def. Michael Balch, Uniontown, Pa., no time.