“Bad Ass Mary” Dangrow was bad ass indeed at Rockingham Dragway’s 31st annual Jim McClure Memorial All-Harley Nationals AMRA and AHDRA event.
Mary performed best under the lights, gathering the bike after spinning sideways in the second qualifying round. Admiring her deft control of the wayward carbureted, nitro Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel bike, someone at the starting line said “She needs a new bike already,” meaning she showed the skills to move up in class.
She ended up qualified number two behind veteran racer and AHDRA points leader, Sam White. Sam lost to AMRA points leader (and eventual champion) Paul Anderson in the semis, where Mary had the bye to the final.
And in that final, under the lights, “Bad Ass Mary” won her first nitro race on a holeshot.
“What does this win mean to me? It means moving forward!” said Mary, who also crews on boyfriend Tracy Kile’s Top Fuel bike. “When you spend many years of your life with a passion for something that gets taken away, mainly because of life circumstances, getting back into it and actually winning an event is indescribable!
“As many already know, I have been fighting cancer for almost two years starting in January 2021 when cancer was discovered and removed. Thinking it was behind us, Tracy and I began my training on my Pro Fuel Harley with Johnny Vickers and Walter Halonski in September 2021, only to be sidelined with a return of my cancer in December 2021. I returned to surgery just before Christmas and have been going through treatments ever since.
“Throughout this year I have had the fear that this situation was going to sideline me from being able to ride again, but my friends stood by and kept encouraging me. A quote from Johnny Vickers ran through my head many times: ‘This is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time, but we will get there.’
“I got back on the bike after a ten month interruption at a Friday test session at Rockingham Dragway, hosted by Hawaya Racing Products, and with some changes to the bike I was able to begin again.
“With just two actual races under my belt we were able to get to the winners circle—it was our day! I still have a lot to learn on riding this bike and about nitro, but I have a great brain trust teaching me! I hope to compete the entire season next year.
“I want to thank Walter Halonski for his work, tuning brilliance, and friendship; Johnny and LeAnne Vickers from Hawaya Racing Products for their encouragement and support; Sam and April White from White Lightning Racing, and really the entire Pro Fuel class of experienced riders who encourage and help all of us newbies get better; Matt Silva and Vanson Leathers for an amazing set of leathers; Jeff Disinger for creating my logo, by organizing mine and Tracy’s thoughts, and painting it on my leathers; Frank Schaffroth, the entire Bad Apple Team, and the Bad Apple Nation
“But most of all Tracy Kile. Without him I could not have gone through any of this. His love, support and encouragement mean the world to me. He is my rock and God gave me a huge gift when he put him in my life!
“And one last note—when all of this started I promised myself that I would use nitro riding and my cancer situation for something positive and hopefully encourage anyone out there fighting a battle of their own to never give up. It might get hard and you will have bad days, but keep on fighting! God didn’t say that there wouldn’t be any weapons formed against us, but he did say that they wouldn’t prosper. Next year I will be shooting for a championship!”
PRO FUEL results
Top qualifiers – 1. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., 7.419, 171.84 mph; 2. Mary Dangrow, Asheville, 7.527, 168.14 mph; 3. Paul Anderson, Clarkston, Mich., 7.677, 168.62 mph; 4. Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., 7.714, 164.21 mph.
Round 1 – Sam White, Chapin, S.C., .134, 7.482, 173.21 mph, def. Jay Beasley, Winston-Salem, .206, 15.896, no speed; Paul Anderson, Clarkston, Mich., .111, 7.602, 167.82 mph, def. Jason Leeper, Spencer, Ind., .294, 9.500, 147.84 mph; Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., .210, 7.884, 156.99 mph, def. Richard Boone, Mint Hill, .154, 8.140, 165.92 mph; Al Miles, Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada, .195, 7.785, 159.48 mph, def. Phil Lower, Vicksburg, Mich., .156, 7.916, 161.77 mph; Mary Dangrow, Asheville, .162, 7.727, 161.13 mph, def. Jim Martin, Palestine, Ill., .181, 8.006, 163.16 mph.
Round 2 – White, bye; Dangrow, .172, 7.406, 168.72 mph, def. Miles, .167, 7.943, 157.76 mph; Anderson, .157, 7.569, 170.30 mph, def. Jackson, .158, 7.721, 163.99 mph.
Semifinals – Anderson, .147, 7.480, 170.54 mph, def. White, .127, 7.523, 170.77 mph; Dangrow, bye.
FINAL – Mary Dangrow, Asheville, .130, 7.393, 165.62 mph, def. Paul Anderson, Clarkston, Mich., .156, 7.385, 173.58 mph.
story and photos by Tim Hailey