AHDRA Champions: Michael Balch in Hawaya Racing Nitro Funnybike

The AMA/AHDRA All-American motorcycle drag racing series crowned its third year of champions in the Bill and Crissy Rowe era, despite battling some serious weather set-backs. 

The season started with a Gainesville opener that was shortened by shutdown weepers on a beautiful sunny day. A rare Rockingham rain cancellation initiated the first-ever AHDRA/AMRA combined McClure Nationals. And finally, a Florida State of Emergency brought on by Hurricane Nicole canceled the Gainesville Finals. Sometimes, that’s the luck.

But champions persevere, and AHDRA recognizes their best, thirteenth in a series.

Michael Balch works with Gregg Dahl making V-Twin gasoline power on weekdays, and rides nitro power on weekends. Balch won his second straight AHDRA Hawaya Racing Nitro Funnybike championship this year riding the bike he purchased from Red Rhea after riding the bike to the 2021 championship.

“2022 was a great season for me,” said Balch, who described his Autolite/Millenium Industrial Services bike as “Always consistent and dependable.

“I do take a lot of time to go over it between races, though. Racing at this level takes a lot of time, dedication and commitment to be competitive. After every race weekend I replace the rod bearings, and while I have it on the lift, Gregg likes to freshen up—or at least inspect—the heads. If the leakdown is ever questionable, we fix it.

“Working at GMS certainly has its advantages when it comes to having a nice, tight engine. Gregg is very fussy with ring seal, pistons fitment, and everything else related to a proper engine package.

“It would have been great to have more bikes in the class this season, but it’s a terribly expensive sport, fuel costs are high, so I understand.

Michael Balch

“Lucky for me, I’m blessed with some great sponsors that really make it easier on me to do it. They support me financially and we talk constantly through the season. They really have my back. It’s easier to be focused on only getting better when you have a great team behind you.”

And getting better is something that drives Balch. “I always put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well, so next season we are coming out swinging. I’m confident that in 2023 we can come out very strong and not lose a single race. I’m not trying to sound arrogant, as I have the utmost respect for all of the other riders, I’m just that confident with my team.”

Michael then thanked this writer/photographer for “Highlighting this sport, doing such great articles, and also the other track photographers that help us gain exposure. It’s very important what you guys do to help promote this sport we love so much.

“Good luck to everyone getting ready for 2023. See you at the track.”

story and photos by Tim Hailey

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