AHDRA Champions: Sam White in Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel

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, fifteenth and last in a series.

At a time in his life when most people are slowing down, wiry Sam White is twisting the throttle harder. Sam has sold his share of the Walker White Mechanical corporation and is looking to start a brand new business in his “retirement.”. Oh, and the AHDRA Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel champion is planning to race even more in 2023 and eventually put a Top Fuel bike on his trailer. “I’m extremely busy for someone 67 years old,” White said.

Ans Sam probably wouldn’t have it any other way. “No, no, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The South Carolinian started racing Harley-Davidsons in 1999. “I really thought I wanted to race something. I’ve always enjoyed fast cars and motorcycles. I just wanted to know if I was good enough to race.”

White bought half the ownership of the late John Sands Top Fuel team from current Top Fuel star Bob Malloy. “That’s how I got started. Bob Malloy let me buy half his team.”

And so White jumped straight to Top Fuel without ever having drag raced a motorcycle at all. “I did. Jim McClure, Ray Price and Bill Furr were the three mentors that taught me and showed me how to do that. They said, ‘The good news is, you don’t have any bad habits. If you’ll listen to us, we can teach you to ride.’ And at the age of 45, I knew I had to listen.”

Since that time, White has raced all three V-twin nitro classes: Top Fuel, Funnybike, and now carbureted Pro Fuel.

Sam White on his Nitro Funnybike

“The idea was for Johnny Vickers (of Hawaya Racing) to teach me how to race a carburetor bike, which I knew nothing about. That was 2018 when we first got started, and I always laugh that I’m his oldest new student.

“After a considerable amount of carnage and damage over the last two or three years, this past year was my first year sort of on my own with just April, my wife, my stepson Matt Coleman, and me. I had a backup bike, and we’re goin’ racing.

“I knew I needed to have help, and Johnny helped with the first race at Gainesville. But that was it.”

“I’ll see you at the end of the season in Rockingham,” Vickers said as he drove out of Gainesville Raceway.

“And so the four races in the middle—Michigan and Sturgis, North Florida and Cecil County—that was just my wife, my stepson—who doesn’t know much about motorcycles—and myself,” said White.

What stepson Matt lacks in experience, he makes up in attitude. The guy constantly has a big smile on his face at the track. But the, so does White.

“I’ve often seen you around over the years and had a chance to interview you a time or two and, and don’t know you all that well, but I can say that you always have a big smile on your face and you always seem to be having a hell of a time,” I told Sam.

“Johnny Vickers made a compliment to me, because he only promised to help me in a couple of races, and as you see, we even formed a much deeper partnership,” said White. “After a couple of races he said, ‘Sam, you’ve made drag racing fun again, and I’m enjoying it. Maybe we’ll do some more.'”

I can see why Vickers would say that about White.

“Drag racing is really who I am. People don’t know me like my racing family does. With my faults, my good, my bad, everything about me, they know. It’s nice to be able to go somewhere in your life and be yourself and not be judged by anyone there. That’s something I’ve grown to love, and it’s why I can’t wait to retire from business and just do this all the time until I physically cannot do it anymore.

“The other thing is, the Pro Fuel riders that I’m racing against are some of the most helpful individuals at the race track. The family atmosphere with with the Pro Fuel riders is just great.

“My new motorcycle, we’re still learning how to work on it and it has a lot of potential. But the backup motorcycle took care of business for us in Cecil County and North Florida Motorplex (in 2022).

“And the secret, I think, to my success is I told my team to win a championship, we have to be in the semifinals at every track, and further, we have to make the finals as much as possible. You don’t always have to be the winner, don’t worry about that. You just have to be consistent, and consistency is what won us the championship.

“I’m planning on running all AHDRA and AMRA races this year. And Johnny Vickers says my Top Fuel bike should be finished in April. I’ve got a completely redesigned Top Fuel motorcycle at Johnny’s shop.”

Sit-up style like his newer Pro Fuel bike? “Yes, that and so much more. We’ve been at this for two years on this bike.

“I’ll probably test it up to at least the eighth mile, but I don’t know that I’ll ride (race it personally) that Top Fuel bike. I don’t know that I want to run to 235, 240 mph. So I might hire a rider, I don’t know. It’s just all up in the air, but I’m gonna have a Top Fuel bike and it’s gonna race.

“But I’m staying in the carburetor class. That’s me. That’s what I’m saying.

“This is my third national championship. I have two in Nitro Funnybike—in ‘05 and ‘08—and this one.

“I want to thank Johnny Vickers for going back out on the racetrack and helping teach me, with as much patience as Johnny could muster up. He likes to win. And Johnny has really gotten me back into racing

“Obviously I want to thank my wife. She has come all on board with my racing. We’ve got to where we enjoy the traveling. She makes it very enjoyable, and she loves it.

“I guess I really should be thanking the good Lord. Without him, none of this would be possible. And I’m very blessed. I’m so blessed.

“And I would like to give a shout-out to the racing community for giving me my race team name—White Lightning Racing.

story and photos by Tim Hailey

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