V&H Dallas Performance Sparks Boycott Discussion

Let’s be clear, Vance & Hines rolled their sleeves up to their shoulders and put on a Pro Stock Motorcycle (PSM) gun show at the Dallas NHRA Stampede of Speed last weekend.

V&H phenom Gaige Herrera led Friday’s qualifying sessions, of course, as he has nearly every day of qualifying this year. The night session saw many strong performances from the class, including John Hall with a personal best 6.78 at 199 mph on his White Alligator Racing (WAR) Suzuki. But as always, Herrera’s track record 6.68 at 203 put a gap on the field, even teammate Eddie Krawiec—a 4X national champ—and his 6.72.

Gaige collecting a $5K bonus for setting Friday night’s low ET

Things got really exciting on Saturday, as Herrera posted a new class ET record of  6.627 at 204 mph in Q3. Not surprising, given the cool and dry conditions, and the way this combination has been running all season long. Karen Stoffer’s 6.66 was due to fall and this was the time. Krawiec was still stuck at .72, and Hector Arana III moved up with a .74.

But what really caught attention was Kelly Clontz’s 6.70 at 201.9—personal bests that ran miles past her previous best. Husband/tuner Chris Clontz believed it to be the fourth quickest PSM pass ever (at the time), and even eclipsed Eddie’s personal best. That’s Kelly in the featured photo at the start of this article.

By Q4, Eddie improved to a 6.71 and Hector to a .73.

Eddie Krawiec

In recent years, Vance & Hines has supplied complete Suzuki motors and services to WAR, Steve Johnson, Cory Reed Racing and others in the PSM field. But the Clontz’s are currently V&H’s only complete package customer, and it seems that V&H wanted to make a statement to their former customers and the whole field at Dallas. I’m told that the team worked with the Clontz’s testing before the event, and Gaige provided Kelly some riding coaching.

“She did a great job and if she continues to do it she will get the same results,” said Krawiec.

Clearly it all paid off—statement made. The Clontz’s result, though, helped fuel emotions in the pits, as well as furthering the long-held belief that V&H delivers power to who they want and when they want.

This all-V&H final is from Gateway. A Dallas photo would have looked similar, but with worse lighting.

After the second straight Gaige and Eddie final, and while Gaige’s motor was being measured for bore and stroke, a meeting was held between the two MSR trailers. It seemed like every non-V&H team was represented other than Steve Johnson Racing.

Everyone saw me walk up to the meeting and I fully expected to be told “No, you can’t be here.” I was catching the tail end and missed most of it, but talk of a one qualifying round boycott was discussed. There didn’t seem to be a lot of support for the idea.

There was talk about the V&H 4V head’s interchangeable spigot design, but that might be why the brand is already penalized with added weight over the Monster 4V head.

There was talk about Gaige’s riding ability, which everyone agreed was very good, but most compared the numbers and said “He’s not THAT much better than me.”

Mostly there was a lot of venting. The meeting ended abruptly when a parts cart rolled off of the MSR lift and crashed hard to the ground. But emotions were high as the meeting dispersed and words were exchanged in the pits.

Since then, there’s been a lot of talk online. “If they (V&H) are in the business to sell part(s) and make people go fast, then don’t pick and choose who they want to go fast,” Matt said in the Eatmyink Facebook Group. “I told Terry (Vance) ‘If you want good racing (and I bet every Suzuki person out there would do it) bring 15 motors to the track and put 1-15 on the motors and every Suzuki rider out there pay a ren(t)al fee for the weekend and draw the numbers out of the hat and go run. Then it’s up to the riders and tuners to go fast,’ and he said ‘That’s stupid.’ Elite and KB/Titan seem to be doing that.”

Matt Smith and Mike Salinas. Mike is expected to make his first Pro Stock Motorcycle test passes on the Monday following the Vegas race.

A lot of teams are spending a lot of time and money specifically to compete with V&H because—rightly or wrongly—they don’t feel that they will get what they need to compete with the factory team. A lot of these teams are still using some V&H parts, but are moving to rely on V&H as little as possible. “We’re just starting down the path of replacing their parts in our engines,” Cory Reed told me at Gateway. His family now has an ownership stake in KB/Titan.

With Angelle struggling last year and Eddie considered not the right size to be as successful on a Suzuki as he was on the Harley, someone told me then that Joey Gladstone and the Cory Reed team were considered by V&H to be the best bet for their motor to win the championship. Joey’s second place finish showed that he and his team were getting what they needed to compete with eventual champion Matt Smith.

But with Gaige now in the the V&H seat, the season opened up with completely opposite results for Joey and the Reed team.

Terry Vance and WAR’s Tim Kulungian

If V&H wants to win back their Suzuki customers in an era where the in-house team and their customers are all racing the same platform, they might consider the business model that Smith described as working so well in Pro Stock Car. Or not.

In the meantime, they’re flexing their muscles and showing the level of parts that they develop and build, and their ability to finely tune those parts with a rock-solid, reliable rider like Herrera. Smith might rethink his Suzuki partnership while his very competitive Red Rocket sits parked. All the other teams will work hard on their programs over the winter and show up expecting better results at Gainesville in ’24.

Or maybe, V&H takes up Smith’s suggestion for a new business model, rolls all their motors out of the trailer in Gainesville for random selection by their customers, and teams drop their own expensive development programs.

But whatever happens, don’t expect a boycott.

Chris Bostick’s team showed great improvement in every aspect of their program at Dallas
Clearly the worst thing that happened at Dallas was Chase Van Sant scraping his kneecap on the track

How about Blaine Hale, in action on a Cory Reed Racing bike for the first time since, what, 2004?
HUGE crowds at Dallas, including a raceday sellout.

The Texas Motorplex puts on a great show. This was the finish of Friday night’s National Anthem.
Speaking of shows, it was great seeing WAR crewman Rick Elmore’s granddaughter Kynzler putting one on in her Jr. Dragster.

Josh Hart’s daughter celebrating the end of the trike race. Rules were broken, everyone was a winner.
NHRA DJ Jason Logan at sunset
John Hall and I were stuck with a “Mirage,” meaning that it only appeared to be a real car from a distance. We named it “Colonel Mustard”

words and photos by Tim Hailey

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