story and photos by Tim Hailey
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inexplicably, despite winning the crowd favorite award, smiling Ciera failed to take the overall bikini win
Nearly 500 racers and a sizable spectator crowd at the Fast By Gast Spring Nationals at Maryland International Raceway showed that the successful Mickey Thompson Performance Tires MIRock Superbike Series season debut in Rockingham was the “new normal” for the world’s largest motorcycle drag racing series. Racers from as far away as Japan showed up to test their bikes and skills on MIR’s meticulously prepared, super sticky, widely acclaimed quarter mile.
Michigan’s Rob Budgell arrived with a brand new NLR turbo and intercooler system and qualified #1 in Orient Express Pro Street, a class that seemed sure to see a new record after Ryan Schnitz ran a 7.08 while testing the HTP Performance nitrous Hayabusa the week before. But Ryan’s Wizards of NOS nitrous controller decided to get wonky at MIR and go straight from 0 to 100% with no progression in between. That sent Schnitz on several wild rides on a day that already saw Doug Witt crash hard while wheelieing his own nitrous ‘Busa. So with that problem unresolved, Schnitz sat out his round 1 eliminations pairing with Budgell.
Rob eventually lost his semifinal to Dimey Eddinger, while champion Rodney Williford won the other semi over impressive Pro Street first timer Carl “Junebug” Lucas, riding Ricky “Bud Light” Wood’s bike. Williford won the final with a 7.15 and his third straight 200 mph lap—not records, but not bad.
Jeremy Teasley’s Real Street ZX14
Despite having motor problems in both his Pro and Real Street bikes, Jeremy Teasley was able to win another DME Real Street race. Teasley’s Adams Performance/RS Motorsports Kawasaki ZX14 kept lifting the wheel on the top end as the team worked to find how much nitrous the bike wanted for MIR’s conditions. Still, Teasley qualified #1, kept clicking off 7.80s, and once again got the best of teammate Mark Billiter in the final.
Ronnie Procopio proved he’s the man to beat in Mickey Thompson Pro Mod, qualifying #1 and winning his second straight. Procopio beat Mark Paquette, who failed to back up his MIRock quickest-ever 4.07—run in round 1 over an upset Dave Norris. Dave’s quickly got his new bike running in the teens, but he’s been in this nitrous/turbo battle before.
Ashon “Capo” Dickerson
Brick City’s Ashon “Capo” Dickerson sliced through the largest ever House of Speed Crazy 8s field for the win. Dickerson nailed a light on South Carolina’s Ray Morris and took the finishlinet on his GSXR . “It was a tough row to get to the finals,” said Ray. “I had a pretty good reaction time, a .053, but he laid that .002 on me and I had to hustle to catch upm which I did, but lifted too soon and he edged me out.”
“My closest race was first round against last years’ champ Eddie Chapman,” said Dickerson. “It was a double breakout, we both when 8.86.” Chapman actually took the tree brilliantly with a .004 to Dickerson’s .016, but broke out by .001 more.
Dickerson’s racing the same, sharp ’06 GSXR1000, the same bike that he won the Pinks Arm Drop race with a few years ago at MIR. “I run pump gas in this thing and all weekend I wore my brake pads out trying to slow this thing down!” said Ashon. “It was a 8.7 bike all weekend but I was so killer on the tree—.005 in the semis and .002 in the finals—I had time to bag up top!
“My family support system is strong!” continued Ashon, and he ain’t lying. The Dickersons young and old are a true racing family. “I think I bring a different element and up-north swagger to this game and I’m gonna try and carry this momentum throughout the season.
“I would like to thank my great sponsors—Schampa Technical Gear, Schnitz Racing, Worldwide Bearings, Performance n Perfection Airbox, Motul Oil, Barnett, Spider Grips, Teesphoto Shop, Carpenter cylinder heads, Bigavelli Motorsports, Hotbodies, Bates Leathers, Dtech family and the whole squad and you, Tim, for all you do for our sport!”
Maryland auto bodyman Mac McAdams beat Long Islander Mike Ostrowski in an all-wheelie bar Fast By Gast Pro ET final late, late, late on Saturday night. McAdams handily took the tree and Ostrowski broke out chasing. Sunday’s race favored the no-bar bikes, as Boo Brown beat fellow finalist Kip Green. Kip took the tree .001 to Boo’s .002—crazy sharp lights! Boo wheelied at about the 60 foot and seemed to have lost it, but Kip wheelied huge from about 100 feet ‘til half track and gave up the stripe. James “2 Lane Blacktop” Taylor redlit against Jay Windsor, giving Jay and his screamin’ yellow Kawasaki the FBR Shop Top Sportsman win.
“Fearsome” Andy Baumbach
Virginian Mike Shulz took the eighth and final round of Schnitz Racing Street ET on Saturday night when Lanta Smith went -.009 red and threw away an 8.951 on an 8.95 dial-in. And “Fearsome” Andy Baumbach won Sunday’s final over Willis Warren Jr., who waited patiently while Andy and his boy Toney pushstarted his ‘Busa.
Pennsylvania’s Sam Parks won Real Street B over redlighting Christopher Knight. And the bikini contest? Only the best ever outside of the always awesome July WPGC BikeFest, as was Saturday’s spectator crowd.
Lavar “Lil’ Charlie” Delee
The biggest grudge race of the weekend was Lil’ Charlie on HTP’s “Sub Zero” 1000 vs. the all-motor crowd favorite “Cranky” Hayabusa on Sunday afternoon. Greg Wallace redlit on Cranky.
Budgell, Teasley and Procopio #1 Qualifiers at MIR
Perfect weather and a sticky track haven’t yet yielded the record setting pro class times we’re all looking for at Maryland International Raceway. Rob Budgell, sporting a new NLR sidewinder turbo and intercooler on a bike that was already rumored to be a class power leader, leads Orient Express Pro Street with a 7.22 at 201.58 mph. Champion Rodney Williford is second with a 7.295 and class nubie Carl “Junebug” Lucas third with a 7.349 on Ricky Wood’s bike.
Last week’s testing hero Ryan Schnitz is struggling with an erratic nitrous controller on the HTP Performance Hayabusa and has barely made it down the track. He’s got it better than Doug Witt, though. Doug is long rumored to be running the best bottom end testing numbers in the class but has yet to put together a good quarter mile. It didn’t happen today either, and luridly. Riding a huge wheelie at the 330, Witt’s bike stared wobbling side to side and threw the former Real Street/Outlaw ride into a series of tumbles. Witt is sore but OK and his black, nitrous ‘Busa is done for the weekend.
Jeremy Teasley’s Real Street ZX14
Jeremy Teasley is qualified 6th with a 7.397 in Pro Street but sits atop the order, as usual, in DME Real Street with a 7.869. After running record setting 7.70s in Rockingham, Teasley’s bike owner/tuner Roger Starrette is glum and disappointed with .80, even when they net the pole. His other ZX14 is second with Mark Biliter aboard, and Rockingham runner-up Joey Gladstone is third with a 7.984. Teasley, BTW, has a blown motor in the Pro Street ’14 and will not run tomorrow.
Rockingham winner Ronnie Procopio leads Mickey Thompson Pro Mod with a 4.144 at 170.54 mph. Dave Norris ran the first teen on his new DNR chassis in the final round, a 4.182 at 166. Robbie Hunnicutt rode his new Superman paint job to a 4.20 for third. Billy Vose is fourth on MacArthur’s antique Timblin and Rockingham runner-up Eddie Gonder fifth.
Including Afterdark Underground grudge bikes, 550 motorcycles entered today’s qualifying and ET eliminations. Add to that the largest MIR, non-July spectator count crowd I’ve ever seen and you’ve got a blockbuster event. Lavar “See what happens when you steal MY bike” Lewis leads the 64 bike House of Speed Crazy 8s field with a perfect 8.880. Fast by Gast Pro ET, Cycle Connection Street ET, and Afterdark Underground will all be racing deep into the cool Maryland night.
Expect those Pros not running the numbers they expected today to test tonight, including Schnitz. Number 16 qualifier Ryan, last week’s 7.0 testing newsmaker, will take on #1 Budgell in tomorrow’s marquee round 1 match-up.
Pro Street is Highballin’ Into MIR
2011 is already a record setting year for Orient Express Pro Street bikes. Frankie Stotz, whose dad Kent helped invent the class back in the day, ran a 7.10 while winning the Manufacturers Cup race at Valdosta in early April. Stotz rides an anomaly in drag racing—a Honda. His CBR1000XX is also not the standard big bore bike like the ones (mostly Suzuki Hayabusas or the occasional Kawasaki ZX14) that dominate the class, but it does feature the dominant poweradder—a turbocharger.
Most of the noise from pre-season testing has been front half numbers from nitrous bikes. Slider clutches and extra wheelbase give these bikes a low-end advantage over turbos, and everyone from Doug Witt to Victor Gotay have been said to post eyebrow-raising ETs up to the eighth mile. Then last week, Ryan Schnitz ran a 7.08 at 204 mph while testing an HTP Performance nitrous ‘Busa—the first 7.0 that I am aware of to be publicly claimed and reported as Pro Street legal.
All of this is leading up to what should be a nothing-less-than-dynamite Fast By Gast Spring Nationals this weekend at Maryland International Raceway—the second event on the 2011 MIRock Superbike Series calendar. “I’m very excited to see the progress in Orient Express Pro Street,” said MIR race promoter Jason Miller. “We’re seeing many different combinations making strides now with each event that comes at them and that is really getting the fans pumped up. There’s been Pro Street bikes officially in the 7.1s already and now you hear about bikes running 7.0s in testing.”
When you catch Jason in a super excited mood, he’ll start predicting a 6 second lap at his track. “Will we see 7.0s next weekend or will we see the ever elusive 6.99? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you this—when the MIRock Spring Nationals come to Maryland this weekend, MIR’s racing surface reputation will supersede everyone’s expectations,” said Miller. “We have learned a lot about track prep over the last several years from Pro Mod racers and Outlaw Drag Radial racers and MIR has one of the tightest racing surfaces in the country and the world records to back it up. Crew members had better tie their shoelaces tight when coming to the starting line next weekend because I plan on giving MIRock racers the stickiest racing surface they’ve ever ran on!”
And the field will be loaded with racers shooting for records, including builder/tuner Cecil Towner III of HTP. “Testing went OK,” said Cecil. “The VMP (Virginia Motorsports Park) track was excellent. We got a lot of data and hope to put together a good package for MIR. We ran a 7.08 at 204 and left the tune up alone, just trying to make it consistent and smooth. The main change from the winter is our new bodywork. We worked hard on aero, and nitrous-wise we are running the Wizard of NOS Revo, which is what we did all the R&D on the Real Street bike with. Everything looks pretty promising so far. An .08 is not a 6.90 and that is my goal, so a little more tweaking and we’ll try and get there. I also don’t want to just run .90’s once, I want to do it every pass. Reliably.”
Bud Yoder on Ronnie Mitchell’s “Rizzo”
Wow, that’s big stuff, and builder/tuner Ronnie Mitchell of Detroit’s Pro Street Cycles has no doubt that Towner will get there, though not this weekend. “They will kill the class with the rules that way,” said turbo stalwart Mitchell, whose pink “Rizzo” Haybusa won the MIRock season opener at Rockingham in March with rider Bud Yoder. “It would have been better if it was a real Pro Street with a hand clutch. They’ve been to 7 or 8 races and are already faster then what it took us 10 years to do. You cant give a bike that makes only 75 horsepower less an autotrans, 2 inches more wheelbase, 160 pounds less weight, and no hand clutch. Nitrous bikes are not the same as back when we made the rules, they make a lot more power now. We can ran that on the best of best days, but they are doing it with no front half’s.”
True enough, Schnitz’s low end numbers weren’t all they could be. “When Ryan gets his 60 foot down, I feel you will see a 6 second pass from Team HTP,” said tire hustler Richie Brotherton. “I thank them for sticking with Michelin and the Power One tire. Both passes was made with over 10 psi cold, and I’ve always said this tire will go fast with over 10 psi.”
“We had a very successful two day test session at Virginia Motorsports Park,” understated Schnitz. “We ran a best of 7.10 at 203 on the first day and a 7.08 at 204 on the second day. Cecil as always had done a tremendous job of building this bike and proving that he can build reliable engines and chassis that work.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike this weekend in Maryland and trying to repeat that performance. My predictions are we will see a new record for the class. Jason Miller has already said that he is going to prep the track like he never has in order to get records at his track. If the track is there, I’m sure we’ll see a new record. Weather looks good and the results we had while testing really has a number of teams eager to show what they can do too.”
But not Stotz, who may be eager but is not planning on making this event. There was some question after Valdosta about the fuel filler location on his Honda not being MIRock legal. “We plan on makin’ one of the MIRock races,” said Frankie. “We are already committed to the NHDRO and 2Wheel Speed and the Cup races, and also the Bristol race. But I believe the old man (Kent) is getting’ some things together so we can make the July race (at MIR).”
Jeremy Teasley on the Adams Performance/RS Motorsports nitrous ZX14
Keeping characteristically quiet since his Rockingham runner-up and holding his cards close to his chest is Real Street dominator Jeremy Teasley. “Our Pro Street bike will do great!” said Teasley. “They have the traction problem figured out and now they are going to lean on it. We’re not looking for times that will blow people away, but fast and constant runs and I will be happy! 7.20-7.25 would be the goal.”
7.20-7.25 my ass! I don’t see the Adams Performance/RS Motorsports crew sitting on 7.20s if 7.0s are dropping hot all around them. And in fact, while Mitchell grumbles about rules disadvantages for turbos, Coby Adams has hinted about taking his turbo ZX14 out of the mothballs. “The turbo is still in the works,” confirmed Teasley. “Don’t know if it will be ready, they have a few bugs to work out with it. We will see Friday morning if it makes it.”
“Our nitrous bike is done and ready to fly,” said Adams Performance/RS Motorsports crew chief Garron Miller. “Our Real Street will break records
and will win, we will win Real Street undefeated. The turbo Pro Street? We will see. Still waiting on parts and software updates. I hope it makes it, trying everything I can. But our nitrous bike will go fast. We changed some stuff on the nitrous setup. More nitrous, it is the Roger Starrette way. Other than that, if I get the turbo bike done it will be the fastest turbo bike out there.”
Eric “Lil’ E” Hart
Also hoping to get his bike done is Eric “Lil’ E” Hart, who rides Chachi’s nitrous ‘Busa. “If everything goes right and the UPS man doesn’t disappoint, yes, we will be there,” said Hart. “And if BNL (Hart’s father/builder/tuner known as Brother ‘n Law) doesn’t disappoint, might be having a new record in Pro Street and not too far behind Jeremy in Real Street.”
“Per Jason Miller, his track at MIR will be like flypaper this weekend, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Brotherton.
“Jason will ruin the class if all he cares about is the NOS bikes to run the number at his track,” countered Mitchell. “That 7.08 was done on a very poor front half—a 4.70. They will go 4.65 front halves, maybe even a 4.60. They will go 7.05 and yes, quote me—if they run that fast this week I won’t be back. If they don’t do something I am walking away from the class. Ryan had a 2.38 back half and that is our best. They have more horsepower to weight plus all the rest of the rules for them. Our rules have been the same for 10 years and we have the same power. Their power has been getting more and more every year.”
No matter what happens this weekend, Pro Street will be the hot class all season long. There is plenty of tweak room in the rules to slow nitrous bikes down or speed turbo bikes up, and we will address that situation with the big time players and the rulesmakers as the this quickest of all streetbike seasons gets in full swing, only here on eatmyink.com!
Find out more about the MiRock Superbike series at http://www.mirockracing.com