McBride, Yoder, Procopio and Dobrin win in Valdosta

story and photos by Tim Hailey

Ronnie Mitchell, left, looks over the graphs with one of his riders, Mike “Kavos” Kovacevich

Last year in November, Larry McBride squeaked into the final before claiming the Manufacturers’ Cup Top Fuel win. This year, after a round or two to tune to, Larry and his brother Steve had the blue bike in dominant form and took the event at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta just like the McBrides of old, laying down a 5.81 early in the day. They beat Tommy Grimes and the awesome Ray Price Harley-Davidson team in the final, clicking it off 5.1 seconds into the run when the Spiderman’s shield fogged and he chose good sense. That was still good enough for a 6.00 and the win.

Ronnie Procopio carried over his MIRock Superbike Series Pro Mod dominance, winning the Pro Comp final over multi-time Funnybike champ Keith Lynn. Ashley Owens failed to do the same with his ADRL dominance, redlighting in round 1 on the 3 second Fast By Gast Suzuki.

After running a 7.03, Bud Yoder was never able to hustle his Ronnie Mitchell tuned “Rizzo” turbo Hayabusa into the 6 second Orient Express Pro Street frenzy with Ryan Schnitz and the HTP nitrous Hayabusa, and Frankie Stotz and the turbo/alky mix Honda. But Yoder won the war, winning the final over Schnitz when Ryan’s bike started pitching over on to the pipe, a recurring problem for the record setting bike.

The Real Street class seemed doomed when Roger Starrette brought his MIRock championship winning ZX14 for Jeremy Teasley to ride, but Teasley wheelied in the final and steady Johnny “Turbo” Dobrin took the win.

Pro Dragster impresario Johnny Vickers took the win that baby nitro Harley class, and Kenny Schwartz took the Top Gas spoils back to St. Louis.

So many possible captions here, but why is Korry Hogan grasping a banana?

HTP Performance brought a whole brace of ‘Busas, qualifying #1 in Pro Street and netting 2 grudge wins

Gadson vs. ManCup
here’s the story, you decide

story and video by Tim Hailey

I hate to fan the flames of a non-story, but here goes: Last week at the Manufacturer’s Cup, Rickey Gadson was seeking big numbers from and live publicity for the 2012 Kawasaki ZX14. Robert Fisher of Roaring Toyz brought a custom ’12 ZX14, a beautiful metal flake gold and black beauty prepped more for style than speed. With only lowering, a hand-built Brock’s pipe and a miss-matched Power Commander, Rickey ran an 8.99. Now he wanted more and a lightweight rider (his nephew Richard and/or Jeremy Teasley) was the way to go. A knowledgeable crowd of potential customers packed the stands and Mike Seate’s Discovery Channel “Cafe Racer” film crew was on hand to tape what went down.

So Rickey ran upstairs to ask ManCup race director Jay Regan and the track timer for an exhibition pass. He was put off ‘til later, as he was several times until he was told “No.” Rickey was livid, and he vented his frustration in the staging lanes. View his rage in this video:

In an e-mail obtained by, Regan explains his decision: “I gained no joy in having to argue with him or deny his time shots. I put the event before mine and RG relationship and now I’m sure I’m the bad guy and that our relationship will suffer because of the decision. But, I knew the potential pitfalls when I took the job. I do agree with, and realize RG is beneficial to the sport overall and if I could have accommodated him without penalizing the event, I would have. But, letting him go and then saying no to the TF Harleys or the Grudge guys would (in my opinion) just start the process I truly hated of Prostar / AMA Dragbike of there being different classes of society. A no from me to him was also a no to all time shot request in an effort to help finish the event no later than it had to—which was 10:35pm by the way.”

We can all agree that there were times back in the day when Big Team Green seemed to get their way whenever the race director was asked, and no one hated it more than your’s truly. In those “different classes” days, it seemed that Team Kawasaki (spending big bucks on the sport at the time) was getting a competitive advantage through backroom maneuvering. But what Rickey was asking for in Valdosta was merely a promotional advantage.

Ever resourceful, Rickey put Teasley on the bike for Rickey’s Street ET round. That pass is in this video here:

Thus was launched a thousand forum post outrages. According to many on the forums, Rickey was cheating. According to at least one of the Manufacturers, Rickey was cheating. Rickey was clearly in violation of the rules, but was he trying to gain a competitive advantage? Common sense (and watching the video) will tell you “no.” We know instinctively that Rickey is merely seeking that promotional advantage I spoke of earlier, and we know by the video that Rickey instructs Teasley to “run it out the back door no matter what.” Since my camera is not trained on the other lane, I have no idea how Jeremy won the round despite running well short of a ridiculously low dial-in, flubbing a shift in his first time ever on the bike. Since the ManCup hasn’t posted results, I have no clue who was in the other lane. The round was his if he’d paid attention to Jeremy wearing leathers clearly marked “Teasley” and Rickey standing alongside the bike at the line. No attempt was made to deceive, but to merely run the bike down the track.

So was Plaxico Burress in violation of New York City gun laws when he accidently shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub? Clearly. But was he attempting to commit the crime that the law is in place to prevent? That is, was he trying to rob the nightclub? Clearly not. Was Rickey in violation of the rules? Clearly. Was he trying to gain a competitive edge with his rules violation? That is, was he trying to “cheat?” Clearly not.

OEM (Kawasaki, Suzuki, BMW, H-D, etc) money is necessary to the growth or even maintenance of the sport. When Kawasaki and Suzuki stopped spending money on marketing a few years ago, I had to stop publishing Straightliner magazine a couple of years later. Without their money, I can say at the very least that media coverage suffers. Likewise, OEM’s need big events like the Man Cup and MIRock Superbike Series to successfully promote products to their customers. I’ll never forget several years ago when Chip Ellis and Coby Adams brought the then new ZX10 to Rockingham. What Chip did that weekend with that orange bike in front of that crowd spread like wildfire and the ZX10 was instantly legitimized as a drag racing product.

That kind of credibility can’t be bought in ads. Rickey knows that, Kawasaki knows that, and that is why getting that bike down that track right then and there is what Rickey was obligated to do for his sponsor. Regan similarly made a decision based on his obligations to the racers and the track staff.

What call would you have made?

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