A million years ago, when my Uncle Jack sold cars in Atlanta, he would always joke around about the selling of cars in the early days of NASCAR – “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” and by the time I came along, NASCAR had turned into a commercial sport and I pretty much quit watching it or taking an interest in it when they took the door handles off the cars. But back in the day? If you had a quarter mile factory-sponsored car or a stock car that won, you sold that same car at the dealership and fans could buy it.
So these days, I take a dim view of “stock” car racing and factory teams in any race event, but I still have a soft spot for motorcycle racing.
Sure, these are fully custom one-offs, but you can at least see a resemblance to the bike sitting in the dealership … the stuff may not be cheap, but an intrepid backyard mechanic can still make an awfully fast bike using some of the same recipes that factory teams are cooking with. I’ve done it and I’d expect that you know a few folks who have done it, too.
Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the Gatornationals was held in Gainesville, Florida and once the street cars were done, I pretty much tuned out until the bikes showed up. What happened? Team Harley showed up in force. Now, truth be told, the same sort of drama that shows up in every bike race showed up in Gainesville that weekend – folks jumping the light, breakdowns, and all the assorted carnage that befalls any motor that is running on the ragged edge of its capabilities, but I can’t argue that Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec had their equipment tuned in.
These teammates met in the final round where Krawiec rode to a 6.763 to hold off Hines but the good news is that during the day, both riders had ETs in the 6.7 range and there’s something magical about running a quarter mile in that amount of time on anything … it is damn fast.
From time to time in these pages, you guys have seen how Harley has won or lost on what is really luck – a bad reaction, a mechanical issue, and last year’s final is a great example of that. Who’s the best rider on the race circuit when it comes to running a quarter mile? They’re all pretty damn good, but I’ll have to say that any man who willingly gets on a bike to flirt with the 200 mph barrier has got stones aplenty. In fact, interestingly enough, Eddie Krawiec’s first round win was an ugly one – turning in a 6.88 ET and nearly losing control.
The bike veered towards the centerline and, to quote Krawiec, “I was leaning pretty hard and when you do that, the front tire washes out and starts to skid. These bikes tend to do that once in a while. It’s a scary deal but you have to stay with it. If you roll off the throttle, the bike will stand up and at that point, it might dart left or right and then you’ve got a real problem.”
Meanwhile, mortals like us worry about a tar snake in the road…