Hawaya Racing Team headed to the NHRA Lucas Oil Screamin Eagle Series race in Virginia, presented by the Harley Davidson Motor Company this past weekend with 2 goals in mind, to win twice in the same weekend. The Baytown, Texas finals between Janette Thornley and Johnny Vickers was to be run in the second round of qualifying on Friday night, but was not to be. After qualifying in the number 1 position running under his own national record set in Houston with 7.297 @ 172.17 mph, high cross winds caused the NHRA officials to suspend the remainder of the second round of qualifying for all competitors until Saturday morning. This meant the Houston final was again put off due to Mother Nature.
Come Saturday morning, it was game on. Adding the extra round meant extra challenges for the riders and crews. Around noon, Janette and Johnny lined up for the second round of qualifying and to see who would finally prevail to take the Houston Wally honors. “I was a bit nervous about going out on a green race track for such an important round, says Johnny. When the lights came down, I got the jump on Janette and was out first by a bike length. All of a sudden I felt the engine rev and the front end started falling back to earth. I knew I was going up in smoke. I did a very quick peddle job as Janette shot out in front of me. The #1 school bike didn’t let me down and hoisted the front end back in the air and I got as small as I could get to try and run Janette back down. About 1000 feet, I had caught back up to her and went on the take the win on a hole shot, her 7.494 ET to my 7.497 ET. What a drag race, MOV .0673 seconds. The crowd loved it, but there was not time to celebrate. We still had another race to win.
In round one of eliminations for the Virginia Wally, I had a bye run, running a 7.409. Rich Vreeland defeated Janette and Dale Nilles defeated new comer Lloyd Stenerson. This meant that Rich and I would meet up in the Semi’s and Dale would take on Pete Stimeling. Rich and I left with almost identical lights and he started moving away from me. I immediately knew that I had hurt a piston when I had to do the peddle job on Janette. I stayed after it and saw Rich getting close to the center line which caused him to have to lift briefly. This was all I needed to take the lead and the win running a 7.534 to Rich’s 7.901. On the other side of the ladder, Dale was having a good day, being faster than me all day. He put Pete on the truck with a strong 7.31 ET meaning he had the lane choice going into the final and I had a hurt motor. As soon as I rolled into the pits, Walter and Mark Snyder who is taking the Nitro Bike School next month jumped in and started pulling the rear cylinder for a piston change. I was not sure if we would have enough time as the race was winding down, but the crew came through getting the job done with 15 minutes to spare.
In the second all Derringer final and my second final as well in the same day, the odds were in Dale’s favor for sure. Dale had actually reset the national record and backed it up at this point with the 7.31 ET, but I still had a chance to back up the 7.29 from qualifying. Both of our engines had been sealed on Friday by NHRA officials. At the line, Dale got the hole shot on me by about .04 seconds. The #1 school bike was digging hard as I tried to catch up to Dale. My 60 foot time was a little better, but he pulled me a little in the 330. By the 1/8th mile, we were almost even, 4.562 for Dale and 4.566 for me, but at 154.4 mph, I was coming in a hurry. By the 1000 foot mark, I had made up all the track Dale had on me and was starting to pull ahead of him. When we crossed the stripe, I was only ahead by a foot or two at the most. Man, what a drag race. I went 7.269 ET @ 180.91 mph to Dales 7.316 @ 169.64 mph to take the win, set and lower the NHRA Pro Fuel National Record and get my second Wally of the day. MOV .0031 seconds. It was incredible, and an experience I will never forget. After the final round, the NHRA officials verified that all was legal and the record officially mine.”
Team Hawaya would like to thank our sponsors for their continued support of our racing efforts and commitment to the sport of Motorcycle Drag racing:
VP Racing Fuels Lucas Oil
Venom Group International Vreeland’s Harley Davidson
Mickey Thompson Tires Vanson Leathers
PAC Racing Springs RUSH Racing
Projack Race Lifts CP Pistons