Lightning flashed overhead as the last finals were run at AHDRA/AMA’s Zipper’s Performance Mid-Atlantic Nitro Showdown at Cecil County Dragway. Bikes and teams lined up for winners circle photos as a solid wall of downpour advanced ominously up the track. With heavy drops falling, teams raced to get their photos taken and rush back to their pits. Damn the plaques, let’s just get this done!
“Go! Go! Go!” shouted the photographer, sounding like a NASCAR spotter on a restart as he shuffled through the queue of winners.
Then it unleashed. Waves of vision obscuring rain swept by gale winds, looking more like a hurricane storm surge than a simple gully washer.
“What the F just happened?” said Nitro Funnybike rider Cameron Gunter as he emerged out of shelter a short time late. “I mean what the actual F?!”
In a stunningly short matter of time, this motorcycle drag race went from simply finishing before the lights went on to surviving a cataclysm.
With a worse forecast for Sunday, qualifying and eliminations were sped through on Saturday after the track was prepped from what seemed like strong storms Friday night. In retrospect, they were mere sprinkles.
GMS Racing Engines Xtreme Outlaw
Early in the day, when the main weather concern was the relentless sun and shirt-drenching humidity, one of the most watched records in the sport fell to the rider that built the previous record holder’s motorcycle.
Gregg Dahl has actually held the unofficial no-bar, street tire, V-Twin quarter mile record for three years with a 7.62. But his customer Mike Motto’s 7.72 was run at a sanctioned event and AHDRA champion Charley Douglass come tantalizingly close as well while Dahl devoted his time to his customers and business.
Douglass was the one who had it together in GMS Racing Engines Xtreme Outlaw qualifying at Cecil County, taking the number one spot but breaking his turbo bike in the process.
That left the two GMS nitrous bikes of Dahl and Motto to battle it out in the final. There might have been a malfunction that left Dahl sitting at the tree for a full .541 while Motto streaked away with a .164 reaction and a 7.92 at 173 miles per hour for the win. But Dahl hardly cared when the scoreboard on his side lit up with a 7.672 at 183.12 mph—both ends of the record he lives to break.
And he insists there will be more. “We hope to get enough runs by the end of the year to get this new engine running the short times that we ran with smaller engine three years ago,” said Dahl. “If that happens, look out!
“After coming off of our test session at Mason Dixon Dragway three weeks ago, we felt that our goal of getting to 183 would be within reach. After struggling with an electrical issue early on, we did reach our goal on a last ditch attempt. We have a bit of map work to do to get where we want to be, so next time out should be a lot smoother.
“Always great to have the support of Leineweber Cams, Vincent Chen’s Racing Bros Shocks, MS Shock Therapy, Renegade Race Fuels and Oils, Worldwide Bearings, Fuel Tech ECU, NGK Spark Plugs, Energy One Clutches and R&D Motorsports.
“I also must mention my partner Damon Kuskie, our loyal pit wrench Tony “Julio” Laurita, and my close friend Mike Motto. We all came together to fight through the issues and come out with a successful effort. It was extra special to have the legendary Mike Magaro with us this weekend!”
Motto lost his hold on the record but happily came away with the event win. “We have suffered the pain the past couple years trying to improve the longevity of our power plants,” said Mike. “Gregg had electrical issues (this weekend) and I had shifter linkage issues, causing the bike to fail on the 2-3 shift. At one point we had both our bikes in pieces in our trailers. Greg and Damon bounced back and forth from trailer to trailer trying to help me and also get Gregg’s bike going. We went to the staging lanes covered in oil and grease and well, everyone saw the results. I took the win and Greg reset the record!
“These bikes are not for the fainthearted. Sometimes we have some very disappointing results, But man, they are fun when it all comes together. It looks like Gregg has developed an engine that we can really put the juice to. If we can keep the bike together, It looks like we are in a good spot to take the X- Outlaw championship for 2023. We are excited for The Rock!”
That would be October’s AHDRA and AMRA finals, the Jim McClure All-Harley Nationals at Rockingham Dragway on October 27-29 that the American V-Twin drag racing calendar revolves around.
In addition to Dahl’s “thank you” list, Motto added MTC Engineering, Nitrous Express Systems, GMS Racing and “Everyone at the shop who helps to make these machines fly! And of course, thank you to my wife for always being by my side and all of our race family for assisting me in my addiction to speed!”
2021 AHDRA champion and NHRA U.S. Nationals winner Ryan Perry capitalized on his typical consistent performance to take the Top Fuel win over final round runner-up Tracy Kile.
2021 winner and current AHDRA champion Kile smoked the tire every round, including his round 1 match with Ziggy Stewart. Both these riders engaged in a peddlefest that saw Kile advance despite giving up .226 at the tree.
Kile’s reaction fortunes went the other way in the final, as he was .041 to Peery’s .148. Peery was there for the taking down-track as well, as he slowed to a 7.16 at 183. Kile was not able to put up a fight this time around, though, and coasted across the line well behind Peery.
“The tuner (himself) was on point, running 6’s off the trailer,” said Peery. “But the rider (also himself) wasn’t happy. We needed more bikes to compete. The final wasn’t pretty but a win is a win, so the owner (once again, himself) is happy.
“It was my first trip to Cecil and the track was in great shape. We had a couple 1.07 60 foot times, which tell you the track is pretty tight—my best being a 1.04.
“The air wasn’t great and I couldn’t make the power I wanted to for the big end, which resulted in some ETs in the .50s and .60s and low MPH. The weather also called for some bad storms to move in for Sunday, so Bill (AHDRA’s Bill Rowe) called for a one day race. Makes for a long day when you’re already short handed on help, just Miranda and I. But we did our best and came out with the W.”
Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel
Kile’s Bad Apple Racing teammate (and more) “Bad Ass Mary” Dangrow came through for the Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel win, though, handing champion and defending event winner Sam White his first AHDRA loss of the season. Both riders left the starting line within .005 of each other, but Dangrow legged it out for the 7.44 at 168 to 7.51 at 167 win. Great race!
“Winning is always an amazing feeling for all of us,” said Dangrow. “But to win at Cecil County Dragway with Tracy’s friends and family present, that’s like what winning at Indy is for most drag racers.” And she should know, since she’s won at Indy too.
“Cecil County Dragway is the home track for the Bad Apple Nation, and also the track that I entered my very first race on nitro at. It’s an amazing facility and surface to race on.
“This turned into a one day event, making it a bit more hectic than usual, but it was a great day. We had a little issue as we pulled the bike off the lift for the final. Backing it out of the pit, we discovered that my fuel line clamp had broken when the fuel line came off and nitro went everywhere. Not only did Sam and White Lighting racing wait for us to fix it, they gave us the new clamp that made that happen. That’s the thing about these nitro classes, we are all there to help each other.
“It’s always challenging to go up against Sam in a final. He’s a hard man to beat, and of course we always love to win. To quote the Bad Apple Motto started by Tracy: Winning don’t suck!
“I want to thank my crew Randy and Brenda Jackson, who drive down from Canada for every race; Frank Capone, who made sure I got from the big end back to the pit; Chad from Cecil County Dragway for making sure that we had a great racing surface; and of course Tracy Kile, who supports everything I do. Without these people and the support of the Bad Apple Nation, none of this would be possible.
“I also want to thank Fairview Tavern, Capone Landscape, Vanson Leathers, Hawaya Racing Products, and The Bad Apple image department for their sponsorship and support.
Bad Apple Racing’s Frank Schaffroth also joined Dangrow in the winner’s circle when he won the Pingel Modified final over Nate Carnahan. Nate’s .067 light gapped Schaffroth’s .314 pretty big at the start, but Frank’s 9.478 at 139 drove around Carnahan’s 9.81 at 129.
“Cecil County is always a blast,” said Schaffroth. “With the help of my family and friends, I was able to work out some bugs and put some consistent numbers down.
“As always, big shout-out to Bad Apple Racing. We always have a big crew going at this race. Congrats to BAM on her win, and I’ll be coming for Rockingham next. Also thanks to Long Doggers and Southern V Twin, both down in Florida.”
Nitro Funnybike champion Michael Balch didn’t have to put up much of a race in his final when first year nitro rider—and number one qualifier—Cameron Gunter timed out at the tree.
“A lot of bikes were—I’m guessing—reluctant to show up because of the threat of rain,” said Balch. “So it was only Cameron and I. Since the race was all pushed into one day it meant turn and burn. My team never took a break, worked straight through. We were blessed enough to get away with the win.
“In between the Milan and Cecil race, we sent the EM box out for repair. Once we got it back, our electrical problems were fixed. We were close enough on the tune-up to run A to B each run.
“My sponsors and team are the only reason I ever win, look good, or shine at all. Without them it would not be possible. Now we go back to GMS and service everything to get ready for Rockingham.”
Zipper’s Performance Pro Modified
Cecil County is the home race for event and Pro Modified sponsor Zipper’s Performance Products. John Price won Pro Mod at Milan last time out, won this race last year, and won again this time around.
“Well, another race fighting Mother Nature and me dealing with a mechanical issue,” said Price. “My fuel pump went out during my Q1 run, but it was good enough to get and hold on to the number one qualifier position.
“I missed Q2 trying to make repairs. This could have been a problem with the condensed race schedule. I tried two borrowed fuel pumps with no luck. I just went old school and bypassed the pump completely. Ran three rounds and got the win. I am just sorry my good friend Gary Douglas had his own mechanical problems during the final. We always have a good race when paired up together.
“I have to thank Zippers Performance for sponsoring the class and for the help they give me. It was great to have Danny and the Zipper’s crew at the race and in my winners circle picture. It was also fun to see Danny going down the track again.
“I want to thank Keith Carper and my brothers David and Steve for their help, Gregg at GMS and Mike Shultz at HDFR for their help over the years, and a big shout-out to the Cecil County crew and Bill and Chrissy Rowe of the AHDRA for for getting the race in.
“This was my fourth AHDRA win in a row and puts me into the points lead—just barely over Chris Hoppe—going in to Rockingham. See you there!”
Gary Douglass won Axtell Cylinders Super Modified when Keith Carper was unable to make the call for the final. Season dominator Kimberly “K-Charm” Deshields had to borrow an index bike when her own mount was delayed after the team’s truck broke down.
“What a weekend, or should I say Saturday,” said Douglass. “I decided to run two bikes for this event for the first time this year. It is a tough chore for a two day event and downright grueling for one day because of the heat and humidity.
“I qualified number one in Super Modified and ran a 9.13 in the final for the win. In Pro Mod, I qualified number two. I made it to the finals and both legs and hands developed cramps from the heat and humidity. I didn’t know if I could continue. Got the bike staged and when the green light came on the bike quit—dead battery. I think the Lord didn’t want me to make the attempt and I ended with runner-up in Pro Mod.
“Thanks to AHDRA and Cecil County Dragway for getting the event completed. I want to thank my family, Jacob Bush, Jody Simpson, Charley, and Cindy Folks for all their help. Without them I could not do this thing I love called Harley drag racing.
“Also thanks to Axtell for sponsoring the Super Mod class and Zipper’s Performance for sponsoring the Pro Mod class. Thanks to John Price for the extra purse.
“A big thank you to Energy One for being with us all these years. Also thanks to Chad Hart, SA Racing, H.D. of Lynchburg, Jerry Johnson, and Billy Mathias. Last but not least thanks Tim Hailey for all your work helping to keep the sport alive.
“See you all in Rockingham!”
Pro Bagger and Bagger
Geronimo Pratt won both Pro Bagger and Bagger Street at Cecil for the second straight year. Julius DeManns broke down-track and was unable to challenge Pratt for the stripe in the Pro Bagger final.
Pratt handily took the tree .190 to Shawn Miller’s .324 in the Bagger Street final and just as handily held on to the lead with a 10.17 at 132 to Miller’s 12.64 at 106.
9.30 index and Vreeland’s Harley-Davidson 9.90
Ken Strauss also doubled up, winning 9.30 index and Vreeland’s Harley-Davidson 9.90. Strauss wound out his ProCharged bike to erase Chris Hoppe’s .013 starting line advantage and run 9.37 to Hoppe’s 9.42 for the 9.30 win in that final.
His 9.90 final round came at the expense of Kevin Laughman. Strauss put a full tenth on Laughman at the tree and ran a 9.97 to Kevin’s 10.26 for the win.
“I decided to go at the last minute,” said Strauss. “Wife had to work so it was tough time running two classes to the end in the heat solo, especially trying to beat the rain with a one day event.”
10.30 Super Pro
Richard George backed up his Milan win with 10.30 Super Pro honors at Cecil County. Carnahan runner-upped for the second time in one day despite having a .010 starting line advantage against George, who ran only .027 over the index for the win.
Universal Fleet & Tire 10.90
Cody Hayworth won the Universal Fleet & Tire 10.90 final against Kevin Gaunt, who failed to run the number after a brilliant .006 light. Hayworth posted a 10.930.
“My 10.90 bike was on rails all day,” reported Hayworth. “The finals was a really good race, running a 10.93 to take the W.
“Burnt up a plug on the other bike, so 10.30 and 9.90 didn’t fare so well. But there is always the next one.
“Thanks to the AHDRA for putting on a great show despite Mother Nature doing her thing, and special thanks to Tim Hailey for helping keep this sport alive!”
The 11.50 win went to Gary Burkley. His .166 light was quicker than champion Chris Ussery’s .212, giving him the win despite giving up .043 at the stripe in a good race.
“I would like to thank Warren Harley-Davidson, specifically Pam Schaffer, for the use of the motor until mine is rebuilt,” said Burkley. “I want to thank Rick George for helping me get ready for the first round of qualifying. I want to keep this momentum going heading into Rockingham.”
Eliminator and Trophy
Mike Tewey’s .077 light paved his way to the Eliminator win over final round runner-up Mike Carpentieri.
Chris Vilardi’s final round redlight handed the Trophy win to David Hebert.
Timmy Gaunt took the tree .065 to .140 against Jaden Hines in the Junior Junior Dragbike final, but Hines stayed close to his dial-in for the win.
“I don’t know if the Junior Drag kids had more fun Saturday racing or Friday night watchin’ the jet funny cars and jet dragsters,” said said Jaden’s father, Michael Hines Sr. “Bill Rowe was bigger than Elvis for four hours Friday night. The kids loved it.
“Then they got to race on Saturday. The weather was sticky out. Michael and Jaden’s numbers were all over, and a lot of breaking out happened. Both Gaige Wall—from RMC Raceway—and Jaden broke out in their race, with Jaden getting the win.
“Michael got third place in the Senior class. Gaige raced in his first AHDRA race and he did well all weekend. See everyone at The Rock.”
Kylie Himmelreich took the Junior Senior Dragbike final against Bradley Croneberger Jr. despite giving up .028 at the tree.
“Kylie didn’t test on Friday, coming off a win at her hometown track the week prior,” said her father, Jared Himmelreich. “She cut a .011 light in Q1, which put her number one qualifier.
“She ran her bye (and) was faster. I set her ET at a 13.72 and she went a 13.85 for the win. This is her second win in AHDRA and we’re still looking for sponsors for the 2024 race season. Thanks to Bill and Chrissy for all they do for AHDRA.”
AHDRA’s Bill and Chrissy Rowe look forward to seeing everyone at the AHDRA and AMRA finals, the Jim McClure All-Harley Nationals at Rockingham Dragway on October 27-29.
AHDRA/AMA thanks Vreeland’s Harley-Davidson, MTC Engineering, Hawaya Racing, Pingel Enterprise, GMS Racing Engines, Zippers Performance, Vanson Leathers, Universal Fleet & Tire, Daryl Coffin Motorsports, Axtell Cylinders, Advanced Sleeve and Racers For Christ.