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AMRA Harley Drags March Through Maryland

April showers brought nitro power to Cecil County Dragway, as the PennGrade1 AMRA Harley-Davidson drag racing series shook off a full day of Saturday rain to qualify and race on Sunday, April 28 at the Rising Sun, Maryland speed facility. The Maryland Nitro Nationals saw winlights flash for legends and those that will be.

Circle M Ranch/ Dove Fuels Top Fuel

When it comes to the living legends of Circle M Ranch/ Dove Fuels Top Fuel Harley, it’s hard to top “The Bulldog,” Jay Turner. These days, the North Carolina Hall of Famer most often shows up riding his ongoing ProCharged project bike. As that piece moves closer to competitiveness, Jay has seemed comfortable to cede the winners circle to others—and he works to see that it’s one of his teammates hoisting the trophy.

But when Randal Andras chose to skip Cecil County, Turner mounted Randal’s normally aspirated Nitro Harley and focused his own attention on the spoils of victory. He looked to have number one qualifier sewn up until Jordan Peterson’s 6.42 at 210 mph secured that honor on the Steve Horne-owned, Mike Romine-tuned bike he sometimes rides.

Peterson had the round one bye in eliminations, while Turner faced what would normally be his biggest challenge—the two-time and defending AMRA champ Ryan Peery. But Peery’s clutch has yet to awaken from its winter slumber and he spun the tire while Jay ran a 6.45 at 217—both lows for the round.

“Crazy, I’ve spun six of eight passes this year— more than I have the past two years combined,” said Peery. “My theory is the clutch hat springs are worn out. I’ve never been this light of weight on the primary fingers and it’s still blowing the tire off. I’m going to rebuild.”

Turner nudged his numbers to 6.44 at 219 to trailer AMRA’s own John “JT” Toth in the semis, while Peterson advanced past Virginia racer Robert “Ziggy” Stewart.

Turner’s .024 light put .020 on Peterson at the hit in the final, and his 6.42 at 219 kept Jordan’s 6.47 at 211 at bay in what was a great side-by-side, thundering final round.

“The Romine crew (Mike, Jack, and Patty) worked their asses off all weekend long,” said Peterson. “We tested Friday and ran a 6.42 off the trailer. We found out it hurt the engine on that test run and had to replace both cylinders. We qualified number one, and Romines gave me a bike that could win, but I dropped the ball. I didn’t ride very consistent, especially at the tree, and just made silly mistakes. I was very disappointed in myself. It’s one of those things you don’t get over until you can get back on the bike again.

“On the plus side, bike owners Steve and Doug Horne were able to attend this race, and they dove right in with a helping hand between rounds. Plus, with Doug’s riding experience, he was right there with advice. I can’t thank enough the Romines, the Horne family, and Horne Concrete for the opportunity to race this bike again. Also, thanks to my girlfriend Casey Jo (AKA Sluggo) for being extremely supportive and willing to help anyway she can.”

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Nitro Funnybike

Nitro Funnybike champion Jim Doyle made his first appearance of 2024 pay big time, qualifying number one and taking the win over Jason Leeper. Doyle took the tree .040, then easily built more of a gap as Leeper took a Pro Fuel bike to the Funnybike final round for the second straight race.

“I was trying some new things that improved the bottom end but hurt the top end of the run,” said Doyle. “Even with the cold weather I didn’t hurt anything on the bike, but I still had enough to get the win.

“The cold and rain didn’t give the fuel bikes much of a chance to run. Cold temps and nitro don’t go well together. The AMRA and the track did a great job getting the race completed.

“Thanks to Gerry Renaud from B+R Machine and the Lamaroux Brothers from Genden Car Quest Auto Parts.”

Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel

The Nitro Funnybike field was hit pretty hard with mechanical carnage at Cecil County, but not so for Hawaya Racing Pro FuelThe carbureted nitro bikes traded punches every round, with “Bad Apple Mary” Dangrow punching longest for the win.

Sam White started his Pro Fuel title defense with a win in Louisiana and looked strong in Maryland, qualifying number one with a 7.23 at nearly 175 mph. But even while racing to the final, White started looking vulnerable as the day went on. A development part was failing, along with Sam’s hopes for the win.

Dangrow, meanwhile, had consistency on her side and delighted the locally strong Bad Apple faithful with the final round winlight.

“This was the first race with the Maxx Race ECU on my bike, so we came planning to collect as much data as we could since we have none on this bike,” said Dangrow. “I ran with no computer and a Dyna ignition on this bike since I got it, so no one knows what normal is for this bike.

“I was one of the (racers) able to make a pass on Saturday for qualifying before the rains came. That pass was a slow pass for us and it turns out I hurt the rear piston and spit some oil out on the track. But unfortunately or fortunately for us, two Pro Fuel bikes were unable to qualify before the rain, so our run was tossed out and we re-qualified on Sunday morning.

“Tracy (Kile, Mary’s man and the Big Bad Apple), Jon Wayne Stephens, and Frankie (Schaffroth) pushed my bike into the trailer and replaced my cylinder and piston and took apart my oil pump to be sure there were no issues there. With everything back together we were ready for qualifying Sunday morning.

“We progressively worked through some issues on Sunday. Things popped up and the guys handled them calmly like champs. We worked our way through rounds and once again found ourselves in the final against Sam. He’s a tough one to face.

“Cecil County Dragway is a special place for Bad Apple Racing with many of our friends and family attending. They come every year to see us and with Tracy unable to ride right now, his words to me on the way to the track were ‘No pressure, but you know I’ve won the most races in my career at Cecil County and that is a home track to me, so we’re all counting on you.’ Yeah, no pressure?!

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“This was also a special win because Tracy’s brother Steven Pier (the 2012 AHDRA Pro Fuel champ) was here this year. With the passing of their mom in February, I really wanted a win so I could have a picture of the three of us together in the winners circle. I was so happy when I got that.

“I’d like to thank my sponsors Vanson Leathers, Capone Landscape, and Fairview Tavern for doing what they do so Tracy and I can do this. Also on board this year is Ted Munsell from Trick Works. I need to thank Ted for the amazing paint work on my bike.

“As always, the support from the Nitro Harley family is indescribable and greatly appreciated. Many from Top Fuel and Pro Fuel are willing to help me learn and get better. The support of the Bad Apple Nation is second to none and of course, none of this would be possible without my biggest supporter Tracy Kile. I am truly blessed that the good Lord made our paths cross. All glory be to God!”

Pro Modified

Pro Modified champ Billy Doherty wanted more competition after his Louisiana win and he got it at Cecil County. Still, he was able to qualify number one with an 8.52, a couple of ticks below 158 mph.

Keith Carper took the tree by a whopping .166 in the final but encountered problems on his run, while Doherty streaked to an 8.42 low ET for the class at the event.

“I left home not feeling well,” said Doherty. “I self-doctored myself and thought that I had gotten better by the race.

“This was the first race of the year with the Banana and Larry Pratt (Bimbo) at the races. On Saturday we had the best air but didn’t capitalize on it with a time that we were happy with during qualifying. We were number one qualifier but we knew we were off.

“Bimbo and I put our heads together and from that point on each pass got faster and faster through the weekend. I ran our fastest time in the finals at 8.42 for the win. That was a good thing because I was slow on the tree all weekend.

“The reason showed up when I got home. I went to the doctor to find out I had a serious upper respiratory infection. We are now turning our attention to Norwalk for our next race of the season.”

Axtell Cylinders Hot Street and Outlaw Street

Charley Douglass took two wins at Cecil County, Axtell Cylinders Hot Street and Outlaw Street. He was unopposed in Outlaw, but qualified number one and took the Hot Street final against Joe Petersen. Douglass took the tree and out-ran Petersen on track.

“This was the first race of the year for Douglass Racing,” said Charley. “I did a complete frame-up tear-down of my Outlaw Harley in the off-season and didn’t get it back together in time to make this race. I made some small changes to my Hot Street motor over the off-season, so I rode it in Outlaw street and Hot street. Some of my competitors also had trouble getting their bikes completed.

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“With no testing, I was a little rusty. Saturday morning I realized my rear exhaust pipe was broke. Jay Turner welded it up for me—thanks again Jay! My first pass the shift solenoid stuck and dumped all the air out of the system. I replaced the solenoid just in time to make the Outlaw pass.

“Fast forward to Sunday. Between my dad and I, we had three number one qualifiers and three wins!

I want to thank Kent Foltz at Energy one clutches, Chad Hart at Xlxbhorsepower, Steve Alsteadt, Andy Simon Sr., CP-Carrillo, Lynchburg H-D, Joe Perry at Joe’s parts, Brian at line 2 Line Coatings, and Dan Dafner at R&D machine/ Axtell cylinders for sponsoring the Hot Street class.

“I want to thank my dad for always being there for me and the biggest news—my wife Angel was back with me at the racetrack after five years of staying home to take care of her parents. This was bittersweet because we lost both of them last year. We also have our German Shepard pups racing with us this year. One of my best friends for over 35 years also hung out with us this weekend. Johnny and some cousins came to cheer us on Sunday.

“I spent some time with Dave, the AMRA chaplain, and enjoyed the church service Sunday morning. I want to thank God for watching over us and keeping us safe. Got Jesus? We are looking forward to a Great year of racing!”

Zippers Performance Modified

Like his son Charley was in Outlaw Street, Gary Douglass was unopposed and won Zippers Performance Modified.

“Made some gearing changes (in the off-season), nothing major,” reported Gary. “The change made no improvement in performance, so back to the old.

“Being the first race of the year for me, showed at the tree. Ran some decent numbers but can do better. Disappointed in the turnout, but that’s racing.

“Thanks to Charley and Angel for taking care of me. Also, my friends Lewis Armstrong and Johnny Simonetti for their help getting me to the staging lanes and back. Cecil County Dragway knows how to prep a track. They have the equipment and personnel, thank you.

“Thanks to Zippers Performance for sponsoring the Mod class. Thanks to Energy One for their continued support and friendship. Thanks to Jerry Johnson and Billy Mathias. Thanks to Tim Hailey and Tom McCarthy for their continued excellence in coverage and photography.”

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Thundermax Street Eliminator 11.50

Hot Street runner-up Joe Petersen went on to win the Thundermax Street Eliminator 11.50 final over Kenny Satterlee when Satterlee committed the cardinal sin of index and bracket racing. As a wounded Petersen slowly limped down track, Satterlee didn’t look back and broke out with an 11.497. Petersen won with 2.37 light and a 20.504 pass at 29 mph!

“This is a special race win for me, as Cecil was the last track I raced at with my mentor and friend Robert “Brain” Dumas of B&J Cycles in Ayer, Massachusetts.

“This was the first event with a brand new bike entirely built in the house at Performance Cycles Of Wilmington, inc. The new bike ‘Amazon’ won 11.50 and runner-upped in Hot Street My black bike ‘F-Bomb’ went to the semifinals in ET.

“Almost turned around on the way to the track. (I was) disappointed in my dyno-tuning prior to the race. Made the best out of what I had. Thank God and family!

Thundermax Street Bagger

Dave “Paco” Cartwright qualified number one and won Thundermax Street Bagger. The slender Evansville, Indiana, rider gave up .106 at the tree to his teammate Jeff Boudreaux in the final, but Boudreaux slowed and Cartwright kept his steady 9.90s pace rolling for the win.

“I just came on board with these guys,” Cartwright said about the Mutant Motors by Wolf team that fields his Road King. “It’s amazing what I’ve learned in the last few months being on this team, how professional they are. Been a pleasure working with them. Totally dedicated to the sport and the AMRA.

“Had a really bad outing in Louisiana, so we went from zero to hero. Just wanted to go A to B and consistent 9.90s.”

Cartwright thanked the team, Wolf Grasser of Mutant Motors, Dan Fitzmaurice and Zipper’s Performance, Dan Daffner and Axtell, Bobby Wood of Wood Performance, VP racing, JT’s Auto and Cycle, and supporters Meg and Chris Mann, Jay Dekerlegand, and Poppa Boudreaux.

“We’re looking forward to Ohio.”

Top Eliminator 9.30 

Chris Hoppe and Cody Hayworth traded a couple of wins and runner-ups at Cecil County. Hoppe beat number one qualifier Hayworth in the Top Eliminator 9.30 final, running closer to the number with a 9.31 after giving up .011 at the tree.

“We had a great weekend at Cecil County,” said Hayworth. “Went number one qualifier the first time I ever raced in 9.30! This is our 9.90 bike from last year that we put some new XLXBhorsepower pistons in over the off season, and it put us right on the number. Bike ran great all weekend, went to the finals with Mr. Hoppe and it went right down to the wire. He pulled out the W with a stellar 9.31 to my 9.36.”

Super Gas 9.90

Hoppe runner-upped to Robert Alther in Super Gas 9.90, giving up .044 at the tree and straying too far off the index as well, as Alther’s 10.01 sealed the deal against Hoppe’s 10.17.

“Not to start off on a bad note, but my wife passed away May 2023,” said Alther. “She was my partner and teammate in racing my whole career. Continuing without her hasn’t been easy, but she was the driving force behind me. This win is for her, I love and miss you Mel.”

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Pro Eliminator 10.90

Cody Hayworth won Pro Eliminator 10.90beating octogenarian Bill Grove in the final. Hayworth’s .023 caught Grove sleeping with a .161 and was able to cruise to the win with an 11.11 to Grove’s sharper 10.90. Brad Reiss Jr. qualified number one.

“In 10.90 we qualified fourth and rode it all the way to the finals,” said Hayworth. “A familiar foe in Bill Grove was our opponent for the finals, where we took home the chicken dinner!

“I want to thank my entire family for making all of this possible, and all the racers and sponsors for keeping this awesome sport alive. Last but not least, the wonderful guys behind the lens—Tim Hailey and Tom McCarthy.”

BK Electric Super Pro 10.30

John Shotts qualified number one and won BK Electric Super Pro 10.30taking the final round over National Anthem singer Heather Jendruch. Shotts had a small .012 advantage off the starting line and ran a 10.37 to Jendruch’s straying 10.53.

“Well it was a tough weekend for us,” said Shotts. “I was running three index classes: 9.30, 9.90 and the 10.30. The previous race in Louisiana, we came up short with two runner-ups in the 9.90 and 10.30 classes, and we’ve had a long dry spell on getting a win. But all in all it was a good weekend for us and this win put me in first place in the 10.30 index points.

“Thanks to Jimmy and Carol that help me at the track and my sponsors 7th Ward Tap and Barlow Plumbing Service.”

Eliminator Dial-In

After a long day of timed runs and racing, Bob Willis took the Eliminator Dial-in final over William Quinn. Neither rider posted a reaction time to brag about, with Willis’ .173 having the advantage over Quinn’s .291. Willis ran a 9.72 against his 9.64 dial, while Quinn was 10.79 on a 10.70.

“Good event overall,” said Willis. “Put the one bike in the winner’s circle. Ironically it was the bike I had clutch issues with all weekend. First hit off the trailer was great 9.32 then slowed to the 9.60s by the end of the event but got the job done.

“Super Gas in the money with bike two. Lost in the semifinals. Bike was good rider was not—crazy bad light!

“Like to thank Greg Baugh and his wife for always putting on a good event. Also my girl Kelly for getting everything ready and prepared for all the race trips.”

Zipper’s Performance Pro Bagger

Matt Hillen won Zipper’s Performance Pro Bagger on his 120″ Twin Cam, bone stock frame ‘99 FLH with an MS3PRO ECM. “Built, tuned by me,” said Hillen, who thanked Eatmyink Motorsport Media for coverage of the races.

Shutdown Area

AMRA’s Greg and Julia Baugh, and John “JT” Toth and Marianne Miller get right back at it at the Disney World of dragstrips—Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. AMRA welcomes the whole Harley-Davidson drag racing family to the Ohio Nitro Nationals on May 17-19.

AMRA thanks PennGrade1 OilZipper’s PerformanceHawaya RacingAxtell Cylinders, BK Electric, Johnny Mancuso’s Circle M Ranch, Dove Fuels and Thunder Max.

This story was originally published on May 9, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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