I have a lot of hobbies and activities that I enjoy, but unfortunately my busy schedule hasn’t allowed me many opportunities to do these things as of late. Between an extremely busy work schedule and going back to school I have almost no free time. When I do have free time though, I am participating in one of my two favorite hobbies: working out or drag racing.
If you haven’t already stopped reading, you’re probably trying to figure out where I’m going with this…. Because of my extreme passion for both working out and drag racing, I have decided to write what I think (and hope!) will be some informative articles which will show the correlation between working out and drag racing. So now you folks are asking, “how will working out improve my drag racing?” Stay tuned for the answers in my upcoming articles! For those of you who don’t know, I work at Bristol Dragway as the Dragway Events Coordinator. From April till October I work most days of the week and almost every weekend (this is our “season”). A busy schedule of dragway events doesn’t leave me much time for racing or working out, but I make it work! During our “season” I squeeze in workouts when I can (usually 3-5 times a week) and race on the few off weekends we have. From October through March I probably workout anywhere from 6-9 times a week and race as late into the dragway season as possible (and start as early as I can too!).
My goal in writing these articles is to show my fellow drag racers how working out/exercising can improve your performance on the strip (and it certainly never hurts to lead a healthy lifestyle!). I look at exercising as my “secret weapon” when it comes to drag racing. I know you’re still trying to figure out the correlation (don’t worry, we’ll get to that), but I have actually won races due in some degree to my level of fitness. So if I have you hooked with that last statement, I’ll go ahead and give you a brief background of my fitness knowledge and why I feel like I’m an adequate source to talk about this subject (and to add validity!).
- I participated in competitive Track & Field and Cross Country for almost 10 years
- I ran Track & Field and Cross Country at a NCAA Division 1 school
- I received a Coaching minor from JMU and am certified to coach cycling, track & field, cross country, and weightlifting
- I coached high school track & field and cross country for one year
- I coached a college teammate for a period of time who has since went on to qualify for the Olympic Trials
- I am constantly striving to learn and stay current with diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle articles through a multitude of outlets.
I am by no means an expert, however I will attempt to provide useable information through my own experiences, readings, research, etc., that I hope will not only help provide you with an edge on the drag strip, but also provide you with a healthy life!
The past three years I have grown tremendously as a drag racer. I have driven & ridden some very inconsistent vehicles and this has forced me to learn how to “drive the finish line.” While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I went into this off season looking to make my bike more consistent. I had a great year last year, but I very rarely had a consistent bike. So this winter I wanted to do some upgrades to the bike to make it more consistent so that I would have an overall better “arsenal”.
As most anyone who has drag raced a street bike knows, the launch and first 60 feet are the most critical parts of the run. Figuring out how to “finesse” the clutch and optimize your launch is an art in itself. I felt like I did a good job last year, but my 60’s were still somewhat inconsistent. I’m not afraid to admit things, so I’ll admit that I didn’t have a proper understanding of motorcycle clutches and exactly how they worked. As an example, I thought a clutch like the Hays Machine Works convertible clutch was something for pro street bikes and wouldn’t work for an ET bike. Well, after reading Paul Cavanaugh’s article on the Hays Machine Works clutch I was immediately convinced that this performance piece could be an asset to me. With a better understanding of clutches and how they worked, I decided to put that down on the list of upgrades I would undertake over the winter.
My dad had inquired a few times about launching my bike on a 2-step and how to make that work, as he thought that would also help with the consistency. We started doing some research and we found what we thought to be the perfect part to compliment the clutch. So, I also added an MSD SB6 to the list of winter upgrades. The integrated two-step and launch curve (along with a multitude of other amenities) seemed like the perfect complement to the setup we were trying to achieve. In theory we thought we could setup the clutch and MSD to allow me to launch a no bar street bike off a two-step by throwing the clutch. Sounds good in theory, eh?!
The Hays Machine Works clutch installation was a breeze as Tim Hays provides an easy to follow step by step manual. I was a little worried with all of the potential wiring of the SB6, but it also proved to be an easy install. Once you have the clutch installed, you fill out a very detailed form that Tim uses to send you a “base” tune-up. He calls it a “base” tune-up as it should be close to what you’re looking for, but my experience was pretty much a “dead-on” tune-up!
I also rewired my whole nitrous setup (MPS Spyder Kit) so that it would automatically swap maps and also have set perimeters before activating. I had hastily put on the system at the end of last year and I wanted to wire it up to be safer and more efficient. One of our good family friends who has a coating business (FoxFire Coatings) put an amazing coating on my exhaust system. With all the parts installed and the bike back together I headed to Adams Performance to get some custom maps made for the bike.
Now that you know about the winter upgrades we can get to the good part, how everything worked! One of the reason’s I’m a little behind on writing this article is because I hadn’t gotten a good day of racing in yet to really see how everything performed. I got in two quick test sessions in February to try to prepare for the Gatornationals (I ran in the Division 2 Race of Champions). The first test session at Rockingham involved a few small tweaks to the clutch and the first attempts at launching on a two-step. I was hesitant for the first launch (to say the least!), but everything worked perfectly (how often does that happen?)! The combination of the clutch and SB6 provided my best sixty foot ever within just 5 passes on the new setup! I was smiling from ear to ear knowing that my off season upgrades worked and was excited to get the season started! I’m going to skip the Gainesville experience (if you really want to hear about that, you can read it here at dragbike.com) and go straight to this past weekend’s doubleheader bracket race at Maryland International Raceway. My first time run was probably around noon on Saturday and my last pass was around 1:15am on Sunday morning. During that time I made 8 total passes down the track. In two of those passes I lifted early, but I calculated my end ET based off the incremental numbers. In eight passes, spanning 13 hours, I ran six 9.29s and two 9.30s! And if you think that’s consistent, on all eight passes my sixty foot times were 1.48x! How about that for consistency!
Needless to say, I am MORE than pleased with the upgrades made over the winter and I can’t wait to hit the track again (I’ll be at the Cup race this weekend). I also want to elaborate on the coating that I said was amazing earlier. It truly is mind boggling to me how awesome the coating is. If I make a pass down the track and shut off my bike, less than 5 minutes later you can touch the header pipe right where it bolts to the head! One last upgrade that I want to mention, I had a fork seal leaking after my Gainesville trip, so I took my forks to the great folks at Litz Racing to have them lowered and new seals put in. The bike performed great with the forks and it looks mean too! If you have any questions about my setup or products I use, feel free to email me or ask me about them at the track! I hope you enjoyed my somewhat abbreviated (yes, this could have been an even longer article!) recap of my winter upgrades and how they performed.
Thanks to my sponsors for their support; Knight Communications, Hays Machine Works, Amsoil. I also want to thank: Danny Ross of FoxFire Coatings, the MPS crew for their always awesome service and the extra mile they go, Garron Miller at Adams Performance for the great maps/tuning, and Steve Litz of Litz Racing who made sure I had my forks in time to race this past weekend!
Our day started off early enough, as our flight left at 5:30am, which meant we needed to be at the airport before 5am. I raced to pick up my co-worker and then headed to the airport in a rush (I was late getting up and had not even packed yet!). Luckily, we made it to the airport with no problems and quickly made our way to the plane (tri-cities airport is very small and doesn’t take long to get through). When we arrived in warm and sunny Orlando, two of our co-workers were waiting on us with a car. The only problem that we had was that once we got to the parking garage they couldn’t remember where they had parked. 30 minutes later they finally discovered where they had parked the car (alcohol was not involved in this situation).
We made our way to the show and quickly got to work trying to cover some of the displays on hand. Thursday was passing quickly as I spent more time talking then I did walking. After running into my dad and his buddies (30 minutes), I immediately ran into Jason Miller (of MIR and MIROCK notoriety) which resulted in another 30 minute conversation. Soon thereafter I finally got to explore some of the show, that is until I ran into Stephen Jessie who was working the Haltech booth. I met Stephen last year at the Thunder Valley Dragbike Shootout, which by the way is scheduled for August 10-12th, 2012 (mark it down on your calendars)! This meeting resulted in another lengthy conversation as we had much to talk about (Stephen and crew have just recently finished a BMW S1000RR Turbocharged Real Street bike that will debut next year). As you can already tell, I didn’t manage to cover much of the show on Thursday, but I did enjoy some great conversations with great people! It was starting to get late in the afternoon and my fine Bristol Dragway co-workers reminded me that we hadn’t ate lunch yet. So we decided to call it a day at the PRI show and head to our favorite restaurant where the waitress’s are always smiling and clad in orange shorts and white tank tops (hint, hint).
BUT, the day didn’t end there,no, it was just getting started! On the agenda for the night was a dinner meeting with some fellow track operators and then some Orlando exploring! The business meeting went well and a lot of great ideas and thoughts were expressed and passed back in forth. The rest of the evening could be summed up by the following thoughts (in no particular order); great friends, cold refreshments, taxi bicycle ride (for 4!), weird/interesting hotel establishment, dueling pianos, techno music, friendly wagers, one awesome pro mod driver and his crew, sleep, Gatorade.
Since we didn’t get to explore the show like we thought we would on Thursday, we set out on Friday determined to cover the whole show. This was going to be a daunting task, especially considering that my one co-worker was flying out that afternoon. The next four hours went by “fast and furious”, as we hustled to cover every inch of the show floor! For those who have been to the PRI Show before you know how big of a show it is and how many displays/booths are setup, and for those who haven’t been, I’m sure if you check out any of the photo galleries online, you can get a good feel for it. I’ve grown up as a “Ford” person and started drag racing my families super pro Ford drag cars, so some of the highlights of the show were of course Ford drag cars; Leah Pruett’s Pro Mod (displaying the fine and innovative craftsmanship of R2B2), Brad Brands 10.5 mustang, Dan Millen’s Extreme 10.5 World Championship mustang, Mike Moran’s new pro mod mustang. As you can tell, these cars had my attention and for anyone who was at the show, the booth that Brands mustang was at was directly across from the Lucas Oil booth, which had some very attractive models, but what was I doing? Drooling over a drag car 15 feet away.
Some other cool setups that I saw were the GoPro booth (which had some sick videos playing), the Ford Racing booth (I told you I liked Fords), the Traxxis booth had an awesome display area where they were stunting the cars, and many, many more! Once we had covered the show, we headed back to the hotel so my co-worker could get his bags and head home. On our trip to the hotel we decided to take one of the courtesy shuttles that the show had running. Well, let me just tell you that was a great idea! These shuttles happened to have coolers full of cold refreshments for weary show goers to enjoy for FREE!!! After we went to the airport to drop off my co-worker who was flying out that evening we once again headed to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel I persuaded my buddies from Haltech to join me as I ventured to Casselberry for MPS’s 3rd annual PRI party! First off, I have to extend a huge thanks to Dan, Beth and the whole MPS crew for putting on one heck of a party. The food was out of this world and included such things as; seafood/Cajun boil, various casseroles, dips, cookies, brownie bites (very dangerous!), candy, and so much more that I forgot about! The food was complimented by ice cold refreshments which resided in custom MPS PRI Party coozies (Dan goes all out!)! It was a great party that was well attended by some of the biggest names in the “industry”. I got to meet some new folks along with hanging out with some old friends! My buddy Joe Hahn was there and is always a blast to talk with! I also got to talk with “Spiderman” and once again had a lengthy chat with Jason Miller. The Haltech guys finally convinced me that we should get going as it was getting late, so we said our thanks and goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. Until someone sent us a very convincing text to join them at an establishment called “alligator alley”. It was a good day, followed up by a great evening! Oh yea, and I highly encourage anyone who’s ever around Kissimmee to check out “alligator alley”. If you see me at a race, ask me about it and I’ll give you the full recap!