This past year was without a doubt the hardest year I’ve had since I started racing. This past year was also, without a doubt my most successful season to date! I would first like to apologize for my lack of formal updates and recaps. There were multiple occasions this past year in which I worked every night till 3 or 4 in the morning in my garage the week of a race. But, as the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”
If you were following my “Making of a Knightmare” article series here on Dragbike.com, you are probably wondering what in the hell happened to that project. Well, my wheelie bar bike project is still very much alive and finally back moving forward at a steady place. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and THANKS to all my great sponsors who became a part of that project. Although this project started a week after the last race in 2013, as most people who have built bikes from the ground up know, it’s NEVER as easy as you think and it ALWAYS takes longer than you think. So due to many different reasons and mainly to not rush the project it was temporarily pushed to the back burner about a third of the way into the 2014 season.
The first part of my season was rough… I really can’t think of a different way to describe it. I started off the year without any of my own personal bikes ready to race. Thanks to some great friends, I was loaned competitive bikes for the first three races just so I could race. So I can’t thank Doug Gall, Tracy & Luke Slemker, and Dustin Lee enough for their support and friendship. During this time, Marion Ford also decided to give up the seat of his MIROCK Championship winning bike so that I would have a competitive ride for the 5.60 Index class all year (with my bar bike not being completed). I am seriously fortunate to be surrounded by such great people.
The first few races went better than one could expect when you’re racing on borrowed bikes that you’re not familiar with. I surprised even myself by making it to a few semi and quarter final appearances. But the most notable thing out of the first third of the year was having to completely re wire and de-bug my main bike the week before the NHDRO season opener. The reason this was so important is because we would be finishing up the Street Fighter Championship from the year before (postponed due to rain out) that I was leading at the time. I probably slept 8 hours all week, but I showed up, my bike ran, and I was able to secure the 2013 NHDRO Street Fighter Championship. Funny enough, I also managed to go to both Street ET finals for the season opener on a bike that would barely run just days before. So it’s safe to say the NHDRO season opener was a turning point for me in 2014.
I guess you could say the next few races went pretty smoothly, with some great racing and final round appearances. But apparently I didn’t “knock on wood”, because just when I thought things were going well my bike developed a cool feature where it would randomly lose all power down track for a few seconds, before seemingly coming “back to life” out of nowhere. So here I was again chasing bike issues, all the while trying to maintain my point’s standings in 3 different series and also maintain my lead in the national points standing.
Before this turns into a three part season recap I’ll spare you the details on the issue and races I struggled with it. All in all I ran 5 races with this “issue”, which no doubt cost me multiple round wins and a lot of grey hair. I finally found the problem and got it fixed in September and set out to finish the season strong.
I went into the season finale of the NHDRO series with a strong lead in Street ET and a very slim lead in Super Comp. However the prior event was rained out before eliminations were completed and after they finished out the makeup race on Saturday evening I found myself one round out of first in Super Comp. I did my best to take the lead back, but ended up losing the Super Comp championship by one round and at the same time lost the potential of 4 very valuable Dragbike.com BAMF points for the national championship. However the weekend wasn’t a total loss as I won the Crazy 8’s race and also secured the NHDRO Street ET championship.
As the season came winding down I did my best to secure some more points in the inaugural Dragbike.com BAMF race and even went to Tulsa, OK to race a PMRA event in an attempt to gain some points. I entered my final race of the year at the MIROCK World Finals in Rockingham with an outside chance of the 5.60 Index championship which would gain me 4 points. It was a hard fought battle but I once again fell exactly one round short of that championship, but finished a very respectable second place in a very tough class. I have to thank Marion and Donna at The FBR Shop for putting me on a championship bike and supporting me all year, without them I wouldn’t have even been in the 5.60 picture. I lost the BAMF lead at the conclusion of the race and my 2014 season had come to an end.
Although a mere two rounds would have gained me two more championships I still had an unbelievable year. I went to 17 races that were all sanctioned events (NHDRO, MIROCK, PMRA, & Man Cup) and I made it to 16 final rounds. I won another championship, had two runner-ups in points, and countless top 10 finishes. I can only imagine how the season would have been if it had been trouble free (for the most part) and I can’t wait for 2015.
Thank you to my family, friends, and all my sponsors/supporters; McIntosh Machine & Fabrication, Montgomery Motorsports, Brock’s Performance, Dragbike.com, Alisyn Lubricants, WorldWide Bearings, Vanson Leathers, Schnitz Racing, Quantum Motorsports, HTP Performance, FoxFire Coatings, Hays Machine Works, The FBR Shop, MPS, Knight Communications Inc., Fun For All Motorsports, Pro-Coat Custom Powder Coating.
2013 certainly was a whirlwind of a year. I set out at the beginning of the year with intentions of running the full MIROCK Superbike Series & NHDRO Series. I would be racing Street & Pro ET in MIROCK in addition to chasing points in 5.60 and Crazy 8s. In the NHDRO series I would be focusing on Street ET, Crazy 8’s, and Street Fighter.
The first three races of the year couldn’t have gone any better; it was seriously stuff you dream of. In two MIROCK races and one NHDRO race I managed to make it to 5 finals (winning two) and a semi-final! I was certainly off to a hot start and already racking up valuable points in both series. As most drag racers will acknowledge, this sport we so dearly love can bring you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. With all of the good fortune happening at the first 3 races, bad luck struck at the third MIROCK race as I blew the engine on my brothers ZX-14 that I was piloting in Crazy 8s and 5.60.
To spare everyone a complete recap of the middle of my season I will give you the cliff notes version. I continued to try to chase Crazy 8s & 5.60 points, graciously being loaned 4 different bikes throughout the year. Mean while, my black hayabusa was consistent and reliable as ever (and with 42,000 miles she clicked off pass after pass) as we found the winners circle quite often, including a rare double up win at the July NHDRO race (Street ET & Street Fighter). I dealt with additional frustration as I worked out the “new bike bugs” on my GSXR-1000 that I fielded in some Crazy 8s/5.60 events. By the time September had rolled around, I was honestly tired and frustrated with all the issues I’d encountered while trying to stay relevant in Crazy 8s & 5.60, so I made the difficult decision to forgo the Atco MIROCK event and get ready for a final season ending push.
At the NHDRO Season Finale I had qualified for the Street ET Tournament of Champions to decide the season champ based off my strength of three Street ET wins throughout the year. Unfortunately I lost in the semi-finals of that race and was unable to claim the championship. Even more unfortunate, Mother Nature wasn’t going to cooperate with us for that weekend and Sunday racing was cancelled due to the weather, which left the 2013 Street Fighter Championship undecided. I currently hold a 50 point lead over Dave Page as we will finish the race at the first race of 2014 to determine the championship.
For the MIROCK World Finals I was qualified for both the Street & Pro ET tournament of champions. However, after not having raced for four weeks I have to admit I was a little ‘rusty’ and managed to lose first round in both championship races… but that’s how racing goes. I was ready to shut it down and call it a season after the MIROCK race, but with a lot of persuasion from my race buddies (and with their help in hauling/driving) I decided last minute to attend the Drag Bike Nationals at SGMP. It turned out to be the right decision as I finished the year off with a win and runner-up, with the win being my first in Crazy 8s!
The 2013 season was a ‘trying’ season for sure. I had probably the most successful year to date as I raced in two major series and captured multiple wins & runner-ups. However it wasn’t without its downside, battling bike issues for most of the year, blowing up an engine, and spending late nights in the garage.
I finished the year having qualified for the NHDRO Street ET Tournament of Champions and also currently lead the Street Fighter points as we will finish the final race in 2014. I also qualified for both the Street ET & Pro ET Tournament of Champions in the MIROCK series. Despite riding a total of 5 different bikes throughout the year and missing two races, I managed to finish 9th in Crazy 8s and 6th in 5.60 in the MIROCK Superbike Series. I finished the year with a 7-5 record in 12 final round appearances.
Overall it was an outstanding year and although it was tough at times, I learned a lot and will be a better racer in 2014 from it all. I’m excited to get to work as I prepare for the 2014 race season and it’s sure to be a year to remember… as I have some special announcements to come in the following weeks! Stay tuned.
Thanks to all my family, friends, supporters and sponsors. Thanks especially to:
- Brock’s Performance
- FoxFire Coatings
- Hays Machine Works
- Montgomery Motorsports
- Knight Communications Inc.
- The FBR Shop
With the original MIROCK series opener at Rockingham Dragway getting postponed till April 20-21, it set us up for two back to back week’ends of racing. So that’s why we are a little behind on the first update. But, that being said, Ben Knight Racing is certainly off to a hot start to the 2013 season!
After almost a 6 month layoff, we picked up right where we left off! Ben will be running Pro ET, Street ET, Crazy 8s, and 5.60 in all of the MIROCK races this year, so being busy is an understatement. Saturday was a full day of qualifying and ET eliminations. Ben qualified about the middle of the pack in both classes and was able to knock the rust off his ET skills by going a few rounds and making it to the 1/8ths in Street ET.
With a history of great Sunday showings, we were excited for the final day of the season opener. The day quickly turned into a blur. After a first round exit in Crazy 8s, Ben proceeded to advance deep into eliminations in Pro ET, Street ET, and 5.60. If things weren’t hectic enough, Ben was also helping his friend and fellow Ohio racer Doug Gall in the Pro Street class. Losing a close race in the 1/4s in Pro ET gave Ben enough breathing room to focus on advancing all the way to the finals in both Street ET & 5.60. It was his first time entering the 5.60 index class and advancing to the finals was no easy task. Having to go through the likes of Jeremy Teasley, Rickey Gadson, and Marion Ford just to advance to the finals against Andy Baumbauch. Facing the reigning 5.60 Index champion, Ben knew it would take a great run and pushed just a tad too much, going -.002 red in the finals.
With no time to rest on that red-light, Ben came back around to put together another solid run to take the no-split Street ET finals.
Also, we would like to say congratulations to Doug Gall on his first Pro Street win and to our friend Jerry Turner for his Top Sportsman win. It certainly was a great start to the season for BKR and friends.
After a short work week and only a few days to catch up on sleep, it was time to hit the road again for the second race of the MIROCK series, this time at Maryland International Raceway. The weekend was once again quite busy as Ben managed 4 classes while also helping Doug Gall with his Pro Street bike. Saturday provided much the same as the week before as Ben qualified middle of the pack and went a few rounds in the ET eliminations. However, Ben’s brother Stephen was racing in Street ET this weekend and with very little seat time he managed to advance all the way to the semi’s falling to the eventual winner Shayne Proctor.
Sunday came and Ben worked to continue his streak of Finals. After second round exits in both index classes and a loss in Pro ET, Street ET was the only chance left to make it to a final round appearance. After an hour rain delay, Ben proceeded to march through the field where he faced red hot Bob Carlson. Ben put up a nice consistent package as he had all day, but it was no match for Carlson’s .015 bulb. Congrats to our fellow Brock’s Performance racer Bob Carlson on his win.
It was a long two week start to the season, but we survived and managed to kick off 2013 with a bang. Thanks to the MIROCK Series for great events as always and to all our family and friends for the continued support. Also, thanks to our sponsors:
Make plans to attend the NHDRO season opener at historic Indianapolis Raceway May 17-19th and we’ll see you there!
Wow! What a wild and wonderful season I had. I believe I last left off by letting everyone know where I stood heading into the final races of the three series I raced in this year (MIROCK, NHDRO, Cup). I’ll start off with the final NHDRO race in Muncie, IN.
Since I missed the first race of the season, I was pretty much out of points contention, but was hoping to finish strong and maybe even snag another race win. I started the weekend off right by qualifying #1 in Street Fighter, while still trying to figure out the Crazy 8’s bike. I also qualified for the Street ET Tournament of Champions after finishing 3rd in two of the races this past year. I’ll spare you the details of the weekend as I just wasn’t hitting on much and had a so-so showing (who wants to write about losing?). However, I do need to take a second to congratulate the 2012 NHDRO Super Comp and Street ET Champions…. Congrats Bradley & Ron!
Ok, I have to get something off my chest. I have perfected a technique that allows me to be ultra consistent and deadly good on the starting line… in the day light! However, I am coming clean and admitting that I am horrible at night racing. I’m not talking about going from .030 lights to .060; I’m talking being super late sometimes or lighting ‘big red’ other times. Ok, now that I have that off my chest we can continue on.
Knowing that I struggle at night, I decided to hit the last MIROCK race at MIR to work on my night racing before the final two races of the year. So I loaded up and made the long haul to Maryland after work on Friday night. This is another short paragraph, as I was unable to yield the results that I normally seek. However, I did try a lot of new things in hopes of becoming more of a night time racer they just didn’t work.
I now had a month to sit around and contemplate how I was going to “fix” my problems of racing at night (as I decided not to race until the finals). So how do you go about remedying a racing problem when you’re not racing? Simple… You take your mind off of it and go do something else (Hockey game, night out with friends, etc.). No, seriously, I advise anyone who is in a slump to go do something far away from racing and then come back. This time around, the advice is on the house!
On to the MIROCK World Finals, I rolled into The Rock at around 3am Saturday morning. When the gates finally opened at 8:45am I rushed inside to unload and put a chain on my bike. Yes, I did drive 9 hours to race with one of my bikes not even having a chain on it! Thanks to Jerry, Dustin, and Ron for the quick install! I won a few rounds and lost a few rounds on Saturday before it got dark. I was in the Street ET Tournament of Champions and it was only going to take three rounds for the win! Remember how I said I struggle at night… Yep, I turned on ‘Big Red’ with an amazing -.084! I would have bet $1,000 that I was -.00x when I went red, but I was WAY red. This completely dumbfounded me and I definitely wasn’t the happiest person at the moment. So what happened…? I still have no idea, but I’ll chalk it up to pure adrenaline and call it a learning moment.
I was determined to leave Rockingham with some confidence so I was excited to get Sunday started (Side note, I have an amazing Sunday record and a horrible Saturday one). Long story short, I raced well, got lucky, and FINALLY figured out how to race at night. I managed to runner up in Street ET and beat some tough racers in the process.
After a short work week and trying to catch back up on sleep, I was packed up and hitting the road again on Thursday to Georgia for the Manufacturer’s Cup World Finals. I was legitimately in the running in three different classes for championships, and if that wasn’t pressure enough, I had Brandi of Dragbike.com tagging along on the trip talking about how I could win three championships for 12 straight hours. The weather was beautiful all weekend and a slew of racers showed up to compete at the last big race of the year. I qualified OK in both Street Fighter & Crazy 8’s, but failed to make up any real ground in qualifying. Saturday I found a groove and started turning on win lights in Street ET and even got to race BayBay Yarborough (points leader) in the 4th round Saturday evening. BayBay gifted me a red light and I knew I had a chance to make up some valuable points. A round later and curfew had hit for the night so we were down to 9 and going to finish in the morning.
Sunday morning came and I was still mathematically in contention for three titles. First thing first, I had to finish the Saturday Street ET race. I went a few more rounds and found myself in the final. I lost a really close race .00x at the stripe, but had gained enough points to be sitting in 1st (for now). The next 8-10 hours were a complete blur… But I can say that at around 9pm on Sunday night I was still racing in Crazy 8’s, Street Fighter, and Street ET. For two hours I almost never took my helmet off and at one point had to bring both bikes to the staging lanes. Curfew was approaching fast and we were wide open trying to finish the race. At 5 bikes left in Crazy 8s I lost to my good friend Ron Arnold (he did owe me one), which ended my championship hopes in that class. Unfortunately curfew hit shortly after and I was still in Street ET (7 bikes left) and Street Fighter (3 bikes left).** What an amazing weekend of racing I had! Seriously, it was one of those weekends you dream about. If I did my math correctly I had a round record of 20-2 in eliminations (and I was still in two classes)! I ended up winning the Street ET Championship and finishing 2nd in both Street Fighter & Crazy 8s.
**I want to say congrats to Wes Brown for winning the Street Fighter Championship after battling some issues early in the weekend. It was a battle till the end and Wes rode like a champion matching my every move.
In 2012 I qualified for the Street ET Tournament of Champions in both MIROCK & NHDRO, I finished 6th in NHDRO Street Fighter points (missing the first race), I finished 2nd in both Crazy 8s & Street Fighter in Cup points, and I won the Cup Street ET Championship. I went to multiple finals (winning 75%), won hundreds of rounds, and had an amazing year. All this while I moved to a different state and changed jobs!
I have to thank my Dad, Mom, and Brother for all their help and support. I also want to thank my new race friends that welcomed me and helped me after I moved; Bradley, Doug, & Ron. And of course all my racing buddies from TN; Jerry, Dollar, Jonathan, Darren, Dustin & Tamara.
Last but certainly not least, big thanks to my sponsors and supporters!
Hays Machine Works
The FBR Shop
Ok, so first off, I’d like to apologize to the very few people who actually read my articles/recaps. This summer has been absolutely crazy busy and I have definitely slacked on staying on top of things. However, I have enjoyed an extremely successful season so far and I’m excited to finish it out strong.
After a great start to the season at the Manufacturer’s Cup event in April, I actually struggled for almost two months. My “struggles” really didn’t have to do with a poorly performing bike or mediocre rider; I just simply kept getting beat. In April & May I mainly raced in our local bracket series at Bristol Dragway and I just couldn’t turn on the win lights. My friends that I race with simply felt the need to throw up ridiculous packages every time they lined up beside me (great job guys!), so although the bike was running great and the rider was doing “ok” I was getting beat.
In mid June my buddy Jerry and I decided to make the trip to Indy for the NHDRO race… and I had a hunch that I could get back on track at this race. My intuition turned out to be right (or I just got lucky) and I made it down to 3 in Street ET one day and had a decent showing in Street Fighter.
Side Note: Although most of you already know, In June I decided to take a position with Brock’s Performance in Dayton, OH so that is part of the reason for the crazy summer!
So after finding my mojo in Indy I went into what would be my last race of the year (most likely) in the DER Bracket Series (since I was relocating to Ohio). I couldn’t have picked a better way to leave Bristol as I proceeded to sweep the two races that weekend in the motorcycle class and also had a fair showing in my buddies 65 Mustang. To top it all off, my racing friends threw a cookout for me on Saturday, complete with a cake thrown in my face after winning Saturday night. I know we all love to race, but I think it’s the friendships and close bonds you make that really make the racing worthwhile. So I’d like to say thinks to my Bristol friends for the great sendoff!
What did I do the weekend before I moved to Ohio? Well, I certainly didn’t do the common sense thing of packing, so after my last day of work at Bristol Dragway on Saturday I drove to Rockingham Dragway to run in the MIROCK series on Sunday. In what was the hottest conditions I’ve ever raced in (and hopefully won’t be stupid enough to put myself through it again) I continued my hot streak and made it down to 5 bikes in Street ET (lost a close race) and 4 bikes in Pro ET before my bike had a mechanical issue. I want to thank my buddy Jerry for hauling my bike back in forth to the Rock for me as I arrived late Saturday and then went to the beach on Sunday.
After moving to Dayton, OH with nothing but my clothes and motorcycles I enjoyed my first week at work and happened to notice that NHDRO was racing in Muncie, IN that weekend. So, surprise to everyone (not really) I loaded up and headed to Muncie on Saturday morning. They say, “When you’re hot, you’re hot” and you should ride that streak… Well, I was taking full advantage of the saying and after a decent Saturday of qualifying and some rounds in Street ET I rested up for an eventful Sunday. Long story short, I had an amazing Sunday as I was able to make my way to the finals of both Street Fighter and Crazy 8’s in addition to making it down to 5 in Street ET. Also having an amazing weekend would be my new friend Doug Gall as I was racing him in both finals (he was also in the Pro Street final). We decided not to be greedy and after running dead-on in Crazy 8’s and giving that win to Doug, he gifted me with a red-light in Street Fighter so I could get a “big check”. Have to say thanks to Ron Arnold for the help and good times at Muncie!
The next couple weeks I checked out the tracks around the Ohio area making new friends while doing some racing and testing. I even won at Thursday Night Lightz at Edgewater Dragway which is a really cool weekly event (arm drop, scoreboards off, street style).
This past weekend we made the trip to Indy for the NHDRO/Manufacturer’s Cup event. Since I would be earning points for both series I was hoping to do well. Since this is already a long article, I’ll get straight to the details. I lost second round in Crazy 8’s by breaking out by 5 thousandths after taking too much stripe. I lost third round in Street Fighter after I completely fell asleep on the starting line and missed the tree. I had a great showing in a huge field of Street ET racers before falling victim to “big red” at 3 bikes. But all in all it was a great weekend. Thanks to everyone who helped me out this weekend!
As the season winds down I am looking forward to moving up a few more spots in the NHDRO points as I am doing pretty well even after missing a race. I should also be sitting well in the Manufacturer Cup points and I’m already qualified for the Street ET race of Champions in the MIROCK series. For the three people still reading this, til next time!
Thanks to my sponsors:
and to my supporters:
and all my friends & family!
This past weekend dad and I traveled down to Gainesville, FL for the NHRA Gatornationals. The Division 2 Race of Champions was being held during this prestigious event so I was eligible to compete. The Race of Champions is usually contested at each Division’s bracket finals, but for the past few years Division 2 has contested theirs at the gators. The Race of Champions is a race comprised solely of each tracks bracket series champions, so it’s a pretty cool race. We arrived at the track on Friday afternoon just in time to catch the second round of professional qualifying. After qualifying we got parked where we needed to be pitted and headed to the hotel for some much needed rest (as it would turn out to be a long weekend).
We arrived at the track early on Saturday morning to get teched in and hopefully get a time run. We found out shortly after getting teched in that our time runs would be pushed back till the evening, so we headed to the stands to catch some action. Later in the evening we got the bike prepped and ready for the time trials. I took my first pass down the right lane and with my adrenaline and excitement I went -.020 red and short shifted the 1-2 for a 6.05 pass. I came back and lowered to launch rpm to then go into the left lane and go .020 green and a 6.01 pass. I felt pretty comfortable after the time runs and the bike was running great! Well, Sunday came and we were finally called to the lanes. With probably 20,000+ spectators on hand it was definitely an exciting/nervous moment, but I felt like I handled it well and I was ready to roll. Unfortunately about 4 pairs prior to us going down the track, Mother Nature decided to start sprinkling. The sprinkles continued off and on all evening until the officials finally had to make the call to postpone the race till Monday.
Monday went by fast as we were being called to the lanes before we knew it. I felt like I was setup for .015 on the tree and decided to dial a 6.02. When I let go of the clutch I honestly felt like I was a tad bit late (I figured I was .030), but when I punched it into 2nd gear I caught the scoreboard from the corner of my eye and saw my opponents win light on. I couldn’t believe I had lit ol’ red, but the time slip showed -.015. To drive all the way to Florida and spend 4 days at the track and then to go red first round is not the way you want to end the trip, but I actually wasn’t upset. I felt like I did a great job holding my composure and sticking to my routine, but I might have made a strategic error. After analyzing the situation, I believe the right lane might have been a little “tight” compared to the left lane which resulted in my red. I thought I was setup correctly, but I based it off my left lane time trial. I did learn a lot from the experience and I’m glad to have had the chance to race in the prestigious Gatornationals. Although I didn’t win, I had a great weekend with my biggest supporter and that’s really all that matters. I like to tell people, “you can’t win them all…and if I did, it would just become boring!” Maybe Fast Jack and I can get together and petition the NHRA over our redlights!…hahaha (Beckman says he did not redlight)
Finally a big thanks to my sponsors: Knight Communications Inc., Hays Machine Works, and Amsoil. Also thanks to Adams Performance and Garron for the help the week before!