Nothing can hold back the adrenaline when you’re waiting on the starting line at Sydney Dragway.
Especially when you’re sitting on a motorcycle capable of reaching the quarter mile in less than 10 seconds.
Everyone wants the hole shot, straight down the track without a hitch. I had drifted sideways on several test runs over the past week and qualifying the day before was impacted by rain so I had one run to test the setup and qualify. My reaction time wasn’t great, I felt the bike pulling to the right and my clutch was slipping. But this time, after several checks and adjustments, I feel the bike is ready to help me win and it’s now down to me. I have reached the first round of the Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder (part of the 400 Thunder Australian Professional Drag Racing Series).
My first knockout race is against a modified Suzuki Hayabusa. I know its going to be tough to beat but my bike is up to the task and so am I, I think.
The week before I had set a new personal best time of 8.53 seconds during testing. All I have to do is repeat that and match my opponent for reaction time.
My line up is good and my staging lights are on. The naturally aspirated 180hp Harley-Davidson V-Rod engine rumbling beneath me drowning out the commentary booming from the grandstand loudspeakers. At this moment the suspense is killing you. All you want is for the amber lights to countdown the inevitable. As I see them, I open the throttle wide open, anticipating the green light. Reaction time is critical.
Boom! When I release the clutch the bike tears away from the starting line at blistering pace. The sudden burst of speed makes my eyes water. The bike is so powerful that every gear change seems to hit me in the chest. But staying alert is critical. Every gear change needs to be executed at the right moment and it is essential I keep it straight. The smallest mistake could send me to the wall.
By the time I reach the quarter mile I know my run has been enough to win. That is, until I realise I had jumped the start by a tenth of a second. The red light means I’m out despite my 8.55 second pass at 152 MPH. I can’t believe it.
This was my first time in the Competition Bike category and it had been over a year since the last time I had drag raced. This was also the first time I would have the opportunity to go the distance in under 9 seconds.
When motorcycle owner Paul Harrison asked me to race his bike at Nitro Thunder I couldn’t pass it up. Drag racing is exhilarating and you don’t get these kinds of opportunities every day! Thanks Harry.
This week wouldn’t have been possible without a massive amount of help from Dan Lesnock at Harley-Davidson Australia, Mick Withers from the IHRA, new rubber from Shinko Tyres and ETS race fuel from racefuel.com.au. Big thanks also to my sponsor LDV Australia for helping me go the distance this year.
I can’t wait to be trackside supporting Corey Buttigieg at the Winternationals next month.