2014 Harley-Davidson Drag RacingThe Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines drag racing team is warmed up and ready to rumble at the 45th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 14-16 at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville.
The event is the season-opener for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.Fresh from two days of testing at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta, Ga., riders Ed Krawiec and Andrew Hines arrive at the Gatornationals with a pair of fine-tuned, earth-shaking Harley-Davidson V-Rod motorcycles, ready to pick up the momentum that saw the team win three of the six Countdown to the Championship races at the end of the 2013 season.“The team finished strong last year after struggling to find performance early in the season with our new engine,” said Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Kris Schoonover.“This off-season we focused on implementing the lessons learned last year and building incremental performance, instead of thrashing just to make it to the Gainesville starting line, which was the case in 2013. The team will be back in the traditional Harley-Davidson orange and black paint and leathers, and we hope to put those colors in the winner’s circle more often this year.”Hines and Krawiec, each a three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, are ready to get the season started.“We put in a lot of hours on R&D and the dyno during the off-season, and I think our testing this week really validated that work,” said Hines. “We’ve got a couple of very quick V-Rod motorcycles to take to Gainesville. For me personally, not making the Countdown last year didn’t sit well at all. I’m very focused on riding better and motivated to be in position to win another championship. We should be in the mix.”Krawiec, who finished third in the 2013 Pro Stock Motorcycle standings and closed the season with a win at Pomona, has won three times at Gainesville.“I love to race at Gainesville,” said Krawiec. “I’ve had some success here, and we always have a lot of great Harley-Davidson fans in the area for Bike Week down in Daytona. It has been a long off-season with a lot of hours put in on these Harley bikes, and I’m ready to get out there and pop the clutch.”Matt Hines, crew chief for the Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle®/Vance & Hines team, led a focused off-season development program.“This was a very productive off-season, at a more normal pace compared to how hectic it was for us last year,” said Matt Hines. “We had some good ideas for the engines during last season but were waiting for the parts to be manufactured.“Now we’ve got those components in place. We learned last year that to win in this class we need to make a perfect run every pass, and we eventually achieved that consistency and got some wins. Now we hope to combine that with more power and steady improvement through the season, so when we get to the Countdown we’ll be even faster.”The 2014 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule includes 16 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. After the first 10 events, the points will be re-set for the top 10 riders who have qualified for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!