I RECENTLY spent a day with Steve (Bullets) Stanley at the East Coast Nationals at Western Sydney International Dragway. He’s been trying to convince me into becoming a drag-racing fan, and I’ve gotta say he’s well on the way to convincing me.
But I figure there are a lot of readers out there who, like me, aren’t too sure how the whole thing works. No matter how many times Steve explains the categories, I still get confused. So the plan is to ease our way into the scene. We like variety here at Ozbike—as long as it’s cool—and we think it’d be cool to start showcasing some of the awesome drag-bike machinery out there.
I’ve always been a fan of drag cars. The link between drag-racing and classic American hotrods is a strong one. Both are built with an emphasis on street tough power—big wheels, big motors, and lairy paint jobs being the order of the day.
Likewise, the link between drag bikes and choppers is a strong one. I mean, a drag bike is a bike built for a custom application—that is, going fast as buggery in a straight line. Fat rear tyre and skinny front with zero accessories—sound familiar? In fact, if you were building a chopper without any registration rules keeping you in check, the end result could come out something like what you see here.
Peter is the owner of this ‘earth-shaker’ of a machine. The massive Hoosier slick tyre drew my attention to begin with, then I was attracted to the tough details like the long welded velocity stack and open primary with tensioner.
Peter’s a relative newbie at the sport, although he’s been a fan for years.
“I’ve been a spectator for years but I was sick of being a spectator so I looked around at buying something and did a bit of research. Most people at 50 retire—I bought a drag bike.
“It’s in the Modified Bike category. It’s a Spooth, 60 degree motor: 124 cubic inch, running Hillborn fuel injection, a four-speed Broadfoot gearbox. It used to run in Comp Bike. Danny Grotto used to own the bike. We’re a new team and we’re starting at the bottom and just having a go.”
Pete was a great person to talk to since I was interested in how people go about getting into the sport. He explained what was required to get off the ground.
“I had to come down here and do some licence passes through ANDRA because it runs quicker than 10.5 seconds. I did that about a month back. I had a hit-out at Gunnedah at an 1/8 mile track to see how violent it was… and it was pretty daunting, I can tell you. But I’ve had seven passes here at Eastern Creek and I feel a lot more confident. I feel like I’ve got a bit more time to do things. The first go it all happened so quickly and I couldn’t tell you what went through my head.”
Although this bike is not in the Top Bike category (Top Fuel car equivalent), it’s still a weapon pumping out 180 horsepower and weighing in at 400 pounds. Pete’s building up his times steadily.
“I ran a best time yesterday of 9.09 seconds at 134 mph. But when it was running Comp Bike it did an 8.56 seconds at 147 mph. It’s got potential.”
At first the bike seemed a pretty big leap for a first-time dragster but Pete explains that entering the sport with the bike he did was a calculated decision.
“It’s designed to race. It goes straight—I don’t have to fight it. I thought it might cost me a few bucks more than something else I was looking at but it comes as a whole package—a proven package. The guy I bought it off said running Modified Bike you’ll be in the top eight. And that should encourage me as I’m going along, the fact that the bike’s competitive.
“The hard work’s all done with the bike—the previous owner developed it over nine years. It’s pretty well bulletproof—touch wood. Each run I have I’m going quicker—trying to get my head around it. We’re all enjoying it.”
The ‘we’ in this equation is the crew from Gosford Custom Cycles. They usually tinker with Harleys and the like, and when they heard about Pete’s new interest, they wanted in.
“Another couple of guys in the crew are not here today, Aaron and Mick. Mick’s the owner of Gosford Custom Cycles. Jamie and Paul are the two mechanics here doing the work. They said they wouldn’t mind doing the spanner work for me so we put the name on the bike.”
Interviewing Pete and the guys was good fun and has got me thinking about something like this in the future, although on a smaller scale to start with. Pete reckons it’s a great way to spend a weekend.
“I’ve met some good people. It’s a fun day, and you know what I like about it? There’s no grog. Not that I’ve got anything against grog, of course, but this is good clean fun. You can go and drink next week!”
Maybe I’m getting old (shit!) but I can see where Pete’s coming from. I like the idea of spending the day with mates, working on a bike and ‘testing’ it up the strip every couple of hours. At the end of the day if you’re eliminated, you lock up the van then go watch some top fuel dragsters.
Or maybe I’m liking the idea of another thing Pete said: “There’s no copper at the end with a radar gun!”
words & pics by Wasko