NHRA Motorcycle Drag Racing at Charlotte

By: On: September 13th, 20080 Comments »Updated: December 17, 2011

Angelle Sampey on her Rush Racing S+S Buell Pro Stock MotorcycleThe National Hot Rod Association NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class has come to the Charlotte, NC area for the first time at the new $60 million zMax Dragway in Concord.

MotorcycleInfo.Org was in attendance to take in all the thrilling motorcycle racing sights, sounds, and smells of high-octane race engine exhaust combined with the haze of tire smoke near the staging area and starting line.


There have been women racing this male-dominated motorcycle racing class with great success, such as Angelle Sampey shown in black and green here, but today several more women are racing motorcycles and they are doing very well.  Shown below is Valerie Thompson, who has set two motorcycle speed records at Bonneville previously to entering into NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racing.

Valerie Thompson on her Buell Pro Stock Motorcycle at zMax DragwayFor those of you not familiar with NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racing, the idea is to race side by side from a standing start on a 1/4 mile drag strip (1320 feet).  The brands of Pro Stock motorcycles vary, but the engine and body style have to match.  Each brand of motorcycle has their own minimum weight requirement and they all have a wheelbase length of 70 inches maximum.  The main motorcycle brands currently competing are Harley-Davidson, Buell and Suzuki.  Pro Stock Motorcycles typically run 1/4 mile in just under 7 seconds at around 200 mph.

The motorcycles are started just before they get ready to make their run.  The starter is not on the bike, but is attached to the motor temporarily and quickly removed after it fires.  The rider then begins to do a burnout of the very wide tire with help from a little water on the concrete burnout pad.  After the tire burnout, the rider, while still seated, pushes the motorcycle to the starting line and gets it positioned at the line and ready to make the run when the green starting light comes on.  If all goes well, the rider then slows and turns off the track to get onto the return road at the shut down area at the end of the race track.

Unfortunately, not all went well for Valerie Thompson at the end of the track during qualifying on Friday.  She was unable to get her Buell Pro Stock motorcycle stopped at the end and became the first person ever to run into the sand trap beyond the shut-down area at the new ZMax Dragway.  Luckily, she was ok.Chip Ellis gets his Suzuki Pro Stock motorcycle into neutral before making a qualifying run at zMax Dragway

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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