Nitro

notes and tech talk

I've been racing for quite a few years now, but it's more fun now, with SuperBike, than it ever was before.

Terry and I started out years ago with dragsters, up North at places like Arlington, Puyallup, and Bayview dragstrips. Then it was off to Southern California to run top fuel at strips like Lions, San Gabriel, and Pomona. Did real good, too - we were plenty fast.

But, after a few years, racing started to change. It got safer, which was good, but it also started to get more expensive, and that was bad. It wasn't real bad at first because we could get a lot of free stuff from the manufacturers. You know, engine parts, tires, fuel, that kind of thing. But, it didn't take long before that just wasn't enough to stay on top because the fast guys were getting bigger and better sponsorships.

We stayed with it for a while, and got a deal from a soft drink company that kept us at the top of the game, but it wasn't long before the top teams were getting really big deals and that meant that they could show up at a race with a spare engine or three ready to go and a ton of spare parts - they could pretty much run us right into the ground.

Unfortunately, most of the big bucks came from the alcohol and tobacco companies, and Terry and I didn't want to go that route. We both liked the idea that auto racing was a sport the whole family could enjoy, and we didn't like the thought that kids would be coming around at the races or car shows for autographs and pictures, and there would be the name of some beer or cigarette plastered all over our race car,truck, and trailer. It would even be on our shirts. We'd probably have to wear those dumb little hats with beer logos on them. Neither of us goes out and lobbies for prohibition, but we didn't think this was a good thing to throw in the kid's faces!

So, we eased off and decided to try something else. We started a business up north. We discovered that our years in drag racing helped us a bunch. Running a race car and running it well teaches you to be meticulous and watch over the details, both of which pay off big time in the business world. And we did quite well, but - we got bored. So, pretty soon we were racing again - it was boats this time. It was a lot of fun, and we were building bigger and faster boats and winning a bunch. Sure enough, it was also costing more and more to stay on top, and the top dogs were going to that same well for those big bucks that it took to run super hard. We still didn't want to go down the beer and tobacco money road, so we got out of boat racing.

Terry got into dare devil stunts, and after doing just about everything but blowing himself up with dynamite, he decided it might be getting just a little bit dangerous and we'd better get back to what we know.

So, it was back to drag racing. The new cars, (AA/Fuel and Funny Car) were really fast, but were also really smooth and predictable - just not exciting enough for Terry's taste. He was kind of stuck on the old days: lots of tire smoke and fire, and you were never quite sure where the car was going. So, we tried bikes, they were exciting, but just not fast enough.

Then one day I was out in the shop, staring at one of our leftover (very expensive) top fuel engines that was sitting by a race bike, and the thought occured to me: "Why not combine the two?"
So, we built a special bike frame, put the turbocharged hemi Chrysler V-8 in it, and created SuperBike. It's been nothing but fun ever since, and it's fast and exciting enough even for Terry.

Once we got the thing running, it took a little while to sort it out. For a while there, it was just a bit too exciting, but it came together. The secret is having "the right combination."
We discovered quite quickly that because of SuperBike's extremely high horsepower and very short wheelbase, it's very close to uncontrollable. The method we came up with to put maximum power on the ground without having the bike suddenly swap ends or go into the ultimate wheelstand is to have the back tire always losing a little traction (spinning and smoking.) Because of the huge size of the rear slick (36 inches high and nearly 20 inches wide), this creates a gyroscopic effect, which in turn keeps the bike pointed straight ahead and upright, which are both much better than the alternatives.

Accomplishing this is quite a trick when you are dealing with a bike with a 76 inch wheelbase and producing over four thousand horsepower when the H2O-S system is cranked up to full boost. You don't want it to 'hook up' (get full traction) - this would cause the bike to quickly be out of control. Then, all Terry can to is hold on and hope for the best. And, you don't want to 'light it up' (spin the slick too hard), or it will start to skate around. 'Cause then, once again, Terry is just along for the ride, kind of like riding a runaway horse. In our regular schedule of match races, Terry can spin the slick just a little harder, producing more tire smoke (which the crowd loves) and giving up some effeciency, but still winning.

But now what Terry wants more than anything else is a race with Bo Barnes. Bo's AA/Fueler is the fastest and quickest around, and both Terry and SuperBike are going to have to be right on the top of their game to run with him.





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