NICKLEBERRY, KATICH, AND WILLIS SCORE UBDRA “BLACK SUNDAY” WINS
Largest Crowd Ever To Witness a Motorcycle Drag Race?
by Bret Kepner
Madison, IL---Gateway International Raceway, which earlier in 2004 produced such spectacular moments as history’s quickest Top Fuel Motorcycle pass during the AMA/Prostar PR Factory Stores Nationals, added to its historic credits what may have been the largest one-day crowd ever to witness a major dragbike event during the annual United Black Drag Racers Association “Black Sunday” Championships. GIR officials estimated 22,000 fans were on hand for the last of the event’s three days and publicly admitted that the attendance equaled that of the track’s final-day crowd at the NHRA PowerADE Sears-Craftsman Nationals in June.
The UBDRA, formed by St. Louis-area racers “Baby Ray" Franks, William "Cat" Jones, Robert Shipp, Nelson Taylor, Jr., and John "Goatman" Williams in the early 1980s, has hosted some version of the group’s “Black Sunday” meet since 1982. With the official incorporation of the UBDRA in 1994, the race has steadily grown to become of the largest independent drag races on the planet. No less than 630 entries, (of which over 240 were motorcycles), representing 26 states packed the GIR pits for the 2004 edition.
Each UBDRA “Black Sunday” continues the organization’s vows to benefit the community; over $100,000 has been distributed to local and national charities since the first UBDRA event.
In 2004, national publicity centered on the UBDRA’s involvement with the National Marrow Donor Program. Jacqueline "Jackie" Donahue, sister of St. Louis-native and rap star Nelly and a victim of leukemia, whose search for a bone marrow transplant has gained worldwide attention courtesy of her brother, attended the event to aid the NMDP drive.
For racers, the Black Sunday events are also known for substantial payouts and this year posted over $10,000 for three divisions.
Glen Nickleberry’s Robinson Industries/Majestic Turbo ‘03 ZX11 dominated the Quick 16 program. The Oklahoma veteran took time off from his tight points battle with Korry Hogan in AMA/Prostar Funnybike to brutalize the field with a single 6.85/201 qualifying run which took the pole and then unleashed even quicker and faster efforts during eliminations. A solo blast in round one, (when Scott Leonard’s Illinois turbo Suzuki could not show), resulted in Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet at 6.76/203.71. An easy 7.12/180 against Woody Omistone’s ailing Indiana GSXR was followed by a 6.85/189 over Johnny Bond’s Illinois Kawasaki. In the final, Nickelberry met St. Louis star Terence Washington, whose Home Doctor Racing Suzuki had reeled off consistent 7.80s during
the early rounds. Washington’s mount stumbled in the title bout, however, and Nickleberry’s 6.84/201.64 only proved his point. Of note were the 7.88/180 performances by both Eddie Sanzoterra’s QuickTime Motorsports ‘91 GSXR and Tyrone Martin’s WickedStickers.com ‘90 GSXR, easily the quickest Street Bike Shootout (“no bars”) bikes in attendance.
Dusty Katich, whose Yamahas have earned GIR points championships and several major bracket titles, ripped through the Pro Bike field. In seven rounds, the Collinsville, Illinois veteran hit Reaction Times no worse than 0.060 with a best of 0.003. Kevin Williams’ Team Sure Shot GSXR from Fort Wayne, Indiana, fouled out in round one but solved the problem with a buyback and then blasted through the same number of rounds with an equally impressive series of RTs. In the semis, Williams stopped defending GIR point champion Jim Ryan’s ‘97 Bandit but Katich’s Midwest Motorsports/Bud’s Service Center Yamaha prevailed in the final nonetheless with a 0.026 RT and a +.02 9.77/132.
Charles Willis, who’s 2002 Hayabusa has won titles across the Midwest, grabbed his biggest win ever with a thrashing of the massive Street Bike contingent. The St. Louis standout also waded through seven rounds, including a semi-final match with his girlfriend and equally renowned rider, Janie Palm. Meanwhile, Dusty Katich came within a round of a first-ever UBDRA “double” when his street Yamaha was stopped by Carl Criswell’s astounding beautiful Kansas City-based Hayabusa, despite the fact that Criswell lost an oil pan drain plug on the pass! Criswell was barely able to get his immaculate candy blue ‘Busa to the line for the final and then fouled away his hoped to Willis’ 0.031 RT and +.01 9.51.
Photo Highlights by BretKepnerPhotos.com