Leading into his tenth year in full time chassis development, Trac Dynamics President Dave Earll can probably best describe his career as "finally getting where my dream has lead me".
Now at 32 years old, Earll's career began 15 years ago when he fabricated extended swing arms in his high school metal shop. Afterwards, Earll opened up a shop fabricating whatever he could to make money. Sometimes it was on a drag bike, other times it was on a dirt bike. After a couple of years, Earll was forced with reality and turned to a full-time "real job" with Vance and Hines.
In the late eighties, Earll raced competitively with the West Coast Pro Gas series. He felt that his biggest accomplishment (for that time) was his winning the Los Angeles County Raceway Track Championship in the Super Pro category.
"I felt that championship was a real accomplishment" explained Earll, "because I raced the best of the bikes and the cars to get there."
At that point, Earll decided he enjoyed the engineering side of the sport more because he could dedicate himself to actually making the bikes perform better.
Earll has always had a single goal -- to become the leader in drag bike chassis technology. He knew that to build a bike right and to keep it affordable, you needed to build a bunch of them.
Earll recognized that Sandy Kosman was no doubt the leader at that time. "His parts were very good, but so much attention to detail created a unique chassis every time."
Paying so much attention to individual detail meant that every bike was different, each bike would carry a huge price tag, and you would have to wait months in order to get a bike built.
"I wanted to make quality chassis and the related parts available to the average guy, at a price they could afford, and the availability needed to be there as well."
Trac Dynamics opened in 1989 in a one thousand square foot shop located in Newhall, Calif. There were no trick jigs, no fancy equipment, it was a few shelves for parts and a couple of wooden work tables. Back then it was a struggle just to stay in business.
Ten years later, Trac Dynamics is housed in a spacious and pristine shop in Valencia, which is in the foothills just north of Los Angeles. A half dozen employees, state of the art welding machines, various other cutting, milling and shaping tools, and a CNC machining center allow Trac Dynamics to produce in house, and in quantity, every component that used to produce a high tech drag bike chassis.
The result of his years of dedication -- at several NHRA events, the entire Pro Stock Bike qualified field used a Trac Dynamics chassis. Almost every "big name" Pro Stock racer has at one time been aboard one of Earll's bikes. From Matt Hines to Angelle Seeling, not passing up Dave Schultz, John Myers, Greg Underdahl, Gary Tonglett, Paul Gast, and a host of others. Championship after championship, Earll's gratification comes through seeing his clients in the winners circle.
Earll's focus has always been on the sportsman ranks, because that 's where he came from. Yes he builds Pro Stock and Pro Modified bikes, but his desire never wanted to stray very far from the sportsman ranks kept him out of other categories because those frames could not be used in the lower classes.
His product line consists of two main frame models. One for sportsman, one for professional and serious sportsman categories.
The TSX sportsman chassis marked the first time a sportsman bike could be had for about the same price as modifying a stock chassis with a swing arm and rake job. At $1495.00, that made a chassis that every sportsman could afford.
"The TSX chassis allowed standardization for the first time in every part. From the bodies, to the bearing plates, to the wheels. We sold over 200 of them in a short amount of time. Doing that many of one bike gave us the ability to call a standard and produce to it. Even the motor mounts were something that could be used in almost every other bike we built."
In some extreme situations, Trac Dynamics does customize their frames, however they have made the decision to avoid long term projects which would take them away from the mainstay of their business. When they make parts, including tubes and bends, they are made in batches of 20 or more every time. They are done by the same blueprint and pattern, so parts repeat perfectly every time.
In the early 80's, Earll explained that it was very difficult, and expensive, to build a drag bike using a custom chassis. Most people he explained chose not to go that route as the result.
"Nothing you could buy would fit on the bikes, but through production runs that all changed."
Today, Trac Dynamics is capable of producing 20 frames per month, and can produce 5 complete "rollers" as well. They are also the leading manufacturer of chassis components, including their ICS forks, which revolutionized the industry by improving handling, stability and provided real working front suspension for the first time.
Throughout time, Earll has been an innovator and is always trying something new. Over the past five years, he keeps playing with a new design which utilizes a monoshock and a pivotable swing arm. That design has shown more consistency on rough tracks, but Earll recognizes that more time is required to bring that design into reality..
"That bike was heavier because of the extra parts the frame required. I feel that it would be a viable thing for the future, and look forward to someday finishing it's design."
Trac Dynamics has recently reached another milestone. Working with Factory Kawasaki, he now produces a bike dubbed "The Razor". It's a ready to run bike, which comes with a Kawasaki ZX-11 engine, and is priced under $15,000. It provides a 9.0-second starting point for any racer who wants to effortlessly get into the sport. Earll says that for a two or three thousand dollar upgrade budget, the same bike can run competitive in the 8.20-second Top Gas category.
Trac Dynamics is also about to release their newest T4 Harley-Davidson chassis, which will be used by several Pro Stock H-D teams in 1999.
"We never stop thinking of better ways to build a bike" said Earll, "We just finished a project with Matt and Byron Hines for their 1999 bike. We feel that the changes made will give us the starting point for the next level of chassis development."