Top Fuel Harley
words and photos by Tom McCarthy
Randal Andras starts out the 2021 NHRA Top Fuel Harley season with a win! He faced teammate Tii Tharpe in the final. Tharpe had the starting line advantage, but lost traction by 330 feet and clicked it off. Andras is straight down the groove for the win. This is his eighth Top Fuel Harley Wally and second consecutive win at the #Gatornationals.
Eliminations Round 1
This is the first time Malloy and Wilson have faced each other in eliminations. Wilson with the starting line advantage, but Malloy had the difference made up by the time they went by the Christmas tree and neve trailed from there on for the win. Malloy with his quickest pass of the event for the win. Wilson with his quickest pass of the weekend in the losing effort.
Andras is 2 – 0 against Vreeland in prior events. Andras with the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win. He runs his quickest pass of the weekend and second quickest of the event, but will give up lane choice to Malloy in the semifinal. Vreeland with his quickest pass of the weekend in the losing effort.
Kerrigan is 1 – 0 against House in prior events. House with the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win. He runs his quickest pass of the weekend for the win.
Tharpe is 2 – 0 against Jackson in prior events. Tharpe with the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win as Jackson broke right at the hit. Tharpe with his quickest pass of the weekend for the win, but will give up lane choice to House in the semifinal.
Eliminations Round 2
This is the first time Malloy and Andras have faced each other in eliminations. Malloy is too quick on the tree and turned on the red light to give andras the win. Andras with his quickest pass of the weekend for the win.
House is 6 – 4 against Tharpe in prior events. House is a couple ticks too quick and turns on the red light to give Tharpe the win. Tharpe with his quickest pass of the weekend for the win. Tharpe will give up lane choice to Andras in the final.
Andras is 5 – 1 against Tharpe in prior events and Andras is 3 – 0 against Tharpe in prior final rounds. Tharpe with the starting line advantage, but lost traction by 330 feet and clicked it off. Andras is straight down the groove for the win. He wins his eighth Top Fuel Harley Wally and second consecutive here.
Top Fuel Harley qualifying for the 51st running of the NHRA Gator Nationals concluded late in the evening of Saturday night. After three rounds of qualifying, the #1 qualifier was Rich Vreeland, of PA, with a 6.63 @ 191 MPH.
Of the nine Top Fuel Harley Motorcycle’s entered they stacked up as follows: Rich Vreeland (6.63), Billy Jackson (6.68), Ricky House (6.74), Bob Malloy (7.05), Tyler Wilson (7.12), Tim Kerrigan (8.06), Tii Tharpe (8.67), Randal Andras (10.73).
Top Fuel Harley is initially slated to begin competition with E-1 commencing at 8:45AM, EST, with Vreeland Vs Andras, Malloy Vs Wilson, Jackson Vs Tharpe, and House Vs Kerrigan.
Top Fuel Harley – Friday
The first round of NHRA Camping World Gatornationals saw Top Fuel Harley contestant Billy Jackson take the #1 qualifying position with a 6.68 at 206 mph, stone-cold, fresh off the trailer. However, this pass would only earn him the #2 qualifying position. Rich Vreeland ran a 6.63 at 191 mph to take the #1 spot over the field.
Other racers who faired well were Ricky House with a 6.74, and Bob Malloy with 7.05. NHRA 2020 champ Randal Andras had a troubled run of 10.73 and his teammate Tii Tharpe had a problem that necessitated a shut off after the burnout. Tyler Wilson, Tim Kerrigan, and Mitch Brown all failed to make complete passes.
The second qualifying session for TFH will go down this morning at 11:15am. Tune in to www.NHRA.tv to watch the LIVE racing action.
Reporter’s Notebook: Tuesday Testing
Testing at the NHRA Camping World Amalie Motor Oil, Gator Nationals commenced in the chilly morning ours at close to 9 AM, EST today. It was as cold as 40 degrees overnight, but fortunately, the bright sunshine quickly warmed the racing surface, long before ambient air temps caught up with track surface temps.
The usual stellar NHRA prepped racing surface was in play and racers had 1320’ of billiard table smooth track to boogie upon, and it was groomed consistently all day. The NHRA Safety Safari was in the house and effective COVID safety Protocols are in effect for this event.
In the Top Fuel Harley class, only one team was present for testing, Rich Vreeland. He and his experienced crew put his bike through a four-step warm-up with runs of 60’, 200’, 330’, and a full pull late in the afternoon. Rich posted a 6.80 at 188.89 and that pass was right down Broadway.
Tomorrow’s test and tune will resume with the same open format as today. As soon as a machine is ready, it comes to the lanes and is sent down track.
Thursday of this event will be devoted to Sportsman qualifying with a run order of Comp, SS, STK, SC, TD, and TS. There will be no pro sessions on Thursday.
Qualifying for the 51st Gator Nationals for the professional classes will commence on Friday with Top Fuel Harley slated for 3:15 PM, EST and Pro Stock Motorcycle will run during the first round of the professional class cars later Friday afternoon.
2021 NHRA Season Begins at Gainesville Raceway
For the first time in National Hot Rod Association history, it’s annual season will kick-off with the 51st running of the NHRA, Gatornationals, March 11-14, 2021.
The event will be contested at the historic Gainesville Raceway, in Gainesville, Florida. The dragstrip was constructed in 1969, and one year later, it hosted the first “Gators” and has been sending the fast and the furious down its 1320 feet of racing surface ever since.
For the motorcycle drag racing faithful, the two professional classes to be watched will be the NHRA Top Fuel Harleys and of course the amazing NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycles. Zero to 200 MPH gas bikes will be in close bar-to-bar competition when the Pro Stock Motorcycles bring the action. And 230 MPH thundering Top Fuel Harleys will also be in competition at this event.
With the NHRA doing all it can to deal with COVID-19 complications, this necessitated starting the 2021 season in Florida for the first time in 71 years and not kicking things off in Pomona, the traditional home turf of the NHRA.
In NHRA Top Fuel Harley, the big news coming into this event is the ten-race season that has been in place since the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley series began is changing. The sponsorship of the Top Fuel Harley class (TFH) by Mickey Thompson has run it’s course, so there is no class sponsor, and NO PAYOUT for the big thunder bikes going into the 2021 Gators. Top Fuel Harley contestants at the Gators are racing this race FOR HEART AND THE LOVE OF THE SPORT and out of respect for the class of Top Fuel Harley.
As for the future of the class, several Top Fuel Harley standouts are working in concert with the NHRA Marketing & Sales departments, in a concerted effort to find a sponsor and keep NHRA TFH racing going. In as much as this situation is in flux right now, an abbreviated NHRA TFH season is likely. Details on exactly how many races and at which racetracks will the big thunder bikes will run is a scenario being worked upon by all parties concerned.
Top Fuel Harley pre-registered races:
- Ricky House
- Randal Andras
- Tyler Wilson
- Mitch Brown
- Tim Kerrigan
- Billy Jackson
- Tii Tharpe
- Bob Malloy
- Rich Vreeland
Many of these nine racers will be testing at Gainesville Raceway on March 9-10, in preparation for eliminations on Sunday, March 14th.
Motorcycle qualifying action will begin on Friday. The Top Fuel Harley motorcycles are slated to do their first qualifier of three sessions at 3:15, EST and the PSM class will follow shortly thereafter. Keep in mind all times are subject to change due to prevailing racing conditions. Saturday’s qualifying times are initially set for PSM, after 12 noon, followed by TFH at 1PM. The third and final session will be close to 3:15 PM, EST.
Eliminations on Sunday for TFH are scheduled for 8:45 AM, 12:50 and finals to be run at 2:30. The Pro Stock Motorcycles will run with the car sessions and their schedule will dictate exactly when the Pro Stock Motorcycles will commence their action. Follow NHRA.com for details. And watch online at NHRA.Tv
ABOUT NHRA – Headquartered in Glendora, CA, is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com