Mid-West Drag Racing Series
ThrowDown in T-Town
Tulsa Raceway Park
October 5-7, 2023
2023 Top Fuel Motorcycles at ThrowDown in T-Town
Words and photos by Tom McCarthy
On October 6-7, 2023, three Top Fuel motorcycle teams brought thier thundering fuel bikes to the Osage Casino sponsored Tulsa Raceway Park to entertain the home crowd gathered for the annual Throwdown in T-Town.
As the Mid-Western Drag Racing Series brought their special entertainment brand to this venue on this festive occasion, several Top Fuel class dragbikes were invited into the show.
Mitch Brown, who pilots Denis Bradley’s Top Fuel bike, Jaska Salakari’s Top Fuel Twin from Finland, and Sam Wills, who is officially retiring from driving after this event, all rolled up to light up the show.
In addition to this, Mac McAdams was at the event to make his initial debut runs on Jaska’s bike. Also, veteran Top Fuel and Funnybike legend Terry Kizer attended to pit with Sam and made a test pass on Sam’s bike to re-live his Top Fuel experience from decades ago.
After two days of test sessions, on Thursday and Friday; the stage was set for the primary drivers to send-it.
Just after 7pm, with the sun setting. Sam Wills lined up in the Tulsa left lane with young Elmeri Salakari in the right lane. At the flicker of green light, Elmeri left the starting line first and his rear tire broke loose immediately, which forced him instantly out of the throttle.
Meanwhile Sam Wills in the opposite lane had something wrong on his bike and never left the starting line. In drag racing, anything can happen.
Mac McAdams, who made flawless incremental runs of 60′, 330′ and half-track, showed he’s ready to step up to Top Fuel motorcycle. He looked comfortable and focused on Jaska’s bike and tuneup choices were perfect for Mac’s incremental, required runs of a new Top Fuel pilot.
After his test hit on Thursday, Terry Kizer commented during an interview, “Yes, if I had a sponsor, I’d reenter competition.” Terry looked very one with the bike on track and on the return tow to the pits.
Mitch Brown and all the Top Fuel racing team members did a solid job of interacting with the fans and staff at Tulsa Raceway Park. Racing can be very challenging sometimes, and all involved did their level best to bring the thrills of these big bikes to the fans in attendance.
Within days of this events completion, Sam Wills is off to Australia to help the new owner get acclimated to the bike.
International travel will also take place as Jaska Salakari’s team, his son Elmeri and team mechanic Hannes Kontti, will board a flight back to Finland, leaving their bike with Mitch Brown. The Salakari’s hope to return to the USA in the not-too-distant future, to help support development in Top Fuel motorcycle racing.
With Mac McAdams now firmly convinced his hunch was right, he’s Top Fuel bike material, it’s only a matter of time and finances before he assembles a team. This is this author’s opinion, not a statement by Mac.
The most significant performance of the event was the displayed driving skills of 21 year old Elmeri Salakari. His poise, unhurried course corrections, and situational awareness on track are impressive for a rookie rider. He went from an 883 Sportster to a Top Fuel motorcycle, proving determination and focus on purpose are prerequisites that lead to success in learning how to pilot a Top Fuel motorcycle.
Jaska Salakari commented more than once on the weekend “I can’t tell you how proud I am of this young man. I don’t know the words. He’s so capable and immense in the seat of this bike. I am one very proud father.”
During an interview on Saturday morning, Sam Wills commented, “in my opinion, anyone who can pilot an NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle, they are capable of learning to pilot one of these bikes.”
The future, of Top Fuel motorcycle, like when a door is ajar: is wide open.
Interview with Mitch Brown
Mac McAdams at 5pm made an eighth mile pass running 4.27@ 173mph, straight as a string. The bike was not working hard, it just motored down the left lane groove. this was McAdams third pass, second one today, on Jaska Salakari’s Top Fuel Motorcycle.
1.090 – 60’
2.857 – 330’
4.376 – 1/8 ET
173.56 – 1/8 MPH
Saturday afternoon warm-up of the Dennis Bradley Top Fuel Motorcycle piloted by Mitch Brown of Monster Race Products.
During the Throwdown Mac McAdams made his second hit on Jaska Salakari’s Top Fuel Motorcycle. This was intended as a 330′ pass, and Mac made it look easy. The tuneup was flawless, and with a 1.063 short time he went 2.798 to the 330, and he looked ready for a lot more, but clicked it exactly as instructed. That is an excellent indication he’s hungry for more.
1.063 – 60’
2.798 – 330’
4.393 – 1/8 ET
135.41 – 1/8 MPH
Mitch Brown on the Denise Bradley Plumbing Top Fuel Motorcycle was gunning for a 1320 pass for data; but the tire broke loose at the hit. Sam and Terry Kizer opted not to run during this test session.
Elmeri Salakari’s Top Fuel Motorcycle pass – Friday Night
1.011 – 60’
2.609 – 330’
3.857 – 1/8 ET
191.78 – 1/8 MPH
This run was terminated at exactly 3.2 seconds into the pass. It was pushing out oil past a crankcase seal on the R side. Elmeri cut it early, as confirmed by the data reading.
Video provided by Bill Eddie Rushing
Jaska Salakari Top Fuel Motorcycle
Many questions have begun swirling about Jaska Salakari’s unique Top Fuel motorcycle. All of those questions are best answered by the current issue #148 of Race Engine Technology. If you seek out this magnificent magazine, you’ll learn a lot about racing engines. Including all the details of Jaska’s engine: The Harsh V 28.
His powerplant is so named because it is mighty Harsh, to put it mildly. It’s metal art and mayhem featuring 2 cylinders with 103.6 CID.
The V2 is 60 degrees, 4.5×3.260, (Bore/Stroke) yielding 1699cc of displacement. The V28 title refers to the twin cylinders that sport 4V per cylinder, 8 valves total.
This is a DOHC, creation that Jaska can adjust with great precision. His Fuel Tech system greatly compliments this.
The clutch is a three disc, 7″, much like the clutches used with conventional I-4 bikes.
With Jaska’s son Elmeri on the bike, race-ready weight is close to 950Lbs.
Mac McAdams First Hit on a Top Fuel Motorcycle!
Mac McAdams makes his first pass on Jaska Salakari Top Fuel Motorcycle. Afterwards, he sits down with Tom McCarthy for an interview.
Yesterday’s testing by the three Top Fuel motorcycle teams at the Throwdown in T-Town revealed they are getting a handle on their 1/8th mile times here at Tulsa Raceway Park, in OK.
Mitch Brown posted a 4.35 @ 178.90mph pass he stayed into till well past half-track, flames billowing twice his height into the night.
Jaska’s tune-up for Elmeri produced an effortlessly smooth 4.17 @ 180, and it’s clear some of Finland’s finest are ready to take it up a notch. The DOCH twin of Jaska Salakari sounded very good.
Sam Wills did not make another test pass, at least not as a driver. Instead he put his good friend of 40 + years in the hot seat, legendary motorcycle drag racing icon Terry Kizer.
Terry, who began as a flat track racer in the 1970s, was a solid steel-shoe type of guy till he met Mo Parsons, and that changed Terry’s life. One thing led to another, and soon. Terry found himself on a wheelie bar bike running 9s.
This led to Terry advancing to Pro Comp, Funny Bike and ultimately Top Fuel motorcycles. While throughout the 80s and into the 90s, Terry is best known for his outstanding performance on Funny Bikes; he’s no stranger to Top Fuel. Suffice it to say, if it has 2 wheels and goes fast, that gets Terry’s attention quickly.
Kizer’s initial pass on the Sam Wills built Top Fuel bike was a licensing type of initial 60′ hit, then idle down the track. Terry’s burnout and hit was textbook, no ill handling or glitches.
Now that the Thursday testing is in the rearview mirror, today being Friday, racing begins.
There are some testing elements built into today’s racing sessions. During the morning and afternoon, the TF MC will be able to test if needed. And that is expected for Terry, Mac McAdams, on Jaska’s bike, and Mitch.
Q-1 is slated for 6:30pm tonight as part of the opening rounds of the Pro-Show. Q-2 is scheduled for about 9pm, subject to racing conditions.
Top Fuel motorcycles take to the track for Testing at Tulsa Raceway Park.
Elmeri Salakari performed a textbook Top Fuel motorcycle burn out. He then began staging the bike and something was not right. He signaled Jaska to abort the run, and they shut the bike down. The track team then performed a minor clean-up from under the bike, and Jaska’s team returned to their pit.
Mitch Brown then did a healthy smoky burnout to the tree and coasted to the 60′. The bike sounded very healthy and his hard launch looked good. Power was clicked off early, and no time was shown on the clock. Both teams are preparing to make another hit.
Sam Wills, who is officially retiring from driving TF MC after this event, is currently helping Terry Kizer get ready for his pass on his Top Fuel Motorcycle.
Top Fuel Motorcycle to perform during the Throwdown in T-Town
It’s time for the annual Throwdown in T-Town, at the Osage Casino & Hotel sponsored Tulsa Raceway Park. Thursday testing will feature rampaging Pro Mod cars and will highlight the Top Fuel Motorcycles.
The Top Fuel bikes of Sam Wills, Mitch Brown, and Finnish standout Jaska ElmeriSalakari will bring the thunder for three qualifying sessions on Friday, then into elimination rounds on Saturday till completion.
His 21-year-old son, Elmeri, will pilot Jaska’s bike. Hailing from Vanta Finland, the Salakari’s had their Top Fuel bike shipped over in advance and it arrived only days before this event.
The bike features a 103 CID Harsh V28 motor of Jaska’s design and build. It’s a V-Twin, two-cylinder with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder.
Jaska has been as quick as 5.83 on the machine, making it the quickest V-Twin on the planet. His son Elmeri began drag racing in 2018 and is now under the tutelage of his father, already a legend in TF MC drag racing.
Speaking of legends, Sam Wills of Oklahoma City has been piloting and building Top Fuel motorcycles since around 1976, when he first started burning nitromethane in his B/F Kawasaki.
Sam has piloted nearly two dozen Top Fuel bikes since the 70s, won his share of #1 plates, and entered the MRC 5 Second Club on November 14, 2015.
Mitch Brown, on Denise Bradley Plumbing’s Top Fuel bike, will bring the last Man Cup #1 T/F plate bike into the fray, seeking his next 5-second pass, to thrill the thousands of spectators attending this year’s Throwdown in T-Town.
As a bonus, Mac McAdams of XDA fame will also be in the action, making his debut on Jaska’s bike. Mac is no stranger to 200mph passes in a Pro Mod car, and strong passes on numerous dragbikes so his efforts in Top Fuel Motorcycle may result in a fresh face entering the class.
|Until Next time…
– Tom McCarthy