HomeFeatures & ColumnsDragbike.com Project Formula Superbike

Dragbike.com Project Formula Superbike

When the idea for the Dragbike.com Project Formula Superbike was born, the intention was noble enough:  collaborate with some of the top aftermarket manufactures in the country to build a state-of-the art machine to compete in the AMA/Prostar series.  It would be done with a first-hand perspective documenting the trials and successes, hopefully adding some insight for those willing to follow a similar path. 

Spearheading the project would be Del Flores, racer, promoter and performance shop owner.  Del was already campaigning a bike in the Superbike class that he, himself, was riding.  He had placed number three the year before and had the quickest and fastest Hayabusa in the field. Del was as good choice for the project as he has that intangible quality and charisma that sets him apart from the rest.  Known as the “Pope of Paterson” in these parts, he has proven himself to be a dedicated racer, taking all the time necessary for testing to do the job right.  Plus he could talk trash with the best of ‘em.  One of the more entertaining fellows we know.

We thought the Superbike class would be a perfect class for this project as it was intended to be an entry-level pro class.  Basically the class defines a big-inch all-motor modern Sportbike morphed into a full-out drag bike with slicks and wheelie bar.  The late-model engine is a much-desired platform for developing go-fast parts. From the concept it seemed to be a stepping stone into what could become a Junior Pro Stock eliminator.  All the pieces were in place.

We would just love it if at this time we could announce that the Dragbike.com Project Formula Superbike kicked ass in 2003 and would be hunting for the championship in 2004.  While the former is true the latter will not come to be as the Superbike class was eliminated from the AMA/Prostar schedule for this year.





In truth, Del and the team could not be happier with the results.  The start of the season was a bit shaky but once Del and his riders hit their stride, there was literally no stopping them.

As the bike was nearing competition toward the beginning of the season, the first (and probably most) critical decision Del would have to make was to select a rider.  Although he had success riding in Superbike Del realized that he was on the big side to be riding this class. He felt that a second bike would serve to allow him to put a rider on it and to add one more machine to the anemic participation that the class was experiencing.

His choice of rider was narrowed down to Tommy Miceli, the infamous Brooklyn Ace (now Englishtown) or Brian Schultz, son of the late Dave Schultz, and an excellent rider in his own right. Two riders with very different philosophies and riding style both with the fire to succeed within. The initial choice came down to the fact that Miceli was more local to Del’s Performance in Paterson, NJ and testing could be accomplished much more easily. In fact, trips to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park were often a twice-weekly occurrence in order to sort out the bugs and create an atmosphere of trust and understanding between the gregarious Flores and the highly focused Miceli.

Once Del and Tommy were on the same page, the project advanced by leaps and bounds. Even though Del had experience riding in the class he never once made a pass on the Project Bike. “The bike was built for Tommy to ride. It would be a waste of time for me to ride it and I didn’t want to subject it to any more wear and tear then I had to.”  Del noted that with the 130 pound Miceli he had to add 85 pounds of ballast to bring the bike up to the 625 pound minimum.

With Miceli’s work schedule and his participation in a limited NHRA Pro Stock program accommodations needed to be made.  As it worked out Miceli was forced to miss the St. Louis race and Del put Schultz on the seat.  There was a bit of magic as Brian went to the final against the big green machine of Chip Ellis and Kawasaki Team Green.

Tommy got back on the bike in Norwalk and the magic was turned up full volume.  Tommy won the event giving the Kawasaki ZX-12R its first loss ever in the season and a half it was raced.  At the next event, Indy, Tommy again found his way to the winner’s circle.  In fact, for a four-race period beginning at Norwalk and ending at Montgomery the Dragbike.com Project Bike was unstoppable.

It wasn’t the quickest bike out there but for four races it was the last one standing. As the wins accumulated the rest of the class was forced to sit up and take notice.

A last minute scheduling problem meant that Tommy would arrive late to Gainesville for the final stop of the season and the re-running of the seasoning-opening MRE Sunshine Nationals.  This forced Del to scramble for a rider. As luck would have it Jim Carroll, who rode the Kawasaki machine to an undefeated season and championship last year, was on-site and available, so Del put him to work. Riding an unfamiliar machine, Carroll was able to qualify number two and went out in the first round to now teammate Brian Schultz.

While the ride may not have lasted long it was eventful though as Carroll clocked an 8.096 et in qualifying, eclipsing Miceli’s best run of 8.14 on the bike recorded at the Virginia Prostar race. Once Miceli arrived he knew he had his work cut out for him and he went right to it. In qualifying Miceli qualified in the number two position on the ladder running a stout 8.041, the quickest pass of the season for the bike. The season came to the crushing halt for the Dragbike.com Project Formula Superbike as Miceli had an oil filter fail just after his burnout in round one of eliminations, coating the burnout box with oil.  And with a whimper his day, and the season, were over for him and the Dragbike.com Project Bike.

The Del’s Performance team did, however, reign victorious on that Gainesville weekend.  Brian ran a 7.97 at 167 mph on the team bike becoming the first an only Suzuki to run a seven second pass in Formula Superbike and ended up winning both events, giving Del a six-race win streak. All tolled, Del’s boys won 6 out of the nine races contested.  Due to the numerous rider changes the, Dragbike.com Project Superbike, with Tommy Miceli aboard, finished second in national points. It also finished eighth in points with Jim Carroll in the saddle. To say this was a successful undertaking would be an understatement. To say that it may never be duplicated, well that will have to wait until the next project bike rolls into the burnout box and down the nation’s dragstrips.

With the project over, and the Superbike class now non-existent, Del is looking to sell the bike.  While it may seem that a Superbike with no place to race will sit, forever waiting for a suitor, Del notes that the bike could easily be converted for use in the Schnitz Top Gas class, having run consistently under the 8.20 index.  With the purse Schnitz Racing puts into the class and the fat contingency checks offered from Suzuki for a late-model bikes, it could be a real money-maker.  Those interested can call Del at 973-569-1111.


The Buildup

The Dragbike.com Project Bike was no throw-together compilation of parts but rather a well thought-out amalgamation of components that were tested and re-tested to yield the best possible results. Some parts were a given and others needed to be proven before they were added to the machine for national participation. What follows is, in Del’s own words, a summary as to how some of these parts made the grade and added up to what became the Dragbike.com Project Formula Superbike.

Carburetors (supplied by Paul Gast – Fast by Gast www.fastbygast.com) – “We were testing on the MSP dyno last year at Atco. I was trying to get some info along with the help of Pizza John Mafaro. We attracted quite a crowd due to the noise of the dyno when Paul Gast pulled up and asked what was going on. Gast told PJ; ‘I have something in the car that will make that go faster, guaranteed’. Pizza said; ‘If it starts with an “L” I don’t want it!’”

“At the end of the race Fred Collis, who was riding for Gast that weekend came up to me with a box and said it was a present from Paul who wanted me to just try them as he guaranteed once again that it would work.”

“I didn’t try them until this season, we put them on the project bike and it instantly picked up both ET and mph. The Lectron’s should not have made more power than my EFI but they did. They didn’t make glorious horsepower on the dyno sheets but they made lots of horsepower out on the track. In fact I was having trouble with the EFI on my bike at Indy and I tore it off and put on a set of Lectrons we borrowed from Michael Phillips and instantly went quicker. All I can say is thanks to Paul Gast for his generosity and his hard work.”

Bearings (supplied by Dave Conforti – World Wide Bearings worldwidebearings.com) – “We worked closely with World Wide Bearings adding ceramic bearings to all the areas of the bike we could. We decreased our rolling resistance to the point where it showed up in horsepower gains, mph and elapsed time improvements. The biggest horsepower gain we picked up was when we added the transmission bearings. They were easily worth 5 horsepower. I have proven this over and over in other race bikes that I do work on. The ceramic bearings are awesome. I call it ‘Ghost Horsepower’. They are the one thing that is so easy to install and give us the most return for the effort.”

Fiberglass (supplied by Ben Beasley – Beasley Fiberglass www.beasleycomposites.com) – “The body parts are stout but also very flexible. It drills and mounts easily and resembles OEM bodywork perfectly. The body isn’t brittle at all, it’s the best there is out there.”

Gaskets (supplied by Matt – Cometic Gaskets www.cometic.com) – “Cometic Gaskets is a great company to deal with, they’ll make any gasket to any spec I ask for. I started using their HP Material gasket last year after Jeff Lenc had problems with his copper head gaskets. Because we don’t run a rotary cooling system and the bike gets scorching hot we were afraid that they might not work. But they have been great; we haven’t once blown a head gasket!”

Cams (supplied by Laurie – Web Cam www.webcamshafts.com) – “I was tired of buying off-the-shelf cams that did not meet my exact needs. I needed a company that could supply the specific profile and duration that my motors could use so I turned to Laurie at Web Cam. I spent a lot of time talking to Laurie and she really knows her stuff. I defy anybody to match her technical knowledge.  She had the cams made to our specs and they are awesome. Laurie told me exactly where to put the cams and I haven’t moved them since, they work great.”

Lightweight Parts (supplied by Fred Renz – Yoyodyne www.yoyodyneti.com) – “The bike was a bit heavy when it was first built so I picked up the phone and asked Fred Renz what he recommended. He turned me on to the magnesium Marvic wheel. He also got me some titanium fasteners to shave a few ounces. On my bike I have a Sebimoto Carbon body and tank that Fred gave me to try. I can’t say enough about Fred’s products and support. Now both bikes weigh about 401-402 pounds ready to race.”

Tools (supplied by John Salvadore – Rimac Tools www.rimactools.com) – “I bought my first spring tester from John and he asked me what I was going to use it for. He was intrigued when I explained the concept of Formula Superbike to him and he wanted in. He sponsored us with the only tuning tool we used all year on the Dragbike.com Project Bike and we couldn’t be happier with the results.”

Clutch (supplied by Tony Lang – MTC Engineering www.mtceng.com) – “When I was on vacation in Florida I called Tony Lang and told him what I wanted to do with the project. Tony had me come over to see the shop. He helped me get the proper pieces to make the bike work right. His lock-up clutch is phenomenal! Tony spends time at the track looking at your data to help set-up your lock-up and answer any other questions you might have. Because of his assistance we have the best 60 foot times in the class!”

Ignition (supplied by Don Plesser – PR Factory Store www.prfactorystore.com) – “I called Don looking for an MSD-MC4 Ignition and he offered me a killer deal on the parts. However, his time and input was worth more than any part he could have given me. His instruction on the proper way to tune the ignition was invaluable. After running an 8.40 on the first pass at Montgomery, Don came over with his laptop and tuned us into the 8 teens. His time and patience was over and above anything I could have asked for. I can’t thank him enough.”

 

Bike Specs – Dragbike.com Project Formula Superbike

Wheels – Front: RC Components R-Aurora 17×2.5
Wheels – Rear: Marvic/Penta Magnesium 17×6.25 with Cush drive
Wheel Bearings: World Wide Bearings all ceramic
Tires – Front: Richies Tires/Bridgestone R
Tires – Rear: Mickey Thompson 17×7
Brakes – Front: Gremica calipers from a CR80 dirt bike
Brakes – Rear: Gremica with an OEM master cylinder
Cradle: Stock 2000 Suzuki GSX1300R
Handle Bars: Trac Dynamics Pro Stock
Front End: Trac Pro Stock with a shortened spacer to lower it .5”
Swing Arm: Trac with air tank and battery tray. Del’s Performance adjustable struts
to buddy pegs for stiffening and lateral adjustment 
Sprockets: Sprocket Specialties
Chain: EK DR-530
Wheelie Bars: Pingel
Body: Beasley Fiberglass with wheelie bar panels
Wind Screen: Zero Gravity
Paint: Ben Beasley custom Gelcote
Graphics: John DePasquale – JD Signs
Gauges: Autometer
Ignition: MSD-MC4 from PR Factory Store
Battery: Fast by Gast
Leathers: Vanson

Engine – Dragbike.com Project Formula Superbike

Crank: Balanced by Falicon
Rods: Crower
Pistons: MTC Engineering 1363cc
Wrist Pins: MTC Engineering
Cams: Web Cam custom ground to Del’s specifications
Cam Bearings: World Wide Bearings all ceramic
Cam Sprockets: APE adjustable
Cam Chain: Stock OEM
Cam Chain Adj: APE
Head: Del’s Performance Cycle/F.M.S.
Valves: Ferrea 1mm over stainless
Valve Guides: Browns Guides
Valve Springs: John Kibblewhite
Valve Retainers: John Kibblewhite titanium
Head Gasket: Cometic Gaskets 
Base Gasket: Cometic Gasket
Oil Pump: Orient Express high volume gear set
Oil Pan: Koenig
Oil: Mobile 1 10w-30 synthetic
Vacuum pump: GM 1957 Del Ray convertible motor
Carburetors: Fast by Gast 44mm downdraft Lectrons custom made one-off
Exhaust: VHR Sidewinder customized by Del’s Performance Cycles
Transmission: Robinson Industries 1-2 auto
Trans Bearings: World Wide Bearings all ceramic
Output Shaft: Robinson Industries billet
Idler Gear: Orient Express
Clutch: MTC Engineering lock-up
Gasoline: VP C-25
Data Logger: None

Sponsors and Assistance

  • Fast by Gast – Kevin Gilham, Paul Gast
  • MTC Engineering – Tony Lang
  • Yoyodyne – Fred Renz
  • World Wide Bearings – Dave Conforti
  • Web Cam – Laurie
  • Rimac Tools – John Salvadore
  • Cometic Gaskets – Matt
  • Old Bridge Township Raceway Park – Mike, Richie, Dave, Alex and Jimmy Napp for letting us use the greatest track in the country for testing
  • VH Machine – Dennis Van Houton
  • Brigette Flores
  • Underground Riders – Robinson Torres
  • Vince Rivera
  • Brian Schultz
  • Tom Miceli
  • Phill Davis
  • Windsor “Sleeper 921” Davis
  • Pat Leonard
  • Eddie Krawiec
  • Dragbike.com
  • Pizza John Mafaro for his constant humble pie

    

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