Kawasaki Drag Racing Ready to Dominate in 2004
All-star line-up with Gadson, Ellis, Schnitz and Millholland Coming on the heels of a very successful 2003 season, the Kawasaki Drag Racing team is ready to dominate once again in 2004. With several of the sport’s top racers on the roster, Kawasaki hopes to add more championship wins to its long list of U.S. dragstrip achievements. One of those achievements is the prestigious AMA/Prostar Manufacturer’s Cup, which has been awarded to Kawasaki more often in recent years than any other brand.
One of the racers responsible for this team award is seven-time national champion Rickey Gadson. An icon in the sport of drag racing, Gadson boasts the honor of becoming the first full-time factory-sponsored racer in 1998 when he signed on with Kawasaki. Since then, he’s racked up several AMA/Prostar championships and records, including two 1/8 mile national records in Streetbike Shootout—5.146 ET and 152.31 mph. This year Gadson will hit the track on his turbo-charged NINJA® ZX-12R sportbike to defend his 2003 AMA/Prostar Streetbike Shootout national title.
“I had an incredible run in 2003 and was thrilled to capture the title,” said Gadson. “This year I’m hopeful of repeating, only this time I’d like to take it one step further and go undefeated in the series.”
Gadson isn’t the only rider on the team with a 2003 championship title. Last year, teammate Chip Ellis took home the AMA/Prostar Formula Superbike title, and for 2004, he will compete in the newly created 1000 SuperSport class on Kawasaki’s all-new NINJA ZX-10R sportbike. Ellis will also race a NINJA ZX-6RR to compete in the 600 Kawasaki Drag Racing, Page 1 of 2 SuperSport class. He earned a national title in the Funnybike class in 2002 and holds AMA/Prostar national records for that class with a 6.591 ET at 210.18 mph. Ellis’ accomplishments in the sport extends beyond competing on the track; he also co-built Jim Carroll’s 2002 championship-winning Formula Superbike NINJA ZX-12R motorcycle. With the help of tuner Coby Adams, Ellis then rode that same bike to a championship title in 2003.
“Last season was an exciting year for me, taking home my second championship,” said Ellis. “I’ll compete in the new 1000 SuperSport and 600 SuperSport classes this year and Kawasaki has given the team the ammunition to make it all the way again.”
Joining Gadson and Ellis is up-and-comer Ryan Schnitz, who has already made a name for himself in drag racing. Schnitz will be astride a NINJA ZX-12R to compete in the Pro Stock class in the AMA/Prostar series. The 22-year-old has already captured two 600 SuperSport titles in 2001 and 2002. He also finished runner up in the AMA/Prostar Streetbike Shootout and AMA/Prostar Superbike classes in 2001 and 2002, respectively. In 2003, Schnitz competed in select races in the AMA/Prostar Series in the 600 SuperSport class, taking second at the season opener in Gainesville, Florida.
Schnitz will also compete in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, competing in eight of the 16-round Pro Stock Bike class series. Last year, Schnitz took a trial run in the NHRA series and steadily improved his performance with each race. This year, he’ll take to the track on his NINJA ZX-12R with the goal of better qualifying times.
Rounding out the team is Chad Millholland who is on pace for a successful career. The factory-support rider will race his NINJA ZX-6RR in the 600 SuperSport and Street ET classes. Last year, the young racer finished third overall in 600 SuperSport. Reid Nordin, Kawasaki Drag Racing team manager, said the team is looking forward to the 2004 season. “
Last year, we took home three national championships, and we hope to do that and much more this year,” said Nordin. “We’ve got a great line-up of talented racers and great motorcycles to help ensure our continued success in the sport.”
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