Man Cup : Rockingham Dragway Rocked by Nitro
22nd Annual MTC Nationals
Rockingham Dragway – Rockingham, NC
September 17-18, 2016
Report by Tom McCarthy
Rocked by Nitro
The Manufacturer’s Cup was a rocking good time by all who attended the two-day event. The dates were rain-free till the very end of the event, despite early in the week forecasts of doom and gloom. The pre-race dreary forecasting and cloudy skies played a heavy role in keeping spectators and racers away from a great race that really delivered great racing under excellent conditions.
The temps were moderate 70’s with a cloud cover that came and went, so track temps never got out of hand and the conditions for the hard working teams was really excellent. At the tail end of the race on Sunday, with two Pro Street racers ready to wrap up the final professional class, the skies opened up and a torrential down pour dropped ½” deep river of rain on the track in a matter of minutes ended the day’s racing. The amount of rain that fell in such a short span of time was just horrendous. This happening at near 7 PM, with total grounds saturation, the Man Cup staff and Rockingham Dragway had no choice but to pull the plug.
Many Sportsman classes and the teams of Williford and DME Racing were called to the tower and each given the chance to decide what they wanted to do to wrap up their respective classes of racing. Options included purse splitting, or finishing the class racing at the Man Cup World Finals. And much to their credit, the Man Cup asked and gave the racers a chance to choose what they wanted to do on a class by class, case by case basis, to resolve class completion issues.
The start of racing began at 9:23 am with the first pair of Sportsman bikes rocketing down the Rockingham 1320. Pre-Race ceremonies happen at 11:08 and as the driver introductions began with Pingel Top Fuel, the #1 qualifier Sam Wills commented, “It’s been three years of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are – thank you” Sam’s 5.98 elapsed time he ran on Saturday was the quickest of the meet.
When the Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel driver introductions took place, #1 qualifier Michael Ray stepped forward to Man Cup’s announcer Bill Hahn Jr. and spoke to the crowd, “We are honored to be here. We came into this race with people expecting us to go fast, I believe we delivered.” Michael was driving in his first ever nitromethane based class racing event on Johnny Vickers “Terminator” Pro Fuel bike and people expected a lot from him. He crushed it all weekend and won the race, he delivered in spades.
Racing itself began with two Pingel Top Fuel motorcycles doing side-by-side thundering burn outs at 11:40 AM. Larry McBride in the left lane, Dave Vantine in the right had the bikes set on kill. Larry was qualified #2 with a 6.00 and Dave’s 6.02 showed the bikes were evenly matched. But that went right out the window at the hit of the throttles.
Dave Vantine’s .098 red light ended that drag race right on the starting line. Larry went up in tire smoke quickly as Vantine thundered to a 6.15 @ 206 in vain. With only four T/F bikes racing on Sunday, this sent the Spiderman into the final round automatically.
Sam Wills match up was with Jim Doyle who was driving for Dan Grinde on Dan’s new Top Fuel blown and injected Nitro Harley. Jim Doyle related in a post-race interview that the runs at Rockingham were the first “Full Pulls” on the bike for quarter mile efforts. The motorcycle is about as new as new can get. Sam Wills on the other hand, has a few runs and three years of development in the Nitro Conspiracy Top Fuel bike. Sam dispatched the Dan Grinde machine with a 6.31 @ 203 to Jim Doyle’s 7.58 @ 180 after his bike spit the blower belt off after half-track…again.
In the final round match up, of McBride-vs-Wills, Sam suffered tire shake on the launch that broke his tire loose right away and Larry McBride was gone in a heart-beat. His team’s hard earned 6.20 @ 228 MPH was not the number they wanted to see, but a win is a win and they certainly earned that.
In the Hawaya Racing sponsored Pro Fuel class, the number one qualifier Michael Ray just killed it all weekend. The combination of a Johnny Vickers built and tuned motorcycle, a former NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle driver with no fear and a will to win, just dominated the Pro Fuel bikes at this race. This was not in the pre-race script at all!
Tyler Wilson and Rocky “Rockstone” Jackson are in a tight championship points battle and all eyes were ready to watch these two slug it out all weekend. Rocky is the number one plate holder with MANCUP sanction and he’s ready to repeat again this year unless Tyler Wilson stops him, but no, Michael Ray stole the show by being #1 qualifier and winning the race over Rocky in the final round. But that’s not the best part of this story. You see its Tyler’s doing that became Tyler’s undoing and he unwittingly re-wrote the script.
Tyler Wilson and Michael Ray are related and it was Tyler who talked Michael into sitting on a Pro Fuel bike last year, that started all this nitromethane talk between the Ray family and Johnny Vickers! End result is, the Pro Fuel class has a new top gun to contend with, now it’s game on!
In the Falicon Pro Mod series, Shane Eperjesi of Lake Dallas Texas won the event over Bad Brad McCoy in the final round when McCoy’s mount encountered mechanical woes shortly after launch. Which was unfortunate really as the two bikes were glued together on the launch nicely. Matt Prophit was the low qualifier with a fine 4.05 and Travis Davis was looking powerful with his top speed of the class at 175 MPH. Paul Gast, Brunson Grothus, Ronnie Procopio all had excellent showings, but it was old “Showboat,” Mr. Shane Eperjesi, who got the job done.
In round 1 of eliminations, Connell Smith backed out of beams triggering a red light that sent Shane off to the next round. There he met cagy veteran Paul Gast who put up a .076 reaction time that Shane undercut with a .019 response and that made all the difference when the bikes produced a 4.14 for Grand Master Gast and Mr. Showboat had a 4.17 with a win light, the reaction times determining the outcome.
Round three of eliminations had a similar outcome in Shane’s match up against Lance Hines. Lance had a .040 reaction time but Shane chopped down the tree on Lance with a .007 light the spelled doom at the finish line for lance despite his excellent 4.18 to Shane’s 4.17. What great racing these bikes gave the crowd! Shane’s final round match up with Brad McCoy was initially a great one with both bikes responding to the green, .030 to .027, yet gremlins kept McCoy from giving Shane the battle they both wanted badly.
All the heavy hitters in the Falicon Pro Mod Series did well at the Man Cup MTC Nationals and this will have a profound effect on championship points totals, which are still carefully being tallied as this story is written. The end of season points battle at the Man Cup World Finals will be epic!
The Nitrous Express Pro Open class during the MTC Nationals was dominated by Mr. Paint, Mark Rendeluk, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mark was the number one qualifier with a 6.69 @ 192 MPH just ahead of Tommy Saxon’s 6.71 elapsed time. Seven Pro Open bikes made the call at this event.
Number three qualifier was the talk of the town as Miss Niki Zakrzewski, AKA – Niki Zak – made her début sporting the Wedman Motorsports colors featuring matching leathers to compliment Mark Rendeluck, her mentor. Her story is one of itself to be addressed at a later date.
Mr. Paint, Mark Rendeluck had a bye run in round one, faced the Pro Open Buell of Marc Inguersen during round two of eliminations, but Marc’s bike went silent after the launch, so this gave Mark a cake walk into the final round, where Tommy Saxon broke on the burnout handing the win to Mr. Paint. Despite his lack of hard competition on race day, with honor, Mark laid down runs of 6.78, 6.71 and 6.77 on Sunday to win his class. He’s also the first Man Cup professional class racer to lock up his class championship before the World Finals.
The APE sponsored Pro Street class had ten contestants enter the class for racing on Saturday of the two day race. The #1 qualifier was the DME prepared bike of Joey Gladstone his 6.78 at 214 MPH was top dog ahead of number two qualifier Rodney Williford who posted a very stout 6.81 @ 211 just behind Mr. Gladstone.
Joey had Sydney Marshall in E-1 and Sydney broke a chain shortly after the launch sending Joey off to the next round. Due to an unbalanced ladder, Joey had a bye run into the semi’s where he had to face his teammate Terence Angela.
These two have met before and will meet again and it’s a dog fight every time for Terence and Joey. Terence had a .077 reaction time to Joey’s .032 on the launch and at the stripe it was Terence who crossed the finish line first with a 6.81 elapsed time to Joey’s 6.92 , ending Joey’s racing for the day. This set up a final round match-up between Terence and Rodney Williford for the final round of racing.
That’s when the skies opened up with these two in the water box ready to race. So together Rodney and Terence have decided that they will conclude their competition during the qualifying rounds of the Man Cup, Man Hill Garage World Finals, in November.
Real Street racing in the Shinko Tires / WPS class, saw six contestants enter the fray on Saturday. Joey Gladstone was the #1 qualifier with a 7.73 all motor pass that was better by more than a tenth over Dave Stewart who indecently high MPH for the class with a monster 190.94 from his Turbo Busa.
During round one eliminations, Joey had Luis Hornedo, the #6 qualifier as the first pair up. In drag racing anything can happen and Joey lit the red-eye with a .036 number that sent Luis on to round two. He had a bye run into the finals and there Luis met up with Marcus Hylton, the #4 qualifier.
Marcus posted a .048 reaction time to Hornedo’s .077 then it was off to the big end where Marcus Hylton crossed the stripe first, 8.03 to 8.06 for his Man Cup national event win.
In the Grothus Drag Bikes Ultra 4.60 class, Michael Thyen of Mooresville, NC bested the field for the win, but George Babor, of BPM Racing Engines stole the show. The 59-year-old drag bike engine builder, who’s been involved with drag bike racing since the first Pyramid was built in Egypt, just plain crushed it. “I still know how to throw a clutch lever” he stated and his .008 RT in E-1 when he took out Tim Shelton sure showed that.
How long has it been since George was in a final round of racing “I think 2001 maybe. I took a 14 year vacation, let’s put it that way. But I’ve been doing MX racing, Hare Scrambles, Enduros, over the years.”
Babor went all the way through a 16 bike field to meet with Thyen in the final match up taking out Shelton, Grothus, and Procopio along the way. On the other half of the ladder, Michael Thyen defeated j. Lemons, C. Morris, and Boo Brown to get to the final match up. George went red by .006 and Thyen strapped a .002 RT on George. The Red-eye gave Michael the win, but they both raced hard to get to that final round.
In the Star Racing Top Gas series, the racers waded through the masses and in final round, Chad Otts and Ricardo Marte were paired up for the final round when the heavy rains came late in the day. Chad defeated Semisch, Morris, and Smith to advance to the final round.
Ricardo sent Procopio, Bolton home and had a bye into the final round to meet Otts. The class ended undecided at this event and results are pending as this is written.
In MTC Super Comp series racing, Chad Otts -vs- Matt Smith and John Markham -vs- Dusty Brazel were in the lanes when the rain hit.
All of these racers are in a tight points race for the Super Comp championship, so the outcome of this racing is vital.
The World Wide Bearings Crazy 8’s class ended in similar fashion with the semi-final round in the lanes as the rains came. Wade Smith was sitting on a bye run, headed for the final round after defeating Spencer Claycomb and Barry Pryer Sr. to earn his bye.
On the other half of the ladder, Bob Carlson and Danny Miller were ready to decide who would meet Wade Smith in the final round.
In Wiseco Street Fighter action, Wade Smith and Dustin Lee were matched up for the final round of racing when rain cancelled the event.
Bob Carlson, who was leading in Street Fighter points going into this race, advanced as far as the quarter-final round. Wade Smith number two in points, is eager to finish up his match up with Dustin “The BAMF” Lee.
The D&G Chassis V-Twin class of racing, with it’s central core of five bikes, was able to wrap up it’s class of racing for this event. Clint Riley of Greenville, Florida on his 2006, V-Rod won the event on Sunday by defeating Eric Knowles in the final round. Clint had a bye in round one, took out Chris Wood in E-2 and defeated Knowels for the win. His win assures him a top-ten finish in championship points for 2016.
In MPS sponsored Pro ET Racing at the Rock: Ronnie Procopio and Ricardo Mante were paired up for a final round match up when the rains came.
Ronnie Procopio took out heavy hitters, Brian Bolton, Bob Carlson, and John Markham to advance to the final round.
In the Garwood Custom Cycles and C&S Custom Street ET class, Eric Griffith earned a bye run into the final round, while Bob Carlson faced Tom Lagasse in the semi-final’s. They were all in the staging lanes when the sky opened up.
All unfinished classes will eliminate on Saturday during qualifying at the season finale. An exact elimination schedule will be released later. Thank you to all the racers that turned out for this event to support the series.
The Man Cup Motorcycle drag racing points series will now head to Georgia for the Mann Hill Garage World Finals at South Georgia Motorsports Park the weekend of November 10-13, 2016. The Man Cup Finals will be the biggest motorcycle drag race of the 2016 race season, featuring Live Coverage and a Pro Street Shootout. To learn more about the DME Racing Pro Street Shootout that begins on Thursday the 10th, visit www.prostreetshootout.com
About Man Cup Motorcycle Drag Racing : Headquartered in Safety Harbor, Florida, Man Cup motorcycle drag racing is North America’s largest professional motorcycle drag racing sanctioning body. Man Cup promotes motorcycle drag racing on a national event basis for professional, sportsman and ET bracket racers alike and is open to riders of all skill and experience levels. The Man Cup Series is the only national event style motorcycle drag racing series comprised of events throughout the eastern half of the United States. For marketing opportunities with the Man Cup as well as more information on Man Cup Motorcycle Drag Racing, please visit www.mancup.info on the web or 7 2 7 – 7 4 2 – 5 2 4 5 voice/text
The Man Cup Series is brought to you by our sponsors : Adams Performance – APE – Bates Leathers – Brocks Performance – Carolina Cycle – Cometic – Cooper Performance – D&G Chassis – D.M.E. Racing – Daytona Senors – Dragbike.com – Exotic Cycle – Falicon Performance – Grothus Dragbike – Hawaya Racing – Hot Rod Chrissy Photos – HTP Performance – JRI Shocks – Lectron – McIntosh Machine and Fabrication – Memphis International Raceway – MoTec – MPS – MRE – MTC – Muzzys – Penske Shocks – Pingel Enterprises – Portable Shade – PR Factory Store – RCC Turbo – Roaring Toyz – Rob Bush Motorsports – Rockingham Dragway – S&S Cycle – Schnitz Racing – Shinko – Star Racing – Western Power Sports – South Georgia Motorsports Park – Trac Dynamics – Vance & Hines – Ward Performance – Web Cam – Wiseco Pistons – World Wide Bearing – Wossner Pistons
- April 8 – 10 / South Georgia Motorsports Park
- June 11 – 12 / Rockingham Dragway
- July 23 – 24 / Memphis International Raceway
- September 17 – 18 / Rockingham Dragway
- November 11 – 13 /South Georgia Motorsports Park
- April 7-9 / South Georgia Motorsports Park
- November 16-18 /South Georgia Motorsports Park
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