by Marty Kane
The AMA/Prostar Streetbike Shootout series is a class unlike any other. Though the rules are simple; the bike has to be street legal and ridable, the speeds at which these bikes have exceled to is beyond the imagination.
The title of "The World's Fastest Streetbike" is what lures top street racers from late night ilicid street encounters to legal, sanctioned, drag racing, and in turn they are modeling the switch to thousands of others on the street each year.
It began in 1996, when AMA/Prostar put together a one-time Shootout at their event in Indianapolis. "We were not sure it would work, but we wanted to bring street racers to the track and this seemed like the logical way" said Keith Kizer, AMA/Prostar President.
Five years later, the class is contested on a national level, and a thirty two bike qualified field often features legendary names from the street race circles country wide. In the beginning, bikes ran in the nine second range. Quickly, they sped past that into the eights, and ever since it's been a race to the sevens. On that journey, the amount of traction from street legal tires became the limiting factor... and many started to think that a sub-eight would never happen.
Looking for a better idea, competitor Gary Wardowski turned to Jerry Francis from Mickey Thompson Tires for a better piece of rubber, and months later they hit the race track testing something new. Last February, Mickey Thompson's all new MC2 tire hit the track and the rest is history; the whole class advanced by two tenths of a second.
With the new tire's potential, racers had to become better at their combinations. In order to run quicker then 8.20-seconds, there had to be a perfect match of chassis tuning, horsepower management, rider performance, and race track conditions.
Realizing how important the feat would be... Mickey Thompson decided to raise the bar even higher. They established a special seven second club, which would honor the first seven racers to run seven seconds. The first to do it would recieve one thousand dollars, the others smaller but significant cash prizes as well. The first would be special however... because they would present a one of a kind custom leather jacket to the rider, which could be worn for bragging rights forever.
Three events into the 2000 season, a couple of riders had run some spuratic 8.0-second runs here and there, and a few others were running in the 8.1's. The consistency however was not there, and the pressure was on for the magical number.
One event prior, Brock Davidson managed to reset the national record to an 8.08, which was quick... however it was about a tenth off the number he would have liked.
When qualifying was finished at AMA/Prostar's last event in Rockingham, North Carolina, qualifying list read like a who's who book for the Shootout class. 1999 world champion Tom Miceli was on top, former world champion Brock Davidson was in second, Ryan Schnitz, Randy Waters and Michael Phillips rounded off the top five spots with a spread of .05-seconds off Miceli's 8.13 benchmark. Twenty one other riders were also qualified with a 9.0-second or quicker time, and that made it the quickest qualifying field ever.
As he was suiting up for the first round of eliminations, I asked Davidson for his opinion as to who would be the first into the sevens. His reply was quick and simple... "me". I did not know how to take his response... because normally he's not one to toot his own horn. I had to ask again in a different way, "Brock, if it's not going to be you... who's it going to be?" His reply was more detailed... and he looked me straight in the eyes and said "I told you... me. There is not one person more hungry for it, not one person who's worked harder for it, and not one person more capable of it, it's going to be me, just watch and see."
Convinced that he was on a mission, I let him finish getting ready, and I took my spot out on the starting line. As he rolled out, he and his crew displayed a level of determination that was flat out scary... and I knew that this would be the moment.
He did his burnout... and then rolled forward into the staging beams. As they anticipated the starters signal to go, his opponent John Vermulen left early and threw away his chances of a win. Davidson left the starting line, and you could instantly tell he was on a pass that would be quick.
I remember hearing announcer John St. Pierre over the loudspeaker just after Brock passed the half track mark, "folks... this is it, Brock's really on a pass".
As everybody silently watched... the scoreboards flashed the good news; 7.973 seconds, 179.21 MPH. That became the first official seven second run in history for a street legal motorcycle.
After it soaked for a few seconds, I turned to Keith Kizer and Jerry Thomas (who were both standing with me) and we all shook our heads and smiled. The amazement caught me so off guard, I forgot to raise my camera and capture the scoreboards on film in fact!
A few minutes later, one of Brock's fellow compeitors stopped and talked with me as he awaited his turn to race. His words were exactly that of the rest of the class; "I am really glad Brock did it first, nobody else deserves it more."
When Brock came back to the starting line area after passing tech, the smile on his face was that of a little kid who just got a new toy. We went up to the tower and did an interview together on the PA system so fans could hear his story... and the very first thing he told me was "It was not a perfect run by any means... but it was damn sure good enough".
As the day progressed, Davidson advanced through eliminations looking for a win to top off his weekend. In the second round, he squared off with who Brock feels is the best rider in the sport (and I have to agree), Keith Dennis. Knowing he would have to give it all he had, Davidson laid down another seven second clocking, a 7.99, and advanced into round three where he had a competition bye-run. With nothing to loose, he blasted off another quick run; a 7.98, and went on to face Ryan Schnitz in the semi's. That is where things went wrong however, as his performance started to fall off just a bit. He managed to squeak by Schnitz with an 8.15, and went on to face James Lauer in the finals for top honors. Unluckily, he could only muster up an 8.18-second pass, which was simply not good enough to hold off Lauer's 8.10.
Though he had to settle for second place... he could not be discouraged. He drove home with the honor of having run the first seven, he had backed it up with two runs to prove it was not a freak chance, and he reset his own national record to a 7.97. He also collected the $1,000 bonus from Mickey Thompson, and would receive that special jacket.
Brock Davidson has raised the streetbike benchmark to a whole new level... and has put himself into the history books as one of the best the sport has to offer. His sponsors, American Suzuki, Yoshimura R&D and Competition Accessories, all should be proud... it was a great day for Brock!
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