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Friday, December 17, 2004 - 08:20:45 AM PST

Team Report: Team Mancuso

Team Mancuso's Amazing Nationals
Storduer Is First in the 6.30's (and backs it up), Mancuso Wins Race

After Saturday qualifying at Norwalk Raceway Park for the AHDRA Nationals, Steve Storduer qualified number one with his best and the quickest pass in the world on a Nitro Harley at 6.412. Team owner Johnny Mancuso was second with a 6.662. In his scenario juxtaposition, he didn't consider what eventually became the results during his Saturday night planning for Sunday. "What I really saw was Steve going out and backing-up the 6.41. My hope was to have Steve and I together in the finals qualified one and two."

Mancuso's new bike was still struggling in qualifying, so he elected to take out 'Old Faithful' (his 1998 championship winning bike that Stordeur ran in 2000) to get in the show. "In that second round, when I crossed the centerline on 'Old Faithful, 'I was probably the maddest I've been at myself in a long, long time. We came right back and made some minor chassis adjustments. I had a chance to rethink my riding program. Then the bike ran a solid 6.60 which put me number two right behind Steve's 6.41."

The team let Storduer's bike sit after the 6.41 Saturday. 24 hours later, expectations were high. There was electricity in the air. 'Will Steve Stordeur do the first six-thirty pass?' was asked over and over on the Norwalk Raceway Park PA system. 'Will he back up the 6.41?' There were problems with the pairings for the first round that caused delay of the show, heightening the energy. Seconds before the national anthem, as Storduer zipped his suit, he noticed that his kill switch cable was not there. It was left on Mancuso's new bike. (Storduer took it for a trouble-shooting pass early Sunday morning.) Scramble. Brad, run to the pits. The deflector panel wasn't there. Still on the Johnny's bike from the pass. Run to the pits again. Everything was installed and ready before the water box guy yelled "Light 'Em!" Every rider, owner, crew chief, crew, fan and track personnel focused on Stordeur and his run. 

.489 reaction time. 1.065 sixth foot time. The scoreboard lit 6.389 and people went wild. No one even noticed the 212.90. 

Stordeur knew quickly what he'd done. "The track crew man heard it on his radio and told me before I got the bike turned off. I knew I did good because he was hollering and screaming before I got to the end of the track. I knew it was a quick pass because it felt quicker and faster than the pass before, which is unusual because I usually can't feel quickness as much as I can feel mph. Your quickest passes are usually smoothest. It's kind of deceiving. That last pass, the 6.41, felt pretty quick." 

Known more for his straight face or contemplative expression, Stordeur wore a smile all day. "I was exicted. Just happy. I was probably smiling when I found out, which doesn't happen a lot." David Fitzhugh, co-crew chief, leapt and danced his way from the starting line to team owner Mancuso. "I bet you didn't know elephants could fly," he retorted. The usually stern expressioned-Fitzhugh high-fived co-crew chief Brad Latham on his way to belly-bump and hug Mancuso, who'd jumped off of his bike waiting on the apron, tossed his wife Felicia in the air before he got to Fitzhugh. Latham got in his round of high fives but was immediately back to business, tending Mancuso's bike that was up shortly.

The moment came, dazzled, then racing continued. Mancuso still had to race a bike that he hadn't been on this year more than two rounds of qualifying the day before. "I was still breathing hard after the excitement of Steve's run. We did the burnout and spot choice as usual. On the launch, it smoked the tire but I didn't panic. I kind of eased out of it then back into it, twice. I started to recover, making up a bunch of ground on the competition. Then I thought I cold pass him. Sure enough, the bike ran 7.10 at 206 and got around him. We came back to the pits, softened it up a little bit and made a 6.60 bracket bike out of it."

For round two, with the big moment written, Team Mancuso focused on winning more rounds and getting into the finals. Mancuso revealed his strategy. "We tried to take power out of Steve's bike, because the track was going away in the heat of the day. Steve ran a 7.568 at 127.27. The bike peeled all of the teeth off of the front sprocket and it dropped the chain. He really just coasted through."

Then it was Mancuso's turn. "My favorite race of the day was running my fellow Texan, Mark Conner. Mark's known for being very good on the lights. On this particular day, he was snoozing a little bit, cause I got him on the tree and held him off the whole way. It was the closest side-by-side race in Top Fuel for the whole weekend." Mancuso ran a 6.657 at 208.33. 

Mancuso went to the semi-final only to take an unearned bye run at the last minute when the competition broke. I expected a tough run out of Mark Cox because he ran better every round this weekend. We pretty much left my bike alone and took it for the run." Mancuso soloed on a 6.634 at 207.82. 

Between the semi and the final, a little rain drizzled on the track. But virtually no time was missed. The crew was ready with the bike. The last competition pass of the day was Mancuso versus Steve Moore. "Steve Moore's bike was running decent. We didn't know that his motor might be broken. He cut a little better light than I did but I never saw his bike. We took a little clutch out of it and sure enough, it ran a 6.664 at 205.94, which was good enough for the win."

Sunday, June 10, was a stellar day for Team Mancuso Racing. Stordeur stepped his Harley into the 6.30's for the first time. Mancuso won his first AHDRA event entered this year with consistent 6.60 passes, his second win of four races.

Team Mancuso Racing's Steve Stordeur and Johnny Mancuso are sponsored by Autolite, Ballistic Bikewear, The Gates Rubber Company, Greg Good Race Heads, JIMS, Lincoln Electric, Monaco Coach, Mickey Thompson Race Tires, Red Line Oil, R C Components, S & S Cycle, Vanson Leathers, Vantage Trailers, VP Fuels, Weekend Frame Co. and Mancuso Harley-Davidson.

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