Saluting Larry Drums Brancaccio

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Larry “Drums” Brancaccio

Saluting Larry Drums Brancaccio

word and photos by Tom McCarthy


On the weekend of  August 19th, 2017, the AMRA motorcycle drag racing sanction took to the track in Numidia, Pennsylvania to launch the Nitro Nationals, sponsored in part by Vreeland’s Harley Davidson at Numidia Dragway.

In advance of the event, the AMRA secured a purse for the class of Top Fuel motorcycle and advertised that they would pay tribute to Larry “Drums” Brancaccio, a great Harley Davidson Top Fuel motorcycle drag racer who passed away on October 25th, 2016 at age 59. Larry suffered a brutal crash in competition on May 29th, 2015 at Cordova, IL during and IHRA Nitro Jam event and spent much of 2015/2016 in recovery. His heart gave out on October 25th, 2016, but his legend lives on.

Larry Brancaccio’s mom and dad were present at the race on Sunday to see and feel the love for their son, who is well remembered.

Larry may be gone, but he’s not forgotten, he’ll never be forgotten, for he is one of the greats that has helped make Harley Davidson Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing great. Larry raced with the heart of a Lion every race. From the 1980’s till his untimely demise, Larry “Drums” Brancaccio was a warrior of the highest order. He fought like a Viking with a battle-axe, that was Larry’s style, that was Drums being Drums.

At the AMRA Nitro Nationals in Numidia, the talk of Larry was everywhere and the racers were %100 behind paying tribute to “Drums” as we all knew him.

On Saturday, the official photographer for the AMRA, Mike Davis, of Moto Lenz Photos gathered all the fuel bike racers behind Larry’s refurbished Top Fuel motorcycle for a fabulous group photo. Then on Sunday, Mike graciously took that photo, blew it up to poster size, had many racers autograph it and he presented it to Drums parents on Sunday – all framed and ready for the wall. What a great gesture by a rock-solid photographer. And Mike donated a portion of his sales from the Numidia event to DRAW, the Drag Racing Association of Women, who support downed racers injured during drag racing events.

Tracy Kile, piloting Drums Brancaccio’s fully restored Top Fuel bike was first in the 6’s at this event.

The love of and remembrances of Drums were everywhere at the event. T shirts, photos of Larry, and Tracy Kile of Bad Apple Racing mounted Larry’s old Top Fuel bike and pounded out a six-second qualifying run – first pass on the bike on Saturday. All who were present unanimously remarked, Drums must have had a hand in pushing the bike across the finish line to the first six of the weekend, just to rub it in. That’s so very Drums you see.

While I or any motorcycle drag racing journalist could go on and on about Larry’s accomplishments, it’s best the racers tell you what they think of Larry “Drums” Brancaccio, the Harley Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing pilot that left us too soon:

Jamie Emery, Top Fuel pilot – “I first met Drums in 1991 when I started racing nitro bikes. He was always a mentor and competitor that I looked up to and respected. I have so many memories of Larry I can’t tell you just one, cause they all mean so much to me. I’m actually tearing up, writing this, as I think about all the weekends we spent not only racing but hanging out at the tracks as one big family. In one particular time at Atco I was racing Drums in the finals of the ECRA event, and he red lit. I took off and chased him, then caught and passed him. Well that was before the tree activated so we had to rerun the finals and in true Drums fashion, he schooled me by treeing me and out running me! I was probably 17-18yrs old at the time. He would always give me advice after he’d whip up on me of course. There’s not a time goes by when I’m looking at my bike that I don’t think of him & his up in your face talking..and the stories he could tell. R.I.P. Drums.

A life-size cut-out of Drums watched out over his pit area manned by Bad Apple Racing.

Larry McBride, Top Fuel Pilot – “He was the biggest hearted person that you’ve ever met in your life, a very good friend of mine, miss him a lot.”

Matt Elrod – Larry was one of a kind, he was like family, I met him when I was little and it was always the highlight of any weekend when I saw him at the races. I miss him every day, I miss talking with him and joking and talking racing he was such a lovable person and when I was in my accident he was always checking in on me making sure I was doing good. I remember when he had his bad crash he would tell me how he kinda knew what I went through. I’ll always have him in my heart his legacy in nitro Harley will never be forgotten I miss him so much.

Micah Fenwick, Top Fuel motorcycle pilot – “Drum’s was one of the first guy’s that we raced with in Top Fuel at Epping. I remember his outgoing personality and how he kept reminding me to BE Careful on that thing!!”

The Drums Brancaccio pit area was staffed by Bad Apple Racing and they did Larry proud!

Richard Meck, motorcycle drag racer – Drums was one of the 1st characters to acknowledge me when I went asphalt drag racing. Think I first met him in 1990 at Atco, my only asphalt fuel race. Anyway, he always seemed to know me and my name. Somewhere around 2000 to 2002 AHDRA decided I needed to get a PG license even though I’d been racing with them in PG since 1998. I asked Bill McGrew for the form he gives me a T/F form. The T/F form says I need a T/F rider to sign, 1st guy I see is Drums. Larry signs me off, gets 2 more T/F racers to sign me off. A few years later I’m headed back to Milwaukee from Philly, walking through the airport there goes Drums on the other side of the glass. Some Drums sign language through the glass and we were both on our way. Drums was never too busy to stop and talk for a minute, never let you walk by without acknowledging you and never made you feel he thought he was a “higher level” because he rode fuel and you were (I was) just a “lowly gas rider.”

Janette Thornley, NHRA Pro Fuel champion – “Drums was the fella that during my first year of racing, which was on a nitro bike, said “women don’t belong on a fuel bike.” He didn’t say it at me but admitted it late in my second year after telling me “I was alright in his book.” Although I didn’t get to know him as well as some, he was always willing to engage in conversation and provide his opinion. I have some great memories and much respect for him!”

Janette Thornley raced HARD at the AMRA Nitro Nationals.

Chuck Jones, Pro Fuel racer – “Drums helped me as a Pro Dragster racer when I was his crew chief with Mitch Marlow, he stayed at my home several times. I was scrolling through my phone numbers the other day, he’s still on my contacts. Margo and I both loved him and still do. I’m 56 and after his crash, I did not want to ride them T/F bikes anymore. But we are friends to the end!”

Frank Capone, Bad Apple Racing Top Fuel Pilot – “Before I met Drums, I just drag raced motorcycles. After I met him at Bristol Dragway in 2005, he transformed me into a Professional Drag Racer. I learned so much from him and Rusty.”

At Rich Vreeland’s Bible study, Saturday evening, Drums was there!

We here at DRAGBIKE.COM want to thank the AMRA for their dedicating their Nitro Nationals to Larry “Drums” Brancaccio. They invited Larry’s friends and family to the race, welcomed them with open arms and paid tribute to them all on the starting line on Sunday morning; thank you for keeping Larry’s memory alive.

Race Results:

Top Fuel – Jake Stordeur over Billy Jack
Nitro Funnybike – Armon Furr over Dennis Fisher
Pro Fuel – Jim Martin over Janette Thornley
Open Gas – Don Ratliff over Billy Dohery
Pro Gas – Tom Caldwell
Modified – Gary Douglas over Stoney Westebrook
Pro Mod – John Price over Joey Jobbe
Super Comp- Keith Richner over Don Ratliff
Top Eliminator – Assih Chandary over David Doremus
Vreeland’s HD Super Gas – Andy Horn over Francois Simard
Super Pro – David Doremus over Bill Rowe Jr.
Pro Eliminator – Terry Mason over Kimberly Deshields
Street Eliminator – Kevin Gaunt over Kevin Winters
Eliminator – Bill Rowe Jr. over Joe Stine
Outlaw Street – Charley Douglas over Nick Gonatas
Hot Street – John Toth over Dave Cartwright
Dresser – Eric Henderson over David Dennick
Trophy Street Bike – Richie Rowe over Mike Balch



Post Race Race Report:  On Sunday, during eliminations, we are sorry to report that Top Fuel Harley motorcycle racer Dean was injured when his motor let go.  He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he was treated for severe internal injuries.  He’s on the mend at this time and we will update this at a later date when more details come to light.  Please keep Dean and his family in your thoughts and prayers.



For Full Race results please see the official AMRA web site and for photo purchasing please visit Moto Lenz Photos.

In closing, as the Senior Editor of, on a personal note, I want to impart to you all that Larry “Drums” Brancaccio was one of the most colorful and entertaining drag bike pilots I ever met in my many decades of covering this sport, since 1981. His zest for life, his love of Harley Davidson fuel bike racing was insatiable, his enthusiasm for the sport – never waned. Larry was/is a drag bike racer’s drag bike pilot. He didn’t just race on a Top Fuel drag bike: he attacked on it. Larry “Drums” Brancaccio was a Harley Davidson fuel bike pilot, unafraid to give it all he had. And he did just that.

Some people live quiet meaningless lives of desperation, scurrying about like ants, devoted to the system, a slave to the system, living pay-check to pay-check: but not Drums. At the last stop on the road of life, Larry Brancaccio was a warrior all the way. We the faithful in motorcycle drag racing will never forget him and salute him often.

– Tom McCarthy
Senior Editor

Tom McCarthy Until Next time…

– Tom McCarthy


Billy Jack, in Top Fuel, is running great in 2017.

Jim Doyle of Mass had a great race in NFB, R/U to Armon Furr.

Armon Furr, driving for Red Roberts took the win in NFB.

Jake Stordeur of Ohio won in Top Fuel over Billy Jack.

Walter Halonski, with team mate, Preston Bartlett, are doing well in 2017.

Red Roberts does a great job of leading his team in Top Fuel motorcycle competition.

Janette Thornley, close up and personal view.

John Toth won in Hot Street and is championship bound in 2017

When it’s time to relax at the end of the day.

Team Vreeland knows where it’s at!

Rich Vreeland wants YOU to remember Larry “Drums” Brancaccio!

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