Saluting Man Cup’s 2019 Champions
by Tom McCarthy
As we launch into 2020 and press on to November to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Man Cup’s decade of operations, it’s only fitting we do so first with a salute to the class champions of the 2019 season to kick off the new year. Each and every one of these champions earned their #1 plate in the heat of fierce competition – no one is given a number one plate – you have to earn it. Many of these drivers and their teams will defend their titles this coming season, some will move on. We at Man Cup salute them all for they put the “Great” in the great season we had in 2019.
Top Fuel 2019 Champion – Larry “Spiderman” McBride.
After 9 years of Man Cup Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing, Larry McBride of Newport News, Virginia, remains the only class champion in the history of Man Cup motorcycle drag racing to have collected all nine championship #1 plates. He and his team are undisputedly THE toughest team in Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing to beat.
In four out of the last five years, the Spiderman has entered the November race at the World Finals either behind in championship points or with a contender so close they could be mistaken for a shadow. Sam Wills and his Nitro Conspiracy team, Dave Vantine and his Vantine Imaging team, friend and competitor Chris Hand; have all kept McBride on his game. Foreign intervention has also played a hand in keeping Old Spidy honest. Ian King (UK), Peter Svensson (Sweden), Rikard Gustafsson (Sweden), Sverre Dahl (Norway), and others have all tried to derail the Cycle Specialist team. Larry McBride is not only the 2019 Pingel Top Fuel motorcycle champion, but to this very day his team remains: King of the Hill, in Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing.
Hawaya Racing Champion – Preston Bartlett
When the race was over on Monday, November 25th, 2019 and the Man Cup, Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel championship was finally decided; Preston Bartlett of Palatka, Florida was happy for many reasons. He’d just defeated Sam White who was his shadow all season in points. The 2019 championship was a three-peat for his race team LSR racing and Preston could finally breathe now! His title defense was complete, he and his team not only gained a #1 plate with Man Cup, but they did it 3x’s in a row proving they were no flash in the pan and were indeed a force to be reckoned with in Pro Fuel racing.
Preston would be the first to tell you he didn’t win the championship alone. His high energy wife Susan is beside him every step of the way. Walter Halonski, Preston’s Crew Chief and co-pilot of the bike is as solid a teammate today as the day they shook hands and decided to go racing together. Other key team members include Jack Stuteville & Walter’s wife Noreen. In 2020, Walter will be piloting the bike at all Man Cup events and Preston will begin driving the bike during AMRA competition.
JE Piston Pro Mod Champion – Paul Gast
At the conclusion of the 2019 racing season, when Paul Gast, of Grand Island New York, secured the Pro Mod championship, he did so by defeating Mike Chongris, Brunson Grothus, Chris Garner Jones and last year’s champ; Ashley Owens. If you consider that the next top five in Pro Mod include the likes of Eric McKinney, Ronnie Smith, Terry Schweigert, Jeff House, and Terry Wynn, you begin to get the sense of the enormity of this accomplishment. Learning how to build and tune a 4.0 second Pro Mod is one thing; be able to put these nine monsters on the trailer when needed: now that’s tough in anyone’s book!
It’s not enough to say Paul Gast simply won the JE Piston Pro Mod Championship. That does not do the man justice. He accomplished this at age 70. While most men are simply retired, gone fishing or they are off to Cabo Wabo: Paul Gast is busy building Bad Ass Pro Mod motors, helping customers and getting ready for his next race. He’s been doing this since the 1970’s and he’s as tough to beat today as he was yesterday. He’s raced with and against some of the best this sport has ever seen: Dave Schultz, George Bryce, Greg Cope, John Myers, and Billy Vose, just for openers. And Paul or his racemates have scored wins against all of them at one time or another. In 2020, headed for age 71 with a grin on his face and a smile in his heart, Mr. Gast is as bad as he’s ever been.
Nitrous Express Pro Open Champion – Jean Gosselin
Jean Gosselin of Quebec, Canada, has been competing in the Pro Open class for several years now and most importantly, for the last two years he’s been the Man Cup, Nitrous Express Pro Open Champ. In 2019 he defeated 2 champ Mark Rendeluk by 77 points and is quite ecstatic about it. He commented recently on social media “I could not have done this without the whole team by my side: Grothus Dragbikes, Shane Eperjesi, Steve Nichols of Maxx ECU, Dan Wagner – all of them! 2020 will be our fastest year, trust me.” Jean will be defending his title, going for the three-peat, beginning with the start of the 2020 year.
APE Pro Street Champion – Chris Edwards
When the tire smoke cleared on the 2019 APE Pro Street class racing program, Chris Edwards of North Carolina emerged as the class champion, ahead of such names as Jeremy Teasley, Gabe Fredrick, Jason Dunigan, Carlos Olivio, and Frankie Stotz. Scoring decisive wins in mid-season at Darlington Dragway and Rockingham were key to setting up Chris for a strong finish at the Man Cup World Finals in November. He is expected to be out early in 2020 to defend his title and will continue to work on his Pro Street racing program.
Shinko/WPS Real Street Champion – Marc Hylton
Mark or if you prefer, Marcus Hylton, of Eadon, N.C. is a bad man on his Suzuki, Real Street motorcycle. He duked it out like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier with Spencer Claycomb race, after race in 2019 to wil the title. He outpaced Spencer by one round of racing to secure his 2019 #1 plate. He did so defeating the likes of Jeremy Teasley, Johnny Dobrin, Anibal Merced, Jason Herron and Bud Harrod. Marcus and Spencer finished 1-2 in 2018, in reverse order, now it Mr. Hylton’s hard earned place to be on top after securing the title for 2019. Both racers have indicated 2020 will bring the heat again as these two titian’s of Shinko/WPS Real Street will return to battle on April 5th, 2020 at Orlando Speed World and slug it out for the title.
Grothus Dragbikes Ultra 4.60 Champion – Tony Mullen
Tony Mullen of Florida, the 3x Man Cup toughest man to beat in the history of Man Cup Grothus Ultra 4.60 drag racing, is said to be stepping back from the class after his third consecutive class championship, effective the end of the 2019 season. Tony Mullen and his talented brother Jimmy have been the class of the class in 4.60 for years now. Before this, they were champs with AMA/ProStar and AMA/Dragbike and wherever they go, whatever they race: they win. A key ingredient to their winning ways have long been BMP motors – power plants produced by close friend George Babor, of Babor Performance Motors. The Mullen brothers team worked relentlessly for years on their sportsman racing program as if they were champions in professional racing competing at the sports highest level. Their motors, their spotless, flawless drag bikes, their team appearance on race day: they won and deserved their #1 plates with the highest accolades anyone could accord such performance. “Hollywood” Broderick Jackson, Mike Chongris, John Schwartz, Mike Lingo, Ralph Medrano Jr., Brody Grothus and a host of other heavy hitters will all be there to charge for the #1 plate in 2020.
Star Racing Top Gas Champion – Ricardo Marte
Mr. Ricardo Marte Aquino of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a businessman who means business while at home and abroad. When he comes to the USA to race his 2008 Suzuki Hayabusa, he is always a threat to win in any class he enters. He’s deadly on the tree with his reaction times and very consistent. These are the primary attributes of a class champion in any class and Ricardo brings this to the starting line every pass. It matters not if he is astride a bar-bike or a no-bar bike; to him, it’s chop the tree and run the number. In 2020, this man will be on the hunt again and if you line up against him – good luck, you’ll need it, he’s #1 for a good reason!
MTC Super Comp Champion – Spencer Claycomb
The very colorful and professional, Spencer Claycomb, of Maryville, Tennessee locked up the 2019 Man Cup, MTC Super Comp title during the World Finals, the sanctions last race of the season. Spencer outdistanced John Markham by only 52 points and thus ended a hard-fought season for the talented Mr. Claycomb. His win at Darlington and strong showings during the last three races of the five-race season were key to his winning the #1 plate. Spencer had to contend with the likes of Dustin Lee, John “Spooky Man” Markham, David Fletcher, Jason Herron and 2x champ, Dusty Brazel.
Wiseco Street Fighter & Liska Racing Street ET Champion
– Pablo Gonzalez
The 2019 Wiseco Streetfighter champ, Pablo Gonzalez, hails from Orlando, Florida and was born in Puerto Rico. Pablo has a welcoming smile and it comes in handy as he gets to shake hands with many a racer he defeats along the way to not one, but two Man Cup championships from the 2019 season. Pablo is also the Liska Racing Street ET champion, no small feat I can assure you!
Consider this: Pablo had to race round-robin style in two different classes; one sportsman and one ET class. So he was on & off the race surface in minutes, every round. He made HUNDREDS of passes in 2019 to achieve these two titles in two different classes. Not only did this take great physical stamina, but his 2005, Suzuki Hayabusa took quite a beating in the process. Yet when the smoke cleared at the end of the season, there he was standing tall, sporting two Man Cup championships!
MPS Pro ET Champion – Gary Russell
The man from New England, a true Vermont native at heart: Gary Russell, fought his way to his first Man Cup championship in 2019 and he wanted it very badly. He raced hard every round, fought like a champ against the likes of Pablo Gonzalez, David Fletcher, Shawn Welch, and Rick Eaton on a regular basis. He also had to contend with head hunters showing up like Mike Konopacki, Spooky Markham and Dustin Lee showing up, looking to get paid. Winning a race in Man Cup MPS-Pro ET is no easy feat, let alone winning a points championship. Yet Gary pulled it off. He put a lot of miles on his camper and trailer in the process, dealing with the usual roadside issues and problems that plague every racer who travels a great distance. It takes great dedication to stick to a specific points class and eek-out a win, but that’s exactly what it takes to win a championship – dedication to the task. Mr. Russell has been beating up Kawasaki drag bikes since the late 1970’s and he’s seen his share of dropped valves, busted cases and broken cranks along the way. His #1 with Man Cup in 2019 may have been his first, but I doubt it will be his last #1 plate with the sanction.
Vance & Hines Race Shop V-Twin Champion – Vance Houdyshell
The winner of the Vance & Hines Race Shop V-Twin 2019 championship, Vance Houdyshell, of Vero Beach, Florida, was a solid victory for Vance. He had the numbers in the bag with a decisive championship lead of 175 points, over the next closest contestant Freddie Barreiro. Vance pushed his Buell XL HARD all season long and the bike took it like a champ. This was Vance’s third consecutive V-Twin points championship with Man Cup. He first emerged on the radar in 2015 and finished 4th that year, then improved to 3rd in 2016. After that, it’s been a string of hard-earned W’s for Vance who now races multiple classes and mixes it up with the best of the best. Well known for his infectious smile and tenacious racing, Vance has been a stalwart in Man Cup drag racing and he logged in many miles last season, making every Man Cup event on the books. He’s no stranger to the winner’s circle photo shoots, but he still has a firm handshake for a fellow competitor, when it’s not his day to win.
|Until Next time…
– Tom McCarthy
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 727-742-5245 voice/text.
- April 3-5 / Orlando Speed World
- May 1-3 / South Georgia Motorsports Park
- July 10-12 / Dragway 42
- Sept 11-13 / Rockingham Dragway
- November 18-22 / SGMP World Finals
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