Mick Withers gives a full update on the 2200 DRA Team Challenge, with his team taking the win, 10-points ahead of their closest competition. Words by Mick Withers
As the temperatures climbed enough to make fat men uncomfortable, Mick perservered in the heat and came away with a win.
With the AC Delco East Coast Thunder done, dusted and clichéd up the wazoo, it was time to sit and ponder the lessons learned. The biggest one was to concentrate fully. In drag racing, there are no second chances. You win, or you lose. If you screw it up as a rider and lose a race because of your own stupidity, there are no do-overs.
Yeah, there are people who want to declare the winner after a best of three passes but I’m a traditionalist: one race and one winner. This is drag racing. If you want it easy, find another sport.
The next meeting I entered was the 2200 Drag Racing Association Team Challenge. Run over the eighth-mile at Sydney Dragway, this event was restricted to ten teams of five, each made up of four cars and one bike.
Pre-race prep was restricted to checking the level of the Silkolene Pro XP oil and measuring the clutch plates. Both were exactly where they needed to be, so I pulled the bodywork off for Brian to re-paint it in a colour called Neon Chartreuse. I wanted a bloody bright yellow and the previous colour reminded me of the orange-yellow cheese on a not-so-Big Mac. He delivered! It’s now the shade of bright that I wanted.
A new set of stickers failed to appear so I used what I had and went racing.
With The Short Bus on the ground, fueled-up, warmed-up and ready to go I checked the pressure in the Shinko Hook-up was at 18psi and made my one qualifier for the day. The 1.461-second sixty-foot time was a new PB, as was the 3.948 and 6.029 recorded at the 330–foot and eighth-mile marks. I was pretty happy with that and refilled the 1.9-litre fuel cell before heading back out for the first of eight rounds of racing.
A mate pointed out a spot on the startline that he reckoned was sticky enough for me. When I let go of the two-step button, the back wheel spun. Instantly. I rolled the throttle off and back on again while watching the bike in the other lane disappearing. The redlight in the other lane gave me my first round win for the day. Back in the pits, I rechecked the tyre pressure and dropped it down to 18lb from the 24lb that it had climbed to in the heat. My mate Will didn’t spot the startline again for me, either.
A very small spin on the launch in the second round made me swear but a win light in my lane was cause for smiles. After dropping the pressure to 16lb, I stopped touching the bike for the rest of the day. All I did from then on was refill the fuel cell and download the datalogger after the runs where I’d remembered to turn it on…
After five runs, my scorecard read five wins.
On the fifth pass, I ran 1.460, 3.920 and 5.996/117.92mph for the 60, 330 and eighth-mile marks. All new PBs and my first five-second eighth-mile pass aboard The Short Bus.
The sixth round was a loss but I won the seventh and eighth rounds to end my day with seven wins from eight. Two of my Team Black teammates managed eight from eight! In total we scored 35 out of a possible 40, 10 more than the second-placed team.
Apart from the tyre pressure gauge, I didn’t put a tool near The Short Bus all day. Nine runs without taking the clutch cover off had me curious but the 1.454 sixty-foot on the last pass was the quickest of the day. When I did pull the MTC plates out of the MTC Slider and measured them, there was just 0.009” (0.022mm) worn off the overall stack height and they were flat and parallel within 0.001”.
Apart from two runs where the tyre spun, the other seven passes were all within a poofteenth: sixty-foot times between 1.479 and 1.454; 330-foot times between 3.920 and 3.948; and eighth-mile ETs between 5.996 and 6.029.
For consistency, the MTC Slider clutch is the best thing you can do.
Riding to the staging lanes, and back after each pass with the FBR Rideback System fitted made life a breeze. In fact, I could watch the temp gauge needle drop as I made my way up the return road. After a bit of dicking around since it was first fitted, I’ve now set the regulator to apply 60psi to the pressure plate, which works perfectly for me. Thank you again to Leonard from Azzopardi Racing for machining and fitting that system after it arrived from FBR.
The next meeting is the Santo’s Summer Thunder at Sydney Dragway. Extreme Bike is running for the quicker bikes, and Modified Bike for those of us on not-so-quick bikes. Both classes are running on a Pro Tree, which means that there’s one single flash of amber rather than three flashes.
Extreme Bike is running heads-up, so first across the line is the winner. In Mod Bike, there’ll be dial-ins but that Pro Tree is the great gamechanger. We’ll all have a couple of qualifying passes and then three rounds of round-robin racing to sort out the winners. Great fun last year and a meeting I’m really looking forward to.
There’ll be an update after that meeting. Hopefully including new PB numbers.
Air is good on a dragbike. Air mixed with fuel makes power. Air is also good for shifting gears. Air shifters are probably the most common way of changing gears on a dragbike these days. Sure, there are still a few who stubbornly choose to foot shift and even fewer that run in one of the classes that require foot shifting.
A long-held theory of mine is that the fewer things the rider has to do, the less chances for the rider to screw it up. For this reason, a shiftlight is better than a tacho provided that the rider can respond to a light and push a button. NASA did that when they trained monkeys to respond to a light stimulus and push a button while floating around in zero gravity. When confronted with a sweeping tacho needle, too many riders anticipate the desired rpm and shift early. Wait for the light and push the button. Simple, eh?
When I push the air shifter button on The Short Bus, it signals the ECU to kill the fuel and ignition while the solenoid opens and releases 120psi of air to the shift cylinder that pulls the gear lever up to engage the next gear. All of this happens in 50 milliseconds. To make it plug and play, I chose to use an air shifter harness from Boost by Smith.
Respond to light and press button with thumb. That’s much simpler than foot shifting, especially if you shift with the clutch.
The air reservoir is the black bottle mounted on the swingarm that is filled by a Motopressor Pocket Pump hidden under the seat. Because I tend to be forgetful, I’ve got a pressure switch plumbed into the head of the air bottle. When pressure drops below 90psi, it activates the Motopressor Pocket Pump until the pressure hits 120psi and then shuts it off. I’ve also got an override switch on the left switchblock for those last second nervous top-ups.
That reservoir also feeds air to the FBR Rideback System when I push that button. The Rideback is fed via Venhill braided brake lines but the air shifter needs a higher volume of air so 6mm hose is used.
It’s fair to say that I need a reliable and leak-free air supply. I’ve picked and chosen the best components to make it as simple and robust as well as completely reliable. Check out the Motorpressor Pocket Pump (complete with a five year warranty), from Rocky Creek Designs. (rockycreekdesigns.com.au)
Thank you to the following people and companies. Their help and assistance is truly appreciated.
- John and Deidre Warrian, Silkolene Australia for Fuchs Silkolene lubricants, Shinko Tyres Race Performance oil filters, and Liquid Performance Ice Water.
- Leonard and Deanne Azzopardi, Azzopardi Racing for ongoing engine and engineering support and advice.
- Dave Holdforth, Sydney Dyno for dynotuning services.
- Terry Jackson, IM Composite Technologies for fibreglass bodywork and aluminium subframe.
- Nick Dole, Teknik Motorsport for suspension tuning.
- Chris and Greg Webb, Kenma Australia for NG Brake Discs, Venhill brake lines, DNA air filter and crankcase breather filter, and SBS brake pads.
- Aaron and Julie Dalle-Molle, Earmold Australia for hearing protection.
- Jeff Ware, Bikereview.com.au for promoting dragbike racing.
- Rod Campbell, Cutgrafix for signage and patches for leathers.
- Graham Strang, Australian Moto Gear & Lighting for crew uniforms
- Chris Lynis, Moto National for Kabuto helmets, Five Gloves, and Contour cameras.