Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes - Page 6 - The Jockey Journal Board

Go Back   The Jockey Journal Board > General Discussion > The Board

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 05-29-2010, 09:20 PM   #101
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Thanks ckunsman89


When Danny moved to Yadkinville North Carolina he lived only about two hours from me. I visited his new residence right away. His house had a basement and that is where Johnson High Performance would eventially be located. Danny told me he was going to build a second Fuel Bike to match race with and asked if I was interested in riding it for him. It was an unbelievable opportunity for me. He would furnish the money to build and maintain the bike and I would get paid to ride a bike that was as good as his. It just doesn't get any better than that. He made it clear I had to go when he called and I already knew how much he traveled. By then I had not only a new wife and baby but a new house and car. I had a good paying job as a Mercedes mechanic and knew I couldn't do both. I didn't even talk it over with my wife even though the year had passed from my agreement to quit racing. I turned him down. I told him I would love to ride it locally or on long trips when I had vacation time. That is not what he had in mind for his rider so it would be about two years before he called again asking me to ride for him. That is a story in it's self I will get to soon.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 05-30-2010, 05:42 AM   #102
Tortolabob
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 84
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Glory Days..I just sold my 140 cubic inch Magnuson blower last week, but I have a copy of the snout machining instructions if you need them.
Bob
Tortolabob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-30-2010, 10:06 AM   #103
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

BOWLING GREEN 1971

I had seen the magazine coverage of the first AMDRA Record Meet in Bowling Green in 1970 as well as talking to Danny Johnson about it. It was something I was going to try to go to in '71. A friend who had Johnson build him a big inch Sportster wanted to go too. I had been riding his Sportster some at local races so I wouldn't get totally rusty. He ran a car detail shop and could only go for the weekend like me. We left Charlotte on Friday afternoon and drove all night. We got into Bowling Green about daylight and got to Beech Bend Park before it opened. It gave us an opportunity to take a power nap to recover from a sleepless night. It is amazing how little sleep you can get by on when you are young. To say what we experienced the next two days you only need one word....AWESOME!!! It was the first time I had seen the Midwest and West Coast stars including Joe Smith, Boris Murray, Dave Campos, Jerry Cox, Mel Disharoon, Marion Owens and many more. Leo Payne, who I had seen three years earlier, was there too. There must have been 15-20 A/F bikes there trying to make the show. I believe that was the year Boris set the record at 8.87 seconds & 174.75 on that "front tire aimed at the moon while roasting the rear slick" run. In the end Larry Welch went to the winner's circle on Sonny Routt's twin engine Triumph. Boris broke the rear chain. My friend and I left Bowling Green about 5 pm Sunday afternoon and drove all night again to get home in time to go to work Monday morning. IT WAS WELL WORTH IT but it would be the last time I did that. For the remainder of the Bowling Green races ('72-'78) I took vacation time and my wife went with me. Two days at the greatest motorcycle race in the world was just not enough!!
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 05-31-2010, 11:27 AM   #104
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I would like to clarify an error I made in post 96 where I was recalling in post 94 when Danny Johnson told Larry Welch he would redlight which allowed Larry to make the most spectacular run I ever saw him make. When Joe Smith posted "That sucks" I posted I guess Danny ran it past Roy Strawn, the founder of AMDRA, and he was OK with it. Roy emailed me he would never approve that. I should not have speculated he would and apologize for the error. It is my goal that all posts here from me and others are accurate for history's sake.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2010, 05:48 PM   #105
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

This is a group photo of the '97 Fuel Bike Reunion at Virginia Motorsports Park. From left: Frank Spittle, T C Christenson, Boris Murray, Ray Price, Arno St Denis, Duke McDonald (I believe), Bo O'Brocta, Sonny Routt, Jerry Cox, Bill Chambers, Russ Collins, Dave Campos and Larry Welch. Those present but not pictured were Danny Johnson, Bob Chantland and Larry McBride.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	5555.jpg
Views:	707
Size:	180.8 KB
ID:	50339  
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2010, 01:02 PM   #106
Keith Lee
Senior Member
 
Keith Lee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England
Posts: 268
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Great to see some of the top racers from years ago together again Frank.
I have attached a picture of the first 8 second runner in Europe, which I shot back in 1975. Keith Parnell is shown left receiving the trophy for the first 8 from Santa Pod Raceway track manager Dave Watts, after Keith ran 8.9s on his 750 blown Triumph.

Click image for larger version

Name:	KL_Parnell_trophy.jpg
Views:	543
Size:	65.7 KB
ID:	50351
Keith Lee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 10:53 AM   #107
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Thanks for your post Keith. I remember when Keith Parnell broke into the 8s at Santa Pod and when Joe Smith was the first ever in 1971. The twin engine Triumphs were still competitive here in 1975 but it would be the last year I believe. Bob Mauriello was the last Triumph rider to win Bowling Green or the NHRA U.S. Nationals, probably the two most coveted Fuel Bike races of the year. But the Triumphs owned those two tracks in the early '70s. Boris won B/G and Welch, Indy in 1970. Welch won B/G in 1971. Joe Smith won Indy. In '72 it was Welch winning B/G and Boris winning Indy. Mauriello won Indy in '73 (Mauriello and Welch were riding Sonny Routt's bike) but an up and coming Fuel Bike rider won B/G. It was his first of five finals round appearances at Bowling Green in 6 consecutive years. Does anyone know who it was?

Also Keith, were you at Santa Pod last weekend when Eric Taboul shattered the 1/4 mile ET record for 2 wheels at 5.23 seconds on his rocket bike?

Last edited by frank spittle; 06-02-2010 at 04:48 PM.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2010, 03:22 PM   #108
Keith Lee
Senior Member
 
Keith Lee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England
Posts: 268
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

The double Triumphs carried on competitively for a few more years over here, and Jeff Byne got down to 8.02s/178mph in 1979 on his blown 1500 double. He and John Hobbs double Weslake were so close to running a seven, but it was not to be.

To answer your question about the rocket bike Frank, I was not at Santa Pod to see it. Stunning time - and if you look at the video of it on the web it almost seems like a speeded up film because it is so unbelievably quick. Even more impressive when you think that he brushed the wall earlier on his fuel bike!

The rocket bike of my era was that of my good friend, the late Henk Vink from Holland, which ran 6.5s back in the mid 80s. I attach my picture of him below.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	KL_DB3017a.jpg
Views:	667
Size:	39.0 KB
ID:	50379  
Keith Lee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2010, 05:48 AM   #109
gearheadchoppers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: nij beets
Posts: 144
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Henk Vink was born in 1938 in Maasland, the netherlands, at the age of 3 he got his first motorcycle from his dad who had a motorcycle import business. july 24 1988 Henk Vink, died way to early on his 50-ed birth day.
gearheadchoppers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2010, 12:59 PM   #110
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

This is from the IHRA Drag Review newspaper in early '72. I have shortened it some but the names and times are exactly as in the article.

ROUTT-WELCH FUELER SETS UNOFFICIAL RECORD AT 8.70

The 1972 debut event for the AMDRA Fuel Bike Circuit saw record breaking action. In round one Larry Welch on Routt's double Triumph got badly out of shape on the starting line but ran down the team of Charlier and Gough with a strong 9.49. Henry Moore defeated Dick Prime with a 9.33 blast. Prominent Real Estate agent Nick Palmerone beat Ron Maranto with a 9.30 and AMDRA National #1 Danny Johnson beat Virgil Naff with a 9.26.

In round 2 Henry Moore turned a strong 9.34 but was beaten by Welch's devastating 8.70. In the other semi-final Danny Johnson became the 5th Fuel Bike rider to break into the 8s with an 8.90.

In the final it was AMDRA National #2 Welch againt #1 Johnson. Johnson left first and recorded a steller 9.00 but Welch ran him down with another 8 second blast, this time an 8.79.

Rumor has it Johnson will soon debut a new mystery machine being built in the Johnson High Performance secret backroom. Johnson has allowed only the name of this machine to leak out. The new monster machine will be called "Goliath".
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2010, 08:28 PM   #111
Regulator
Senior Member
 
Regulator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Eastern Shore of Maryland
Posts: 254
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Frank and Joe....I'm still following and am in awe of the stories and photo's...this is like a dream thread for me since I am such a fan of Drag Bike Racing...especially anything pre-1980...hopefully, one day I will get to meet you at a reunion you all might attend...if you know you are going to be somewhere, please let us know...I'm sure there are probably a few of us that would love to shake your hand!!!

Happy belated birthday to you...and once again, thank you sooo much for the stories...I'm always tickled to death when I get on here and see that you've posted a bunch more stories!!!...You guys simply ROCK!!!!

Larry in MD
__________________
"Those with character and class always seem sinister to the rest"
Regulator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2010, 02:14 PM   #112
Tortolabob
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 84
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Joe, I bet you were glad motors wern't mounted under the sitting position then !!
Tortolabob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2010, 02:47 PM   #113
Joe Smith
Senior Member
 
Joe Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 215
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tortolabob View Post
Joe, I bet you were glad motors wern't mounted under the sitting position then !!
Yes in a way but your legs were on both sides and your upper body was over the Motor...I was in Drag Racing at it's Infancy and in those days Laidlaw's Harley was my Sponsor and he had an upstairs in his store that was full of old Generator Crank Cases, Cylinders, heads etc. and I would just get what I needed...

I did blow a lot of motors in those days, Gas and Fuel...it was a learning game back them...Bob Laidlaw, Bob Cobb, shop Foreman and myself spend many a night in the machine shop trying new things...I could write a short book on the Speed Secrets found in that machine shop...just in the lower end alone...

I've been a very lucky man while Drag Racing with all those blow ups and I Crashed and Burned six times and still writing and talking about it, I had the Drag Racing God looking after me all those years...
__________________

GRANDDADDY JOE SMITH
INDY WORLD CHAMP
1971,74 & 75
http://www.granddaddyjoesmith.com
Copyright 2007-2015. Joe Smith. All rights reserved
Joe Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2010, 09:29 PM   #114
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

DANNY JOHNSON AND "GOLIATH 1" part one.

It's life was very short, only 11 months, from October 1972 to September '73, but no Fuel Bike in the Seventies had a bigger impact on the sport than "Goliath 1". You see it hadn't been done before...that is for someone to build a twin engine Harley Fuel Bike that was competetive. Many had tried to build them, at least one with the engines mounted side by side, but when they brought them out they just didn't work. A friend here in the Carolinas built one (a twin engine Harley gasser) in 1966. He only made a few passes with it. On the last pass it got into such a violent top end wobble that he dismantled it after bringing it to a safe stop. This was during a period of time I had been on military active duty so I never saw the bike but I received periodic updates right down to the dismantaling. This was even before I met Danny. In the last post about Danny I mentioned he asked if I was interested in riding a second bike he was going to build and I said no. I didn't know it but he had a twin engine Harley Fuel Bike lurking in his mind then. I got heavily involved with Street Rodding and did not see Danny for at least a year except at Bowling Green. It was during this time it was built. I had no clue!

Johnson had hoped to have it ready for Bowling Green '72 but didn't. To this day I don't know why he thought he could do what so many others had failed...some getting hurt very badly trying. But he was one of those special people who has to try. He has to find out the hard way. He did go about it the right way. He got a master twin engine bike builder to help. Boris Murray and Johnson got their minds together and the results are history. It was a short wheelbase bike by slanting the front engine slightly. It was a high gear bike too. This was years before wheelie bars.

Finally, it was ready to debut at Atco in October '72. I believe he went there with it untested. I was not there but can imagine the concern Danny's friends had for him....not to mention the guy who was going to straddle it. When the final round of qualifying was completed Johnson was qualified number 1. It was one of the most magnificent accomplishments in motorcycle drag racing history. All the other Harley racers knew they would have to build a double over the winter...and a lot did.

"GOLIATH 1" part two next.

Last edited by frank spittle; 06-07-2010 at 09:38 PM.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2010, 10:12 PM   #115
FearNoEvo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 370
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Wasn't Bruce Lauer killed by a rear cylinder lift?

early 90's I think?
FearNoEvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2010, 10:34 PM   #116
Joe Smith
Senior Member
 
Joe Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 215
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by FearNoEvo View Post
Wasn't Bruce Lauer killed by a rear cylinder lift?

early 90's I think?
Bruce Lauer

Died: October 6, 1996

Age: 46
Full Name: Bruce William Lauer

Drag Strip: Beech Bend Raceway Park, Kentucky

Event: American Drag Bike Association All-Harley Drag Finals
Accident Date: October 6, 1996
1996 Harley-Davidson motorcycle

Biographical: He was killed on the final day of competition. He was about 300 feet down the race track when the engine exploded under his chest and knocking him off the bike. The ignition on his bike malfunctioned and the nitrous oxide filled the cylinders. When the ignition re-ignited, the engine exploded underneath him. He died of internal injuries when he was struck by flying debris and a broken neck. He was from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.


__________________

GRANDDADDY JOE SMITH
INDY WORLD CHAMP
1971,74 & 75
http://www.granddaddyjoesmith.com
Copyright 2007-2015. Joe Smith. All rights reserved
Joe Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2010, 08:07 PM   #117
Joe Smith
Senior Member
 
Joe Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 215
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Not very good pictures, copied from News Paper long ago but you'll get the idea...This happened at Cincinnati right on the start line...Blew me clear in the air over the bike...



__________________

GRANDDADDY JOE SMITH
INDY WORLD CHAMP
1971,74 & 75
http://www.granddaddyjoesmith.com
Copyright 2007-2015. Joe Smith. All rights reserved
Joe Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2010, 09:37 PM   #118
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

That is the worst explosion I have seen of your Double. You could have been fatally injured too.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2010, 01:11 AM   #119
Joe Smith
Senior Member
 
Joe Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 215
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by frank spittle View Post
That is the worst explosion I have seen of your Double. You could have been fatally injured too.
This was the second worst “Blow Up” I ever had...it was toward the end of my Drag Racing Career and it was the first Event I ever entered where I was alone...Everybody stayed home this year except my Son and I and the last race before this he fell in love with the local “Beauty Bar Maid” so I ended up here by myself...

It was an All Bike Meet in Cincinnati and by now me and the Double knew what to do to Qualify without to much trouble and usually number one...so, I waited until just before midnight to make my Pass...When I first got to the strip in the afternoon I knew I was going to need a helper with the starter and being pushed back after the burn out...and while unloading the Bike this giant of a Biker begin helping me and said he volunteered to be my helper and just to prove it he hollowed across to this very large women leaning against a tree, “hey babe show Joe some tit” which she did...Now this guy was twice my size so being the smaller of the two, I knew I had my helper...

I did wait until the very last to make my Qualify Pass, got the bike Fueled and ready, was the last Fuel Bike to run as I recall, waiting to be called to start motors...got the call and the “Giant” had a little trouble getting the starter on and off but we got it fired and about that time the two bikes just making a pass, one flipped his bike at the line and we had to shut off... because my Son wasn't with me there was some shut down steps that got missed, I forgot to shut off the Fuel Petcocks...

After about 15 minutes we got the call to start motors, by now the air had cooled even more and there was a slight frost on the top of the Carburetors and I seen that I had forgot to turn off the fuel but the motors started without any problem and sounded OK, pulled around and made the burn out, I did notice the bike seemed a little sluggish, the “Giant” pushed me back...now at the NHRA while doing the Exhibition I did, I used to test the clutch to stage, the Spectators always like to see me carry the front wheel on a clutch blip so I thought because it looked like it was going to be the last fuel bike to run that night I would do that, the first blip it did just what it was suppose to do, the second it came apart like a Grenade...

I had very few Friends at this race and while laying waiting to be put in the Ambulance I had them call the one guy I knew a little to come to the start line and I ask him if he would load my stuff and bring it to the Hospital, I had a lot of Travel/Winnings in my wallet and it was still in the Camper and he was nice enough to do that...

The trip home is another story...I did find when I was able to look at the Double, the Double Float Bowl on the rear motor one of the Floats collapsed and fuel was running in that motor because of not shutting of the fuel between starts...
__________________

GRANDDADDY JOE SMITH
INDY WORLD CHAMP
1971,74 & 75
http://www.granddaddyjoesmith.com
Copyright 2007-2015. Joe Smith. All rights reserved
Joe Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2010, 01:04 AM   #120
FearNoEvo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 370
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Smith View Post
Bruce Lauer

Died: October 6, 1996

Age: 46
Full Name: Bruce William Lauer

Drag Strip: Beech Bend Raceway Park, Kentucky

Event: American Drag Bike Association All-Harley Drag Finals
Accident Date: October 6, 1996
1996 Harley-Davidson motorcycle

Biographical: He was killed on the final day of competition. He was about 300 feet down the race track when the engine exploded under his chest and knocking him off the bike. The ignition on his bike malfunctioned and the nitrous oxide filled the cylinders. When the ignition re-ignited, the engine exploded underneath him. He died of internal injuries when he was struck by flying debris and a broken neck. He was from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.


Bruce took me under his wing and kept me from a similar fate on my first experience on a fueler. He took my carb apart, rejetted it and helped me set the timing so I didn't do the same thing that killed him a year or so later.

Big John and his crew from Atlanta did it again later that year in Sturgis. We had never run at altitude. When we fired it up it banged so hard it sounded like the pistons were swapping holes. John literally shoved me off of the bike and ripped my dead man off of my leathers. As I lay on the ground, he looked at me and said you don't know shit about nitro do you boy? In stunned silence, I shook my head no.

We went on later that day to lose to the Chop Shop by less than a tenth of a second. We laughed later when Houniet told us what he had in his spare motor. Around 8 grand. We didn't have that in our whole fuel bike, the '64 Bel Air wagon we hauled it in and the '65 pan we used for a tow bike.....and he only beat us by a tenth.

I hope you all realize what a great thing Joe and Frank have brought to this forum.

These guys are fucking legends. I grew up on a modified bike, always slobbering on the fuel guys toes. When I finally got my own fueler, I was treated like one of their children. I was in the process of doing something that could have killed me at any step. These professionals, that had something you could never buy, gave it to me freely.

Markwald let it slip once, don't shit yourself kid, we're not trying to save you, we're trying to keep you from killing us too.

Last edited by FearNoEvo; 06-11-2010 at 01:11 AM.
FearNoEvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:58 AM.