Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another Drag Racing Pioneer Gone

I received word about a week ago that Carl McClanahan had passed away. You may recall that I featured one of his last drag bikes here on this blog recently. Before commenting, I wanted to find an obituary online so I could link to it, however I have had no success.  It only seems fitting to at least provide some sort of words at the passing of one of the innovators and pioneers of motorcycle drag racing, so I have chosen to quote what is written about Carl on the back cover of his 1984 book "V-Twin Thunder."

Carl McClanahan started drag racing in 1958 on a 1951 74 inch Panhead.  Since then, he has collected record after record, trophy after trophy, and first place after first place.  Carl's bikes go fast because of the skills, techniques, and tricks he has learned over the years.  Among the records he has set and held are:
1963: Alton, Illinois. 11.75 seconds, 123.288 mph on a 66 inch Sportster with a lay down frame.  This bike ran 11.55, 125 mph later in 1963
1969: Alton, Illinois. AHRA world record A/Fuel 9.57 on an 89 inch Sportster in a Yetman frame.  This bike later ran consistent 9.30s to 9.40s.
1970: Gainesville, Florida.  Low qualifier Spring Nationals, at 9.44 seconds.
1970: Invited to Indy Nationals, Top Fuel.
1972: Assumption, Illinois.  Set IHRA record for B/Fuel on a 55 inch Sportster.
1972: Bowling Green, Kentucky. Ran 10.75, 130.62 mph.  Old record was 10.96
1972: Alton, Illinois.  Ran 10.47, 10.34, 10.33, 10.31, and 10.32, at 138 mph.
1973: Pevely, Missouri.  Ran 6.18, 119 mph in 1/8 mile race to win AHRA B/Fuel record on a 53 inch Sportster.
1974: Pevely, Missouri. Won AHRA A/Fuel record on a 108 inch (!) Sportster.
Carl also built what may have been the first twin engine Sportster, using a pair of 66 inch engines in line.  He fell off four of the first seven time out, and later dismembered the bike before it was able to dismember him.  In 1971, he built the first set of wheelie bars for motorcycles. 
A racer for 25 years, Carl still makes all the national events within 700 miles of his home in St. Louis.
Rest in Peace, Carl.

No comments: