Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vintage Racing Action at the 2016 Meltdown Drags

The 2016 edition of the Meltdown Drags are now history.  Great racing action, good friends, and cooperative weather - who could ask for anything more?  Well, I guess Wayne Skinner could have asked for a few more passes on the lower end of his Triumph before finding bearing material in his oil after his  last run on Friday.  Still, even he enjoyed the atmosphere despite his bike's nitro methane induced early demise.

After several years of largely self inflicted frustration, I finally got the Knuckledragger to perform near its potential.  These things tend to take time when you limit your racing to one weekend per year.  Of course many of the other racers are likewise still sorting out fresh builds and/or modifications.  Even with the old stuff, there is really no such thing as the "status quo."

The number of drag bikes was down this year, primarily due the conspicuous absence of the AH Garage racing team.  (c'mon guys, it's just not quite the same event without your stable of horses joining in the fun)    It was the first time Skinner has been able to make it to the Meltdown, but he is pretty confident it won't be the last. There was also a first time (I think) appearance by Robert Nieves, another Iron Head racer, who also had a really sweet Hemi powered dragster (of the 4 wheel variety) on hand. Self centered jerk that I am, I never got over to meet him and welcome him to the group, but I know Skinner and others did.  Other than that the motorcycles were represented by most of the usual suspects. 

Nice shot of Jake Wang about 15 feet out and carrying the front wheel

Tom Rotert on his Triumph in the near lane 
 John Endrizzi on his hand shift Knuckle in the far lane 

 Mark Wang and his son Jake brought near matching Sportsters, Mark's being assembled during the last week before the event (photo by Jay Rogers)

The remaining pictures were all taken by Car Show Aaron, who seems to really have a knack with the camera.  His Facebook page contains some really great shots of not only the bikes in attendance, but a large number of the drag cars that make the Meltdown such a success (over 160 photos). If you share his pics, please give him credit for them.

Robert Nieves on his great looking Sportster
(photo by Car Show Aaron) 

"Famous Jay" Rogers staging his Iron XL
  (photo by Car Show Aaron)

That caption probably needs an explanation, since I just now made up that nickname for Jay.  It seems that every year "Gasser Wars" magazine features a picture of Jay in their coverage of the Meltdown Drags.  A year or so ago they had a picture of Jay and his Sporty as their "favorite bike" pick.  This year there he was again next to a line of text extolling the vintage drag bikes as real crowd pleasers.  "Famous Jay" - just kind of rolls off the tongue, don't you think?

Here's the Knuckledragger following sage advise given by AMRA announcer Rich Wegner back in the 1980's: "It doesn't matter how fast you go as long as you look good and do a smokey burnout!" (photo by Car Show Aaron)

Front wheel up just enough to look good but avoid scaring an old man 
(photo by Car Show Aaron)

As mentioned, the Knuckledragger finally made a pass near its potential (though one could argue that the bike itself has been chomping at the bit for two years with only the rider holding it back).  That happened early Saturday afternoon with Famous Jay in the other lane.  Nothing like being lined up next to a fast bike to add some incentive, resulting in the best E.T. and MPH for the hand shift Knuck to date: 12.056 seconds @ 113.32 MPH.

If you have a vintage drag bike, today is the day to start working on it so you will be ready to join in the fun next year at the Meltdown Drags.


Anonymous said...

HAH! Great post Lee!

I'll bring a sharpee next time so I can sign autographs.....Its always great seeing you guys and we are already planning/working towards next year. I'm thinking of adding a cape or something!

Famous Jay.....

jameslacr said...

Jay runs on a budget. Family first. Next year he has the added cost of a new helmet. He has to buy a larger size to fit his swollen head from all the praise.

Anonymous said...

Great to see the Knuck starting to run for you Lee.

Mn Joe

Mark Ropel said...

I wish I was there, sounds like my kind of race, nice to hear you repeat Big Rich's advice too. Being a realist I know my Knuckle, "The Hammer of Hell", would have been outclassed by Knuckledragger, but still, it would have made for a catchy poster. Lee it's OK, a couple years back an old, New Mexican Padre blessed the Harleys, mine too and the Holy Water did not sizzle off. Best to you all, Mark Ropel

St. Lee said...

Mark, speaking for the rest of the guys running our vintage bikes at the Meltdown, I can say we would be thrilled to have you join us there. I know there are a number of cars that make the trip from the west coast for the event. Pre-registration (required) begins Jan. 2 for the July 14-16 2017 event.

As for the holy water incident; I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from it, because as we all know, the way holy water is made is to take regular water and boil the hell out of it.

Thanks for stopping by, and don't be a stranger.