Not a single motorcycle made it down the waterlogged Maryland International Raceway on the opening day of the MIROCK Finals from Budds Creek, MD. The persistent mist of rain refused to subside, thus forcing the entire event into a one-day showdown.
The rain didn’t seem to dampen the red hot controversy in the Schnitz Racing Outlaw Pro Street category. Turbo racers in the class continued to express their disapproval with MIROCK’s recent decision to ban turbos from what is primarily a nitrous-powered class in 2007. “I disagree with the decision and I think it was more of a knee-jerk reaction by the higher-ups to keep things quiet,” turbo Suzuki rider and world record holder at 6.99 Rodney Williford said. “The owners of this organization do not have the time to deal with all the individuals that are lobbying for a change. Banning turbos was the quick and easy solution to keep the series going but I’m not sure it was the right one. We (turbo bikes) have been quicker at times, but with no consistency. The last final in Rockingham was a turbo bike vs. nitrous bike and the result was a 7.10 to 7.11.”
With only two races remaining in the series Williford is No. 2 in the point series, only 14 behind two-time defending class champion, nitrous-powered Tony “The Tiger” Girardi. Known as one of the most consistent riders in the class Girardi has been to three finals but has yet to win a race.
“It’s going to be really hard for us to hang on to the lead,” said L&W Motorworks-backed Girardi. “Right now they (turbo bikes) have a big advantage and can run in the sixes at any time. We are hoping they will get greedy and overpower the track.” The quickest nitrous run so far has been by Ralph Medrano Jr. at 7.09.
Medrano and Girardi’s tuner and four-time MIROCK series champion Dan Wagner of L&W explained his side of the nitrous vs. turbo cold war. “The change was definitely needed,” said Wagner, who supplies over half the competitors in the class with engines. “The turbo bikes had shown that they had over a tenth of a second of advantage. This class is made up of 90-percent nitrous racers and that kind of domination by the turbos will kill the class. Everybody would have had to rebuild into this new technology and it cost about 15-thousand more per pop. That would devastate our turnouts.”
Williford plans to build a nitrous bike for next season, much like the one turbo guru Jeff Nordeen debuted at this event. The machine was an immaculate Hayabusa-powered ride featuring some unique innovation.
The hot rumor in the pits was the possibility that MIROCK may add a new class in 2007 called Outlaw Extreme, which would yield similar rules as Outlaw, including the limiting seven-inch tire and 75-inch wheelbase, but would allow for any engine combination. “This would be incredibly exciting and would really make the series grow,” Frank Adams from PsychoBike.com said while pitching the class idea to MIR track owner Royce Miller. “There are guys out there that could make these bikes go 6.70s without a wheelie bar. Fans would love it.”
Wagner disapproved of the new class and thought the open engine rule would lead to it’s demise. “It’s going to be like what happened to Funny Bike. They let too many combinations in and nobody knows what to build,” Wagner said. “That will hold the class back and the cost will be very high. You could spend a ton of money building a bike that could become obsolete overnight.”
But for now the focus of all the Outlaw riders remains on the 2006 title chase. Complete qualifying and eliminations from the MIR Finals will all take place on Sunday. Each of the riders ranked in the top ten in the point series have showed up to compete in what will prove to be a critical race in the championship chase.
Current Outlaw Pro Street Points
1)Tony Girardi 481
2)Rodney Williford 467
3)Angie McBride 434
4)Ralph Medrano Jr. 428
5)Mac McAdams 364
6)Dave Norris 326
7)Jeff Nordeen 303
8)Robert Hunnicutt 236
9)Costello Shedrick 193
10)Brandon Farlow 181
Additional Photos from MIR