The inaugural New England Dragway Motorcycle Masters race run on September 28th, 2013, at New England Dragway, in Epping, NH was by all accounts, a big hit with all concerned. The racers who clashed, the fans who attended, the many who donated food and time to make this happen, all had smiles and hand shakes to share as the race unfolded. Every round of racing happened on schedule, no one went hungry and there were lots of laughs as the ladder pairings were set up.
The New England Dragway Motorcycle Masters race is a select race run to see who is the top racer out of the previous seasons racers. The winner and runner up of the previous seasons points championships are invited to race against a select number of racers voted into competition by the racers who raced in the previous season. In short, it’s a race for the racers, by the racers to see who’s best for that season. So in the calendar year 2013, the best of the best from the 2012 season who raced at New England Dragway faced off Masters style.
At 10am, the drivers’ meeting took place with all eight contestants; Ed Hughes of Lowell, Ma, Peter Dyer of Laconia, NH, John Parenteau of Brentwood, NH, John Civitarese of Norwood, Ma, Tommy Galligan of Johnston, RI, Sam Hurwitz of Newton, Ma, Tony Ficher of Falmouth, Ma, and Scott Levasseur of Rye, NH, were present and ready to go. After a briefing as to how the days events would unfold, the racers proceeded to the N.E.D. winner’s circle for a well staged group photo with the Stanley Cup of drag racing: The Masters Trophy. A piece of art work created entirely of scrap drag bike parts sitting atop a solid Walnut base.
While the racers and photographer have never assembled for a photo shoot like this before, it took a while, as predicted, to get all involved into place, but it was worth it. Assembling all eight racers with their bikes around the Masters trophy was quite a sight that yielded a great remembrance of this historic event. Following the photo shoot, the actual fun began.
In the Masters pit area, racers were all called to their individual chairs well marked with the finest 200mph duct-tape that proudly displayed each racers name well defined by a Sharpie marker. As soon as the racers took their seats individual introductions began by the DJ/MC, the author of this story.
The first introduction was Mr. Tim Root of NH, the woodworking craftsman who created the 1” thick walnut base of the Masters trophy. Tim not only did the woodwork, he acted as a dignitary as one of the creators of the trophy and he presented all the racers with their gold embossed certificates of recognition for participating in the Masters race.
After the racers accepted their certificates, the Drum of Choice was brought into play as the racers themselves set the ladder and chose their own competition by random drawing. Mrs. Maryann Ciappenelli, the seamstress for the Masters trophy who hand crafted the beautiful black velvet skirt, was the honorary first person to give the Drum of Choice a spin and choose the first contestant for the competition ladder: John Civitarese’s name came out first, much to his delight. Then John had to advance to the Drum of Choice and choose his own opponent for round one. He gave the drum a spin, pulled out a plastic Easter Egg and popped it open. The name John Parenteau tumbled out and the Masters had its first pairing. John then gave the drum a spin and Scott Levasseur’s name came up next. Scott’s spin of the drum paired him with Sam Hurwitz as the second pair going into competition. The final two pairing came up as Peter Dyer Vs Tony Ficher, and Ed Hughes Vs Tommy Galligan. The tension built as each racer had to sit and wonder who’s name would be next and who would have to face who!
Once the pairings were established, each pair of racers where called up together to the dais to do a coin toss to establish lane choice BUT before the coin toss, each racer had to state, on the spot, their dial-in number for round one. Each racer would go into the lanes for the first round stone cold, no warm up, no test passes, no advantages to anyone, all were equal entering round one. This was a tough pill to swallow for all racers. In time they each announced their dial in numbers, the coin was tossed again and again as lane choices were established and the ladder was soon set for round one. A copy of the ladder was sent to the New England Dragway tower and right on schedule by 11:30am the call went out for “Masters racers to the lanes” came over the loud speakers for the first time.
In round one action, the big horsepower bikes went out first. John Civitarese never left the starting line as John Parenteau powered his Arctic Cat drag sled to the first win in Masters competition. The same happened with the next pair as Sam Hurwitz
never left the starting line as Scott Levasseur motored down the left lane on his Suzuki powered Street Fighter bike. The big power bikes had big problems and never left the gate.
Peter Dyer had lane choice over Tony Ficher in the next pairing, but it didn’t help. After racing in Top Bike for so long with a pro-tree, the full tree used in the Masters just fooled him as he was not prepared for the long wait and he red lighted. Twin red eyes came out with the final pair as Ed Hughes went down to Tommy Galligan and team Galligan advanced to round two, the semi-final round.
To their credit, New England Dragway, despite never having hosted a Masters program before, embraced the program from the beginning and racing was flawless. Round two began right on time at 1PM, just after the playing of the National Anthem. Masters racers had the honor of coming out first to start the afternoon of racing.
Scott Levasseur, chopped John Parenteau at the tree with a .065 reaction time to John’s .112 departure and that spelled the difference on the big end at the stripe where it counts. Scott went 9.07 on a 9.05 dial, John went 9.50 on a nice 9.55, dial but the launch was the difference. According to the racers, Scott was ahead by almost half a bike length when they crossed the finish line at over 130mph.
As Tony Ficher and Tommy Galligan entered their battle, while Tommy had an advantage on the tree, but he paid a penalty in horsepower that cost him on the big end. Tony’s 8.93 dial gave him a head start due to Tom’s 7.80 dial in number. Tony’s reaction time was an uncharacteristic .111 RT and Tom’s .056 was good to give him what he needed for victory but Tom’s short time was way off due to the prevailing combination of his bike Vs track conditions. Tom suffered was his worst 60’ time in months followed by some tire shake and that was all it took to erode his elapsed time. The result was Tony Ficher took the win and a trip to the final round in a great match up no one could have foreseen.
Many racers wondered before the race, with five Top Bike racers, two Street Fighters, and one Motorcycle/Sled racer; who would meet in the final round? No one predicted that the two Street Fighter bikes would be the ones to duke it out, but that’s what happened much to the delight of most racers present.
In the final round, Tony dialed an 8.95 elapsed time and Scott dialed in at 9.05, the same dial-in he’d been using all day. On the launch, Tony had a slight advantage with a .91 reaction time to the .97 Scott clocked in with but by mid track they were well within reach of one another. At the finish line stripe where it counts, 1320’ after the launch it was over as Scott Levasseur crossed the finish line first for a trip to the winner’s circle!
As directed before the race, the winner was to fetch their time slip and proceed directly to the winner’s circle where the Motorcycle Masters trophy was waiting, basking in the sunshine. As Scott rolled into the winners circle the cheers and whistles were there ahead of him as fans and fellow racers piled down from the stands to greet him. Scottie took a moment to gather himself, removed his helmet, and then stood proudly beside the Motorcycle Masters trophy. Scottie was presented with a plaque courtesy of “Just Wood Flooring” in Newfield, NH. The plaque was handed off quickly and then attention turned to the Masters trophy as a new tradition unfolded: Scott was handed a screwdriver and he
removed HIS name plate from the Masters trophy base and handed it off to be engraved with the words, Scott Levasseur Motorcycle Masters Champion, 2012, Street Fighter.
So it begins; this battle on an annual basis to see who is the best of the best in motorcycle drag racing at New England Dragway, courtesy of the Motorcycle Masters event. While this was the first event of it’s kind in motorcycle drag racing history, it was so popular with the racers, there are sure to be imitations to follow. But if imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then why not?
As the 2013 racing season winds down and comes to a close on October 30th, racers are already mulling over the questions: who will be in next years race? Will a Street Fighter bike with no wheelie bars and street tires beat the not so big and not so bad drag bikes of Top Bike again? Will John Parenteau who’s in the field next year teach everyone a lesson with his Artic Cat drag sled? We’ll all find out next season when the best of the best clash again to decide who was the best racer of the 2013 season…Masters style.