Everything was going according to plan for eight-time Top Fuel Motorcycle champion Larry “Spiderman” McBride at the AMA Dragbike Summer Nationals from Bristol, Tenn, June 20-22. The Spiderman dazzled spectators with an initial run of 5.94 in testing prior to the event – an impressive number considering the significant increase in elevation on the mountain in Bristol.
McBride then qualified on the pole with a 5.87 at 238 mph. He won his opening round match-up and the world record-holder seemed to be on pace for another smooth weekend. That all changed in round No. 2 when McBride suffered an engine explosion on his bye run. The Spiderman’s machine went through the finish line on fire with a 5.96 at 232 mph.
“The drive pulley and the cam chain both broke and we aren’t exactly sure what broke first,” McBride said. “Right around 1000 feet the supercharger came off and the darn thing caught fire. It was very scary going that fast with the bike on fire. It burnt all my airlines off, burnt my blower cover up, and burnt a few fuel lines up.”
At this point McBride was faced with a very serious dilemma – stopping a motorcycle traveling at 232 mph as quickly as possible. McBride’s many years of experience came through for him.
“I stopped short, right in the middle of the shutdown and got out of there. I was getting the hell off of it. It was hot,” McBride said. “It’s hard for me to describe how I stopped that quick because so much of it was just a natural feel. You have to be very careful how much front brake you use when you are going that fast.”
The situation improved as the fire went out on its own and McBride’s record-breaking motorcycle was spared from being hosed-down.
“It just went out. I got off the bike on the top end and thank God the fire was gone before they reached it with the fire extinguisher,” McBride said.
McBride’s next challenge was getting the motorcycle back intact for the final round which was about 90 minutes away.
“Because we broke our new pulley system we had to switch everything over to all my stuff from last year. It was a nightmare, but we did it,” McBride said. “We were able to switch motors and get the bike back together in an hour-and-a-half. We put the old trusty “Crow” motor in there and a whole new drive.”
The team’s hard work was put to the test just minutes later. Everything seemed to work to perfection as McBride recorded an impressive 5.93, 231 mph final round victory over Mike Lehman.
“I’ve got the best crew there is,” McBride said. “They are the real deal.”
For this event the team was joined by friend Keith Adams, who served as a longtime NHRA crew chief. Adams worked on Team Winston with Alan Johnson and most recently severed as crew chief for Cory McClenathan.
Along with winning the race the team set a milestone by resetting the eighth-mile ET record to 3.85 during qualifying.
“It means something to us but it doesn’t mean nearly as much as a quarter-mile record,” McBride said. “I’ll try to keep all these records in my house if I can.”
Two weeks later McBride continued his impressive hot streak at the Virginia Motorsports Park Bike Bash. Facing a 134-degree track temperature, the Spiderman clicked off runs of 6.20 at 227 mph and 6.01 at 239 mph.
McBride’s next challenge will come at the AMA Dragbike Pingel Thunder Nationals from Indianapolis, Ind, August 2-3.
The team thanked; Pingel Enterprise, Trim-Tex Drywall Products, Drag Specialties-Parts Unlimited, Red Line Synthetic Oil Corporation as well as his other sponsors.
Vance & Hines Motorsports, PR Factory Store, Muzzys Performance, Web-Cam, Kibblewhite, Ferrea Valves, Precision Machine, Vanson Leathers, Performance Machine, Belt Drives Ltd, Street & Competition, Simpson Race Products, Nitrous Express, APE, EK Chain, Arias Pistons, R/D Spring Corp, Autolite, MSD, Protect ALL, Whipple Industries, Cometic Gaskets, B&J Transmission, Carolina Cycle, L.A. Sleeve, PJ1, Mickey Thompson Tires, Valco, and Carlisle Belts.