Have you, as a racer, ever wondered what it takes to win a championship? Do you know what it takes to roll over your opponents again and again? Are you out to win a championship in your class, or are you just out there going racing? We asked a man who knows winning, Mr. George Bryce: “What does it take to formulate a championship season?” After all, George has certainly been there, done that and sells the T-shirt.
George Bryce of Star Racing, from Americus, Georgia, has been involved in motorcycle drag racing for close to 35 years. Beginning in the 1970’s era, George himself as a drag bike pilot, raced in various sportsman classes. As a driver, tuner and team owner, when he advanced into the professional ranks, he competed in more than one professional class including Funny Bike. But he’s best known for his efforts in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racing.
Among George’s credentials in Pro Stock Motorcycle, he includes on his resume, six NHRA Championship seasons and seventy-eight wins. Arguably one of his greatest accomplishments was a thirteen year consecutive streak when one of his STAR RACING protégé racers finished either first or second in NHRA PSM competition from 1990 to 2002.
George Bryce knows what it takes to win championships in motorcycle drag racing. He’s devoted much of his life to it. By putting his racers into the final round of eliminations 149 times and guiding them to the winners circle 78 times, it’s safe to say the man knows from where he speaks when he talks about winning in motorcycle drag racing. When this teacher speaks, it behooves the listener to pay close attention. And pay to listen to George teach is something smart racers have been doing since 1993 when George opened up his Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racing school as part of Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in Gainesville, Florida, some twenty years ago.
George is not stingy with his knowledge. In fact, he’s been a school teacher in drag racing for two decades now. Never one to shy away from a good question, when asked recently what it takes to win in championship motorcycle drag racing, George opened up his treasure chest and yielded a wealth of knowledge about exactly what it takes to win championships. What follows here are more than three decades of winning wisdom shared with readers by one of the most successful team owners in professional drag racing.
Not just anyone can achieve a championship in drag racing. On any Sunday, a racer can back into the winners circle with a few bye-runs. But no drag racer can ever win a championship in such fashion. There are requirements to winning consistently and a racer must finish high consistently to achieve a championship season.
George likens the requirements of a championship team to a wheel kept straight and true, headed for the winner’s circle, supported by five definitive spokes that must be present for this wheel to roll over the opposition. In order to be the best, a racer must possess all five spokes to the Championship Wheel.
1) The Best Pilot – The best drag bike pilot is one who is self confident, well educated in motorcycle drag racing, and seasoned with experience. In Pro Stock Motorcycle racing, it helps a lot if they are small in stature. It’s equally important that they be open-minded, handle constructive critique well, work hard, and always seek improvements. Drivers must always stay calm and focused. A few good examples of these types of drivers were John Myers, Dave Schultz and Angelle Sampey, who by-the-way accounted for 119 Wallys out of the 200 available during the time they all did battle together.
2) The Best Engine – To win in heads up drag racing you must have the most power, and it has to last for at least four rounds on Sunday. A winning engine must not only make more power than your opposition, it also has to hold up.
3) The Best Chassis – The best chassis must be stiff, have a low center of gravity, be front heavy, and possess great aerodynamics, yet be overall light in weight with low rolling resistance. These attributes are vital components in every winning Pro Stock Motorcycle.
4) The Best Team – The most support from your inner core group, your family, your race team, the team owner, and especially the crew chief, is absolutely necessary. All team members must be smart, hard working and like-minded to win in drag racing. Outsiders never see this and the press is slow to highlight this (if ever) but drag racing is a team sport. There can be no weak links in the team chain.
5) The Best Money – Sufficient money to go racing with is just as important if not more important than any other spoke of the championship wheel. Without sufficient funding, a race rig cannot even leave the driveway. Acquiring the best equipment, hiring the best workers, having sufficient spares on hand, and covering the costs of travel and food are just the basics to compete. Championship teams require testing sessions, DYNO TIME, and additional engines to try out new ideas on all season long. A racer can never have too much money to work with.
When a race team can bring together all five spokes to the wheel of competition, they have the best chance of running to the very best of their abilities in seeking a championship season.
The next time you go to the races, look around the pit area closely. You’ll notice a few spokes in a few of the motorcycle pit areas. If you check their statistics, you’ll see they win a few races. However, if you look closer and you see a pit area where all five spokes of the wheel are present, you’ll either see a #1 plate or a hard working team contending for one.