Weight a minute?
The NHRA has done a respectable job in regards to maintaining parity between three very distinct brands of Pro Stock Motorcycles. However the organization will soon find simply adding weight to the surging V-twins isn’t going to work forever.
Case in point, after the Vance and Hines V-Rod of Eddie Krawiec won the last two races, NHRA mandated the Harley team to add 20 pounds to its motorcycles.
The result? In Chicago Andrew Hines qualified his V-Rod fifth, just .05 behind the leader, and Krawiec finished the event as the runner-up.
Weight a minute? Isn’t this the race the Harley team should be vigorously struggling to find a way to overcome the penalty and get back to the top of field? If the Vance and Hines team was able to surmount the extra 20 pounds that quickly, what will happen when it has a few races worth of data to help make valuable tuning calls on the bikes? Look for the V-Rods to go right back to the top.
The reason is simple. The NHRA told the Harley team they had to add 20 pounds, they didn’t tell the team where they had to put it. In some cases extra weight will actually help the Harleys. Remember drag racing is a game of traction and the V-Rods have enough muscle under the tank to overcome 20 pounds on the top end of the track.
The situation accentuates the real problem NHRA is facing in maintaining parity between the V-twins and the Suzukis. The Harley’s and the Buells, especially the Harleys, will continue to get progressively quicker because there is still so much potential left in the V-twin motors through research and development. In the world of NHRA PSM the combination is still very new.
On the other hand the old-school Suzuki GS engine is nearing its climax. Racers have been squeezing every ounce of horsepower out of this type of motor for over 30 years. There isn’t much left to be uncovered.
An elite few Suzuki riders have recorded elapsed-times in the 6.80s on what is usually described as a “perfect run.” For a naturally aspirated GS, 6.80s are incredibly impressive and probably very close to peak performance.
So what does this mean for the long-term future of the GS-motored machines in PSM?
For a new, ambitious rider entering the class, investing money into a Suzuki program just doesn’t make sense. The V-twins have way too much upside and Suzuki hasn’t won a championship since 2003.
Do you think Doug Horne would be having the sensational rookie season he’s having if he were on a Suzuki?
Many GS teams and enthusiasts are asking, why isn’t NHRA stepping in to make drastic rule changes to help the Suzuki riders? The answer is, who says they have to? Just because PSM was a Suzuki-only class for well-over a decade doesn’t mean NHRA wants it to stay that way.
The way the rules are now an experienced and talented Suzuki rider who finds just the right tune-up and cuts razor-sharp lights still has a chance to make it to the winner’s circle (see Craig Treble, Houston). Just don’t look for it to happen all that often.
Plus fans love the V-twins and that may be the biggest factor of them all.