|The fact he’s 20 years old and a rookie in NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle series doesn’t mean LE Tonglet is a newbie when it comes to getting the most out of a competitive Pro Stock drag bike. Born into a racing family, LE began drag racing when he was 10, and he’s been making positive impressions – and winning races – ever since. By the time he was 14 he was riding a Pro Stock Suzuki with a modified engine that was a consistent seven-second performer.He tacked on back-to-back AHDRA (All Harley Drag Racing Association) V-Rod Destroyer championships in 2007-2008. Included in his 2007 title run was a victory at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I won in the Destroyer class in my first race there,” said Tonglet, who hopes to continue his remarkable Countdown to the Championship performance in the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at The Strip. Tonglet has been to four straight finals in the six-race playoffs. He won the first three and climbed from seventh to second place in what has become a two-driver title showdown with series leader Andrew Hines.
“We need to go more rounds than he does Sunday and keep on going,” added Tonglet, who trails Hines by 72 points (2566-2494). “As tough as that Harley team is, we have to get two wins. Anything is possible. He’s been in this position before . . . and I don’t see him making many mistakes. He is good on Sunday.”
Tonglet’s no slouch. The odds-on choice to win NHRA’s Road to the Future Award, aka rookie of the year, he drove to his first final round at St. Louis in his third race and went to the winner’s circle two events later at Chicago. He also holds a 4-2 record against Hines, who has been difficult to shake in the Countdown. Hines was the other finalist at the last four events and has been to seven straight title rounds.
LE’s father Gary tunes the Nitro Fish Suzuki GSXR and his oldest son GT is the crew chief. They are surprised and elated with the success they are experiencing. They had financial concerns when LE’s 15-round win streak began with a Labor Day victory at Indianapolis. Nitro Fish owner Kenny Koretsky stepped in and the Tonglets responded with triumphs at Charlotte and Dallas before Hines won at Reading, Pa.
“We have our old motor back in for this weekend,” said LE. “We’ll be happy if we qualify well and get some extra qualifying points. We’ll be thankful if we can keep going rounds and keep our Nitro Fish bike in championship contention.”
“LE has positioned himself as a force to be reckoned with,” said Koretsky. “He’s a very good rider. We are real proud of him, no matter how he does in this world championship battle.”