Drag Racing is a sport obsessed with speed and power. It’s the endless pursuit of that hazy grey area beyond what others see as the ‘limit’ – the limit of mechanical performance, and in many classes the limit of human physical endurance.
And whereas some classes like Top Fuel might subject the body to near-blackout levels of gravitational pull, only one class strips away all the political correctness, and most of the common sense and tries their darnedest to chase down the quarter mile on two wheels.
That category is Top Bike, the ultimate evolution of motorcycle Drag Racing and, if the truth be known, the only times the front wheels touch the ground is during the burnout and deceleration.
Yep, these mad men strap themselves to 900-horsepower worth of billet V-twin engines and proceed to propel themselves down the blacktop in less than six seconds. If they can make the run stick, trap speeds will exceed 235mph.
In the 2016 400 Thunder Championship, it was Western Australian Mark Drew who took honours. His blisteringly-hot season marks the end of a three year journey where he’s defended his title as the fastest man on one wheel in Australia. He currently holds every National Record in the V-Twin category, and every record for the category at every track around the country – not a bad claim to fame.
“In around 2014 we bought the ex-Doug Horne bike from the States. On our first outing it ran the first 6.3-second pass in Australia, and it’s been getting faster since then. From there it’s been in constant development; we’ve never done the Championship but this year with family commitments relaxing we looked like we were in a good place to have a good chance at winning,” elaborates Drew, who travelled to just about every corner of the country to string together enough Championship points to take home the top gong in 2016.
“The whole season was pretty testing!” exclaims Drew, who seemed to spend the season chasing mechanical gremlins, spending more than one meeting rebuilding the entire engine from the ground up just to make the next round of racing. “We did it at Brisbane earlier in 2016 after hydrolocking an engine on the start line. We got it back together, got it down the track hosing the rear tyre but we had some data,” explains Drew, whose never-ending search for data is an obsession that saw him rise above the adversity and end the season on a high.
“We approach the racing very differently. We’re never really racing the guy in the other lane… so what might not look like a good meeting to people watching us may be a great meeting for me because I’m chasing the data. I’m all about going faster and eventually getting down close to the World Record,” adds Drew with beaming confidence.
Easily one of the most unpredictable categories in the Australian Drag Racing landscape, Top Bike can see the Championship table change in the space of a meeting as riders leapfrog one another based on who can get the phenomenal amounts of power down and battle the track better than their peers.
Heading in to the last round of the season, Drew boasted a clear lead on his rivals but couldn’t best Chris Porter in the First Round, going down by only a few tenths of a second in a gruelling, side-by-side 6-second battle. Porter and Drew had duked it out several times throughout the season, including one showdown in Adelaide earlier in 2016. “I got out of the hole and smoked the tyre so I was on and off the throttle. Chris in the other lane must have thought he had it in the bag but I managed to straighten the bike up and drove around him at the top end, and ended up trapping more than 20mph faster!” laughs Drew.
“All we had to do was get through the First Eliminator at the Winters, and once I’d done that I knew I couldn’t be beat,” adds Drew, the newly-crowned 400 Thunder Champion.
While on top, Drew plans to park the bike to add a new management system in his quest for more and more data which means he looks like sitting out the next season of racing.
“We’ll continue testing on the west coast and get the bike down to the 6.1s then bring it back out again,” he says in closing.
Mark expressed a heartfelt thanks to Perth Harley Davidson, Baz National, Brajkovich Demolition and Territory Powersports for their support.