That was our best time. Not terribly fast, but faster than a lot of people have been down a drag strip!
Yesterday’s post was about our anticipation of heading to the local drag racing course to test our mettle against the best amateur racers in NJ. It turned out to be a great night.
After putting on full leathers, we headed out of New York City and down to Englishtown Raceway Park in NJ, which one of our friends described as a “motorsports shopping mall.” He’s dead-on; Englishtown has a go kart/supermoto track, a motocross course, a lake for jet-skis, a drag strip, and a road course for cars. We were in awe as we rode past the huge motocross jumps, and felt a little sad that we had visited E-Town in order to ride in a straight line rather than race one another on the motocross course.
The drag strip is at the back of the Englishtown complex. We paid the $29 entry fee and rolled over to tech inspection. Even before we got there, we could smell burning rubber in the air and heard the sounds of tortured motors coming through the grandstands.
Tech inspection didn’t seem too rigorous, although they do require everyone to have a leather jacket. Leather pants are required if exceeding 120mph, and a metal chain guard is required for everyone, although they let us through without one because it was our first time.
The tech officials also gave us a quick lesson on how the “Christmas Tree” works. Basically, the top row of lights lights up when a racer is near the start line. When he reaches the start line the second row lights up (actually it’s a starting “area” six inches long… This means it isn’t necessary to be totally precise with positioning, and it is even possible to tune the pass by starting near the beginning for a higher trap speed, or near the end for a lower ET). When both competitors are in the start area, three yellow lights turn on at half second intervals, and then the green light comes on and it’s time to hustle.
We made our way over to the staging lanes and met the other motorcycle racers. There were three guys on GSX-R 1000s, a gentleman with a Hayabusa, and a guy on a Ninja 1000.
Our longest chat was with the Hayabusa owner. He said he had bought it with 8k miles and now it had 14k even though he had only ever ridden it at the drag strip! It was all stock inside but had a long swingarm, carbon wheels, an air shifter and the front tied down. He was a big guy and was running in the 140s. The carbon wheels struck us as risky and sure enough, he broke the rear wheel on one of the runs later in the night.
Then it was time for our runs. All the motorcyclists rode from the staging lanes to the area at the foot of the quarter mile. It was a dramatic view, and we watched as two cars went, and then the first two bikes. One of the two was the guy on the Hayabusa, and he did a mondo burnout, rocking the bike back and forth and spewing smoke everywhere. He hooked up when the lights went green, and the marshals motioned us forward.
As first timers, we weren’t about to do big burnouts, so we steered around the burnout water and then crept forward to the Christmas tree. The surface of the track was completely coated in rubber and was incredibly sticky, to the point where it would be possible to step out of a sneaker. And then the yellow lights came on one by one. We revved it up and dumped the clutch on the third yellow and were off right as the green light came on.
The front wheel came up for a bit and then it was time to shift into second. The track seemed very wide; we had tunnel vision, alternating between the tach and the track. Up through the gears and then about half a mile to stop. There was a little hut on the way back that handed out the timeslips.
Our competitor had been the first-timer on the Ninja 1000, and apparently he had done half his run on the limiter and only made it to 84mph! Whoops.
The next runs were uneventful, except on one a map flew out of our tankbag. We came so close to the 12s that we wound up wishing we’d ditched the tankbag in order to get a better tuck. Like we said yesterday, in drag racing there is always something else to upgrade, modify, or optimize.
It was a fun night, but we can’t see going back very often. It might be useful for comparing bikes, but unless there is the possibility of winning money, it seems abusive and repetitive. If something isn’t entertaining without putting money on it, perhaps it isn’t that entertaining. Of course, we might just need to hop on a Hayabusa and see what its like to aim one of those down a drag strip, or better yet, the Maxton Mile!