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Krawiec feat sparks extra interest in bike class

Reigning NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Eddie Krawiec's unofficial 200-mph lap has fans watching for him to make it official. (Phot by Ron Lewis)
Reigning NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Eddie Krawiec's unofficial 200-mph lap has fans watching for him to make it official. (Phot by Ron Lewis)

It's easy for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class to be overlooked. The bikes race at only 16 of 23 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events. And let's face it, they just can't compete with the sensory-overload spectacle of the 7,000-horsepower nitro-powered monsters, the Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars.

But the crowd at Gainesville, Fla.'s Auto-Plus Raceway was abuzz throughout the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals weekend about the two-wheelers and reigning champion Eddie Krawiec in particular.

In testing March 5 at South Georgia Motorsports Park at Valdosta, Krawiec became the first to pull a 200-mph pass from a Pro Stock Motorcycle. Once the Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson rider realized what he had done, he credited "crazy air" and unexpectedly ideal conditions for the feat.

Although unofficial in terms of NHRA record-keeping, the 6.771-second elapsed time at 200.08 mph was quicker than Hector Arana Sr.'s year-old national E.T. record (6.777 seconds) and slightly faster than his own national speed record of 199.26 mph from last March at the Gatornationals.

Once Krawiec got to Gainesville, he made his dominance official. He clocked the quickest pass in Pro Stock Motorcycle history -- a 6.750-second run at 198.03 mph on the fabled quarter-mile in the third of four qualifying chances. He used a 6.794-second elapsed time in the final session to back up his feat and reset the national record.

"I think getting that national E.T. record back to us means a lot," the two-time series champion said. "Vance & Hines, Harley-Davidson, Screamin' Eagle, we pride ourselves on that. The mile-an-hour record is great, but when you tell everybody, 'I'm the national record-holder,' that goes a long way. We're proud to have it back in our camp."

Traditionally, the grandstands thin out considerably after the nitro classes run, but with Krawiec -- and possibly his teammate, Andrew Hines -- on the brink of making history, they didn't want to be lined up Sunday at the restrooms or concession stands. This weekend they had celebrated the 20th anniversary of Kenny Bernstein's run that broke the 300-mph barrier.

Krawiec said Saturday night that he certainly would like to post a 200-mph run officially but that it isn't something he can snap his fingers and produce.

"We're trying to go it, but 200 . . . It's one of those things that you can't just push. It's going to happen -- it's just going to happen," Krawiec said. "After we did it at Valdosta, we tried to get Andrew there. He made a perfect, clean run and he went 199.86. It's not like you can just say, 'I'm going to go 200.'

"We'd definitely love to do it. We've got Willy G coming in the house, and we'd like to do it in front of him," he said. But it's race day, and we want to win a Wally," Krawiec said. "Whatever comes after that is a plus."

Those who decided to forgo a sandwich for awhile got some excitement, though not a 200-mph blast. Krawiec flirted even more with the milestone during eliminations, hitting 199.14 in a 6.761-second quarterfinal victory over Scotty Pollacheck.

Hector Arana Jr. and Krawiec's Harley-Davidson teammate, Andrew Hines, join Krawiec and Matt Smith in the rain-delayed semifinals. So fans still have a chance to see a 200-mph run.

Then again, it might be quite awhile before Pro Stock Motorcycle riders crack reach that 200-mph plateau. The Gatornationals has among its history a bad reputation for unpredictable weather. Some years it's sunny and toasty, then dank and cool the next. The forecast this past weekend called for warm temperatures. Instead, a cloud cover showed up in the morning, and the action was interrupted several times with sprinkles A skeptical Krawiec said even before the event began that if this racetrack can't facilitate a 200-mph pass, then he doubted any other facility on the rest of the schedule would see such a meteorological combination as he enjoyed at Valdosta.

"I'll be honest -- I don't think we'd even have the opportunity, for the most part, at any other event, to really run in this air. Gainesville could be a hit-or-miss type deal. Reading had really good air this past year. So did Pomona. But it's not often that you get everything all lined up right," he said.

That's what makes the possibility so delicious -- and a much-needed draw to the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.

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