Pridemore Leads AHDRA Winners at Kuhnle
AMA/AHDRA Advanced Sleeve All-Harley Nitro Buckeye Nationals
Kuhnle Motorsports Park, Thompson, Ohio, USA June 9-11, 2023
Words and Pictures: Tim Hailey, Eatmylink Motorsport Media
The AHDRA/AMA All-American motorcycle drag racing series took its first look at the recently upgraded Kuhnle Motorsports Park in Thompson, Ohio, in June and local hero Jason Pridemore came out on top in the marquee Top Fuel class at the Advanced Sleeve All-Harley Nitro Buckeye Nationals.
Pridemore's unique blown, nitro Harley-Davidson "Gunslinger" is a self-engineered, home-built, one-off piece of art.
Even with his proximity to the track, Pridemore was unsure that he would make the event. "It was a challenge to get there. Three weeks earlier I broke the engine and exploded the intake plenum on the bike.
"Saturday we qualified in the number two spot, welded up some cracks in the exhaust pipes, reset the clutch, and came up with a tune-up and plan for Sunday. As we went through the rounds on Sunday, the plan worked on a very tricky track to get down."
And no round was trickier than the final against Smokin' Dean Comunal on a Bad Apple Racing bike. Comunal took an enormous .069 to .229 lead at the start. Both bikes looked on good passes until the transition from concrete to asphalt broke the tires loose. From then on it was a peddlefest between two riders looking for closure from dramatic incidents years earlier.
Pridemore had a terrible back half crash at Norwalk in 2014, while Comunal was very seriously injured in a Nitro Harley explosion in 2017. Now, both were on and off the throttle, trying to reach the stripe for a healing win. This particular afternoon belonged to Pridemore, whose low 157 mph at 6.82 shows just how much track this bike eats in the front half.
Ryan Peery made it two straight Nitro Funnybike wins on his "Big Nasty," vanquishing Armon Furr in the final after Furr put out champion Michael Balch in round 1.
Peery and Furr left nearly lockstep together, with Furr having a .004 advantage. Peery had a 4/10ths ET advantage by half track and held on for the win.
Defending Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel champion Sam White has won all three AHDRA races this year, but "Bad Apple Mary" Dangrow didn't make it easy in the Kuhnle final. Neither rider set the tree on fire, but White took an .070 advantage before struggling on the big end.
"I left the barn door open for 'BAM' to close," said White. "The front end washed out because of rider error, but we pulled it out for the (7.53 to 7.57) win."
Charley Douglass took a knife to the GMS Racing Engines Xtreme Outlaw gunfight, which proved to be the tool for the job as Mike Motto's bike could only fire bullets the first third of the track.
Douglass showed up to Kuhnle with his Hot Street bike because his turbo Outlaw bike wasn't ready. So it would seem to be an "Easy Button" weekend for Motto and his nitrous bike. But Motto doesn't have an "Easy Button" and stays locked into "New Record" mode, which sometimes results in finding the weak link in his combination. The weak link this week was the shifter, and Motto couldn't make a full lap in anger - handing the win to Douglass and his knife.
John Price is having a good year so far in Zipper's Performance Products Pro Modified, taking the Kuhnle final over Kimberly "K-Charm" Deshields. Kim had a slim .004 lead on Price at the start, but his 8.68 at 150 mph was miles ahead at the stripe.
Deshields may have lost the Pro Modified final, but she snagged the win in Axtell Cylinders Super Modified against Gary Douglass in the final.
Kentuckian Jeff Workman took the Pingel Modified final, made easy when Dru Conner redlit.
Louisianan Scott Tomsu took two Bagger wins at Kuhnle - Pro Bagger and Bagger Street - driving around Perry Paugh for the Street win.
Bagger Street runner-up Perry Paugh rebounded with the MTC Pro Comp Outlaw Bagger win on his 2000 Street Glide.
"It's a 128 engine with a best ET of 11.81 at 111.00 mph - not too bad for a total weight just under 1,000 pounds," said big man Paugh.
Ken Strauss lived at the edge of the Kuhnle track before moving to North Carolina, and he made his Thompson homecoming extra special by doubling up in 9.30 and Vreeland's Harley-Davidson 9.90.
The 9.30 win came at the expense of runner-up Chris Hoppe, who took the tree but was unable to run the number.
Strauss' Vreeland's Harley-Davidson 9.90 final round opponent was Gary DeZee. Strauss took the tree by a very wide margin and was able to ease up at the stripe for the win.
9.30 runner-up Hoppe came back around in 10.30 index, taking the final round tree by a wide margin and maintaining his edge for the win.
Hoppe also won Eliminator class both days for a triple!
Cody Hayworth continues to come up with a win pretty much every time he hits the track. He took the Universal Fleet & Tire 10.90 win against Larry Stevens in the final
Racin' Ray Robinson continues to tear up the track on his rough and ready, short wheelbase Buell. Robinson won the 11.50 index final by taking the tree and pushing Erik Nelson to break out.
Jaden Hines won Junior Junior Dragbike both days at Kuhnle, with Blake Harper the runner-up both days. Jaden's brother Michael Hines Jr. won Junior Senior on Saturday, but was shut out of Sunday's winners circle by Kylie Himmelreich.
John Pace won Trophy class both days.
Bill and Chrissy Rowe look forward to welcoming the AHDRA/AMA family back for their second trip to Milan Dragway in Milan, Michigan, July 29-30, for the Second Annual Southern Michigan Bikefest.