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Tuesday 4 July 2023


AHDRA Rolls Smoothly at The "New" Rockingham

Words and photos by Tim Hailey, Eatmyink Motorsport Media

All-American motorcycle drag racing (AHDRA/AMA) put the new Rockingham Dragway racing surface to the test and found it "smooth and quick". The new Rockingham owners and staff delivered a first-class weekend for both AHDRA's nitro stars and sportsman backbone for a race shortened to one day by a dismal Sunday forecast.

Californian Tim Kerrigan dominated AHDRA Nitro Funnybike in the early 2000s, winning two straight championships and now, 20-years later he's ready to go racing again. Kerrigan hired Johnny Vickers of Hawaya Racing to build him a unique Top Fuel bike and brought it to Rockingham to race AHDRA's best.

Tim Kerrigan

The 2021 Top Fuel champion Ryan Perry qualified number one with a 6.40 at 216 mph, showing that the new Rockingham concrete was getting dialed in well.

Peery had a first-round bye, defending champ Tracy Kile eased past John "J.T." Toth, while Kerrigan put up a stout 6.50 to oust North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Famer Jay Turner's ProCharged bike. 

In the other E1 pairing, 2X NHRA champ Tii Tharpe had to gather his mount back up to barely catch Larry "Grey Ghost" Stanley. Sadly, that was The Ghost's last pass ever as veteran racer Stanley died suddenly days later of an apparent heart attack. Condolences to his wife Diane McIntyre and Stanley's legions of friends and fans after decades of nitro Harley racing.

Tharpe would go no further, as Kerrigan advanced to the final at Tii's expense. Kile beat Peery at the tree and on track to advance to meet Kerrigan in the final.

Kerrigan's bulb prowess continued as he slapped a mean .020 on Kile and held on 6.50 to 6.59 to take his first win in 20 years, both bikes under power at night for a dramatic, flaming race to the finish. 

Tii Tharpe

Kile also runner-upped earlier in the day during the postponed North Florida Don "D.J." Johnson Memorial Top Fuel final that was run during the final qualifying session, with the defending AHDRA champion taking on 2021 champ Peery. This time Kile took the tree with a .110 to Peery's .164, but smoked the tire between the 60 and 330, while Peery thundered to a 6.60 at 212 for the win.

Tharpe rebounded for the Nitro Funnybike win over Peery, while Sam White took the two Hawaya Racing Pro Fuel wins - one for Rockingham and one delayed from North Florida. 

Charley Douglass won GMS Racing Engines Xtreme Outlaw; John Price won Zipper's Performance Products Pro Modified; Chris Hoppe won Eliminator; Kimberly "K-Charm" Deshields won Axtell Cylinders Super Modified on a holeshot; Keith Carper won Pingel Modified; Chris Wood won MTC Pro Comp Outlaw Bagger; Ken Strauss won 9.30 and Vreeland's Harley-Davidson 9.90; Daryl Pellegrini won 10.30 index; Cody Hayworth won Universal Fleet & Tire 10.90; Bruce Croneberger won 11.50, and the Hines brothers - Michael Jr. and Jaden - continued their domination of Junior Dragbikes.