For the first time ever at a Mickey Thompson MIROCK Superbike Series event, Top Fuel motorcycles took to the meticulously prepped quarter mile at Maryland International Raceway. It was the WPGC Bike Fest this past weekend, July 25-27, and while just being there guaranteed a certain amount of history for both the series and the sport, no one was expecting a significant milestone moment. So when the scoreboards lit up with the world’s first ever side-by-side, 5 second motorcycle pass, pandemonium spread through the record-setting crowd.
Larry “Spiderman” McBride is also known as “First in the 5s,” a now 15-year old achievement for the Virginia racer and his tuner/brother Steve. But although the McBrides have run more 5 second passes than they can count, few have followed and the MTC 5 second club just closed its membership (limited to the first eight to do so) this past April with Ian King. And even though McBride and Korry Hogan sparred quite a bit with their 5 second bikes a few years ago, they’d never run 5s at the same time.
Nitro newcomer David Vantine had raced with King for that last spot in the club but come up short. Riding Greg Pollard’s low-slung yellow screamer, Vantine was at MIR to run four match races with McBride. After running a 5.97 shakedown pass on Saturday, McBride slipped up into the 6s and Vantine was running between 6.10 and 6.34.
So no one was really anticipating anything other than the usual sensory thrills of Top Fuel motorcycles when McBride and Vantine lined up for their first pass on Sunday—not Vantine’s first 5, and certainly not the first ever side-by-side 5. But BAM! There it was. “I’m just glad I didn’t leave before the tree was activated!” said Vantine, who redlit by -.116, then ran a MIROCK record 237.46 mph on the 5.97 second pass.
McBride ran a 5.79 in the other lane. “In 3200 foot air?” said McBride. “Those are impressive numbers. We had 110 grains of water, and we don’t like to see that. But our oxygen readings were good.
“I really can’t say enough about the track, the staff, and the other racers. It was actually an honor to be there. I’ve been racing 36 years and absolutely I’ve never been treated like that at a race track—ever. They really appreciate us being there. I can’t even say how many racers—at least a hundred plus—came up to me and said they appreciate us coming. I’ve never had track staff in the lanes come up to me and say they were sorry they called us up so early. I’m blown away.
“And Jason (MIR promoter Jason Miller) and his dad Royce (MIR owner) were so nice. They have water in the staging lanes, they have a canopy for the racers, they have fans. It’s phenomenal. The bands, the contests—I’ve never seen anything like it. And it was all so professionally run. And the way they prep the track, that’s a show in itself. Phenomenal.”
With all the hoopla over Top Fuel, Orient Express Pro Street had a chance to operate out of the high-pressure glare of the spotlight for a change. “It was nice,” said champion Joey Gladstone. His team’s DME Racing turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa has been at the forefront of the race for the sport’s first 6.80 street tire pass, and for once they got to work in the shadows.
And in the shadows they thrived, qualifying number 1 with a 6.95 and eventually hitting a top speed of 220 mph. Gladstone worked his way to a final round pairing with June runner-up Doug Gall. Gladstone took the tree, the stripe, and stretched his lead in the points. Pro Mod/bracket racer Mac McAdams made his Pro Street debut on “Wigsplitter” and won Pro Street B.