Clearly not Chris Matheson Australia’s quickest and now fastest Top Fuel Motorcycle Drag Racer and his Nitro Voodoo Team.
Matheson in an exhibition display at the Santo’s Cranes Super 3 Extreme Drag Race at Willowbank, held over the Easter weekend on Friday 29th & Saturday 30th March 2013, absolutely blew fans and racers away with a masterful display of riding and all round Team professionalism, attempting to crack the 5 second zone on his Top Fuel Motorcycle.
Matheson current National Record holder with a 6.058 ET set back in 2010 at Willowbank, had a clear intention to improve his record and attempt to break the track record in mile per hour at the same time.
Matheson was committed from his first pass to be one of 8 scheduled passes over the new two night format. From the first pass it was clear Matho was there to underline his three year domination in the sport, winning 3 from 3 Australian National Drag Racing Championships and setting numerous records along the way.
The first pass Matho had three stabs at the throttle as the Nitro Voodoo machine searched for traction on his 1500 horsepower monster, then blasted out a relatively slow ET of 7.28 seconds, but a strong top speed of 205.22 MPH.
The Voodoo Team had less than an hour to turn the bike around and be back out for the opening of the show and what a show it would be. The stands were nearing capacity and fans had come to see the Nitro Top Fuelers, along with Alcohol Cars and as a bonus, a fire breathing Top Fuel Motorcycle.
Matheson had spoken to Crew Chief Roger Bloor during the review of the first run data and agreed on a plan to get better hook up at the hit. Matheson launched hard only to “power boat” his way down the track in a breathtaking display of courage, as the bike did everything to throw Matheson onto the track as the bike resisted traction for the entire run. Matheson said it was a “WILD RIDE” and a scary one, as you are totally committed to staying on full throttle while the bike is fish tailing all over the track, if you lose your ticker and shut off, your “pet food”, backing off is not an option as the bike will steer hard left or right, depending on the direction of the death wobble at the time you shut it down. Ideally, eventually the tank slappers will settle down and the deep end will be a welcome zone. Thankfully we survived the bike anger and we got to the end in one peace! The ET improved and the MPH rose accordingly with a 6.181 at 231.32 mph.
A quick service and another new rear tyre and the Team was back out ready to have another shot.
As many fans and racers know, Willowbank has a unique track characteristic of racers not being able to see the end of the track from the start line, as the track drops over a hill into the breaking zone.
To a racer this is a challenge, as ideally you like to be able to focus on a target at the end so you can aim for that spot. As we launch into the night, we have peripheral light for vision but this diminishes as we accelerate on the bike with the front wheel rising higher off the ground the further we go as the rear wheel grows as centrifugal force increases the faster the rear wheel spins. Ultimately, the front wheel is a meter in the air at the finish line, traveling over the hill or mine shaft as I affectionately call it into the braking area at over 230MPH.
No we are not crazy, just different!
Matheson knew that as the night progressed the chance to run a big number would get tougher as the track conditions changed. We had to chase it and we wanted to try for a new track record, so Bloor tweaked the Voodoo machine for another pass chasing to back up the 231 MPH pass.
Matheson was all eyes as the crew pushed him back after the burn out as he focused on the task ahead. Blasting off with a 188 MPH half track, hazing the tyre shuts off with a 6.161 at 226.96 MPH, not good enough, however an improvement in the right direction heading to the 5 second zone. Within 40 minutes the Nitro Voodoo Team had re-set the clutch, replaced another rear tyre and serviced the bike for another attempt.
Turning these Nitro bikes around in a short space of time is no mean feat, new plugs, leak down, valve clearances, fuel, oil, start up, repairs if needed, new tyre, bleed the brakes, replace the pads, review the data, choose a tune up and sometimes an engine replacement all takes time.
Without question I have the best Team in our sport, my guys work as one and can fix anything either I or the track can dish up. Bloor is a master of the game taught by the best in Larry and Steve McBride the World’s best Top Fuel Bike racers. Bloor is calm calculated and understands the bike and what is expected of the rider, Roger and the Team always instill confidence in me before we fire up, as I know the bike is perfect and safe.
That gives me the confidence to throw 100% at the bike and ride the wheels off it to get the best result I can for the Team. The way I see it, I have all the fun and get the easy job of turning the go switch for 6 odd seconds, they spend hours preparing the machine and that is what makes us tough to beat.
The last run was fast approaching and I was keen to finish on a good note, so the team would go to bed “eventually” with a smile. Another quick turn around and we lined up for our fourth pass in almost as many hours. A strong burn out and the motor whistled as the blower spun the motor to 9500 rpm. A 111 RT, 191.32 MPH to half track and another blistering run clocking a 6.107 at 233.84 MPH over the mine shaft into the dark! NEW TRACK RECORD.
That night we did our usual service, then hit the blankets around 2am ready for what lay ahead, will it be a five??
Saturday quickly arrived and we were ready to rock and roll, the guys were pumped and we could not wait to go.
First pass was a tester, again having three stabs at the go button, then tucking down to run a 226.96 MPH at only 7.098 ET. The top end was killer in every pass carrying the front wheel high in the air the length of the track, a sure sign the bike is making power and is set up in a sweet zone.
Bloor called all the Team into the transporter and revved us up to be ready for a quick turn around after this pass, as we knew the air would change and a dew could roll in making track conditions difficult. We towed back out to the lanes and loaded the cannon for another shot.
Matheson blasted off but it was not good, the bike moved out off the groove and Matheson took out a timing cone with his left foot near the finish line at over 200MPH. The pain was hot to say the least, these so called foam blocks are like concrete at big speeds and can cause a lot of damage to rider and machine. We quickly reloaded and lined up back at the start line ready to do it all again.
Again a disappointing run, clocking a tyre hazing run at 200.62 at 6.324 seconds, however for me a good light of 054! Crew member Bruce McGonnell came to collect me at the deep end and I could tell it was a fizzer just by his body language as he rode in on the Grizzly Quad. We hooked up, raced back and fronted again. I knew it was now or it was not going to happen this weekend as the dew had started to roll in. We fired down the lane clocking a 175.14MPH to half, then a huge top end clocking 241.80MPH with a 6.040 ET. Wow, so close and a new Top Mile Per Hour for Australia and right up with only a few worldwide.
The bike ran like it was on rails, carrying the wheel high in the air blasting down the braking zone slowing to a stop. The brakes were glowing, the Roger Bloor Performance engine was as new and had 7 hard runs all weekend without a sniff of pain, after a record run, mind boggling to achieve 241.8 MPH in the dark over the mine shaft at Australia’s most famous Drag Strip.
We still had one left in the gun, so we towed back, reloaded and hit the start line again. By this time the dew had beaten us, but we still clocked a 6.208 at 231.12 MPH. Wow, who’s afraid of the dark, it was a huge event great job by all my Crew and borrowed crew man Mitch from Bad Bones Racing Team. Thanks to Chris Porter, all our sponsors, the Management and Staff of Willowbank Raceway, well done great show, just what Drag Racing needs.
We did not get a five, but we ran 8 passes over 200MPH, a new Track Record, a couple of PB’s MPH and we bettered our National Record and are the first Australian Motorcycle to hit the 240 plus MPH zone over the quarter mile.
Bring on the Nitro Nationals at Sydney Dragway next month.
Thank you once again to our Sponsors & Supporters:
WebCam, Red Line Oils, RB Performance, Rocket Industries, CRC Industries, PDS Graphics, Kitten Car Care Products, GT Radiators & Machining, Vance & Hines, Hi-Side Leathers, PR Factory Store and special thanks to Larry “Spiderman” McBride & Steve McBride.
images courtesy dragphotos