Gordon Crawford will become the latest rider to join the national Top Bike championship when he makes his competition debut at Hidden Valley Drag Strip on August 16 and 17 as part of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series.
Crawford will join national championship leader Chris Porter and an expected return from national champion Chris Matheson alongside tough six second riders Terry Burnett and Greg Durack.
“I’ve heard some good things about Darwin and everyone is very enthusiastic up there,” he said.
Crawford is more than just one rider at the event, being responsible for transporting many vehicles up there including Burnett and Durack’s motorcycles, plus Rob Pilkington’s Top Alcohol Funny Car and the Modified Bikes of Scott Wilson and Brett Allen.
But reaching the starting line for his own first championship round on his nitro-fuelled Harley has not come easily for the moving business operator, having travelled all the way from his native Perth to Brisbane for June’s Fuchs Winternationals only to not even make one qualifying pass when a mechanical breakage occurred in a warm up.
“A spline shaft that attaches to the end of the crank shaft stripped and it’s something that is unusual to break,” Crawford explained, “I had enough spares to fix the bike twice over but I had none of those kind of spares because I never thought it was going to be a problem.
“We’ve since rebuilt the motor and it sounds really good and really crisp. We did some balancing things in the engine to smooth it out – if you can ever call these things smooth.”
Crawford says there has been an intense learning curve attached to the craft of nitro drag racing both in tuning the bike and riding a machine that at over 300kmh can have a mind of its own.
“The whole philosophy is a bit at a time, to do our apprenticeship first,” he said. “We have just been taking it quietly since I have been on it and getting used to it. Just the tuning of them is far more complicated than I thought it was and it takes a lot of time to get right. They are not forgiving; if you don’t get your fuel tune right it hurts your engine internally.
“I have enormous respect now for the people who ride Top Bikes.”
Darwin will hopefully be the site of some six second passes for Crawford who is positive his USA-imported motorcycle has that horsepower inside.
“We will put in a tune that went 7.1 seconds back in Perth first and see how it handles,” he said. “We have balanced the bike up a bit and done a few things that will make it behave itself a little more.
“It’s all about getting the laps down and seeing what it does so we can gradually improve from there.”
The Top Bikes won’t be the only drag racing stars in Darwin with the ANDRA Drag Racing Series event also hosting a championship round for the 400kmh Top Alcohol category.
Qualifying starts from 6pm August 16, with eliminations from 5pm on August 17.