On Friday afternoon, ahead of the first qualifying session for the 49th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., the National Hot Rod Association announced a new program for its Pro Stock Motorcycle class. As riders of the Harley-Davidson, Buell, Suzuki and Victory motorcycles begin their 2018 at this race, DENSO Auto Parts created the DENSO Spark Plugs 200 MPH Club, to honor the first four two-wheeled racers who surpass the 200-mph barrier.
“When the Pro Stock Motorcycle season begins at Gainesville Raceway, competitors will be aiming to have their name in the record books as the first to break this barrier,” said Brad Gerber, NHRA vice president of sales and chief development officer. “The DENSO Spark Plugs 200 MPH Club members will forever be a part of NHRA’s rich performance history.” DENSO marketing manager Lisa Michler added, “We are excited to be a part of such a milestone moment in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle history.”
It didn’t take very long for the celebration to begin. In the second qualifying session, Hector Arana Jr. took his Lucas Oil TV Buell down the quarter-mile in late afternoon sun at 200.23 mph, earning himself a $10,000 bonus and coverage on FOX Sport’s NHRA broadcast, together with a story in National Dragster. NHRA.com and all NHRA social platforms will celebrate his achievement as well.
Arana Jr., whose engine has not been on the dyno and still has its break-in oil installed, and who said that pass, which set a new national speed record, could have been one of his worst. And, obviously one of his best, too. While the top speed in NHRA PSM history, Arana’s elapsed time of 6.937 seconds had him a lucky 13th in the 20-bike field, well in arrears of reigning champ Eddie Krawiec, whose Harley-DavidsonV-Rod turned 6.785 and a 200-mph-flirting 199.67 mph.
Still, close doesn’t cut it, as many, including Krawiec have edged toward 200 over the past couple of years. In fact, Krawiec was first to hit 199mph in 2011. That Arana Jr, who has faced many challenges over the past few years as he and his father Hector continue to search for consistency with their Buell motorcycles, achieved this milestone makes his $10,000 payday even more significant.
The next three members of the vaunted DENSO Spark Plugs 200MPH Club will split another $10,000 between them. There will be added bonuses for the first four PSM riders, if they pass the 200mph barrier while using DENSO spark plugs.
By Anne Proffit