Suzuki is returning – officially this time – to the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ Pro Stock Motorcycle ranks. The motorcycle manufacturer is aligning with Vance & Hines, whose rider Angelle Sampey, a three-time class champion, finished second in the 2021 standings riding a V&H-prepared four-valve Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle.
For the 2022 campaign, Vance & Hines will be Suzuki’s “premier” drag racing team, extending their shared relationship that dates back to 1978 with the launch of Suzuki’s GS1000 motorcycle. That particular motorcycle was the first for V&H to operate Suzuki’s factory team, with racing programs under several sanctioning organizations.
In the years that followed, together V&H and Suzuki earned many national event victories and championships, with Vance & Hines’ co-founders, rider Terry Vance and tuner Byron Hines. This collaboration established Suzuki as the fastest and most successful brand of that era on the drag strip. The success of Terry Vance and Byron Hines paved the way for Pro Stock Motorcycle racing as a professional sport.
NHRA made PSM a full-fledged national championship in 1987 and Terry Vance earned the class’ inaugural race victory at Gainesville Raceway, riding a Suzuki GS 1150E. Later that season he was first to run a seven-second elapsed time. Since 1987, Vance & Hines have built Suzuki motorcycles and engines that have won seven NHRA national titles, including three consecutive championships on bikes ridden by Byron’s son Matt Hines.
The new Suzuki/Vance & Hines partnership is a multi-year program utilizing the Hayabusa model, capable of 6.7-second, 200-plus MPH runs down the quarter-mile drag strip. In addition, Suzuki intends to have a major presence at many of the 15 national Pro Stock Motorcycle events during the 2022 campaign, where Vance & Hines/Suzuki team members will spend time with fans in the paddock areas, as well as at their pits.
“Suzuki has a tradition of competing at the highest levels in motorcycle racing,” noted Kerry Graeber, Suzuki Motor USA, LLC vice president of motorcycle/ATV sales and marketing. “Given our history and success in drag racing, it’s fitting that we take a high-profile role in NHRA PSM. One of the specific goals of this program is to showcase Suzuki’s all-new, third-generation Hayabusa sport bike. Vance & Hines is, without a doubt, the best partner for this initiative and we’re thrilled to be reuniting with V&H in NHRA to show the extraordinary capabilities of the Hayabusa.”
In conjunction with Suzuki’s acknowledgement of its continuing partnership with Vance & Hines, there is a third member of this pedestal and that is Mission Foods, which joined with Sampey’s 2021 effort to gain her fourth title last year and continues its sponsorship of the team in 2022. Mission Foods also has significant sponsorship in INDYCAR and other power sports organizations.
Juan Gonzalez, Mission Foods’ CEO noted, “We’re happy to expand our partnership with Vance & Hines for NHRA racing, and are overjoyed to have Suzuki on board. This is a great expression of our #2FAST2TASTY campaign. NHRA with Vance & Hines and Suzuki, INDYCAR with Arrow McLaren SP and our sponsorships in American Flat Track will make 2022 an exciting year for all race fans,” he declared.
Vance & Hines president, Mike Kennedy recalled the team’s history in his comments: “Vance & Hines was born on a racetrack and has a passion for high performance,” he said. “That’s why partnering with organizations with equally strong cultures of winning is perfect for us. We are overjoyed to have Mission Foods return to our program, and to begin a long and successful strategic partnership with Suzuki. This is already a great start to the 2022 racing season.”
The team will release added details fo the Vance & Hines/Mission Foods/Suzuki racing program in February, as the three-motorcycle team of Sampey, six-time champion Andrew Hines and four-time titleholder Eddie Krawiec. In 2021, as Sampey rode a Suzuki, Hines and Krawiec competed on V&H-developed Buell motorcycles. The NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle campaign begins, as customary, during the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville, FL, March 10-13, 2022.