“If you left the design to racers, everything would look like a Bonneville car.” —Andrew Hines, on Pro Stock Motorcycle styling and the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod Pro Stocker

LE Tonglet and Jerry Savoie maintained the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle status quo at the June 8-10 Summernationals at Englishtown, N.J. However, Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec ushered in a whole new era of design that showcases Harley-Davidson's newest Street Rod production motorcycle.

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Savoie brought his White Alligator Racing team its third victory in four races, defeating Hector Arana Jr. That came on the heels of teammate Tonglet’s back-to-back triumphs earlier this spring at Charlotte and Atlanta.

The fact that five female racers dotted the 16-bike grid at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park – an aside more than a novelty these days – was a back-burner item as the class returned to the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule after a five-week absence. The real buzz was about Harley-Davidson's retirement of the V-Rod and debut of the Street Rod.

2017 Summernationals final round photo
In the final round it was the Suzuki of White Alligator Racing team owner Jerry Savoie taking a holeshot win over the Lucas Oil Buell of Hector Arana Jr. with a 6.918 to a quicker-but-losing 6.862.Photo: Ron Lewis

Hines and Krawiec understandably and admittedly are working through a learning curve. Nevertheless, they qualified mid-pack with their Vance & Hines collaboration with the Harley-Davidson factory engineers and the NHRA Technical Department. That in itself was a remarkable feat, considering they had just nine full passes on Hines' bike and eight on Krawiec's after wind-tunnel testing at Wichita State University and on-track application at both Martin, Mich., and Indianapolis less than two weeks before the Englishtown event.

WAR Jerry Savoie
Defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Jerry Savoie, White Alligator Racing SuzukiPhoto: Ron Lewis
LE Tonglet, White Alligator Racing Suzuki
Summernationals No. 1 qualifier LE Tonglet, White Alligator Racing SuzukiPhoto: Ron Lews

The Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle operation – primarily a joint effort between brothers Matt and Andrew Hines, who have combined for 8 of the team’s 11 championships – endured about 15 revisions and tweaks in the 3-D process since it began last September.

Screamin' Eagle/Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Andrew Hines, Screamin' Eagle/Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street RodPhoto: Ron Lewis
Eddie Krawiec, Screamin' Eagle/Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Eddie Krawiec, Screamin' Eagle/Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street RodPhoto: Ron Lewis

“We started thinking in the middle of last year that we wanted to do a new chassis design. We were at the limits of what our old chassis could handle for running 6.70s now – not that it was bad. It was just unpredictable sometimes, as far as racing,” Andrew Hines said. “So when Harley said it wanted to come out with the Street Rod bodywork, we decided to take the opportunity to do a whole ground-up new deal. It’s the same engine, same powerplant, same everything inside there. It’s just gave us the opportunity to wrap the new body around the new chassis that we feel is suitable for running in the six-second zone.”

"The V-Rod was done in production in the middle of last year. The company wants us to race a motorcycle that represents their brand and is something that they sell. We're excited to have it," Krawiec said. "Harley was adamant about some of the lines and features – their theory is 'Hands and legs and knees in the breeze' – and we understand that. We have to work within that to make it work for both of us."

Quipped Hines, "If you left the design to racers, everything would look like a Bonneville car."

Angie Smith vs Andrew Hines
Angie Smith trailers the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod of Andrew Hines in the first round of eliminations with an ET of 6.942 seconds at 191.02 mph to Hines' 6.960 at 195.51.Photo: Ron Lewis

Hines said the feeling is “totally foreign” from what he and Krawiec are used to. The seat, hand position, and smaller viewport in the windshield, he said, represent “probably the difference between a Funny Car and a Top Fuel car.”

For Krawiec, it’s an entire re-learning process: “We have to re-learn to ride these motorcycles. We’re so used to muscling our bikes and the track. These will be a little more ‘finesse bikes.’”

Hines said, “It’s just different. It’s not a rocket ship, like a full-fairing bike would be. But it’s a little better than what we had.”

Pro Stock Motorcycle racers still are chasing that elusive 200-mph milestone, but Hines and Krawiec both said this new Street Rod isn’t a miracle-maker.

“It’s not going to make it worse. But it’s not a 10-mph change,” Hines said.

“We still need to have the help of Mother Nature,” Krawiec said.

For now, the help of Harley-Davidson, NHRA Tech officials, and Wichita State are plenty effective.

Melissa Surber
Melissa Surber was one of five female racers on the 16-bike Summernationals grid. Surber lost in Round 1 to eventual finalist Hector Arana Jr.Photo: Ron Lewis
Hector Arana Jr, Lucas Oil Racing TV Buell
Hector Arana Jr, Lucas Oil Racing TV BuellPhoto: Ron Lewis
Screamin' Eagle/Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Eddie Krawiec, Screamin' Eagle/Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street RodPhoto: Ron Lewis
Steve Johnson Suzuki
Steve Johnson, Suzuki, currently tied with Angie Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings in ninth place.Photo: Ron Lewis
Angelle Sampey
Angelle Sampey on the Team Liberty Racing Victory Magnum qualified 12th and went out in Round 1 against Scotty Pollachck.Photo: Ron Lewis
Cory Reed, Team Liberty Racing
Angelle's teammate Cory Reed was the No. 13 qualifier which pitted him against eventual winner Jerry Savoie in the first round of racing.Photo: Ron Lewis
Matt Smith Racing Polaris/Victory Magnum
Matt Smith on the Matt Smith Racing Polaris/Victory Magnum just missed the field at Englishtown, qualifying in the number 17 spot.Photo: Ron Lewis