Drag Bikes 2 Wheeled Missiles

A look at the modern classes in European drag bike racing.  At the end a few images from the 1980’s.

Top Fuel.  Producing up to 1500bhp, times well under 6 seconds and speeds up to 250mph these nitro burning monsters are the ultimate bike class.

Rikard Gustafsson of Sweden. Top Fuel Puma Suzuki
Filippos (Fast Fil) Papafilippou from Greece Europe’s quickest TF Bike @5.66 secs
The PBR Rocket 3 Top Fuel Bike ridden by Al Smith almost made it into the 5’s. The distortion above the rear of the bike is the nitro flames from the exhaust

Top Fuel Super Twin.  Nitro twin cylinder bikes, loosely based on Harleys.  6 sec 200mph thumpers.

Allan Davies on ‘Surprise Attack’ Top Fuel Super Twin Puma
The nitro burning Super Twins have a unique method of steering as the front wheel stays up for almost the whole 1/4 mile! This is Christian Jaeger from Germany on ‘Juntes One’

Funny Bike.  Loosely resembling a road going bike, big methanol fueled engines.  Now running in 6 seconds.

Lorcan Parnell and the ‘Storm’ Yamaha Funny Bike
Dale Leeks, Funny Bike

Pro Stock Motorcycle.  High tech engines and chassis, must look like road going machines.  Will run under 7 seconds at over 170mph.

Martin Newberry 2019 Euro Finals Pro Stock Bike winner
Europe’s No1 Pro Stocker. Fredrick Fredlund riding his Suzuki GSX-R
Pro Stock Bike. Kenneth Holmberg of Sweden

Comp Bike.  Almost any thing goes, hybrid machines that do not fit into other classes.

Comp Bike Jerone van der Belt of Holland in full flight
‘Wicked Wench’ is Louis Davies 1500cc Suzuki GSX and runs in Comp Bike or Funny Bike

Super Street.  Insanely mad, no wheelie bars and running on road tyres.  These projectiles run under 7 seconds at over 200mph.  Too much power and big wheelies!

Super Street Bike champ Steve Venables hurtles into the afternoon sun on another 6 second 200 mph run
Super Street Bikes are insanely quick capable of running the 1/4 mile in 6.8 seconds at over 220mph, if the power comes in too soon they can head skywards as Al Morrison jr found out!
Super Street Bike Denmark’s Mogens Lund

8.50 & 9.50 Bike.  Two classes running street tyres and no wheelie bars.  Must not run quicker than their class index.

Jay Roe screams down the strip to win 8.50 bike on his Suzuki GSXR
Multiple 9.50 Bike champion Richard Sawatzki 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa
9.50 Bike. Stacey Reed and the Hyena Drag Racing Teams Suzuki 1000cc GSXR

Super Twin Top Gas.  Petrol burning twin cylinder machines.

Mike Nelthorpe’s rather unique Super Twin Top Gas bike uses an RMK900 snowmobile engine!
Les Harris and ‘Tilly lll’ a Suzuki TL1000

Super Twin E.T  Now open to multi cylinder bikes.  Run on a handicap system, you say how quick your elapse time will be and you must not go quicker. The slowest bike gets the starting advantage, the rider with the best reaction times should win.

Jordan Kenway fights to keep his Suzuki GSX off the centre line during a semi-final win in ET Bike
Craig Lee Boulton ET Bike

Junior Drag Bike.  A class for under 16 year olds.  Run over 1/8th mile on a handicap basis no quicker than 8.9 seconds.

Rug Rat. Junior Drag Bike of Liam Holgate
Hollie King on her 150cc Kymco Junior Drag Bike

The advancements in  technology over the decades has led to massive improvements in drag bikes.  In Europe in the 60’s nine second runs were the aim with speeds to 150mph.  Today the European records are 5.66 seconds and 255.5mph.  Can these 2 wheeled missiles go any quicker? I believe so, but the limit will be what a rider can physically handle.

The world’s fastest drag bike only runs demonstrations.  Frenchman Eric Teboul on his rocket powered missile.  His last run before retirement at the 2022 Euro Finals Eric set an incredible record of 4.97 seconds at 290mph!!!  Luckily he stopped just before the field 1/2 a mile from the finish line
It’s not everyday you witness a world record. This is Denmark’s Hans-Henrik Thomsen who set a new best for electric bikes with a 6.869 sec 195.4mph run over the 1/4 mile in September 2020

The classes have also changed  over the years. In the early days the competition bikes were placed in a class according to qualifying times at the meeting.  You could get a situation where a top fuel bike has bad qualifying sessions and on race day is in a class with those running several seconds slower, hardly fair.  The modern system allows for machines to be more equal for more exciting closer racing.  Of course as in any sport there are always those that are that much better but one mistake and the underdog will have his day.

Ron Hughes on his Triumph in about 1980
In the late 70’s the fuel bikes started performing rolling burnouts. This is Jonny Munn on the mighty ‘Hobbit’ twin Weslake
Holland’s Henk Vink ran these two fuel bikes in the early 80’s.  Both were powered by Kawasaki motors.  No expense spared, they were not called ‘Team Big Spender’ for nothing!
Turbo charged Pro Street (stock) Kawasaki that was ridden by Nigel Patrick in the 80’s

Apart from a wheel at each end and engine in between, modern bikes are so much different than their predecessors.  For power the engine of choice for most is based on Suzuki’s awesome Hayabusa.  In the past anything went, mostly Triumphs but also car engines, two or even three bike motors were joined together to try and get more power.  These classic machines can still be seen running today though not in competition.  Every year Santa Pod Raceway holds a meeting called Dragstalgia, it’s well worth a day out just to re-live the past.

Dave Branch in the early 80’s with ‘Special Branch’ an MG 1800cc car engined bike
Take three Kawasaki 750cc H2 two stroke triples, pop in a frame, run on petrol and you have John Lloyd’s ‘Freight Train’ an 8 second bike in the 80’s. The sound through those nine expansion pipes was incredible and would terrify any dogs within miles!
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Same bike, same rider almost forty years apart. Jeff Byne on ‘Hurricane’ the 1640cc double Morgo triumph
Legendary bike racer John Hobbs on ‘Olympus’ a 500c Weslake. Dragstalgia 2019
Colin Fallows, ‘Super Cyclops’ a twin engined Norton at Dragstalgia in ’22