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.
Top Fuel Super Twin. Nitro twin cylinder bikes, loosely based on Harleys. 6 sec 200mph thumpers.
Funny Bike. Loosely resembling a road going bike, big methanol fueled engines. Now running in 6 seconds.
Pro Stock Motorcycle. High tech engines and chassis, must look like road going machines. Will run under 7 seconds at over 170mph.
Comp Bike. Almost any thing goes, hybrid machines that do not fit into other classes.
Super Street. Insanely mad, no wheelie bars and road tyres. These projectiles run under 7 seconds at over 200mph. Too much power and big wheelies!
8.50 & 9.50 Bike. Two classes running street tyres and no wheelie bars. Must not run quicker than their class index.
Super Twin Top Gas. Petrol burning twin cylinder machines.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.