Hoosier Schnitz Looks For Home Win NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Ryan Schnitz heads into the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis with the enthusiasm of someone racing in front of a home crowd, because that's exactly what the Decatur, Indiana ...
Hoosier Schnitz Looks For Home Win
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Ryan Schnitz heads into the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis with the enthusiasm of someone racing in front of a home crowd, because that's exactly what the Decatur, Indiana native will be doing. "We're gonna have friends and family and people from Decatur coming to the race," said Schnitz. His dad Dave's Schnitz Racing motorcycle performance mail order house is based in Decatur, a town of 12,000 people sitting 2 hours northeast of Indianapolis. Not all of Schnitz Racing's 15 employees will make the race, however. "No, some will have to stay behind and send out parts to racers across the country. But it's our local race. It's great for locals to see somebody they can relate to from their hometown."
To Schnitz's bike builder/tuner/owner Rob Muzzy, Indy holds no special charm. "To me, Indy is just another race," said Muzzy, a verifiable motorcycle racing legend. "Maybe I haven't been in the NHRA long enough. They liken it to Daytona in road racing, but Daytona is a very difficult race. I am excited about being able to participate tin the Ringers deal, though."
Riders qualify for the $61,000 (25G's to win) Ringers Pro Bike Battle based on their qualifying performance for the year, starting immediately after the U.S. Nationals last year and ending at the most recent race in Memphis. Ryan qualified for the Ringers Battle in sixth and will face fellow Buell racer Matt Smith in the first round. "Matt's always a tough qualifier and tough racer, as he proved at Englishtown and at Indianapolis last year," said Ryan, who waged epic battles with Smith years ago in the AMA/Prostar series' Top Eliminator class. Top Eliminator bikes were notoriously squirrelly, 7-inch tire nitrous bikes. Ryan, who was a teenager then, had a best of 7.18 at 195 mph on the Top Eliminator bike. "Matt and I raced Top Eliminators against each other for a year and a half or two. We would usually meet each other in the finals, and I think he got the championship the first year. He outran us then with nitrous bikes, so hopefully this year we'll out run him on all-motor bikes."
The Ringers Pro Bike Battle runs on Saturday, concurrent with qualifying for the Nationals. "That'll be the first time I've been able to compete in the Pro Bike Battle and I'm looking forward to it," continued Ryan. "I remember watching Dave Schultz and John Myers in the finals when it was called The Wax Shop Shootout. I was in the stands with my dad and was about 4 feet tall and could barely see the starting line!"
The Ringers race-within-a-race has it's own tech inspection requirements that differ form the normal NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle routine. "You have to have the engines inspected," said Muzzy. "They measure the displacement and seal them, so that's a little different for us. Other than that, we won't prepare any differently."
"With the bike apart, we'll go through everything and get it cleaned up and in working condition for the event," said Ryan. "I'm looking forward to going this weekend and have fun and not have such a hard faced attitude. I don't know if that's been part of my problem lately, but if we have a more relaxed atmosphere I think it will give us the positive outcome we all want.
"Our sponsor Joe Koenig of Trim-Tex will be down Saturday morning, so he'll be there for the Pro Bike Battle. He brings a lot of excitement to the track and support for our deal. He's got a cool attitude and he's given us a lot of good advice over the years. And my mom Sheila will be down Sunday or Monday."
Once there, Sheila hopes to see her boy lofting the Wally high in the winners circle at the most prestigious race on the NHRA tour.