Nickelberry and Bolton Win with Personal Bests Oklahoma duo owns St. Louis's Gateway International Things were looking "iffy" for rider Glen Nickelberry and tuner Tommy Bolton as they sought to defend last year's Funnybike victory at the ...
Nickelberry and Bolton Win with Personal Bests
Oklahoma duo owns St. Louis's Gateway International
Things were looking "iffy" for rider Glen Nickelberry and tuner Tommy Bolton as they sought to defend last year's Funnybike victory at the AMA/Prostar race at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis. Nickelberry and Bolton were lurking in the shadows at Gateway behind Mark Conner, the weekend's #1 qualifier, and points leader Korry Hogan. Nickelberry qualified third with a 6.742, a strong number but over a tenth behind Conner.
Nickelberry continued running steady 6.70's on raceday, but Conner ran a stunning 6.561 to take out Hogan in the semi and set up a race with Glen in the final. Nickelberry's yellow and pink Kawasaki bolted out ahead of Conner's thundering Harley and had half a bike length lead at 100 feet. As the pair reached half track, Conner's drive belt broke and the rider sat bolt upright, hands off the handlebars. Mark's belt failure may not have mattered, because Nickelberry whooshed to career bests of 6.606 at 210.54 mph. Glen and Tommy's previous bests of 6.70/207 were run at Gateway in last year's winning effort.
Tuning the Kawasaki to run a tenth quicker than it ever had, Bolton received inspiration from his old mentor Byron Hines, who was attending the race. "Byron told me it was there," said Tommy. "He said 'Step it up! You've had 6's in that thing all day long.'" Bolton has known Hines and Terry Vance since childhood. "My mom lived at 120 and Main (in Los Angeles) and RC Engineering (where Vance & Hines worked at the time) was at 160 and Main. Byron would let me in the shop on Saturdays and Sundays. When they decided to get their own shop in the early '80's, I was there watching them grow their thing." And now Byron got to watch Tommy apply a little of what he'd learned back in the day.
"We've got the fastest gasoline powered motorcycle in the country right now," continued Bolton. "Everybody else who runs that fast runs alcohol or nitro or something. And Glen is the fastest African-American on a motorcycle on the planet. His competition level has matured over the years and his level of focus is so much higher now. He was so cool under pressure while I was like an expectant father in the waiting room. He came over in the lanes, put his hand on my shoulder and said 'I got this.' And he did. He cut a light on Conner.
"We came to the track with the Oklahoma tune-up and we had to come up with a St. Louis tune-up. I had to turn up the nitrous a little bit, from 50% to 80%. So we still have some left. I told Glen he had to use Don King if he heard the Harley coming, but he didn't have to use Don King. It's a third stage of nitrous. We call it Don King 'cause if you push that button, it's gonna make your hair stand up on top!"
With or without Don King, Bolton and Nickelberry plan to keep on winning throughout the summer at Prostar, PMRA, and Soul Brothers races.
Glen and Tommy thanked sponsors Wattie Wolfe Engineering, Majestic Turbo, Vance & Hines Motorsports, Bill Robinson Transmissions, Dynatek, Web Cam, TomBo Racing Engines, Rod & Todd Auto Paint, Dorian "Mr. B." Barnett, the Nickelberry family and the entire Nickelberry race team.