Willie Herschberger and the Dragmasters kick off the '04 AHDRA season in their home state Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Florida -- Though not the across the board domination the team hoped for, the 2004 season got off to a strong start for...
Willie Herschberger and the Dragmasters kick off the '04 AHDRA season in their home state
Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Florida -- Though not the across the board domination the team hoped for, the 2004 season got off to a strong start for Bradenton's Dragmasters at upstate's Gainesville Raceway. Defending Red Line Oil Super Gas champ Willie Herschberger scored another win in the class, while Dragmaster's Hot Street champ David Atkins qualified #1 but gave it all away with a redlight start in the final. Performance Corner Super Eliminator champ Larry Guy will put G-ville in the "One to Forget" column, but newest Dragmaster Bill Lee Jr. runner-upped in Syn3 ET and Dragmaster pit partner Jordan Cruz runner-upped to Travis Lummus in Rivera/Primo Street Pro.
Willie had to face teammate Guy in round 1 of Super Gas. New to the class, Larry got ground into Herschberger when Willie took the tree and the stripe in their unfortunate round 1 pairing. "That Super Gas is a whole new animal to me," said Guy. "I'm used to Buells and Sportsters. The torque difference is a major adjustment. Willie ran the bike before and ran a 9.70 on it 3 times, so I know it'll run the number. It was the luck of the weekend that we met in the first round."
Herschberger advanced to meet and beat Charlie Walker in round 2, a very close race with Willie's .018 advantage at the tree making the difference. The champ's next victim was Everett Chichester, who was v-e-r-y slow off the line. Herschberger then had a bye to the final against #1 qualifier Dale Tyson. Willie took the tree and Tyson broke out trying to take the line.
"Every race I had was very, very tough for me," said Herschberger. "This is the first weekend ever I was cutting good lights--all .0 lights. I think I caught Charlie by surprise. He was playing safe with me. Then when it came to Tyson, how can you beat a guy who's running right on the number? He's an excellent racer. It was just luck that fell my way. He and his wife did a wonderful job with those numbers.
"I didn't intend to do well in that class because I was concentrating on tuning the other bikes on the team. I probably will be parking that Super Gas bike shortly. I think the nitro bike will take more of my time. I'd a had a good chance for a win in my first nitro race!" finished Herschberger, noting the modest ET's that netted #1 qualifier and the win for fellow Floridian Chuck Jones. Wille decided to sit this one out to get some more nitro testing under his belt. "The whole class is struggling. But I'll win that championship next year!"
<pre> Super Gas qualifying 8th Willie Herschberger 9.906 13th Larry Guy 10.215
Super Gas eliminations round 1 Willie Herschberger .054 10.849 83.07 mph (w) Larry Guy .145 11.416 123.15 mph
round 2 Willie Herschberger .043 9.813 128.46 mph (w) Charlie Walker .061 9.797 131.11 mph
round 3 Willie Herschberger .033 10.200 124.32 mph (w) Everett Chichester Jr. .402 9.880 130.75 mph
round 4 Willie Herschberger .033 9.199 141.24 mph (w) Bye
final Willie Herschberger .048 9.826 131.04 mph (w) Dale Tyson .153 9.698 127.73 mph </pre> Atkins got his Dragmasters Hot Street title defense off to a decent start by qualifying #1 and setting a new 10.405 ET record on raceday before lighting that dreaded redeye against Bruce Cronenberger, Jr. in the final. "I was tippy-toeing into the light there and I actually just rolled through it," reported Dave. "Rider error, the bike was just fine. The bike's there, we're going to be working on the rider this year. I wasn't ready, a little mentally off. But I don't think we could have picked a nicer team to redlight against. The Cronenberger team is a class act." But the heat is on for Atkins in Dallas in more ways than one. <pre> Hot Street qualifying 1st David Atkins 10.439 126.17mph
Hot Street eliminations round 1 David Atkins .195 10.525 124.39 mph (w) Rick Cathcart .257 14.291 85.82 mph
round 2 David Atkins .155 10.580 125.24 mph (w) bye
round 3 David Atkins .121 10.405 (new record) 125.71 mph (w) Joe Perry .230 11.798 72.25 mph
final David Atkins -.015 10.459 124.51 mph Bruce Cronenberger .109 10.712 127.26 mph (w)
</pre> In addition to his round 1 Super Gas loss to Herschberger, Guy's Performance Corner Super Eliminator championship defense also got off to a difficult start. Larry pulled a "Vegas Willie" in round 1 of SE, giving up the stripe despite a large starting line advantage against Dickie Johnson. "Sooner or later, I'll get 'em," said a determined Guy, a technician for Dragmasters sponsor Rossiter's Harley-Davidson. <pre> Super Eliminator qualifying 12th Larry Guy 10.215
Super Eliminator eliminations round 1 Dickie Johnson .244 10.929 119.23 mph (w) Larry Guy .023 11.191 119.79 mph </pre>
All of the Dragmasters thanked Rossiter's Harley-Davidson, Cycle-Rama, Herschberger Construction, D&G Chassis and Energy One. The next AHDRA race on the Dragmasters schedule is April 17-18 at the Texas Motorplex in Dallas, TX.