Velocity/Suzuki Atco summary

Mike Slowe Doubles Again at Atco Slowe wins two for the third time this season Under intense pressure from factory-supported rivals, Mike Slowe and the Velocity/Suzuki team pulled out two wins yet again, this time at Slowe's home track. It was...

Mike Slowe Doubles Again at Atco
Slowe wins two for the third time this season

Under intense pressure from factory-supported rivals, Mike Slowe and the Velocity/Suzuki team pulled out two wins yet again, this time at Slowe's home track. It was the first time in three years that the AMA/Prostar series raced at storied Atco Raceway, located in New Jersey just outside of Philadelphia, and Bensalem, Pennsylvania's Slowe made the best of it in front of a crowd packed with family and friends. "We want to thank Joe Sway for all the improvements he did at Atco," said Velocity/Suzuki team boss Barry Henson. "It was great to be back."

Super Street

The Help Me Ride Super Street class pitted Slowe against fellow Atco-based rival Rickey Gadson. It was also a classic Suzuki/Kawasaki rivalry, with Gadson on a factory supported Speedtech nitrous-sprayed ZX14 and Slowe on a similarly supported Velocity turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa. Gadson took the upper hand early, qualifying #1 with an 8.15 low ET. "Mikey's bike went an 8.12 on Thursday," said Henson. "So we were very confident, and then all the sudden it was gone."

What went away for the Velocity team was the sticky track that they had tuned to. "Friday night or Saturday morning they scraped the track," continued Barry. "We had parked the bike and said 'That's good,' then woke up and said 'We'll be lucky to qualify.' I think that most of these tracks don't deal with all-motorcycle racing organizations. They don't want too much rubber on the track so that it doesn't start balling up, but these bikes don't put any rubber down. When you're sitting there with nothing but Top Fuel, Pro Stock and Pro Street (Funnybike and Pro Mod were not on the Atco schedule), then you don't have enough bikes capable of putting enough rubber down going down the track."

Slowe did qualify second, and a final round showdown between the two veteran riders Slowe and Gadson was almost assured. And indeed, the drama of the day played out just as scripted. "Sunday morning, the track started coming back around," said Barry. "But it never was the track that it was on Friday."

On the other side of the ladder, Gadson ran two more teens in the first two rounds, then struggled with a faulty nitrous solenoid in the semi. Luckily for Gadson, his opponent fouled and Rickey advanced to the final. But was the Kawasaki wounded? "Everybody was coming over to me and saying stuff about that, but I was just tryin' to put that out of my head 'cause I knew they'd get the bike ready for the final," said Slowe.

Gadson took the tree from Slowe by a sizable margin, but Mikey caught up quickly. "I remember seeing me and Rickey side-by-side, both wheelie-ing up at the same time. It was a great side-by-side race and all of the sudden he just disappeared." When Rickey's wheel came down, his bike had a shifting problem and Slowe drove on for the win.

Slowe's 179.40 in the final was a new Super Street MPH record, and he missed the ET record by a hundredth. "We'll get that in Gainesville," promised Mike. "After that little team report Rickey put out about 'mowing the lawn' on Sunday with us, we just had to show our muscles a little bit. Supposedly his bike didn't shift, but either way we pulled it off. 50% of drag racing's luck anyway, so I'll take it when we can get it."

"We're really feeling the pain of our mid season change (from turbo to nitrous and back again)," said Henson. "We ran an 8.01 at the rained out Atlanta race, and Rickey came back and won that race. Now he's running 8.0's just like I said he would and he's leading the championship by 1 point because we backed off. I'll never, ever back off again. Now we're in a dogfight. It's a great class, and the turbos are held in check with the nitrous bikes by the tire. It looks like whoever wins the finals wins the championship.

"Coby Adams and Rickey have their bike flying, and Mikey did a great job this weekend. I have to give Mikey tons of credit. It's really difficult to fly back to the staging lanes on the scooter, give me the data from the run he just made and discuss how the bike's running, and then get on another completely different bike and go rounds with it. He's under intense pressure and doing really, really well. I picked the right guy to do this job."

Pro Street

Slowe also qualified second and beat another factory supported rider in Mickey Thompson Pro Street. Honda Riders Club of America's Kent Stotz had an air shifter bottle malfunction in the final after he, too, had taken the tree from Slowe. It was the third time this year that Slowe and the Velocity/Suzuki team had swept both of Prostar's marquee no-bar classes.

If the tricky track meddled with the Super Street bike's performance, it absolutely played havoc on the uberpowerful Pro Street bike. "Mikey came off the trailer in testing and went a .49 and then went straight into the .30's," said Henson. "So we felt really confident going into it, then they scraped the track and we lost over 7/10ths and blew the motor."

It was actually a combination of spinning the tire on the slippery track and an oil pressure issue from a new dry sump system that killed Slowe's motor. "After about two race weekends with the original sump system, we started seeing wearing in the bearings," said Henson. "We were seeing the pressure drop some going down the track. We fixed that, then the pressure started dropping when we left off at the end of the run."

"Saturday was tough, especially with the track and everybody spinning all the way down the track," said Slowe. "We hurt two motors and were working 'til 1:30 in the morning, flipping it over and putting brand new bearings in. Anthony Navarro really came through for us. It was 1:30 in the morning and he was bringing bearings down from an hour and a half, two hours away. Big thanks to Anthony. And the Velocity crew did an awesome job, especially having to deal with the motors and getting the thing running right. When it came raceday, they pulled through again.

"The track definitely came around today, and when it came time to do it, the bike was flawless," Slowe said in the winners circle. "We bumped out a .39 today and went a .45 in the final against Kent."

"Our Pro Street bike went really well," said Henson. "Mikey's doing a superb job riding the bike, we just haven't had the track conditions for record making runs. This has been the worst year for track conditions since 2003. Only two Pro Street bikes made it into the 7's in qualifying this weekend and that's the worst it's been all year. And when they free rev like that, they hurt the motor. So that cost me a $4000 motor."

"Awesome weekend," said Slowe, happy with his two wins. "With the whole family here, I just couldn't ask for anything better than that." Mike's family and friends proved to be the perfect background support group, unlike many family and friends at the racetrack who prove to be a major distraction. Parents William and Veronica Slowe purveyed fine and sloppy roast beef sandwiches, and girlfriend Nicole took care of dog Taz.

"I think we locked the Pro Street championship up," said Henson. "We're 100 and something points ahead of second place (Velocity sponsored Phil Stoll on Ronnie Mitchell's bike), and they can only get 80 points even if they set a record and won the event and we didn't show up."

1000 Supersport

Richard Gadson (Rickey's nephew) and the GSXR1000 fell short of the Velocity/Suzuki team's goal of a Lockhart-Phillips 1000 Supersport win and three class sweep. After a mechanical failure, Richard lost to eventual winner Jeremy Teasley in the semis. "Basically, my synopsis of the weekend is that Jeremy is doing a helluva job and he deserves a lot of props," said Richard. "I had a lot of trouble being consistent. Barry blames the bike, but I blame myself."

"Richard was doing a good job all weekend and started feeling confident in the bike," said Henson. "Against Jeremy, the bike shut off for just a second. It dropped a cylinder for just a couple seconds. We think it just got an air pocket or something. There's no next corner to make it up in drag racing. One little thing and you're out."

The next event for the Velocity/Suzuki team is the NHRA Sport Compact event at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey September 30 and August 1.

-credit: vr

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