Valerie Thompson Just Misses Concord Cut Two time Bonneville land speed record holder and former AHDRA racer Valerie Thompson entered her S&S powered V-Twin in the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, the first ever POWERade series event at the brand new...
Valerie Thompson Just Misses Concord Cut
Two time Bonneville land speed record holder and former AHDRA racer Valerie Thompson entered her S&S powered V-Twin in the NHRA Carolinas Nationals, the first ever POWERade series event at the brand new zMax Dragway at Concord in Concord, North Carolina. Thompson is brand new to the series as well, in only her second attempt to make the highly competitive 16-bike Pro Stock Motorcycle field. "We were on a mission to make nice clean runs, qualify, and make new fans," said the effervescent Thompson. "We came to zMax with two fresh motors and a full team, but we struggled on the tune up all weekend."
Thompson started out well, besting four far more experienced competitors in the opening round of qualifying. In fact, Valerie's lack of experience made her an answer to future trivia questions. The NHRA qualifying order made her the first professional driver to make an official run at zMax.
qualifying round 1
14th Valerie Thompson left lane 7.220 at 184.07 mph
qualifying round 2
15th Valerie Thompson right lane 7.329 at 177.88 mph
A mechanical failure in her Buell's brakes made Valerie another trivia answer in Q3 as the first professional driver to put a vehicle off the edge of the zMax track and into the sandtrap! "I coasted in about a bike length," said Thompson. "I knew I was going for the sand so I said to myself--relax, take a deep breath, and hold on for the ride."
qualifying round 3
16th Valerie Thompson left lane 7.291 at 178.80 mph
Heading into Saturday's final session, Valerie held the precarious 16th perch with three-time champion Angelle Sampey on the outside and looking to bust in. "This was my first time sitting on the bubble, and I will say I was really on eggshells," said Thompson. "We changed motors to give it our best shot but still came up short."
qualifying round 4
17th Valerie Thompson right lane 7.262 at 179.14 mph
"We missed the field by one, so back to the grindstone we go. I have a great group of guys who worked hard to get us back to the track after Indy and worked hard though out the weekend. Jim Schneider, Rob Schopf, Jamie McNaughton and Randy Hobena are just the best. Also, special thanks to Mickey Eddinger, Jeff Graham, Tom Johnson and Lisa Morrow from Tom Johnson Camping Center, the Carolina's number one RV dealer!
"I had a chance to visit with a lot of my fellow AHDRA racers, met many new fans and answered numerous questions about the Bonneville Salt Flats. zMax is without a doubt the best track I have been on. The facility was top notch along with all the employees. On Sunday they presented my team with a nice trophy and said 'Thank you for being here.' I want to say to them, 'Thank you for a great facility and the memories,' and there were a lot of them for us.
"But the team and I were disappointed about not getting the bike to run better ETs. We've been so consistent in testing with 7.14s to 7.19s, and to come to a really nice, smooth chocolate racetrack and run in the .20s was so disappointing.
"Overall, though, I'm happy we all did our jobs. I cut good lights, had good 60-foot times, hit my shifts, and made nice clean runs. I changed my riding technique, which made me a little apprehensive. But with more seat time, my riding technique will improve a great deal.
"Thank you to all my sponsors and fans for your support and loyalty during this long anticipated season. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that it does not happen alone. First, it takes someone to believe in you and secondly, someone to give you that first chance."
Valerie Thompson races next October 31 to November 2 at The Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.