Columbus Pro Bike notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 PONTIAC EXCITEMENT NATIONALS PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE NOTEBOOK *Good observation: Steve Johnson didn't have to look far for inspiration when devising his new ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

PONTIAC EXCITEMENT NATIONALS PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE NOTEBOOK *Good observation: Steve Johnson didn't have to look far for inspiration when devising his new time-management system for the Slick 50 Suzuki team. Johnson watched the Vance & Hines Suzuki trailer of NHRA Winston points leader Matt Hines. Johnson always was amazed at how calm and efficient Hines and his father, crew chief Byron Hines, appeared while tuning the quickest and fastest Pro Stock Motorcycle in NHRA Winston Drag Racing. "I've been watching Byron," Johnson said. "Over time, it really sunk in that what they were doing was the right way. It really sunk in the last two races. "I hope we'll accomplish more in the same amount of time." *Thanks, brother: Steve Johnson has received quite a hand this season from his younger brother, Allan Johnson, who joined the Slick 50 Suzuki crew. Allan Johnson helped his brother last year at the season-ending Winston Finals at Pomona, Calif., and decided to work with the team at every race this season. "Drag racing has so much of a family element," Steve Johnson said. "My mom and dad and my sister and brother have come to races for years. They've been on the moral support program more than anything. "But having Allan work on the bike is very cool. Allan is worth more than than any crewman I could pay." Allan Johnson is an electrical specialist, an important area for all Pro Stock Motorcycle teams as electronic systems on the bikes become more sophisticated. "There's enough wiring on these bikes to land the space shuttle," Steve Johnson said. "Allan's really good at wiring." Johnson's other teammates are his girlfriend, Janie Molliston, and crew chief Fred Blauvelt. *Matt the Missile: Matt Hines set an NHRA elapsed-time national record of 7.290 seconds on the Vance & Hines Suzuki GSXR at the Mopar Parts Nationals, May 15-18 at Englishtown, N.J. Hines, from Whittier, Calif., broke his record of 7.295 set at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto last month at Richmond, Va., Hines earned $1,000 from the MBNA World Record Club. Steve Johnson thinks that Hines' rivals must move now if they have any hope of catching Hines for the NHRA Winston championship. Hines, a second-year rider, and his father, crew chief Byron Hines, have created a performance advantage nearing one-tenth of a second over the rest of the field at recent events, a huge margin in drag racing. That advantage is stunning considering Matt Hines' lack of experience and Byron Hines' two-year hiatus from the sport since retiring as a rider in 1993. "Byron still has a learning curve," Johnson said. "He's still getting into a groove. Matt could run off and hide if Byron gets into the groove even more. "Byron has upped the ante. It's pretty discouraging, but it also opens your eyes and says the Star team and the Schultz team aren't the only teams to make a bike run fast. Maybe we can do it, too." *Sleek stuff: Every Pro Stock Motorcycle team concentrates on creating more horsepower for its engines, but Steve Johnson thinks similar attention should be paid to aerodynamics. "The bikes are the least aerodynamic of any category out there," Johnson said. "A bike driver, you're part of the aerodynamics. The sooner you can get tucked in after the start, the quicker you can be." Johnson is working with Vanson, a riding-suit company, on the design of an aerodynamic, leather riding suit that features Kevlar positioned in certain places to reduce wind resistance against the rider's body. *Performance prediction: Steve Johnson thinks summer weather probably will prevent NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle national records from falling at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, but he insists the track records will tumble easily. "I think the quickest time is going to be a high 7.30," Johnson said. "I think we could easily go 180 mph there." Defending NHRA Winston champion Dave Schultz set the elapsed-time and speed track records last year, 7.503 seconds and 182.07 mph, on the Sunoco Suzuki GSXR. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. June 13 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. June 14. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. June 15. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 8 a.m. June 12. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing. Call NHRA Ticketing at (800) 884-6472. *On TV: ABC will televise one hour of highlights from the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at 1 p.m. (EDT) June 22. *On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies. -30-

5/27/97-CO5-081

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Steve Johnson