Matt Hines burst onto the NHRA scene in 1996 as Rookie of the Year. He then earned three consecutive Pro Stock Motorcycle championships, from 1997-1999, on his Eagle One Suzuki fielded by the famed Vance & Hines team. In 2000, he was second in ...
Matt Hines burst onto the NHRA scene in 1996 as Rookie of the Year. He then earned three consecutive Pro Stock Motorcycle championships, from 1997-1999, on his Eagle One Suzuki fielded by the famed Vance & Hines team. In 2000, he was second in points, and placed third last season. His 28 class wins (in 42 final-round appearances) and 39 No. 1 qualifying efforts are both Pro Stock Bike records. Hines, 29, of Trinadad, Colo., talks about the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle season, which begins this weekend with the Mac Tools Gatornationals, in Gainesville, Fla.
Q: Why did you decide to race last year's Eagle One Suzuki instead of building a new motorcycle?
Matt Hines I was contemplating on whether or not to build a new bike. Considering the time frame, and the off-season is only a few months, and with all of the data we have on the current Eagle One Suzuki, we decided just to make some changes (updates) on the current bike. If you build a whole-new bike, it's like starting from scratch. It could put you behind the eight-ball right from the get-go. We know we have a good bike. It just set the record of 7.09 (seconds, at Reading, Pa.) near the end of last season. Now, it's a matter of making it good for every pass. It's all about weight and getting the weight placement right. We cut some motor-mounts off and stuff like that. We basically played with the chassis, went over the whole bike, and I think we've got it figured out.
Q: Could you be at a disadvantage to those racing new bikes?
MH We think we've made enough changes to our bike. That was our main goal, to go down to Houston (to test), and make sure we didn't mess the bike up. The bike really came around. I think we could have one of the best bikes out there. To start the season off with a tried-and-true package, we're going to be ahead of the game right from the start.
Q: Will Angelle Savoie, the Pro Stock Motorcycle champion the last two years, still be your biggest rival?
MH I guess she doesn't have a sponsor. They're going to have a brand-new bike for the first race. I'm sure they'll be ready.
Q: Who else do you think will be challengers for the title?
MH There were seven bikes (at Houston). Antron (Brown, second in points last season) hasn't tested at all. Craig Treble (fourth in 2001), he's run a .17 at Phoenix, on his old bike, and he's got a new bike he's supposed to debut at the first race. He could be tough if he gets the new package figured out.
Q: You admitted to feeling frustrated at times the last two years after three straight championships. What are your emotions starting this season?
MH Actually, this is the best I've felt in years. We've already tested once and that is a major goal for our Vance & Hines Eagle One Suzuki team. Last year, we went into the season and we didn't even test. All of my motors are ready. I've got one in the bike and three in the cabinet. It's been like that for weeks now. We're 100 percent right now. We've worked a little bit with our clutch development and we just ran a 7.09 in testing and we set the record near the end of last season. We found some problems with the bike during the off-season and fixed that and I know we can come out swinging.
Q: What have you been doing during the off-season?
MH I've been working around here (race shop) and making sure everything is 100 percent. One guy left the team, so for the last couple of weeks, since we got back from Houston, I've been going over the trailer and making sure it is completely organized. If you're going to be ready, you've got to be organized.
Q: What are your thoughts on the NHRA's new series sponsorship from POWERade?
MH The Pro Stock Bikes are an extreme sport. I think POWERade could definitely take advantage of using the bikes in their advertising campaigns. The bikes have always been a little bit of a sideshow, but I think that can be good for our new sponsor.