Eddie Krawiec estimates he has made more than 10,000 runs down the dragstrip at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the site of this weekend’s 48th annual NHRA Summernationals. But the next one the three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion makes will surely be one of the most memorable.
Krawiec and longtime teammate Andrew Hines will debut the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team’s new Harley-Davidson Street Rod at this weekend’s 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event. A project that started in earnest in January will come to fruition this weekend and Krawiec is thrilled that it is all happening at the track where he grew up racing.
“When I was looking at the calendar and figured the debut would probably fall into Englishtown, it made me excited,” said Krawiec, the current points leader. “It’s exciting moving onto a new platform and going into a completely different motorcycle line. This bike is kind of their wave of the future and to be a part of that is pretty cool. We’re transitioning to a new model after racing with the V-Rod since 2002, and we feel good about bringing it into competition.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. It is the fourth of 16 events in a 2017 Pro Stock Motorcycle season that has already seen one win and two finals appearances for Krawiec, who has 37 career victories.
With a different body and chassis, Krawiec expects a learning curve with the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod, but he likes the potential of the bike. After rigorous research and development, and eight full passes leading into the weekend, Krawiec sees a bright future.
“There’s a lot more technology available to us now and it showed in the fine details,” Krawiec said. “For me, it’s just about being able to race with those things you learned. It’s still the same engine and powerplant. I would love to debut it and win, but with the competition in the class right now it’s going to be a tough task. But we’re up for the challenge, there’s no doubt about that.”
The second career win at Englishtown for the Bayonne, N.J. native will have to come against the likes of L.E. Tonglet, who has won back-to-back races in 2017, two-time world champ Matt Smith, reigning world champion Jerry Savoie, Scotty Pollacheck, Steve Johnson and defending winner and three-time world champion Angelle Sampey.
But if there’s anywhere Krawiec will feel comfortable on a new bike, it’s at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. He grew up racing there, worked at the facility and was even the track manager until 2007, meaning there is no other dragstrip where he feels more at home.
“The best way to put it is you should never forget where you came from,” Krawiec said. “I’ve won championships and won races, and in my eyes I’ve done everything I could have ever asked to accomplish. The rest to me is just gravy. But what I do enjoy is going back home. It brings back those early memories of things you used to do when you were there. There’s a lot of history for me and I’ve made a lot of runs down that dragstrip. There’s just a comfortable feeling there.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, June 9 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 10, at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 11.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets also are available online at www.racewaypark.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult.