Now that summer is on our doorstep, and our wettest spring on record is behind us, we can now have fun in the area of motorcycle drag racing. Most people really don't know what classes or events there are in this sport. I have always been a fan due to the technical side of my life. I have been blessed to know two very important friends in this business. We featured Larry James of James Racing in the May Tech Tips article and in the May Readers and Their Rides section. Now I am happy to introduce Darwin Barnett of Soul Brothers Racing of Kansas City, Missouri. I am proud to know both as the finest individuals in this sport, who are both professionals and two of the finest gentlemen I have ever met.
Darwin Barnett started his racing career in 1961 riding a TR6 Bonneville 500. He was not quite sure of the actual model, but we will roll with it. I had the luxury of meeting Darwin back in 1991 when he was the owner/operator of Mr. B’s Wheels and Deals. At that time the shop was located at 5610 Prospect in Kansas City and specialized in performance upgrades on motorcycles and cars. Once I worked with Darwin on several motorcycles that had big bore kits and High performance applications, I was hooked on the need for speed. He always took the time to explain the applications to me and what those systems can do for an engine. Darwin has retired from a six-day work week and is now doing what every guy would love to do. He’s racing! He has also started a racing team and the name of the league is Soul Brothers Race Team.
To give you a better understanding of this sport, I listed the abbreviations and definitions for the classes of drag racing today:
Pro Stock (NHRA): Engine is normally aspirated, Nitrous Oxide (NO) or Turbo, 10” rear tire, 70”/72” wheelbase, lightweight racing chassis. Bike and rider must weigh more than 600 pounds unless a Kawasaki or Harley-Davidson. Bike must have a full fairing for advertisement purposes only.
Pro Mod: Heads up racing. 76” wheelbase, big motors, 11” rear tire, carbs and nitrous or turbo.
Funny Bike: Engines have the following items to rank this class - Turbo with nitrous, 86” chassis, 12” rear tire.
Quick 16: Only one rule, no Nitro.
Street bike Shootout: Bike must start under its own power, street tire only (No Wheelie Bar). Bike must run on gas only. Turbo or nitrous is okay.
Top Fuel: Engine must have a Blower (not mandatory) and run on Nitro Methane fuel only. Chassis and engines vary. This class is the fastest.
There are also four additional classes that are divided into seconds:
8.20 seconds (Heads up)
Darwin’s Soul Brothers Race Team is sponsoring a drag race on July 3rd and 4th at KCIR. Darwin has guaranteed the prize money for a payout on Sunday for this event. I have known him for 13 years and I have watched him evolve into a true sportsman. I am truly honored to know him and his wife, Mary. When I saw his drag bike, I was truly touched by the saying painted on the side – In Memory of 911.
When the titans meet for this drag event, we can honestly say they are racing for our fallen comrades in Iraq and for the loved ones that lost their friends and family members on that horrible day in September. I can think of nothing else that moves me as an individual than writing this article.
To give you a perspective of what kind of Gladiators will be there; Glen Nickelberry of Soul Brothers Racing Team ran a 6.60 second quarter mile at 210 mph three weeks ago at St. Louis International Raceway. So as you can see, Darwin’s team is for real! Larry James and I agree that this will be a weekend of fast laps with stories to tell.
If you can’t make it to KCIR over the Fourth, you can find the results listed in the August issue of Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine.
Story and photos by Dave Miller