Over at Cape Fear Harley-Davidson, the retailer’s All Harley Drag Racing Association team (AHDRA) — in just it’s first full season of competition — has ridden 125 horses to second in the overall points standing in the AHDRA’s Super Sport division.                                                                                                                                                                            {mosimage}And the four-person team is chomping at the bit for first.
    Steve Lowery, who, when he isn’t tinkering around in the guts of engines in the service bays of Fayetteville’s only authorized Harley-Davidson dealer, tears down the quarter-mile track aboard a 99 cubic-inch rocket that reaches speeds of 128 mph on the straightaway.
    And on the weekend of Oct. 10-12, Lowery hopes to spur that steel stallion on to victory at Rockingham Dragway in Richmond County and inch the team closer to the Super Sport championship.
    “We really want to be number one,” said Andre Mitchell, the team’s coordinator. “That’s what it’s about.”
The AHDRA — which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary — sanctions and promotes drag racing events across the United States. What began as a club racing organization in the late ‘70s has expanded into a hugely popular motor sport boasting 16 different classes ranging from 224-mph Top Fuel bikes to the aforementioned Super Sport division. Currently, the Cape Fear Harley-Davidson team, formed last spring, sits atop the Eastern Division points standings and trails the overall leader by just 79 points with one race to go — the Screamin’ Eagle Performance Parts Nationals at The Rock.
    “Sam was racing on his own and we decided that we would form our own race team,” said Mitchell, who, like the other team members, is employed with Cape Fear Harley-Davidson. “Sam had purchased a frame before we started the team and then we bought an engine. We were in three races — Bristol, Richmond and Rockingham — last year at the tail end of the season. But this is our first full season.”
    The team has rocketed to success in it’s inaugural season, challenging for the Super Sport championship despite missing several races (Mitchell says the high cost of gas kept the team from traveling to several races out West). Lowery rode the stripped down Harley — no lights and no charging system on a bike he has to almost lay down on to ride — to the victory circle in the   Screamin’ Eagle Performance Parts Bike Week Nationals in  Gainesville, Fla., on the weekend of Feb. 29, tearing down the track in a hide-peeling 10.390 seconds.
    The unprecendented success of the first-year team has not only left other teams gasping in the wake of Lowery’s exhaust, it’s also brought out a little bit of the green monster in some of the Cape Fear team’s more established rivals.
    “They’re a little bit jealous,” said the team’s crew chief, Mike Bradley. “At this last race (the S&S Jim McClure Nationals in Dinwiddie, Va.) the team that’s actually in first place, when we went out were actually jumping up and down, glad we were gone.
    “Despite that, it really is a tight-knit community of racers,” added Bradley. “Everybody, knows everybody, and everybody helps everybody … Your opponent will lend you spare parts.”
    And unlike some other motor sports, this one is extremely fan-friendly, says Mitchell.
    {mosimage}“The pits are open,” said Mitchell. “You can go right in the pit and hang out. You can watch the guys tuning up their bikes … You can walk just about up to their bikes.”
    Mitchell says the team is also good for Cape Fear Harley-Davidson’s business.
    “It goes a long way for advertising,” said Mitchell. “If we can make horsepower on the track, we can make it for you.”
    The team, which also includes Cape Fear Harley-Davidson’s service manager, Billy Lawton, (he directs the racing operation) isn’t exactly filling its pockets with cash from all its success — if the team wins the points championship it will take home just $3,000 in prize money.
    “We do it for the advertising it brings Cape Fear Harley-Davidson … and the thrill of winning,” said Mitchell. “It’s costs about $1,200 a race for us, counting travel and putting fuel in the bike. We earn the money to pay our expenses. We do have sponsors … but we sold raffle tickets for $3,500 in parts and labor that the dealership was nice enough to let us buy at cost.
    “Harry Hawks won the raffle back in May,” said Mitchell. “We raised almost $10,000 and that’s what we’ve raced on this season, plus help from our sponsors.”
    The team’s sponsors include Cape Fear Harley-Davidson, Valley Auto World Inc., Dale Harris CPA and Smoking Gun Tattoos.
    The team — which has finished in the money in five of its eight races — will go for the points championship Oct. 10-12 at Rockingham Dragway, which is 10 miles northeast of Rockingham. The gates will open at 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 10, with qualifying at 4 p.m. Gates will open at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday; there will be qualifying runs all day and the  Screamin’ Eagle Performance Parts Shootout kicks off at 5 p.m.     On Sunday, Oct, 12, gates open at 8 a.m., with the Cape Fear Harley-Davidson team (hopefully) going for the gold beginning at 12:30 p.m.
    For information and ticket prices, you can call The Rock at (910) 582-3400, or check out the Web site at www.rockinghamdragway.com.

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