If Colbert Seagraves had his druthers the conversations dominating NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle would have little to do with the runaway dominance of the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidsons and everything to do with Viper Motor Cycle Company's request to be approved for use in the division starting in 2013.
Seagraves, son of Ralph Seagraves, the man responsible for introducing Winston to drag racing, is in the process of introducing the Viper Motor Cycle Company to drag racing. Should the NHRA grant approval for teams to use their motorcycle, Seagraves believes it will eventually become a competitive alternative to the now out of production Buell.
“Our plan is to bring this to the NHRA, and we fully plan to sell our engines and chassis to the other competitors so that they can run it,” stated Seagraves. “We look at it as a really good opportunity for Viper to come in as a manufacturer with Suzuki (and) Harley-Davidson, and support the sport. We also want to sell motorcycles. That’s what it is all about.”
It remains to be seen if the new Vipers will run a four-valve or two-valve combination. Seagraves pointed out a lot of this will depend on the NHRA’s requirements for their inclusion. Whether or not the Harley-Davidson team is required to return to the two-valve combination, which is rumored in high-ranking circles, could also play a role in the approval process.
If granted approval by the NHRA, the Viper organization plans to bring an engineering team chock full of talent and credentials to the Pro Stock pits. Viper manufacturers their own line of engines but once approval comes with racing, they will team with Ilmor Engineering.
According to Seagraves, Paul Ray from Ilmore Engineering will be the lead engineer on the project. The fact Ilmor Engineering will be involved has Seagraves brimming with excitement regarding potentially their first foray into the sport.
“Ilmor Engineering is a very unique company,” said Seagraves. “They’ve been successful in every form of racing they’ve went to. They won the world championship with Mercedes; they’ve won 17 Indy titles with Roger Penske – 250-plus Indycar races and three powerboat races.”
Viper has already begun their push in drag racing by signing a marketing agreement with Matt Smith and Michael Ray to represent the brand aboard their Buells while the politics of approval play out behind the scenes. Even though Seagraves’ upbringing exposed him to various types of motorsports, the straight-line competition always found favor in his heart.
“I am partial to drag racing and one of the things I really love is how the race teams interact with the fans,” said Seagraves. “The [Viper] bikes have been a big hit out here this season.”
While the Smith-Ray program is only one race old, Seagraves is already seeing an impact through the association.
“They have worked really hard to help us get the word out about the brand,” said Seagraves. “We’re a new company; even through the bike has been in research and development for eight years at the cost of $35 million dollars. We moved from a 12,000 square foot shop to a 63,000 one. We’ve got a real good product. If you ride this bike, it’s a kick in the pants.”
With the uncertainty of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class’ future and the Buell brand in particular, Seagraves believes the Viper’s inclusion can certainly pay off by generating more excitement for the class.
“Buell may be going somewhere, but I don’t think the S&S powerplants are,” Seagraves added. “Hopefully this will bring a little more parity to the class.”
Many Pro Stock Motorcycle fans are hoping for the same.
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