ROCKINGHAM — Pffaftown’s Tii Tharpe and the other stars of the NHRA Top Fuel Harley series return to Rockingham Dragway this week for a showdown with reigning AHDRA world champ and current point leader Ryan Peery of Milford, Ohio, in the eBay Motors Fall Nitro Shootout, first major race in the track’s Rocktoberfast celebration.
Top Fuel Harleys, Pro Fuel Harleys, Funny Bike Harleys, Pro Mod Harleys, Pro Open Harleys, Harleys of every description will compete for points and prize money over two days on a Rockingham quarter mile known to yield record-shattering performances.
Peery, who got his first ever Rockingham win a year ago when he beat Jimmy McMillon of Deland, Florida, for the title in this event, will try to make it two-in-a-row astride a bike on which he lost to Tharpe in the first round at last week’s NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Indiana, after winning it all the year before.
A two-time NHRA series champion, Tharpe has struggled in the past in the AHDRA event but has dominated in the AMRA Jim McClure Memorial event in which he will be bidding this year for his third consecutive Ray Price Top Fuel Challenge trophy.
A third Carolina rider, Ashville’s Tracy Kile, could surprise the favorites as he did two months ago at Milan, Michigan, where he beat Perry in the final.
“I got lucky,” Kile admitted, “but it takes a little luck to win these things too, you know, consistency, reliability, and a little luck.”
While the spectator focus may be on fuel racers like Peery, Tharpe, Kile, 2020 AHDRA champ Rich Vreeland, Sam White of Chapin, South Carolina, and others, ET bracket Harley riders will get a little extra attention, too, thanks to Law Tigers Motorcycle Lawyers of North Carolina who have guaranteed $1,000 winner money for both Saturday and Sunday.
Gates open Friday at 10 a.m. for a 4-10 p.m. test session preceding the start of qualifying on Saturday. Pro and nitro qualifying sessions at 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday will set the stage for Sunday eliminations beginning at noon.
Two-and-three day passes are available at a discounted rate and The Rock is offering $5 off on tickets purchased in advance at www.rockinghamdragway.com. Tickets purchased at the gate are $25 a day.