After taking a two-year break from the Professional Drag Racing Association (PDRA), Grothus Dragbikes (GDB) made the trip to Memphis International Raceway (MIR) to throw their hat in the PDRA ring. But before GDB could get teched in and get the bikes ready for qualifying session #1, they had to cut their own lock off one side of the rear lift gate of the trailer as the key broke off in the lock...Once the lock was off the trailer, it was time for business.
The first GDB rider to take a shot at the smooth MIR surface was Brunson Grothus aboard the Indocil Art painted pro-extreme motorcycle (PXM). Brunson went right to the #1 spot with an arrow straight 4.103 at 173.56 mph. A couple pairs later, the second GDB bike with tuner & rider 'Showboat' Shane Eperjesi aboard got into the field with a less than Texas sized 5.56 at 103 mph. The last PXM of the qualifying session was the DTM tuned machine of Terry Schweigert who stole the #1 spot of session #1 with a stout 4.092 at 170.11.
After a lengthy rain delay, the decision was made to cancel one of the three qualifying sessions set for and roll into the second & final qualifying session of the day. This would move the third & final qualifying session to Saturday morning. After making some adjustments to his bike, Showboat led off session #2 for GDB and laid down a much improved 4.391 at 159 mph to move up a few spots in the field. Then it was multi-time world champ, Eric McKinney, who took the #1 spot from Schweigert with a 4.087 at 173.09 before the last bike of the session took the track. With the rest of the the GDB crew anxiously looking on, Brunson took advantage of the cooled down track surface and built upon his first qualifying lap with a new career best 4.069 at 174.48 to go straight to the top of the field.
After clicking off a career best run & sitting atop the field, team owner Fast Eddie Grothus and rider Brunson decided to sit out the final qualifying session Saturday morning to let the rest of the field duke it out. GDB rider 'Showboat' Shane made some drastic changes for the final qualifying session in hopes of getting his bike moving in the right direction; however, the bike didn't respond accordingly as it went through the traps with a 4.80 at 137 mph leaving him in the #12 qualifying position. No other PXMs made enough improvement to knock Brunson and the rest of team GDB from the #1 position heading into eliminations.
After getting the PDRA Drag 965 #1 qualifying award at opening ceremonies, Brunson made his earned bye run in the 13 bike field with another 4.102 at 174.26 mph. Shortly thereafter, 'Showboat' took on the #3 qualifier, Chris Garner-Jones, of Huntsville, AL aboard the red & black TT Jones Racing team machine. Showboat got the tree but was passed around half track by Garner-Jones who took the win with a 4.115 at 171.18 mph as Showboat's bike just quit pulling with a 4.66 at 143 mph.
Just as the PXMs were being called to the lanes for round #2, Mother Nature appeared again and ended the action for the day with another down pour. Action began bright & early Sunday morning with a second round pairing against PDRA Martin, MI event winner, #7 qualifier, Meshal Al-Saber from the Q-80 team out of Kuwait. Meshal strapped a sizable hole-shot on Brunson, but the GDB machine had just enough in the tank to take the win with a 4.076 at 173.21 to Meshal's 4.135 at 170.08.
The 4.07 gave Brunson & the GDB team lane choice over the always tough DTM tuned machine of Terry Schweigert of the Road End Farms team. Brunson took the preferred lane and led from start to finish clicking off another career best run of 4.052 at 175.32 mph to Terry's 4.122 173.21. With such a lap, GDB would again earn lane choice going in the final round over Chris Garner-Jones 4.057 semi-final lap.
With Brunson's son turning one month old & being at his first PDRA event, the pressure was on against the PDRA PXM points leader and multiple event winner Chris Garner-Jones. As the lights came down, Brunson managed to get out of the beams first with a .003 reaction time; this allowed Brunson to lead the race from start to finish with another 4.05 at 175 mph to Chris' very game 4.06.
“It really was a dream weekend,” Grothus said after the victory. “I couldn’t be more humbled to square off and beat the fastest nitrous bikes in the world in the largest eighth-mile professional series,” Grothus said. “To qualify No. 1 and win the event with my wife and newborn son, who was attending his first PDRA event, and my family and close friends is indescribable.”