Manufacturers Cup World Finals - Bradenton, FL
After capturing their first American Drag Racing League event win at the ADRL World Finals IX three weeks prior, the Grothus Dragbikes Pro Extreme Motorcycle team headed to sunny Florida for the Manufacturers Cup World Finals to try and put an exclamation point on the 2013 season. GDB rider Brunson Grothus was locked in a tight points battle with Mr. Bill Vose (14-time National Pro Mod Champion) and Mr. CD Watson for the Pro Comp National season championship. In addition to being less than one round out of the Pro Comp points lead heading into the World Finals, Brunson was two rounds behind Florida hotshots Terry Troyer and Don Richter in the chase for the Pro ET National season championship. To overcome both Troyer & Richter would be a tall order as both Mr. Troyer and Mr. Richter call Bradenton Motorsports Park (BMP) their home track and several other top guns such as Roy Hagedorn, Kevin Peterson, Hank Ackerman and Ann Richter were on the grounds and ready to do battle for the #1 plate as well.
Friday, day one of the three day event, included a healthy dose of Brunson testing out the new track surface with the GDB 1988 Pro ET Race Visions Kawasaki. Brunson hadn’t ridden the bike since the August ManCup/NHDRO event in Indy. After wrapping up some successful Pro ET testing, the Florida sun began to set for the day, and the first round of Pro Qualifying was set to begin. Running in worse than expected air conditions for the World Finals event, the GDB Pro Comp entry got off to a good start for the weekend by laying down a 4.140 at 172 mph, just a few ticks behind Vose’s 4.11 on the MPS/Thyen Hayabusa. The 4.140 was good enough for the #2 qualifying position heading into Saturday’s qualifying action.
Q2 for the GDB bike saw a slight improvement with a 4.13; however, Vose would throw the first big punch of the weekend with a 4.072 to jump well ahead of the entire field. Paul Gast also showed he was in town to compete in the second qualifying session with a very solid 4.10 to steal the #2 spot from Brunson. The final qualifying shot would have Vose watching from the sidelines in hopes that nobody would steal the #1 qualifying position from him as he chose to save the wear and tear on their equipment for race day. Vose’s plan came to fruition, as nobody was able to oust his 4.072 as Fast By Gast owner, Paul Gast, improved to a 4.08 and Brunson improved with a career best 4.10 at 172 mph. When the qualifying dust settled, Mr. Gast was in the #2 qualifying position and Brunson the #3.
In addition to Pro Comp qualifying rounds two and three taking place on Saturday, Brunson and his Pro ET Kawasaki were busy mowing through some of the toughest bracket racers in the country in the first of two Pro ET races at the World Finals. In what turned out to be a 7 round race on Saturday, Brunson found himself paired up in the semi-finals with new points leader Don Richter, Troyer had exited earlier that day. With the stakes being high, each rider put together a .040 package with Brunson getting to the stripe by a mere .0008, which is less than a few inches! However, in the final, Brunson came up a little short against one of the all time ET/Sportsman greats, Mike Konopacki. Mike left nothing to chance as he strapped a .006 reaction time on Brunson and took the finish line to take home the Cup trophy Saturday night. After a great Saturday of Pro Comp qualifying and Pro ET racing, Brunson and the GDB team set themselves up to make a run at both Season National Championships.
As Sunday was set to begin, Brunson appeared as eager as ever to get race day started. “This is what its all about, Championship Sunday. This is what our entire team has worked toward all season, now is the time to go out and get it done.” And as it should be, Brunson was paired up first round with one of two other top points contenders looking to secure the Pro ET National Championship, BMP’s very own Terry Troyer. Both riders came out absolutely swinging, with Brunson posting a 15 thousands package to Troyer’s 20 thousands package giving Brunson the much needed win to keep his National Championship hopes alive. Brunson earned the bye run for second round as he had the best reaction time of the first round and Don Richter also advanced to round three. Then as fate would have it, Brunson was paired up with Don Richter third round when the field was down to 18 bikes for all the marbles. Richter was calling this round his “redemption round,” but Brunson would have none of it. Brunson chopped the tree down on Don and caught him early in the run, then lifted for the National Championship round win! In the race trailer immediately following the round Brunson said, “I’m extremely happy to win my first National Championship, and I’m very proud of everyone on our team. I love everything about ET racing, but I’m ready to go out and do my job in Pro Comp too. I hope we have what it takes to get our second National Championship for this team and great marketing partners too.”
The Pro Comp field of 11 bikes suffered a fair amount of attrition prior to first round of eliminations. Only 8 bikes made the first round call, resulting in only two competition races and leaving 6 bikes for round two. Brunson was one of the 8 bikes to make the first round call and was slated to race one of the other two points contenders for the Pro Comp National Championship, CD Watson. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be for Texas standout (Watson) as he suffered transmission issues during qualifying and was forced to watch from the sidelines. The GDB/Indocil Art Pro Comp machine wasted no time getting into form on Sunday by laying down a solid 4.12 elapsed time at 172 mph giving Brunson lane choice over turbo assisted Pro Comp entry Mark Paquette.
Attrition had again set in for second round as Mr. Paquette was a no show against Brunson and Mr. Vose also received his second freebee of the day as former ADRL World Champion Kim Morrell was unable to make it out of the burnout box. Vose threw the first punch by setting the pace with an elapsed time of 4.10, but slightly left the door open for Brunson to try and steal lane choice. The GDB team rose to the challenge, and with the click of a few knobs on the tune-up by Crew Chief and father Ed Grothus, Brunson rode their hotrod to a career best 4.085 elapsed time at 173.47 mph!
The table was set, Grothus against Vose in the semi finals. The winner of this round would lock up the Pro Comp National Championship and advance to face wily veteran Paul Gast in the finals. After team owners and riders shook hands in the staging lanes, it was all business as the GDB team sought out what they arrived to do, win the Pro Comp National Championship. Brunson didn’t waste anytime jumping out to an early lead with a stout .015 reaction time to Vose’s solid .027. The Grothus Dragbikes suzuki GS powered machine then out 60 footed the MPS/Thyen Hayabusa entry with a 1.035 and started pulling away for the win when an unknown loose ignition plate caused the bike to backfire before the finish line. This backfire forced Brunson to get out of the throttle a little early. However, it was just enough, .008 thousands just enough, to turn on the win light and lock up the Pro Comp National Championship!
As the Florida sun began to settle in and most of the finals were being called to the staging lanes, the GDB team quickly tried to diagnose the reason for the backfire. Upon removing the body from the bike, GDB “do-it-all” Bradley noticed the #3 carburetor had actually come loose from the intake boot; therefore, the GDB crew concluded the backfire was due to the carburetor coming loose. The team quickly connected the carb, started the bike (it ran on all four cylinders) and prepped it for the finals against Mr. Gast. Thinking the “issue” had been resolved the entire GDB crew was confident heading into the finals and looked to put their Pro Extreme/Pro Comp motorcycle in the winners circle in back-to-back events to finish the year. However, it wasn’t meant to be as the GDB/Indocil Art Pro Comp machine barely sputtered off the starling line and Brunson was forced to watch Paul Gast run a 4.40 elapsed time for the World Finals event win.
After pushing the bike back to the trailer and scratching their heads, crew chief Fast Eddie almost immediately found the “issue.” He pulled the engine containment blanket down and discovered one of the bolts holding the ignition plate had completely jarred itself off of the plate and the other two were close to coming off as well. Although very disappointed with the results from the finals, the entire crew almost had to laugh at how simple of a fix it was and were left with thinking of what could have been in the finals. After taking both National Championship photos in the winners circle, team owner, chassis builder, and tuner had the following to say. “I’m so proud of this entire team and how far we have come. I want to thank all of our marketing partners that have helped us capture these two National Championships and the Manufacturers Cup group for giving us an outstanding platform to complete on a national level.”
Grothus Dragbikes would like to thank Indocil Art, Hoffmann Trucking, Roemer Machine, Robinson Industries, Schnitz Racing, Terrell Landscape, RC Iossi, Medforce, Liberty Transportation, D&R Sales, Hunnicutt Glass, Klemme Performance Motorcycle, Metzger LLC, our parts suppliers, racing friends and family, and the rest of the Grothus Dragbikes supporters for your help and support during this outstanding season! We look forward to seeing all of you at our year-end party to celebrate this season.