Coming off back to back wins & a career best run of 3.998 just two weeks prior, the Grothus Dragbikes (GDB) crew was excited entering the final PDRA race of the year with a shot of capturing their ultimate goal of the 2018 Pro Extreme Motorcycle (PXM) Championship. However, GDB knew it would be a tall task considering they needed to go two rounds farther than the points leader (or one round farther & set the PXM nitrous record) & GDB’s best career finish to date at Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP) was a semifinal appearance.
There were a total of 15 PXMs on the property vying for the coveted World Finals event win (both turbos & nitrous applications) & four riders with a mathematical shot at winning the Championship anywhere from 1.5 - 3.5 rounds back of the points leader. In addition to Brunson riding the GDB/Indocil Art “Ed Honcho” work horse, the talented Richard Gadson of Palm City, FL was making his first appearance under the GDB stable aboard the famed “Lucy.”
First round of qualifying early Friday afternoon brought a bag of mixed results for GDB as Lucy coughed and died off the starting line due to a faulty battery & Brunson matched his career best lap at VMP to date with an off the trailer 4.045 at 177.30 mph for the number five qualifying spot. After putting a new battery in Lucy, Gadson clicked off a 4.129 at 168.68 mph (0.999 60 foot) on his very first lap on the motorcycle good enough for the number nine qualifying position after two sessions. Brunson did not improve upon his first round qualifying effort & remained in the number five position.
Heading into the third & final qualifying session on Saturday & not encouraged by the mph numbers produced by Lucy, GDB owner Ed Grothus made the call to swap motors & put “Slim” into Lucy’s frame rails & a good call it was as Gadson blasted to a 4.033 at 172.92 mph with another sub 1.00 sixty foot on just his second pass ever on the bike for the number five qualifying spot. Brunson again was unable to improve upon his 4.045 as he recorded a 4.070 & slid to the number six qualifying spot.
For a multitude of reasons, first round of eliminations were pushed to Sunday. Both GDB riders happened to draw first round solos as VMP had taken its tole on many of the PXM teams on the property & respective opponents Terry Wynn & Spencer Allen we’re unable to make the first round call. Again, the round brought a mixed bag of results as far as ETs are concerned for the two GDB riders as Brunson notched an improved VMP best 4.036 at 175.30 mph & unfortunately for Gadson an aborted 4.82 at 116 mph.
Second round pushed well into Sunday evening and the density altitude plummeted to a shocking -762 (yes, negative) & a track temperature of less than 60 degrees! First up Gadson took on the surging Ricardo Knights of Beech Island, SC. Ricardo led from start to finish with a 4.141 at 167.70 mph & ended Gadson’s weekend earlier than he & GDB had hoped for. Next, Brunson took on turbo entry Timmy Davis of Douglas, GA who had just put his machine into the 4.0s the event before & was improving every time out. Unfortunately for Davis, he had issues on the starting line & was unable to successfully stage his bike giving the automatic win to Brunson & a free shot at the tricky & cold 660 feet. Brunson felt an early tire spin and quickly clicked the bike through the gears to a shut off 4.52 at 117 mph.
Again, the next round of eliminations would be pushed to the following day due to the cold temperatures, dew that was setting in & the overall carnage VMP was taking on race vehicles on the property. The PXM Championship would have to wait one more day as both Brunson & the points leader Ronnie Smith both remained in the semis & on opposite sides of the ladder.
Early Monday afternoon & in vastly different conditions from the prior round, the four remaining PXMs rolled up to the staging lanes. First up the points leader Ronnie Smith failed to make it to the finish line as he watched Ricardo Knights streak away for the win with a 4.106 at 169.40 mph, leaving the door open for GDB. Brunson had the task of taking on red hot veteran Paul Gast who had just run back to back laps of 4.009 & 3.979 (a mere 6 thousands off matching the PXM nitrous record). Brunson left it all on the table with a starting line advantage of .014 but was unable to hold off Gast as he motored to a 3.994 at an astounding 178.90 mph to Brunson’s respective 4.069 at 176.42 mph. Thus, ending their quest for the 2018 Championship & having to settle for the number two plate.
GDB will look to finish 2018 on a high note as they wrap up their season at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Cecil, GA at the Manufacturers Cup World Finals on November 16-18. This event historically brings 700+ entries where five GDB riders will be racing a multitude of classes.