Words by Tom McCarthy

Photos by Gary Rowe and Tim Marshall


Tommy Grimes 
(Gary Rowe/Raceworks photo)

Nitro Harley racing equals excitement for both the fans and the racers alike. Anytime a drag racing machine can hike the front end skyward on the launch and go all 1320 feet of the racetrack with just the rear end biting down hard on the track represents the epitome of the perfect pass down any quarter-mile drag strip.

Drag racing at its finest is a side-by-side, fast, loud, explosive acceleration contest between two contestants. The bigger the flames, the louder the noise, the better the fans like it. This is Nitro Harley racing brought to you by the hammers from hell pounding out close to 900 horsepower from a two-cylinder, hybrid V-Twin engine that is descended from the original Harley-Davidson design.

In 1909, the six-year-old Harley-Davidson motor company introduced its first 45-degree, two-cylinder, V-Twin motor with a displacement of 45.9 cubic inches, rated at seven horsepower. Today some drag racing Nitro Harley engines sport a bore and stroke of close to five inches with the two cylinders having a swept volume of 196 cubic inches of displacement. These motorcycle evolutionary marvels are what power the Nitro Harley Top Fuel bikes of today. Each race team has its own unique combination they bring to the race track. Let’s take a look at the combinations of the quickest and fastest Nitro Harleys in competition from the 2013 season.

The quickest pass in competition for a Nitro Harley last season was recorded by Tommy Grimes, driving for Ray Price Harley-Davidson out of Raleigh, N.C. He recorded the run on November 2, 2013, with an elapsed time of 6.165 at 224.88 mph. Tommy’s incremental numbers on that run included a 1.106 sixty-foot time, 2.784 at the 330-foot clock, 4.077 at 214 mph at half track, and 5.260 at the 1,000-foot mark. The 6.165 ET is not their quickest elapsed time ever, but it was their best number in 2013. Nitro Harley-Davidson racing legend Ray Price, who has been tuning Nitromethane-powered drag bikes since the 1960s, was responsible for that tune up.