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The finest two-wheel racing surface and most organized staff are a given when the Mickey Thompson International Drag Bike League brings the world’s largest motorcycle drag racing series to Maryland International Raceway. But when unanticipated rain and an unforeseen plague of bracket bike oil-downs hit qualifying at the Pingel Spring Nationals, special leadership was called for.
That’s when former MDIR owner and current IRG Sports + Entertainment (IRGSE) chief operating officer, Royce Miller, rolled up his sleeves and took control. He had the track scraped and oversaw prep for the world’s quickest street bikes.
And that prep was second to none, as the April 22-24 season opener produced the world’s first-ever all-6.80 Orient Express Pro Street semifinal. Three-time champion Joey Gladstone, his DME Racing teammate Terence Angela, Williford Racing’s Ehren Litten, and DAS Performance’s Tony Ficher flung their 650 horsepower Suzuki Hayabusas down the Budd’s Creek quarter mile for what had to have been the most stirring two pairs of competition in the history of the class.
Gladstone and Litten were the two that came out alive, setting up a showdown that was a rematch of the Manufacturers Cup final in Valdosta just two weeks earlier. Gladstone had lost that one on a holeshot and seemed determined to get the best of his former DME teammate this time around.
Litten, likewise, was equally bent on keeping his winning mojo on a roll. His tuner— three-time champ Rodney Williford—is well known for turning the power volume up to 11 when the trophy is on the line. It was gonna be spin or win for Litten.