‘SPIDERMAN’S’ MAN CUP COMEBACK CONTINUES AT THE
McBride Chasing Defending Event Champion Vantine
in Bid for 20th Series Title
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – (Oct. 22, 2019) Larry
“Spiderman” McBride, marvelous manipulator of the
most manic motorcycle on Mother Earth, isn’t
accustomed to coming from behind to win
championships, but if he hopes to secure an
unprecedented 20th title by season’s end, that’s
exactly what he has to do.
A rare first round loss at the opening event in
the 2019 ManCup Series presented by Vance and
Hines put the veteran from Newport News, Va., in a
hole from which many believed he would be unable
to extricate himself.
However, like his namesake, McBride doesn’t seem
bound by normal human constraints and, as a
result, returns to Rockingham Dragway (Oct. 26-27)
with another title clearly in sight.
Although he still trails nemesis David Vantine in
the Top Fuel standings, McBride’s win last month
at Darlington put him back in control of his own
destiny. All he has to do is keep winning.
Nevertheless, while he is riding the quickest and
fastest bike in our universe, one that he wrestled
through the quarter mile in 5.677 seconds at
250.74 miles per hour last year at Bowling Green,
Ky., success at The Rock isn’t a guarantee.
After winning three straight times on Rockingham’s
high traction quarter mile and lowering the track
record to 5.828 seconds, McBride lost last year’s
final to Vantine and, as a result, just barely
hung on to win the championship by a scant four
Of course, a leaner, meaner “Spiderman,” down from
215 to 182 pounds thanks to a new diet and a
regular gym regimen, can’t afford to focus solely
on Vantine, who has finished second, third or
fourth in ManCup points in each of the last six
Also expected to contest the Top Fuel title are
Chris Hand of Navou, Ala., the winner of
Rockingham’s spring race in 2016, veteran Sam
Wills of Edmond, Okla., Mitch Brown of Clearwater,
Kan., and international standout Sverre Dahl of
Lorenskog, Norway, but the man who could pose the
biggest problem for McBride is far more familiar
to Rockingham race fans.
Tommy Grimes, who was almost unbeatable at The
Rock astride the Top Fuel Harley of the late Ray
Price, has been the man up on “The Beast” cycle
since the bike’s creator and owner, Per Bengtsson
of Klippan, Sweden, was forced to the sidelines by
a mild stroke.
Four times “The Beast” has reigned as European Top
Fuel Champion (1999, 2003, 2009 and 2011) and
while this will be the bike’s fourth Atlantic
crossing, it will be its first trip to The Rock.
While the Top Fuel bikes will attract the bulk of
the attention, champions will be crowned in 12
other classes, notably Pro Fuel, Pro Street, Real
Street, Pro Mod and Pro Open, the latter featuring
2017 Rock winner Niki “Niki Zak” Zakrzewski of
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, fastest woman
on two wheels after reaching 207.50 mph on a Pro
Mod bike last November.
The Pro Fuel field also will be top heavy with
talent. In addition to point leader Preston
Bartlett of St. Augustine, Fla., who is bidding
for his third straight series title, the lineup
will include 2016 series champ and 2018 race
winner Tyler Wilson of Walnut Cove, 2015 series
champ Rocky Jackson of Arnaudville, La., two-time
NHRA Harley Pro Fuel champion Janette Thornley of
Statesville, past Rockingham winner Sam White of
Chapin, S.C., and Kirby Apathy of Deland, Fla.,
who two weeks ago negotiated the same Rock quarter
mile in 7.128 seconds, setting an AMRA Pro Fuel
The two-wheel weekend begins Friday with a
seven-hour test-and-tune session beginning at 12
noon. Pro qualifying at 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7
p.m. Saturday will set the fields for Sunday
eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. Final rounds in
all categories are tentatively slated for a 5 p.m.
Spectator tickets are $25 Saturday and $20 Sunday
although two-and-three-day combo passes are
available at a discount. Children under six are
free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.