Smith Dominates Nitro Funny Bike; Bartlett Beats White in Pro Fuel at The Rock

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Sunday was Tii Tharpe’s day at Rockingham Dragway.

Shut out of the winners’ circle this year in an NHRA Top Fuel Harley series he dominated in 2018 and 2019, the Pfafftown pro raced to his first ever win in the Ray Price Top Fuel Shootout portion of the 29th annual Jim McClure All-Harley Nitro World Finals, beating Ryan Peery of Milford, Ohio, who upset favored Randal Andras in the semifinals.
It was a relatively easy day for Tharpe, who qualified No. 1 at 6.287 seconds, 225.67 miles per hour and had quick time of every round during eliminations.

Andras, the veteran from Amelia, La., who succeeded Tharpe as NHRA series champion by winning six of the eight races contested during the shortened pandemic season, qualified second but slowed to only 7.613 seconds in losing to Peery. Andras was bidding for a nitro “hat trick” having previously won the McClure in Nitro Funny Bike (2013) and Pro Fuel (2007).

The win was particularly meaningful for Tharpe since he was a DNQ earlier this year in the All-Harley Drag Racing Association Spring Nationals at Rockingham.

While Tharpe was flexing his muscles in Top Fuel, Chris Smith was doing the same in Nitro Funny Bike. During qualifying, the Nashville, Tenn., pro recorded the quickest time in class history at 6.473 seconds but subsequently could not muster the required back-up run that would have certified the mark as an official AMRA record.

He had to be satisfied with hoisting the winner’s trophy after final round foe Tadashi Saito of Tokyo had to abort his run.

In Pro Fuel, Preston Bartlett of Palatka, Fla., turned the tables of South Carolina standout Sam White. White won when the two raced last spring in the AHDRA final. This time, though, Bartlett had both the starting line advantage and the performance edge, denying White what would have been his second straight McClure title. Bartlett is the reigning AMRA series champion.

Other pro winners included Mike Mott of Richlands in Pro Street, Billy Doherty of Lake Charles, La., who prevailed in both Pro Gas and Pro Modified and Troy Young of Writz, Va., who won in Hot Street and just missed a second title as runner-up to Virginia veteran and many-time McClure winner Gary Douglass in Modified.

Terrell’s Ken Strauss won in Top Eliminator; Bob Drapp of Winter Haven, Fla. in Super Gas; David Doremus of Loveland, Ohio, in Super Pro; William Grove of Dallas, Ga. in Pro; Donnie Huffman of Lakeland, Fla., in Baker Street Eliminator; David Dennick of Eighty-Four, Pa., in Pro Dresser and Jim Kennedy of Mattoon, Ill., in Street Dresser.
The weekend’s most significant victory, however, may have come in the Dial-In Eliminator class won by Ardie Rawlings of Lakeland, Fla., who used an 11.054 time against an 11.010 target to force final round foe Kevin Laughman of Spring Grove, Pa., into a breakout foul.
She then moved noiselessly into the winners’ circle astride an electric Harley, an apparent sign of things to come.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Results from the 29th annual Jim McClure Memorial All-Harley Nitro World Finals at Rockingham Dragway. Hometowns are North Carolina unless otherwise indicated. Results include reaction time, track time, target time when applicable and finish line speed:

Qualifying – 1. Tii Tharpe, Pfafftown, 6.287, 225.67 mph; 2. Randal Andras, Amelia, La., 6.405, 217.53 mph; 3. Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, 6.509, 219.86 mph; 4. Tracy Kile, Ashville, 6.541, 186.23 mph; 5. Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., 6.618, 201.64 mph; 6. Tim Kerrigan, Novato, Calif., 6.737, 198.12 mph; 7. Robert Stewart, Gloucester, Va. 6.876, 197.59 mph; 8. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Cove, 6.930, 164.41 mph.
Round 1 – Tracy Kile, Ashville, .115, 6.544, 215.10 mph, def. Armon Furr, Orangeburg, S.C., .107, 7.033, 163.37 mph; Randal Andras, Amelia, La., .074, 7.970, 171.64 mph, def. Robert Stewart, Gloucester, Va., .129, 21.405, 48.28 mph; Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, .287, 6.816, 168.60 mph, def. Tim Kerrigan, Novato, Calif., no time; Tii Tharpe, Pfafftown, .154, 6.371, 216.62 mph, def. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Cove, no time.
Semifinals – Peery, .241, 6.853, 178.19 mph, def. Andras, .025, 7.613, 199.55 mph; Tharpe, .105, 6.395, 210.08 mph, def. Kile, .086, 6.507, 206.13 mph.
FINAL – Tii Tharpe, Pfafftown, .070, 6.491, 202.15 mph, def. Ryan Peery, Milford, Ohio, .070, 7.981, 202.27 mph.

Qualifying – 1. Chris Smith, Nashville, Tenn., 6.473, 211.23 mph; 2. Tadashi Saito, Tokyo, Japan, 6.877, 178.33 mph; 3. Keith Browne, Semora, 6.894, 179.76 mph; 4. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., 7.377, 187.18 mph; 5. Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass, 7.524, 203.77 mph; 6. Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., 7.543, 167.16 mph.
Round 1 – 1. Tadashi Saito, Tokyo, Japan, .285, 6.937, 203.58 mph, def. Michael Balch, Palmerton, Pa., .100, 9.325, 106.50 mph; Rocky Jackson, Arnaudville, La., .215, 7.510, 165.68 mph, def. Keith Browne, Semora, .318, 9.581, 103.33 mph; Chris Smith, Nashville, Tenn., bye; Jim Doyle, Chicopee, Mass., .175, 7.261, 194.49 mph, def. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., no time.
Semifinals – Saito, .224, 7.164, 199.23 mph, def. Jackson, .190, 7.606, 161.38 mph; Smith, .138, 6.827, 165.48 mph, def. Doyle, .137, 7.467, 140.85 mph.
FINAL – Chris Smith, Nashville, Tenn., .133, 6.921, 192.55 mph, def. Tadashi Saito, Tokyo, Japan, no time.

Round 1 – Sam White, Chapin, S.C., .182, 7.726, 165.76 mph, def. Tyler Wilson, Walnut Cove, no time; Jay Beasley, Winston-Salem, .300, 22.498, 52.53 mph, def. Jay Urban, Kentwood, Mich., no time; Jim Martin, Palatine, Ill., .424, 7.786, 140.87 mph, def. Brian Greenwalt, Yukon, Pa., no time; Preston Bartlett, Palatka, Fla., .185, 7.608, 168.98 mph, def. Kersten Heling, Shawano, Wis., .217, 8.185, 162.63 mph.
Semifinals – White, .138, 7.520, 166.52 mph, def. Beasley, no time; Bartlett, .044, 7.558, 168.79 mph, def. Martin, foul.
FINAL – Preston Bartlett, Palatka, Fla., .137, 7.533, 168.72 mph, def. Sam White, Chapin, S.C., .193, 7.613, 168.07 mph.

FINAL – Mike Mott, Richlands, .890, 8.421, 157.28 mph, def. Tim Grindle, Uniontown, Pa., no time.

FINAL – Billy Doherty, Lake Charles, La., .062, 8.497, 153.88 mph, def. John Price, Emmitsburg, Md., .167, 8.626, 150.60 mph.

FINAL – Billy Doherty, Lake Charles, La., .075, 8.680, 148.76 mph, def. Donnie Huffman, Lakeland, Fla., .070, 9.036, 141.19 mph.

FINAL – Troy Young, Writz, Va., .156, 9.696, 133.72 mph, def. Brian Conley Jr., Country Club Hills, Ill., .259, 9.601, 136.51 mph.


TOP ELIMINATOR (9.30 target) – Ken Strauss, Terrell, .043, 9.649, 125.74 mph, def. Scott Schenkel, Palmerton, Pa., .114, 9.704, 135.10 mph.
SUPER GAS (9.90 target) – Bob Drapp, Winter Haven, Fla., .046, 10.027, 114.42 mph, def. Paul Anderson, Clarkston, Mich., .054, 10.054, 126.68 mph.
SUPER PRO (10.30 target – David Doremus, Loveland, Ohio, .065, 10.453, 109.73 mph, def. Rick Miller, Pensacola, Flla., .287, 10.314, 124.20 mph.
PRO ELIMINATOR (10.90 target) – William Grove, Dallas, Ga., .152, 10.881, 119.93 mph, def. Crosby Blair, Georgetown, Tenn., .085, 10.857 breakout, 107.72 mph.
BAKER STREET ELIMINATOR (11.50 target) – Donnie Huffman, Lakeland, Fla., .040, 11.667, 94.51 mph, def. Loren Potter, McDonald, Tenn., .154, 11.681, 111.62 mph.
MODIFIED – Gary Douglass, Staunton, Va., .176, 9.340, 140.37 mph, def. Troy Young, Writz, Va., .085, 9.547, 135.59 mph.
PRO DRESSER – David Dennick, Eighty-Four, Pa., .179, 9.848, 138.46 mph, def. Chris Wood, NA, foul.
STREET DRESSER – Jim Kennedy, Mattoon, Ill., .251, 11.403, 115.28 mph, def. Roger Auxier III, Roseville, S.C., .140, 12.073, 105.88 mph.
DIAL-IN ELIMINATOR – Ardie Rawlings, Lakeland, Fla., .116, 11.054 on an 11.010, 110.14 mph, def. Kevin Laughman, Spring Grove, Pa., .125, 11.751 breakout on an 11.910, 95.86 mph.