The world of business is filled with avid sportsmen, and the world of sports is filled with enthusiastic businessmen, but it's rare to find an individual who embodies the best of both worlds. Terry Vance is one of those people.
Vance went from being a weekend drag racer to the founder of one of the most successful aftermarket companies in the world to winning championships as both rider and team owner, all while moving motorcycle racing closer to the mainstream. It was at least partly because of his enthusiastic support that the NHRA added motorcycles to their already successful program. The NHRA program provides the greatest television exposure of any motorcycle competition in the world while exposing the bikes and riders-and their sponsors-to their most diverse and largest audience.
Vance quit riding at the end of 1988 season after a career that included 27 NHRA national event wins in Top Fuel Bike and Pro Stock Bike and numerous championships. Before long the company moved into roadracing, where they were also successful. It was on a Vance & Hines Yamaha that Thomas Stevens won Yamaha's only AMA Superbike crown in 1991, with Eddie Lawson winning the 1993 Daytona 200 on a V&H Yamaha. Vance & Hines later worked with Ducati, while continuing their involvement on the dragstrip.
With the sagging economy putting...
With the sagging economy putting a dent in racing everywhere, the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle team is the only one currently still running two riders. The team's significant financial backing is a testament to Vance's business acumen.
The Harley-Davidson roadrace program of the 90s quickly fell behind after a promising start. The team campaigned essentially the same motorcycle throughout the decade with predictable results, despite throwing around huge rider salaries. It was late in the 90s during discussions to take over their floundering road racing program that the subject of dragracing with Harley-Davidson came up. At the time Harley was working on the V-Rod, their most radically different engine platform ever, and wanted to support it through competition.
Vance's partner Byron Hines was skeptical. All of their success had come aboard Suzukis. Byron's son Matt won the NHRA Pro Stock titles from '97 through '99 riding Suzukis based on the same air-cooled GS1000 motor that Vance had won on back in the 80s. "Why would you want to race another bike?" Vance remembers Hines asking.
The Screamin' Eagle/Vance...
The Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines duo of Hines (left) and Krawiec aren't like other teams where the competitive instinct between teammates becomes an insurmountable wedge. "There's no such thing as either one of us being ignorant towards one another or where we'll never help each other," said Krawiec.
Vance saw the bigger picture. He saw what Harley-Davidson could bring to the company away from the racetrack. He knew Harley-Davidson was an American icon, and a partnership could pay huge dividends in Vance & Hines' core aftermarket business, which was heavily catering to the sportbike crowd at the time. "You've got to remember we started selling Harley products in 1995, so for us to really give our products some validity we needed to be somewhere in competition with Harley," Vance said. Once the business deal was worked out, the racing program started to take shape. "I thought optimistically we could get it done in six months, but it took a year a and half. Byron had to design a motor from a clean sheet of paper"-almost literally. It wasn't done on a computer. But for Vance "to see Byron create this thing and see it fired up was a huge thrill for me because I realized he'd get the credit he never got before. For a long time, just about all of our careers, I didn't believe he got the credit he deserved."
The results weren't immediate. The team didn't qualify their first year, while Matt Hines continued winning races on his Suzuki. "We had never not qualified for an event and when we ran the Harley we didn't qualify for the whole season," Vance said. "The last three we didn't go to."
The results improved in '02 with help from Harley-Davidson vice president of engineering Bob Farchione. Farchione told Vance, "Let me get my guys to help you a little." The team was given access to a Spintron (an electric-powered machine that spins the engine at high rpm), which Vance said, allowed them to "watch the engine, watch how the crank goes through the oil and how the valves and cams work and if everything is in place where it's supposed to be at high rpm. You can learn a lot about your engine." With the help of the Spintron, Vance said the team "found some issues that were causing us some pain. Then we were in great shape." When Matt Hines' sponsor unexpectedly withdrew at the end of the 2002 season, he made the move to crew chief. Matt's younger brother Andrew, 19 at the time, was drafted in as the second rider. In 2003, Andrew scored points in seven of 15 rounds, made one final event, three semis and four quarters.
There's no dash on the Pro...
There's no dash on the Pro Stock bikes; just a big shift light to signal the rider. Hitting the proper shift points is critical, and the light is actually timed ahead in the first few gears because of the reaction lag time.
Because Pro Stock rules dictate...
Because Pro Stock rules dictate that the bikes must resemble the production machines, and the stock V-Rod doesn't have bodywork (plus Harley-Davidson wanted the racebike to resemble the stock V-Rod), the Pro Stock V-Rods are like aerodynamic bricks. NHRA gives them some engine leeway to make up for the aerodynamic drag.
The Screamin' Eagle/Vance...
The Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines riders were one-two heading into the final NHRA six-race "Countdown to the Championship". Krawiec celebrates one of his four finals victories in Atlanta earlier in the season.
"Without Matt's input, it would've taken a lot longer to get the program going," Andrew Hines said. "He helped turn us in the right direction. He has a lot of little insights into everything. With my dad and me and him around, we can all bounce ideas off each other and everybody thinks a little differently. Matt's really good at setting a chassis up and building a bike and getting everything laid out right, nice and clean, so you don't ever have wiring issues or anything like that."
At the first event of the 2004 season, in Gainesville, Florida, Hines and the team made history. Facing teammate G.T. Tonglet, Hines won his and Harley's first Pro Stock Bike race in the all-Harley final, the first time a V-twin had won an NHRA event.
Andrew Hines (near lane) demonstrates...
Andrew Hines (near lane) demonstrates how a quicker reaction time off the lights (as long as it's not too quick, resulting in a red light disqualification) can lead to a significant advantage right off the line. With a field of 16 riders often qualifying within a total of less than two-tenths of a second, every fraction counts.
The win was the beginning of a season that ended with Hines becoming the youngest ever NHRA champion when he won the Pro Stock Bike title at 21. Hines then repeated in '05 and '06, becoming only the third rider in NHRA history to win three titles. In '07 he won a career best five finals, but lost the title by six points, 3211 to 3206. Hines had an off year in '08, winning twice and finishing fourth overall. But teammate Eddie Krawiec emerged as a force, bringing the number one plate back to the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team in only his second full year.
Spend any time with Vance and you understand why he and his company are successful. Not only does he understand every aspect of racing, from the technical to the riding, but he also understands business and marketing, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Vance continues to be hands-on in most ways, though he only gets to a handful of races a year. He can do that because he and Byron Hines have built a smooth running team that doesn't need a lot of babysitting. Both riders work on their own bikes between runs. Scott Sceurman helps out Andrew and Ray Viers, who doubles as the truck driver, is an all around guy who helps out Krawiec. Even Byron Hines lets the boys do their thing. "When it comes to the engine stuff, if we've got an issue, it's like, 'Come over here,'" Matt Hines said. "Me and Scott and Andrew, we work on the engines back at the shop as far as doing the regular maintenance and some of the R&D stuff." Krawiec works more on the marketing and business side. "People who call for a tech phone call, they're pretty shocked to get me on the phone sometimes," Krawiec said.
Vance is unequivocal about the new four-valve OHC 160 cubic inch aluminum billet engines that the team designed for this season. "They're really something. They'll rival anything in the world as far as something that'll make horsepower for a single function." Andrew Hines said the bike makes about 370 horsepower. Matt Hines said that everyone in the field had to make over 350 hp to be competitive. The Suzukis don't need as much power because they can run bodywork. Because the stock V-Rod doesn't, and because Harley wants it to resemble the stock bike as much as possible, the race bike runs naked, which makes it an aerodynamic drag. As Vance says, with the "Harley you've got to have more because it's like pushing a flat piece of wood down the strip." Said Andrew Hines, "We've had these bikes in the wind tunnel versus Matt's Suzuki when we first started the program and there's a major difference." Still, they respect Harley's decisions and "it's all about being out in the wind on a Harley. That's definitely what we are on these things."
There was no shortage of grumbling when the NHRA allowed Harley to use a four-valve DOHC cylinder head, the same as the stock V-Rod (until this year they were running a two-valve pushrod twin). But it came two years after the NHRA had approved a four-valve head for the Suzukis, a motor that never got built because of problems with the partners. There was also grumbling about the V-Rod's air intakes, but they too were approved by the NHRA. Vance & Hines also builds the engines for a number of their competitors, though not as many as before. Matt Hines remembered one race where 15 of the 16 qualifiers ran Vance & Hines engines.
The Screamin' Eagle/Vance...
The Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team is very self-sufficient. Both riders work on their own bikes between runs, as demonstrated by Krawiec spinning wrenches on his V-Rod in the team's pit.
Because the stock Buell XB12R...
Because the stock Buell XB12R has bodywork, the Pro Stock Buells are allowed to have fairings, which helps on the back end of the strip. That advantage means they have to run additional weight, however; note the huge weight on the bottom of the fork leg of Hector Arana's Lucas Oils Buell.
In NHRA dragracing, you have...
In NHRA dragracing, you have to learn to ignore distractions such as cameramen getting in your face prior to a run. Here, Geico Powersports Suzuki's Karen Stoffer (one of the many female Pro Stock motorcycle racers) prepares to launch on a qualifying pass.
Vance would match the team's shop in Brownsburg, a western suburb of Indianapolis, to any in car racing. "There isn't an Indy car shop or NASCAR shop that rivals our shop in terms of the complexity of CAD. It's a first class facility." Matt Hines said there were about 40 full-time employees at the shop, including the exhaust pipe production. "We got a handful of CNC machine guys, there's like five in that department. My dad and a couple of other guys. Luciano (Santana), at our shop, he's been porting cylinder heads for the last 20 years at V&H, so we've got a lot of knowledge."
The results wouldn't be possible without the Harley backing, which is one of the things Vance is most proud of. "I brought a $5 billion company into the NHRA. That's a big deal," he said. "You don't get that every day. They said, 'We want to be involved. We want to have a display. We want to do something with this, not just because we're on the starting line.'" The collaboration has proven valuable to both V&H and H-D. The Harley display at the strip is as modern and interactive as any other. "They're seeing a lot of people who could be enthusiasts and the numbers are showing that the NHRA is selling motorcycles. It's a very positive thing all the way around. For us it's been a huge, huge benefit to partner with Harley," Vance said. "Think about it; at the end of the day, Harley doesn't endorse a single company in the aftermarket that they don't leverage with.
"They're one of our best partners we've ever had. The Ducati guys were real passionate. The Yamaha guys were totally available to give us whatever we wanted. [But] I really like [Harley Davidson], because they understand the business side of our business." What you have to keep in mind, Vance says, is that "if you were a company and you wanted [television] exposure at the national level in 17 metropolitan areas...drag racing is the bargain of the century." The Pro Stock Bikes get a "solid 30 minutes. If people speak their products are identified. When you talk about impressions per dollar, it's the best value."
The first few gearchanges...
The first few gearchanges on a run are crucial. "If you're off a couple hundred rpm it's going affect your ET," said Hines. "If you're short on the two-three [shift] by 200-300 rpm-pretty much every 100 rpm is a hundredth of a second and second gear's a major power gear for these bikes, because you're doing a lot of accelerating through that range-it's just going to fall on its face in third gear."
None of which would matter if they weren't winning. Vance admits the Harley may have an advantage. The economy has wracked dragracing. The Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team is the only two-rider team in the paddock, and one of the few with significant sponsorship. Money aside, Vance said, "I know my guys have been running as good as the other competitors and our guys have been winning because they've been riding better."
Of that, there is no doubt. Krawiec and Hines were one-two heading into the six-race, end of the season "Countdown to the Championship." Krawiec, who didn't win a race last year en route to the title, has four wins this year.
"We're not a combined total of seven-time world champions here with this team from not knowing what you're doing," Krawiec said. "So you try to always keep your head up and enjoy yourself."
New for the '09 season on...
New for the '09 season on the Pro Stock V-Rod are the four-valve cylinder heads, necessitating different length exhausts. Note the belt drive running to the rear cylinder's OHC chain drive.
The '09 season marked the debut of the new four-valve head on the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines V-Rod and the transition went smoothly at the track, if not politically. Switching from a two-valve pushrod to a four valve overhead cam twin (like the production street version of the V-Rod) didn't produce many surprises. "It wasn't huge," Matt Hines said. But the opposition to the engine in the paddock was significant.
"At the time, NHRA had given [the green light for] a brand new engine and four-valve head [for the Suzuki]. Harley said, 'We want what you gave to Suzuki, to be fair,'" Vance recalls. It would be two seasons before the NHRA allowed Harley the four-valve.
Meanwhile, the deal to build the four-valve Suzuki fell apart and still remains unresolved.
The billet engine was designed over a year by Byron Hines, son Matt, and V&H's Nubia Munoz working with SolidWorks software. After initial design and prototyping, Harley-Davidson engineers contributed their wealth of resources. "[Byron Hines] did an incredible job of designing and initially developing that engine," said Bob Farchione, H-D's Vice President for Engineering Platform Teams. It was, after all, the biggest engine Hines had ever designed. The V&H Suzukis were 101 CID (cubic inch displacement) inline fours, each cylinder a little over 25 CID. This was a 160 CID twin-meaning two massive 80 CID cylinders. "I have to say he did an incredible job...in accounting for as much as he could, not knowing what to expect once he actually ran the engine."
Hines had been noticing aspects of the valve job not lasting as long as they should, which meant that he was likely having valve train dynamics issues. Once on the Spintron, they discovered "the cam dynamics were further off than even what he anticipated," Farchione said. "So neither one of us recognized initially that the opportunity would be as great. So we were delighted that we found an issue that would make a significant difference." H-D introduced V&H to Comp Cams and "they were very willing to help us understand how important the valve train dynamics and the cam design were for the engine," recalls Farchione. Using the Spintron, "we found out there was opportunity there, and so they designed some camshafts for us and made some recommendations on spring and other valve train component changes that had a significant difference in the performance of the engine." Other important contributions from H-D were its successful lobbying efforts with the NHRA to allow the air intake scoops and fuel injection.
The engine of the Pro Stock...
The engine of the Pro Stock H-D is a custom design by the legendary Byron Hines, with help from son Matt and V&H's Nubia Munoz; H-D factory engineers also contributed. The carved-from-billet-aluminum unit displaces 1737cc (106 cubic inches) and cranks out about 370 horsepower.
The engine displaces 5 cubic inches (82cc) more than the Suzukis, but also weighs more. After the NHRA tacked on 20 pounds earlier this year, it now has a combined bike and rider weight of 640 pounds (bike is about 470 pounds). The internals include a Falicon crankshaft, Axtell cylinders, CP pistons from Pankl, and connecting rods from MGP, a Colorado company. Exhaust pipes are built in-house; Matt Hines tried 10 different combinations before settling on the current ones. "The duration of the cams dictates pipe length. The two valves run longer duration."
The rear tire is 27/10-16 M ET Drag Mickey Thompson that's screwed into the rim. How many runs is it good for? "Could be six, could be 35," Andrew Hines said. They run it at between five and six psi; adjustments are as little as an eighth of a pound. The front tire is 2.50-2.75/18.
The V-Rod runs a Motec M600 ECU, a Racepak V300SD data logger, and a Powerdex AFX air fuel monitor. Traction control is banned. "We can do timing retard in first gear to keep the tire calm or we can advance the timing if we think it needs more power," Andrew said. "We can do every 50 rpm if you wanted to and just have some chainsaw-looking graph for ignition timing."
"The main thing right now is it's picked up some power, but I'd say it's picked up more torque than anything." Andrew said it makes around 370 hp. "And reliability is a lot better. On the other motor you had rocker arms and lifters, and you've got a valve spring that's 1000 pounds of load; when you look at it from the pushrod side of things, that's 2000 pounds of load. So that was a lot of stress, and every now and then we'd take out a lifter or a rocker arm. [Now] you don't have the valve train issues, and the valve job and the valve springs last longer. The motor's happier."
And so are the riders. "Just kind of everywhere," Hines said of the difference between the new and the old. "It's a more linear run. It's not any faster down the track." The biggest difference is the sound. "It sounds different with the intake noise."
Vance & Hines Riders
Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec took vastly different paths to the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team. Hines, 25, is the youngest member of the family that is not only a dynasty but dragracing royalty. In the late 70s his father, Byron, tuned the Suzukis that Terry Vance rode to multiple championships and went on to form Vance & Hines in 1979. The company has become one of the most successful aftermarket companies in America and the only one to get the full blessing of Harley-Davidson. Andrew's older brother Matt, now the crew chief, raced Pro Stock on a Suzuki, winning the championship three consecutive years, from '97-'99. He competed until the end of '02 when his sponsor, Eagle 1, reneged on the final year of the contract.
Andrew Hines got his first taste of the V-Rod sitting in for the regular team rider who was delayed getting to a test in Las Vegas. "I probably had only 50 runs under my belt at that point," Andrew said. "That was fine, because I wasn't making a full run, so I never really got my head down or anything. But when we built my bike and took it down to Bradenton, Florida for my first pass, I popped the clutch and set my head down on the tank and everything was just a blur. I couldn't see where I was going and I shut off and I was like, 'What the heck was that?' Because the thing vibrates so different compared to a Suzuki. That was probably the scariest experience I've had on this bike."
The '03 season continued to be a learning year for the team and by 2004 it was ready. Hines won the Pro Stock title that year, plus the next two.
Krawiec, 32, has had more of a journeyman's career. A New Jersey native, he'd raced mostly in the AMA Prostar series while working at Old Bridge Raceway in Englishtown, N.J. In '04, he bought a Pro Stock machine and "spent half the year at Englishtown making runs down the track, trying to gain experience." He didn't qualify in his debut, which was at Englishtown. He continued to race in '05, but took off the following year to look for either a ride or a sponsor. If he didn't have a ride by his 30th birthday, he was going to chalk it up as a hobby.
Meanwhile Vance & Hines was looking for a new rider. National Dragster's Kevin McKenna suggested Krawiec to the team. They did phone interviews with him and a few others, then gave them a chance to ride the V-Rod at the Indianapolis track.
"When (Byron) came back, he said, 'You saved me,'" Vance remembers. "The kid he was thinking of didn't get down the track. This one kid showed up in his rental car with his leathers on he was so nervous. His knees were knocking on the gas track. Turned out he couldn't get down the track. Eddie did a burnout like a pro. Got down the track. He's done fantastic. He's definitely the one guy every race that everyone's worried about." Krawiec was on his way to propose to his wife-just before his 30th birthday-when he got the call from Vance. "Terry calls me up and tells me...I pretty much have the job if I'd like it. So it was pretty exciting day...I got a ride on the premier team in the country on a Pro Stock motorcycle, and also got engaged." The reward came in 2008, when Krawiec won the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle title.
Like the Fiat Yamaha MotoGP team, Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines has two riders capable of winning. But unlike Rossi and Lorenzo, Hines and Krawiec get along well.
"I think we drive each other to the next level," Krawiec, the more outgoing of the two, said. "I do feel that puts me and him above and beyond everybody else out there, because it's something that he's always trying to be better and I'm always trying to be better. And I think when we come head to head, we both know that and we both try to help each other. There's no such thing as either one of us being ignorant towards one another or walking away from each other where we'll never help each other. We're a team and bottom line is if he wins, I win, if I win, he wins. But we go out there and we try to do our best every time, even against each other we try to do it harder and I feel it betters us as competitors and more important as people."