An interesting contradiction often occurs when Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines riders Eddie Krawiec or Andrew Hines line up at the start of an NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock dragrace: the rider next to them is likely riding a bike with an engine built by the same shop that built their engines. And if so, there’s an even higher likelihood that Krawiec had a role in building the engine.
And it’s not just riders on V-twin-powered machines. Besides those in the NHRA Pro Stock field aboard Buells, competitors aboard Suzukis or Kawasakis are just as likely to have engines originating from the Vance & Hines race shop in Indianapolis.
That two-wheeled dragracing icons Terry Vance and Byron Hines parlayed their long history in the sport and an acute business savvy into a motorcycle industry heavy-hitter is already well known. But what isn’t as well known is that the Vance & Hines race shop still continues to be one of bedrocks of the NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle dragracing world — and despite being the official Harley-Davidson racing team, it doesn’t matter whether your tastes are of the two- or four-cylinder variety…the shop can build you an NHRA National-competitive powerplant.
Being the engine program coordinator at Vance & Hines means that Krawiec — who has an engineering background — has had a hand in developing and building all the engines that go through the facility. That means that when he arrives at the track and hands over a freshly rebuilt engine to a customer, Krawiec could be giving that person the means with which to beat him later in the weekend. “I cringe when I hand it to them because this might be the person who could beat us,” admitted the New Jersey native.
Two-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle...
Two-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Eddie Krawiec was our tour guide, giving us a personal perspective behind all the technical activity at the facility.
Current reigning Pro Stock...
Current reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Krawiec dominated the opening round of the NHRA PSM series, becoming only the second racer to gain the maximum 150 points by qualifying number one and winning all his elimination rounds en route to victory in a final. He also set the Pro Stock Motorcycle ET record at 6.750 seconds in the second round of eliminations.
Don’t think this is just business lip service. In 2010, Krawiec was beaten for the NHRA Pro Stock championship by LE Tonglet, riding the Nitro Fish Suzuki equipped with an engine built by Vance & Hines. “It’s something we pride ourselves in. If we build it for you, we’re going to give you the best that we can build you. We are going to give you the best that we can give you all year…not just at any given time.” Although Krawiec and Hines are the only riders in the NHRA field aboard Harley-Davidson V-Rod-based machines, there are a number of Buell-mounted competitors; most of the field, however, are using Suzukis or Kawasakis (that are actually based on the old GS1000 or Z1 air-cooled engines of the ‘70s) for one simple reason: cost. “You can do an inline four-cylinder program for less than half of what it costs to do a V-twin program. That’s because there’s an abundance of parts; the Suzuki engine has stayed with the same cases, the same products. It doesn’t require the extensive machine time,” says Krawiec.
As you’d expect, the engine...
As you’d expect, the engine assembly room features the latest milling and valve grinding CNC machinery available.
While the four-cylinder engines use many off-the-shelf parts, the V-twins are a far cry from their production counterparts. In fact, it’s doubtful that there are any production parts in either the “H-D V-Rod” or “Buell” engine. “We build our own engine cases for our V-Rod,” explained Krawiec. “The engine cases require around 20 days in the CNC machine.” Part of the reason it takes that many days is because the stresses of machining engine cases out of a 400-pound chunk of billet aluminum result in metal fatigue and warping; you can only do so much at a time before problems can occur with measurements and clearances if you don’t give the metal time to cool and settle. “And time is money…and that’s just the bottom cases. Our cylinder heads start as a 75-pound chunk of aluminum, and they end up in the 25-pound range. We fill two 55-gallon drums with chips when we’re done,” reveals Krawiec. While the V-Rods are an exclusive H-D/Vance & Hines design (see “All in the Family”, December 2009), the Buells utilize an engine built from S&S Racing components.