Gainesville: Harley-Davidson bike debuts at Gatornationals
The Secret Is Out: Sophomore Biker To Unveil Harley-Davidson At Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The most difficult part of the offseason for 18-year old GT Tonglet was keeping a secret. He had news he wanted to share - with ...
The Secret Is Out: Sophomore Biker To Unveil Harley-Davidson At Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The most difficult part of the offseason for 18-year old GT Tonglet was keeping a secret. He had news he wanted to share - with anyone and everyone. But he couldn't. That has since changed. Now, Tonglet wants everyone to see the former secret in action.
Tonglet will be riding the new Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Pro Stock Motorcycle during the 33rd annual Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., March 15-17. Larry Dixon, John Force, Jeg Coughlin and Matt Hines are the defending winners in their respective professional categories for the $1.9 million race, the third of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
The new motorcycle and its rider were not unveiled until late January, and Tonglet had to do whatever he could to keep from giving the secret away. This is the first time Harley-Davidson will field an entry in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Several riders, including Connie Cohen, have campaigned Harley-Davidson machines in NHRA competition in recent years, but without the legendary company's blessing. The Pro Stock Motorcycle category will be featured at 14 of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events, beginning at historic Gainesville Raceway.
"It has been very tough waiting for the year to start," said Tonglet, the 2001 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner. "The new Harley-Davidson motorcycle is awesome. I haven't seen anything like that bike before. It's going to be a thrill to ride it. The bike is going to bring a bunch of new fans out to the NHRA races and it will be very good for the class. I am just going to do the best I can."
Tonglet made his professional drag racing debut last season. He raced in all 14 events, collecting one win in three final round appearances en route to a sixth place finish in the standings. Tonglet said there is no reason why he can't improve on his 2001 statistics.
"I am not going to let the pressure of being the first person to ride it get to me. I won't even think about that," Tonglet said. "This year we want to get that first win for Harley-Davidson and get our program rolling on the right foot."
Tonglet said the team will have to get some experience on the new motorcycle as quickly as possible because the competition is likely to be even tougher than last season. Angelle Savoie repeated as the Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, beating Antron Brown by a narrow margin.
"I think this is going to be a tough year," Tonglet said. "I don't know what it is going to take to win, but I am sure you are going to have to be on kill mode on every run. You are going to need to have everything together on every pass down the track. There are going to be a lot of good riders out there. Antron Brown, Matt Hines and Shawn Gann are all going to be tough. You can't count out Angelle and Greg Underdahl is also going to be someone to watch this year. I can't wait for the season to start."
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