“It’s the Rickey Gadson show,” said Brock Davidson, crew chief of the Kawasaki ZX14 that Gadson races in Dragbike.com Supersport on the AMA Dragbike circuit. And true enough. Gadson’s won three out of four races so far in ‘09—including the recent Pingel Thundernationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. Gadson not only won the race, he reset the eighth and quarter mile elapsed time records at 5.823 and 8.979 seconds, respectively.
“I wasn’t happy at all with the bike’s performance at Martin,” said Davidson, referring to the previous AMA Dragbike event at Martin, Michigan. Gadson lost in the semis at Martin when his bike failed to shift, a problem solved when the AMA Dragbike technical department recently allowed the removal of the ‘14s neutral lockout safety balls—perfect for street riding but an occasional nuisance at the track. “I tore the engine apart myself, the first time I’ve been into an engine since Vince Woska’s Supersport bike in ’05.
“Supersport rules only allow you to machine gasket surfaces, so about all we can do is mill the head and degree the cams. It’s got our ZX14 new owner’s kit and the minimal amount of modifications that the rules will allow. But the bikes are already so good, that we don’t see the gains that we used to. You really have to focus on the details. The smallest of details adding up together make the biggest differences on the track.”
Bryan Snyder’s Quantum Motorsports did all the original Supersport work on the ‘14’s motor, and usually does the maintenance work for bikes in the Brock’s stable. “But Bryan moved away to Texas,” said Davidson. “Now we’re using UPS instead of him being here in Dayton, but we needed Rickey’s bike done right away.”
“Rickey always does an impressive job riding anything you put him on. From the wheelies he had to deal with on the brute-powerful Pro Street bike to his graceful control in Supersport, Rickey is a bad man. He pretty much has another Supersport championship wrapped up, and next year will be one in Pro Street.”
Trying to avoid the minute-to-minute demands of a bustling enterprise, Davidson worked on Gadson’s motor in his home shop. Still, a busy man can only get away from the office so far these days. “With solvent all over my fingers, I sent out 106 e-mails from my garage one day during the build,” laughed Davidson. “For the first time all year, we were able to test before the race with Sonny Kerschner handling the riding chores while Rickey was on his honeymoon. Sonny is one of the most consistent riders I work with and he gives me fantastic rider input. This allowed me to nail the tune-up before the race and remove a large variable we struggled with at Martin. All Rickey had to do was ride. I went through the things that Dave O. (the late, legendary tuner Dave Owen) taught me about land speed racing. We made a minor modification to Rickey’s riding style and seating position and the next thing you know, he’s flying. We are now letting all of the acceleration that’s available from the ’14 work during the entire run.”
Davidson’s Brock’s Performance Products manufacturers many of the bolt-on parts that Gadson’s ZX14 uses to transform it from showroom stock to Supersport winner, including the carbon-tipped, full titanium CT Series exhaust system. “The tip just looks cool,” said Davidson. “The part that makes all the horsepower is tucked underneath the fairing where you can’t see it. The whole thing weighs just 8.9 pounds and it took a lot of work to get done. Anybody who’s familiar with high-end titanium stuff knows that what was on the market was basically all road racing stuff. What I did with this pipe is give us the ground clearance a drag racer needs, but you can go road racing with it too. I worked really hard on it and it does it all.”
Joey Gladstone qualified number one at Indy. “And he held the ET record until we took it away,” said Davidson. “Joey, Farlie Hall and D.J. Payton all run our stainless pipe. Farlie did a great job running last year’s bike, and we owe D.J. a ton of gratitude.” Payton ran a 9.03 to Gadson’s 9.09 in the semi, but redlit while Gadson had a perfect .000 light. “I told D.J. ‘Don’t ever redlight a 9.03 away again!’”
After a one hour oildown clean-up, Gadson faced Jeremy Teasley, also on a ZX14, in the final. “Rickey cut an .069 bulb, set the new national record, and ran his quickest pass ever on that bike,” said Davidson. “Jeremy cut a good light (.036) but ran a 9.08. You’ve got to get everything right to beat guys like Rickey and Keith Dennis (last year’s Supersport champion and also a Brock’s rider), because they will rise to the occasion. I’ve worked with riders who were as good as Rickey, but he’s the best racer I’ve ever worked with.“
“Just days after my wedding in Puerto Rico and honeymooning in Hawaii, I knew I couldn’t show up at the biggest race of the season still in vacation mode,” said Gadson. “I knew this race was all too important and represented the halfway mark in the season. I knew I had to buckle down and take every round seriously if I wanted a shot at my ninth title.”
“The class rules force everyone to drop two races during the season, which places us in even better shape,” said Davidson. “We have a commanding lead in the point standings, and I will personally do everything in my power to make sure that nothing stands in the way of Rickey and the national championship.”
“Brock has really put his heart and soul in this program and I can’t thank him enough,” added Gadson.
“I also need to thank Brad Anassis for making our weekend so enjoyable,” finished Davidson. “His South African humor and personality kept smiles on our faces the entire weekend, and also the Angella family of Aruba for letting us borrow their GSX-R1000.”