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Stotz Street Xtreme:Feels Highs and Lows
June 16, 2004

It was a roller-coaster weekend for Kent Stotz and the Stotz Street Xtreme Honda Blackbird at the AMA/Prostar PR Factory Store St Louis Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Stotz went into the event on a definite high, coming off a new elapsed time record of 7.42 seconds set at Virginia and ready to take one Rickey Gadson in the rained out Virginia final. Perhaps even more exciting was Stotz being featured in a full-page Honda advertisement in USA Today.

In St Louis Stotz once again eclipsed his own all-time mark with an otherworldly 7.32 second elapsed but in the end he was not able to claim his first victory since his championship season of 2002.

“I could hardly wait to get to St. Louis,” said Stotz. “After dominating in Virginia with the new record of 7.42 already backed up, all we wanted to do was run consistent and win the final. We were really looking forward to it and we had all the girls there, my wife Sharon, my sister Karen, and my crew chief Mark Harrel’s girlfriend Carol.”

Saturday’s first qualifying session produced a solid a 7.49 and he followed it up with the 7.32 in the second session – the first run ever under 7.40 seconds. “The 7.42 was just what we were looking for,” said Stotz. “Mark thought the track was getting better so I put the 7.42 tune up in the engine we call “Bessie II” for the second session. I left a little harder and the gears came real quick. My shift light was on at about the 1200-foot mark so I knew it was a good pass. I was very surprised when [Prostar official] Jim Kizer told me I ran a 7.32 at 195 mph. Rickey ran right behind me and after his pass he shook his head and said he couldn’t believe he has to race me for the Virginia final after that 7.32 pass.”

With atmospheric conditions remaining constant the team left the tune-up alone for the Virginia final but Stotz spun the tire and lost to Gadson, 7.61 to 7.54. “I felt great going to the line for the final but when I left the tire spun,” lamented Stotz. “I pumped it once and it hooked back up and then it spun again at the top of first, third and fourth. I was gaining on Rickey but drag racing is not suited well to playing catch up. To add insult to injury because of the wild spinning tire it stayed on the rev limiter longer than I have ever done and it hurt the motor. The girls got to experience the highs and lows of drag racing as we went from 7.32 to changing a motor all in less than 3 hours.”

Stotz faced even more challenges as he prepared for Sunday’s St Louis Eliminations. “Sunday morning I took the bike for a ride down Interstate 55 to break in the new motor,” he explained. “About a half hour into the ride the radiator started to leak because the fan was contacting it. A local farmer offered to get my bike and me back to the track in the back of his old pickup truck. This was more than enough drama but then we only had 15 minutes to fix the leak and be in the staging lanes for the first round of eliminations. Mark made it happen. He is the best crew chief I could hope for.”

Playing it safe for the first round of eliminations, Stotz ran a conservative 7.90 to advance to round two. The team struggled trying to find right combination for the new engine but still advanced to the semifinal for a re-match against Gadson. “As fate would have it Rickey ran the quickest pass of his life a 7.49 to my 7.65,” Stotz said of the semi.

The final was not the all-Honda final hoped for between the number one qualifier Stotz and the number two qualifier Barry Henson but the end result was still a Honda in the winner’s circle with Henson taking the win over Gadson. “Barry’s miraculous comeback from a very serious accident, to win on his first race back, was the best consolation prize I could ask for after the high expectations we came to St. Louis with,” said Stotz, who continued by looking forward. “Everyone is asking when we will go 200 MPH. Falicon says their Knife Rods will hold it, JE Pistons says their pistons will hold it, Star Racing’s head will flow it, and I know the Honda could do it, but Mark and I really just want to win races and the championship. The V-twin shootout class is also high on our list and we are working hard to have our 270 H.P. VTX 1800 Turbo streetbike ready to rock in Norwalk, Ohio.”

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