Racing again was halted during World War II, but afterwards, even with Petrali gone and the team driving older, pre-war designed WR and WRTT models, Harley-Davidson left no doubt who would remain in charge. In 1947 alone, Harley-Davidson racers captured the National TT, National Miniature TT and Nationals at Richmond, Va., Springfield, Ill., and Milwaukee, Wis.
In 1948, Harley-Davidson won 19 of the 23 National events, including a dominant performance at Daytona in which seven of the top 10 finishers rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In 1949, Harley-Davidson won 19 out of 24 National races.
However, by 1952 even the powerful WR and WRTT model racers were showing their age against newer and lighter designs from Europe. Harley-Davidson quickly countered with the KR, a nearly clean-sheet design built on the experiences of the WR, but which placed the side-valve engine in a smaller, lighter and stronger package. For the next 17 years, the KR and KRTT models were rarely beaten. Indeed, from 1953 through 1969, the KR and KRTT would bring Harley-Davidson 13 victories at Daytona, America's most prestigious road race.
In the National points chase, KRs won on dirt as well. Factory rider Carroll Resweber won the National Championship four years running, from 1958 to 1961. Resweber's record string of championships held until Harley-Davidson's Scott Parker broke the mark with five straight championships between 1994 and 1999.
Harley-Davidson launched the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Pro Stock Motorcycle team in 2002 with rider GT Tonglet to compete in the NHRA Drag Racing Series, the top professional level of motorcycle drag racing. Harley-Davidson teamed with Vance & Hines Motorsports, winner of 23 NHRA titles, to develop a V-Twin engine that would be competitive with the four-cylinder engines prevalent in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. During a first season devoted to development, the Screamin' Eagle V-Rod showed promise but did not qualify for an NHRA event. In 2003, Andrew Hines joined the team as a second full-time rider and a Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines V-Rod qualified for each of 15 events on the Pro Stock Motorcycle series and made the final round of eliminations at two events, the first time a Harley-Davidson had made a Pro Stock final since 1980.
Two seasons of hard work and perseverance paid off in 2004, when the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team won the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship. During the season, 21-year-old Hines won three Pro Stock Motorcycle events, set the national Pro Stock Motorcycle E.T. record of 7.016 seconds, was the No. 1 qualifier seven times, and became the youngest professional champion in NHRA history. Hines and teammate Tonglet qualified for all 15 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle events, combined to advance to the final round of eliminations five times during the season, set 13 track E.T. or top-speed records, and faced each other in the final round of the K&N Filters Pro Bike Klash bonus event, which was won by Hines. It was the first NHRA title won by Harley-Davidson and the first won by a V-Twin-powered motorcycle.
The winning continued for the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines team in 2005. In fact, it got better. Hines earned his second consecutive NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship with the help of two victories in five final-round appearances. He was the low qualifier of the event 10 times and reset the national E.T. record twice. Tonglet turned out to be his biggest competitor. Tonglet earned two victories in three final rounds and was the points leader following seven events. Tonglet also earned two low qualifier awards and finished a career-best second in NHRA points.
Hines joined elite company in 2006. He not only won his third consecutive NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle championship, but also he became just the third rider in NHRA history to earn three consecutive titles, joining his older brother Matt Hines and Angelle Sampey in that select group. Hines won three races in five final rounds to claim his third championship.
Hines fell short of winning the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship in 2007, but the season was record-breaking for him in other ways – he won a career-best five-of-seven final-round appearances and set a career-best elapsed time of 6.91. Eddie Krawiec joined the team in February – just in time for the March season opener in Gainesville, Fla. Krawiec earned a trip to the semifinals in that first race with the team. Krawiec then went on to finish in seventh place overall and made two final-round appearances during his inaugural NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle season.
It was Krawiec who brought the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship back to Harley-Davidson in 2008. Krawiec qualified seventh for the five-race Pro Stock Motorcycle Countdown to One playoff, and then won 14 of 20 possible Countdown rounds to win the championship in the semi-final round of the final event of the season. He also holds the distinction of being only the second racer in NHRA history to earn a national title without winning a national event during that racing season. Krawiec defeated his teammate, Hines, to win the Ringers Glove Pro Bike Battle at Indianapolis, the fifth consecutive year a Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines rider has won that bonus event.
In 2009 Krawiec was a winner, and defended his title with an outstanding season. He appeared in the finals 10 times and won five of those races. He also placed second in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs during the final five races of the season, just two points shy of repeating as champion. His Screamin’ Eagle / Vance & Hines teammate, Andrew Hines, won three events in four final-round appearances, and for the fourth time won the Ringer Gloves Pro Bike Battle bonus event in Indianapolis. Over a three-race stretch (Norwalk, Denver and Sonoma), Hines and Krawiec both advanced to the final round of eliminations. All totaled, the Screamin’ Eagle / Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rods won eight of 17 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle events in 2009, the best results ever for the team.
During the 17-race 2010 NHRA Full Throttle drag racing season, Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines riders Hines and Krawiec combined for seven event wins, 11 final-round appearances, and two national ET records. Both Hines and Krawiec qualified for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Hines finished in second place. Krawiec was third.
Krawiec won his second NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship in 2011. During the season Krawiec made six final-round appearances and won four times. He was the number-one seed for the Countdown, and made four final-round appearances in six Countdown events, winning twice to take the title by 90 points. Krawiec set a new Pro Stock Motorcycle top-speed record of 199.26 mph at Gainesville in 2011. Hines made three final-round appearances and won twice in 2011, qualified for the Countdown, and finished the season in third place.
The Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines team enjoyed an outstanding season in 2012. Riders Krawiec and Hines won 15 of 16 events on the season schedule, at one point scoring 13 wins in a row. Krawiec successfully defended his Pro Stock Motorcycle title in 2012, dominating the class with nine wins in 11 final-round appearances, twice winning at three events in a row. He was the top qualifier for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs and won the championship by 82 points. On March 2, 2012, Krawiec set a new NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle national Elapsed Time (ET) record of 6.750 seconds at Gainesville, Fla., a mark that was surpassed later in the season by his Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance and Hines teammate, Andrew Hines. In 2012 Hines scored a career-best six event wins in 11 final-round appearances, and on Oct. 9, 2012, set a new Pro Stock Motorcycle national Elapsed Time (ET) record of 6.728 seconds at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa. Hines qualified for the Countdown to the Championship playoff series, and finished second in season points.
Harley-Davidson can do more than just win in the quarter-mile drags. The Harley-Davidson XR750 has dominated on the dirt flat tracks for a generation, in the hands of the Harley-Davidson factory team and independent racers. In 2011 Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle factory team rider Kenny Coolbeth will be racing for a fourth AMA Grand National Twins series championship. Coolbeth joined the Screamin’ Eagle team in 2006 and won three races and finished on the podium at three more to take his first AMA Grand National Twins title. In 2007, Coolbeth won six times and finished in second place three times to notch another championship. Coolbeth won six of 13 races on the 2008 AMA Grand National Twins series, and finished on the podium at four other events to lock up the championship with two races left on the schedule.
Coolbeth lost his opportunity to win a fourth-consecutive Grand National Twins championship in 2009 when he was injured in a training accident prior to the Labor Day weekend race at the Springfield Mile on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. A broken shoulder kept Coolbeth, who was leading the series in points following a stirring win at the Indianapolis Mile, from racing that weekend. Blue Springs Harley-Davidson/Screamin' Eagle rider Jared Mees finished second at Springfield and opened a 15-point lead on Coolbeth with just the final race at Pomona left on the schedule. Mees, a member of the Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew, became the first champion in the long history of the Grand National series to claim the title without winning a race during the season. In 2010 Coolbeth won on the Canterbury Mile, made six other podium appearances in 16 races, and was sixth in series points. Riding in the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track series for the Harley-Davidson Factory Team, Coolbeth won at Hagerstown, made two other podium appearances, and finished the season fourth in points. Coolbeth’s 2012 season was interrupted by injury, as the Harley-Davidson factory rider broke his leg during the Lima, Ohio, race on June 30. Coolbeth missed two additional races during his recovery, but returned to scored wins at Knoxville, Iowa, and Pomona, California late in the season, and finished seventh in points. Rogers Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson rider Jared Mees claimed his first AMA Grand National championship in 2012.
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