Need for speed drives biker
Man drag races motorcycles
Love blindsides, it comes out of nowhere, and for Shane MacDonald, 38, of Hillsboro, it happened at speeds approaching 140 mph.
He drag races motorcycles.
“I love it,” MacDonald said. “I can’t get enough of it. It was a hobby, but it has turned into something so much more now.”
When not working as a petroleum technician traveling across a six-state area, he is drag racing “The Punisher,” his sleek black, skull-decaled 2004 Suzuki GSXR 1000 motorcycle, on Wichita, Manhattan, or Kansas City dragways every chance he gets.
“I fell in love with it from the moment I saw it,” he said. “It’s got skulls. I’ve always loved skulls. I have a skull tattoo. A friend of mine had the bike and had only ran it a couple times, and I told him, ‘Dude, whatever it takes, I want that bike.’”
Having formerly ridden a Harley Davidson soft tail standard and a 2007 Yamaha R6S 600cc, the Punisher was not his first love. Rather, it represents his intensified passion for the extreme sport.
“This is my second season,” MacDonald said. “At first, I was just watching guys race at the Manhattan track with a friend, and I thought, ‘Huh, maybe I can do that.’”
His passion accelerated.
“Once I got a taste for the track and knew I could go faster and faster without getting a ticket, the adrenaline rush drew me in big time,” MacDonald said. “I’m running a quarter-mile in 10.41 seconds now.”
While racing in bracket or grudge matches, he dons a special helmet certified by the National Hot Rod Association which covers motorcycle drag racing, too, and a protective jacket with a spine protector as well as elbow shoulder pads in it.
He flips his visor down, visits the “wet box” where he backs his rear tire in water, then spins it to heat it up, making the tire stickier for improved traction.
Approaching the starting line, MacDonald revs the engine up to 7,000 RPMs, holding it there with his throttle as he watches the staging tree lighting system that counts down with three yellow lights before a green light turns him loose.
“I’m wound tighter than snot, and I’m not paying attention to the guy next to me, gunning for first, who might be trying to psyche me out,” MacDonald said. “When those lights drop — yellow, yellow, yellow, green — I dump the clutch, throttle, and launch like a bat outta hell.”
For a few hot seconds, man and machine blur into one as he reads the Punisher’s tachometer for when to kick it up a gear. He pushes his bike as close to 12,000 RPMs before thumbing an air-shifter button next to his throttle, glancing at opponents as he flies.
“I’m running straight ahead and I’m in a tunnel of my own,” MacDonald said. “It’s just me and the bike.”
Since he started, he has won several second places at various drag races, and been lucky enough not to ever wipe out. The experience has been more rewarding for him than any prize money he has won so far.
“I love it for the glory, and I just enjoy the community of it,” he said. “People there are awesome to talk with. They give all sorts of tricks of the trade. We’re all kind of there working on our own bikes, taking our own risks, and doing it for love of the sport.”
He plans to upgrade the Punisher to make it even faster, with the hopes of running a 9-second and eventually an 8-second quarter-mile.
Eventually, he wants to become a better competitor, race at bigger events, win bigger pots of money, and make a name for himself in the motorcycle drag racing world.
“I’ve really gotten heavy into it,” MacDonald said. “There’s nothing like blasting as fast as you can down the track.”
Last modified Aug. 10, 2016