Energycoil Tuner Of the Year – FAN VOTE
Energycoil and Dragbike.com are proud to announce the prestigious Tuner Of the Year award program. The field is set and eliminations are about to begin. It’s time for you, the racers and the voting public, to help determine who will be Dragbike.com’s Tuner Of the Year.
There is always the brain behind the operation. That person who toils in the background making the tuning decisions that ultimately determine who has the best chance of winning each and every pass. A drag bike pilot can only pull the trigger. Without the right tune up, a drag bike won’t even leave the starting line. So here’s to the unsung heroes of harnessing horsepower!
DRAGBIKE.COM’s voters nominated over two dozen racers for this award. While we all have an appreciation for the many who toil in the pits to win – there can only be one winner. Our voting process now moves forward into the next phase where we have established a competition ladder that looks like this, so our voters can determine who they feel is the Tuner Of the Year from the 2015 racing season. To see where the voting ended and how we determined our top 16 qualifiers, click here.
In the coming weeks your votes will help determine who advances to the next round and who will ultimately be crowned Tuner of the Year.
Fan Favorite Crowned
Tim Kulungian’s fan based didn’t let him down in the fan voting! They turned out in droves every round to vote for him and ultimately crowning him the Fan Favorite by a landslide! The Tuner of the Year award will be presented to Tim at the NHRA Gatornationals on March 19th by Dragbike.com’s Matt Polito. Look for a follow-up interview with Tim after the NHRA Gatornationals! Thank you to everyone that took the time to vote in the inaugural Tuner of the Year award. Energycoil looks forward to doing it again for 2016! Why was this award created? Read about it here: The Creation of the Energycoil Tuner of the Year Award.
Round 1 Complete
Round 1 Voting has now completed! The Fan voting matched the actual Industry voting by 90%, the only competitors not advancing were the UK duo of Marius van der Zijden and Michael Beaumont, Star Racing’s George Bryce overtook them and will advance to round 2 against White Alligator’s Tuner Tim Kulunigan. Hawaya Racing Builder/Tuner Johnny Vickers will face off with the notorious Walter Sprout. DME Racing legend Andy Sawyer will face off with multi-champion Bud Yoder. And lastly, the Top Fuel legend of Steve McBride will face off with HTP Racing’s Cecil Towner!
Round 2 Complete
Round 1 Voting has now completed! The Fan voting outcome only match the actual Industry voting by 50%, Star Racing’s George Bryce couldn’t keep the larg fan base of White Alligator’s Tuner Tim Kulunigan at bay. Hawaya Racing Builder/Tuner Johnny Vickers came out on top again over Walter Sprout. DME Racing legend Andy Sawyer will face off with Top Fuel legend of Steve McBride.
Round 3 Complete
White Alligator’s Tim Kulungian and DME Racing’s Andy Sawyer took huge wins over their competitors in round 3 making the undoubtedly the choices for the Final round of the 2015 Energycoil Tuner of the Year. While both tuners run in different circles and tune different kinds of bikes, they are both powerhouses in their own rights! Good Luck to both of them.
After voting be sure to like us on our Facebook page for more updates.
About Tuner Nominees
Tim Kulungian: Tim Kulungian is crew chief and tuner for Jerry Savoie’s White Alligator Racing and is a sixteen year veteran of NHRA drag racing, working for Don Prudhomme Racing for one year and Steve Johnson Racing for 14 years. With W.A.R. he is not only the Crew Chief and Tuner but also the team’s general manager. He has proven to be a true visionary in research and development in addition to being a strong team leader and businessman.
During his tenure with Steve Johnson Racing he guided the team to multiple top ten annual finishes and six event wins including US Nationals wins in 2005 and 2008.
Kulungian has led Savoie to an impressive set of statistics on his Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle. In 2015 Savoie won three events in five final round appearances. He had four number one qualifiers and was the first Suzuki to seriously contend for the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship since LE Tonglet won it in 2010. Savoie finished third in the Mello Yello championship points.
Under Kulunigan, Savoie holds the record for quickest Suzuki in the history of the class and, even more impressively, his 6.744 elapsed time in Dallas was the quickest run in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class for the entire 2015 season, regardless of brand.
In addition to Tim’s efforts with White Alligator Racing he also has teamed with Fred Camarena, performing tuning duties since Sonoma of 2014. Tim has brought Camerena out of a 3 year non-qualifying drought and tuned him to his first 6-second run in Pomona improving to a impressive 6.84 run in Charlotte 2015. With Tim’s help Fred Camarena has accomplished more in the past season and a half then he has in his entire 11 year racing career.
Tim lives in Hayden, AL with his wife Christal and their four children Delilah, Rose, Seathe and Hannah. In 2013 Tim and Christal unexpectedly lost their five year old daughter Lilly Belle and have since worked extensively with the Beads of Courage arts-in-medicine supportive care programs for children coping with serious illness, their families and the health care providers who care for them around the country.
Andy Sawyer: Andy Sawyer is part of the ever so dominant DME Racing team owned by Dimey Eddinger. Last season Andy helped tune the Pro Street bikes into another championship in the IDBL and Manufactures cup. Last year gave andy a three year winning streak with championships in multiple organizations, awarding him six championships in three years.
Not only does Sawyer have multiple championships under his belt, he also given his team multiple records, keeping their Pro Street bike at the top of the GOAT List with a 6.720. Last year for the second year in a row thier team once again broke the record for the quickest and fastest no-wheelie bar bike in the world running a 6.50 at 227mph.
Andy spends his time in the Winston-Salem shop in North Carolina when not at the drag strip. The focus is 2016 getting the bikes ready for the first race to defend their titles continuing to push the bar in pro street racing. Andy has also been busy with two other builds, one a pro street bike and an outlaw style bike for an overseas customer. The team has already started testing for 2016 and they are looking for more records and more wins!
Steve McBride: Steve McBride the older brother of Top Fuel champion Larry Mcbride has been working around motorcycles since the age of sixteen. Settleing into Virginia after years of traveling with his family as a army brat Steve got a job at a motorcycle shop. When Larry followed his brother the two began racing AMA Motocross later transitioning to dirt drags with Steve as the tuner. Larry’s riding abilities caught the eye of Legendary Top Fuel rider Danny Johnson and the two began racing his bike while Danny recuperated from a crash. Steve went to work for Danny prepping the Top Fuel bike for races and learning about machining. Five years later the MCBride brothers bought their own bike and that is when the championship began to stack up. Along with countless wins and championships he and his brother have collected over the years Steve was named Crew Chief of the year three time.
Currently Steve is focusing on repairing “old blue” from an incident that happened at Atco Raceway back in September when the bike caught fire during a match race. With rider Larry on the mend, Steve can salvage their trusty championship Top Fuel bike. Steve and the entire team are looking forward to 2016 with running thier new Top Fuel bike!
Johnny Vickers: Five-time national champion Johnny Vickers is dedicated to the improvement of motorcycle drag racing both on the tuning and educational side. Back in 2010 Johnny created the first and only Nitro bike school that has had great success over the years. Keeping busy the Gen-4 Derringer engine was designed and manufactured last year while Johnny continues to work on the engine package for the upcoming season. Building a new chassis for Dennis Fisher’s Pro Fuel bike that finished number two in the NHRA points last season and of course working on the two time championships Janette Thornley’s bike.
The road to progress began in 1983 when Jonny built his first Harley Davidson dragbike a modified sportster. Two short years later Hawaya Racing was born and soon followed championships and tuning efforts and racing in seven different organizations throughout the years. Back in 2014 Johnny became the first NHRA Pro Fuel Champion winning five out of seven events to clinch the championship. He has also broken a few records in his day including being the original member of the AHDRA Top Fuel four-second club.
Future plans are to continue to advance Nitro Harley Drag Racing by designing and testing new products. This includes new cam designs and their own line of Nitro cams for the Top Fuel and Pro Fuel classes. As Johnny put it, “if I can dream it, I can make it.” He plans on doing just that with all new designs and CNC machining capabilities in house. The bikes wont be the only things getting a new start in 2016 as Johnny is restricting Nitro school and looks to be the first person to run a six second pass on a Pro Fuel Harley.
Walter Sprout: Tuning is what Walter Sprout does. With over 21 years experience in shops, and at track tuning for pretty much anything with horsepower cars, bikes, boats and even sandrails. Walter has worked with every type of MC carburetor and every type of motorcycle one can think of. Horsepower is horsepower whether on the street or on the strip. Leaving Walters passion evident when it comes to getting his hands dirty and tuning.
His broad expertise has gotten him highly involved with a lot of online tuning across the U.S. and even other countries. Walter has also spent plenty of time himself on the drag strip running a Pro Street bike.
Walter currently sits in the 9th spot of the Orient Express GOAT List with a 6.892 pass on his Turbo Hayabusa set in November of this past year.
Cecil Towner: For Cecil Towner it is all about having a bigger and better 2016 for his company HTP Performance. Cecil is currently working on a new Pro Street bike, a project he can’t say much on but admits to working with the best products in the industry such as Vance & Hines, MoTeC, CP pistons and Carrillo Rods. We should expect big things out of their race program in the upcoming season. The bike though is not the only thing getting an overhaul as the facility is getting remodeled as well. Cecil mentioned it is about creating the most advanced tuning center in the country. These additions include an engine dyno along with the current chassis dyno and offering cylinder pressure tuning teaming up with MoTeC systems East. “I truly feel HTP is able to give our customers the lastest and most advanced technology available on the market today. We also over the winter will be holding three tuning seminar dates that will be released soon.”
Cecil owner and operator of HTP performance since 2002 built the first seven second Real Street bike and the first six second Pro Street bike. Certainly no stranger to tuning bikes to break records is putting his knowledge and space to advance the sport. Married with two children from Richmond Virginia Cecil is also a veteran of the United States Navy.
Bud Yoder: A heavy equipment operator in Flint, Michigan, Yoder started achieving success when he stepped off his own Hayabusa and onto the turbo ‘Busas built and tuned by Detroit’s Ronnie Mitchell. On a succession of bikes, Yoder rode to records, wins and championships during the most productive years of Mitchell’s career. Pro Street champion rider Bud Yoder is also co-tuner on the Mark Paquette Racing team of Yoder, Paquette, and Jamie Lopes. Yoder, Paquette, and chassis guru Terry McIntosh.
The goal is simple for mulit-time champion, and that is to continue to fight for another championship and break records. Currently Bud is currently third in the GOAT List list with a 6.838ET on his Hayabusa. Bud began back when we had the streetbike shootout class before organizations adopted the Pro Street Class.
Teammates with fellow MPR member Mark Paquette tune and build both of the Pro Street bikes. For 2016 two more bikes are in the works that the two will begin grudge racing before actually placing them in a class.
Bud is self taught with a love for the sport mentality as he feels it is important to be competitive and push the class to improve. Few years ago he shook up peoples choices in tires as he made the leap the Michelin Tires and Shinko. At the time the tire of choice was Mickey Thompson this caused a few other teams to reconsider their options. A long fast history in the sport of motorcycle drag racing with a major goal of making the class faster. Yoder is married to wife Kelly and has a daughter, Katie.
Mick Beaumont and Marius van der Zijden: Jointly nominated, Mick Beaumont and Marius van der Zijden have combined since 2007 to deliver seven of the nine European Top Fuel Bike championships won by team principal Ian King, with the 2015 title representing a fourth straight.
Mick started off his drag racing journey as a spectator in 1976 before hopping over the barrier to compete in Street Bike five years later, setting records and picking up championships on the way. Twelve seasons split between Pro Stock Bike and Funnybike covered the time interval from 1987 to 1998 and burnished Beaumont’s reputation for quick and well presented bikes running under the Brickie’s Quickie moniker (the name reflecting Beaumont’s career as builder). Following his final active time in the saddle aboard an Alcohol Turbo Funnybike a change of direction came in 1999 when he joined forces as crew chief for fellow Funnybike rider King who made the foray into the Top Fuel ranks having purchased the Puma Yamaha from Phil and Frank Brachtvogel. Whilst there were some testing and trying times in the early years, 2001 marked a breakthrough year as Mick’s tuning calls directed King towards his first European title and new European ET and TS records whilst adding the domestic crown to complete a first in the class, with a further European title added in 2005.
Marius joined the King Racing brains trust in 2007 after a storied career with close friend Roel Koedam, the all-Dutch team starting out on nitro in the late 1980s with the final version of Ton Pels’ double Puma Triumph. This was replaced in due course with van der Zijden and Koedam bolting together the three valve inline Puma Yamaha that would ultimately deliver four European championships for the team and a truly spectacular 6.046 ET in 2003. Marius’ involvement in drag racing extends almost back to the very start of the sport on this side of the Pond with one of his sister’s boyfriends running a injected hemi slingshot in the mid sixties, with van der Zijden attending his first sprint event at Zandvoort in 1965, and he has a long history working in both Motocross and for one of the best supercar firms in the world.
When Koedam decided to sell up at the end of 2006, Marius found a natural home with King Racing and the newly configured team continued to deliver results with three European championships on the bounce, with performances shifting up a notch or two with the debut of the Gulf Oil/Grand Prix Originals Puma Yamaha in 2011 that has run as quick as 5.830 and has propelled King to a 242.77mph terminal (the fastest in Europe to date) and a new European TS record in 2015 whilst on yet another championship charge.
Highlights for Mick include his own championships as a rider, whilst Marius is particularly proud of being part of the repeated Dutch invasions of Gainesville in the late 1990s and the journey with Koedam that had its swansong running demo passes in Australia in December 2006. As part of King Racing the championships, cracking the fives in Sweden in 2013 and the exhibition runs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the company of two wheel road racing legends Valentino Rossi, Giacamo Agostini, Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz, Freddie Spencer, Randy Mamola and John Surtees (to name but a few) together with a whole slew of Grand Prix drivers past and present figure large in the memory, but both point to Valdosta April 2014 as being very special, overcoming the cream of the US Top Fuel Bike field on their own turf and getting into the MTC Five Second Club in the final. The exceptionally smooth teamwork on display caught the attention of many of their competitors that weekend, but this is just a hallmark of the whole King Racing setup: “I think our achievements are exceptional, considering the budget we work on” reflected van der Zijden.
For both, the tuning aim is to get into the 5.7s although this will depend upon track conditions to achieve this in Europe (there is little doubt that the current set up is capable of these numbers) and to quote Beaumont “if the tracks aren’t there we’ll run as quick and as fast as we can, and have fun in doing so”, and fun whilst working hard is something that the whole team thrive on.
George Bryce: For over thirty four years, George Bryce has been the dynamic force behind the exciting NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle series. Starting out as the owner/rider/tuner of the Star Racing machines, Bryce garnered enough knowledge in all three areas to become the most sought after man in the business today. He is credited with developing more talent than any other team owner in the history of the sport. Against all odds, and with naysayers at every turn George took a raw, untested Angelle Seeling and turned her into the most victorious female racer in NHRA history. He has had similar experiences with nearly a dozen other riders.
During George Bryce’s over 35 years of motorcycle drag racing, George has tuned drag bikes to not less than 95 NHRA competition wins. He’s also a former NMRA Funny Bike pilot with ten more wins outside his NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racing efforts.
Roger Starrette: South Carolina trucking company owner Roger Starrette is known primarily for tuning himself, Jeremy Teasley and David Merks to many years of Real Street domination.
Long thought a nitrous Kawasaki specialist, Starrette showed his versatility by tuning both himself and Merks to #1 qualifiers on a turbo ‘Busa as he does almost every year, Starrette has said 2015 would be his last in motorcycle drag racing as he looks towards cars that fit his large frame more comfortably.
Matt Smith: Drag racing is in Matt Smith’s genes. His dad, Rickie Smith, is one of the most successful door car drag racers of his era, earning ten world championships in three classes in NHRA, IHRA and PRDA competition
For competition himself, Matt went straight to bikes, quickly winning a championship in SCRA Super Comp Suzuki in 1997.
His first national championship came when he teamed with Walt Timblin and won the AMA/Prostar Top Eliminator class in 1999 and 2000, also being the first to crack the 200 mph barrier in the class. He then won the SEMDRA Outlaw Pro Street championship in 2003. (His future wife Angie would win the SEMPRA OPS championship a year later.)
In 2004 he rented a bike from Shawn Gann to run NHRA US Nationals where he was the first alternate, placing 17th on the qualifying sheet. “From that point on I decided that was what was my future was going to be,” Matt said.
In 2005 Matt showed up at the NHRA Gatornationals on an ex-Paul Gast Hayabusa and ended up first alternate in 17th position. It was his last DNQ at an NHRA event.
Since that time Matt has won 2 NHRA national championships, his first coming after teaming with Mark Stockseth in 2007 and the second under the Viper Motorcycle banner in 2013. He has ridden for George Bryce of Star Racing and Don Schumacher Racing under Steve Tartaglia.
In 2015 Matt signed with Victory Motorcycles and developed the first new body to place in the top 10 in NHRA competition since the Buell in 2004. He also extended his string of consecutive qualified races to 186 – tied with Angelle Sampey and behind only Andrew Hines at 203.
Smith went to three finals in 2015 and had one number one qualifying performance placing fourth in the Mello Yello Championship points. Wife and teammate Angie placed 13th in the points. Matt Smith Racing leases motors to two other teams: Scotty Pollacheck’s Petrolhead Apparel team and the UPI Performance team out of Ohio. Pollacheck placed in the top 10 while the UPI Performance team went through a rider change mid-season. In 2014 MSR had four riders in the top 10.
To best sum up what he currently brings to the sport, Matt said: “I bring excitement to the class and opportunity for young racers and new people in our class to live their dream. We make it affordable for people with a bike to run and run competitively.”
Jay Stedman: At age 14 Jay started drag racing in automobiles. But four wheels didn’t last long as he yearned to go faster. He decided to dive into two wheel racing with the funny bike class. He raced funny bikes for about 7 years until he decided to open is first bike shop in 1992.
Jay is known as one of the first successful nitrous installers / tuners for the Hayabusa. these days Jay is currently focusing on turbocharging and fabrication. He is also heavily invested in R&D right now with water-to-air intercooling. With over 25 years of service in the powersports industry, Jay continues to stay ahead of the curve in high performance at Stedman Motorsports.
Tommy Miceli: Tommy Miceli’s motorsports career began in 1989 when he started working for Scotty Guadagno at PG Performance in Brooklyn, NY, and this is where he leaned the essentials of engine performance. During his time at PG Performance Miceli plugged into the street racing scene at the legendary “Conduit” – 150th St. and Fountain Ave. in Queens.
“I spent countless nights at the Conduit,” said Miceli. “I was so addicted to it I would ride out there every night looking to see if there were races going on. If there weren’t then me and my buddies would have our own races.”
It was through this scene that Miceli connected with Phil Gonesh. Gonesh owned one of the most feared bikes of its day, the legendary “Godzuki”, a stretched out, nitrous injected Suzuki GS1150E. Miceli earned the seat on Godzuki and he and Gonesh began running the Streetbike Shootout class in AMA/Prostar competition. The class was the beginning of what is now the Pro Street class and the team won the class championship in 1999.
Miceli, weighing only 130 pounds and having proven chops as a rider was given the opportunity to ride a myriad of bikes for various teams over the years.
Through his relationship with Gonesh, Miceli was introduced to famed engine builder Joe Franco of Franco’s Performance in New York. Franco tapped Miceli to ride his Pro Mod Suzuki in the AMA/Prostar series and the team met with quick success, earning a number two plate in their first year out and winning the championship in 2001.
During this time Miceli also campaigned a GS1150 Pro Street bike owned by Ed Murphy, Sr. called “The Hustler” in the Rockingham Dragway series. Miceli brought the bike to numerous event wins and class records.
The next year Miceli ran NYFD Pro Stock Motorcycle for Ben Hatcher in NHRA competition. The team finished 11th and Miceli was nominated for Rookie of the Year.
Since that time Miceli has made occasional appearances in NHRA PSM competition on the World Wide Bearings entry of Dave Conforti. He also runs a 70” nitrous Hayabusa grudge bike dubbed “Outcast”.
In 2005 Miceli took a job running the dyno at a new motorsports shop, Xtreme Machines in Millstone, NJ. He grew with the business and two years ago was given 24 hour access to the shop and he started “Afterdark Tuning” taking appointments seven days a week up till 10:00 on weekdays and midnight on weekends.
The dyno room is beautifully equipped with a Factory Pro Eddy Current dyno built right into the floor, hosting two drive drums, which allows them to Dyno not only bikes but Quads and many Mini and Micro sprint cars as well. The dyno room is also equipped with a 5-gas analyzer to monitor exhaust readings.
With his attention to detail and work ethic Miceli has established a loyal following. He can tune everything from a high-revving EFI sportbike to Harley Cruisers to old-school carbureted bikes.
“Having 20 years of on track experience racing multiple classes and my never ending competitive nature has led to great results for my customers,” said Miceli. “I run the dyno the same way I race and I take a lot of pride in my name. Customer service is #1 and I do everything possible to make sure my customers are happy by putting my full effort into making them the most power possible.”
Bryan Snyder: If you’re from the Dayton, Ohio area, then you’ve heard the name. Heck, if you’ve been in Ohio for any length of time and have thought about modifying your sport bike then you’ve probably heard of Bryan Snyder (or Quantum Motorsports). Bryan Snyder has a long history in modifying bikes and drag racing, from his time at Brock’s Performance to establishing his own shop, Quantum Motorsports. Quantum Motorsports had residence in Ohio and also in Texas for some time and lots of fast bikes were running with Snyder’s engine packages.
During the AMA Dragbike days, Snyder was very well known for his Super Sport accolades. Claiming the 2008 & 2009 Championships as builder/tuner, he also played a part in some of the prior championship efforts of the class. From eight second Super Sport bikes to low seven second grudge bikes, Bryan has the credentials to build and tune a variety of bikes.
But for those that haven’t been around the “scene” for long it will certainly be a new name, especially considering that Bryan only ‘occasionally’ works on bikes nowadays. With a full time truck driving job he now only takes on work to fulfill his strong passion for bikes and going fast. However, his limited schedule hasn’t kept him from building and tuning fast reliable bikes. Some of his recent ‘behind-the-scene’ accomplishments have been with Ben Knight’s three national championships over the last two years. Add in a foray into Land Speed Racing in 2015 and his skills netted him and rider Ralphie Navarro a 214mph record in ECTA competition. Potential customers still are willing to travel from all parts of the country if they can get him to sign off on the projects.
Pete Brown: Pete Brown is a motorsports fabrication engineer and welder with 21 years experience building race car chassis and fabrication. Pete puts his engineering degree to good use over the years as he has a long history in the sport with his dad a two time ADBA Pro Gas champion and now his brother Keith who is the 2012 AHDRA Pro Gas Champion.
Currently Pete is building a new chassis for their own program, but admits it won’t be done for quite a while. Pete does all the chassis work for Johnny Vickers in Hawaya Racing with their Pro Fuel bike. Other projects include a Pro Stock Buell for a soon to be announced team. The 2016 season is about running the current program they have going in Man Cup Pro Open and the AMRA Nitro Funny bike ridden by his younger brother Keith.
Sebastian Domingo: Sebastian Domingo is the owner of NLR Systems, a company that specializes in development of control technology. These systems include the AMA-1000 boost controller and the NMA nitrous controller.
Born in Sweden Sebastian grew up in Orange County. A builder from day one always interested in how things worked grew an interest in horsepower in the early 1990’s getting a job with NOS. Seb began installing nitrous kits on his own cars before opening his own home-based business. This opened the door to motorcycle racing as many of the kits he installed were on motorcycles. Applying his knowledge in turbocharged cars sSeb would begin following Larry Hayes a former AMA/Prostar Funnybike champion. The opportunity was there for Seb to start Nxt Level Racing, many of use know it as NLR. The business required relocation to where the clients would be moving to the East coast settling in Alabama.
To expand his knowledge Seb took to the track but not as a tuner but as a rider. A way to understand from all angles. Seb has a national event win in Commerce for the AMA dragbike event in 2009, also held a pro street record. Tuned the first Hayabusa into the sevens on a street tire.