Patrick Racing Road Star Warrior
Look maw, no turns!
Pomona, California, July 19, 2002 -- With all of our recent forays out to Los Angeles County Raceway, doing drag strip runs with various machines, I've come to a realization: Drag racing does not suck. In fact, it can be quite exciting. So when we got the invite to attend a little press function out at Pomona to ride a real, honest-to-goodness drag race bike, I was pretty anxious. With more than 150 horsepower and 150 foot-pounds of torque at the rear wheel, the day's ride was sure to be anything but dull.
Showing up at the strip on an already sweltering hot morning, Patrick Racing had two of their Pro Star bikes ready to go, but not before those of us in attendance got the low-down on just what we were about to experience.
The Patrick Racing boys have experience putting together some of the most wicked drag bikes ever created. And though these particular Yamahas are limited by class rules, Nigel Patrick's knowledge and creativity combine to perform some impressive things within the confines of what would appear to be a very confining environment. The fact that the bike was brand new didn't help things either, as Nigel found himself having to dream up new parts from scratch.
Tech BriefingThe Patrick Racing Warrior was designed to compete in the "AMA Hot Rod Cruiser Class" which has comparable rules to the Supersport or Superstock series. Driveline modifications, limited engine mods, and suspension work are allowed but the whole package of the bike plus rider must be greater than 800 lbs.
They've only been working on the Warrior since January of this year- a very limited time of R&D, indeed. But in that short time, they have accomplished much. Due to "an inherently strong engine design," they've kept the stock clutch, transmission and crankshaft. In fact, the bike retains the stock starter and even with an increased compression ratio of 15:1, the Warrior has no problem roaring to life.
Internally, the bike uses Carillo connecting rods, custom-ground cams, custom designed 380-gram, 100mm pistons, and a crank that's been lightened by six pounds (from 47!). Following class regulations, the engine retains the stock 4.4 inch (112mm) stroke. The cylinder heads use oversize valves, and have been worked over to the tune of about a 40% increase in airflow.
On the outside, the (moderately) stock airbox is still used, but it now connects to carburetors of unknown specification. These secrets were the most closely guarded; Nigel would only say that they were "heavily modified downdraft type carburetors." Clear as mud, then. The team hopes to go back to fuel injection soon, but the carbs allowed them to progress quickly. The ignition system still uses a modified version of the stock computer, pushing the rev limiter a few hundred rpm higher.
The swingarm is lengthened, and rear suspension is now rigid, along with lowered front forks. Brakes are stock, with only one front disc retained. To comply with the weight limits, Patrick had to bolt an 80-pound chunk of steel on the front of the bike.Speaking of progress- within three races, the bike set the league record, with a 9.86 ET @ 133 mph at Richmond, Virginia. Sixty-foot times are in the 1.44 to 1.45 second range, around 1/10 of a second quicker than the competition. For a large air-cooled twin, these are some impressive numbers, especially considering the time of development, the limitations of the class rules and how much of the bike is kept stock.
Patrick Racing Road Star Warrior. Could there be any more capitalized words in that name?
Intimidated by a quarterBefore getting myself up to the start line for what would be my only run of the day, I spent considerable time asking Nigel and the bike's officially talented rider Matt, about technique. After watching the other journalists botch launches and shifts and generally flail and wobble down the quarter mile, I was determined to be a shining pupil.
My main concern was the launch which, it seemed, most everybody was botching. The track was, according to all in attendance, the worst drag strip they'd ever run on. Even with a light coating of VHT on track and the bike's professional pilot on board, the best run of the day was barely into the 10s. This, after the same bike had run a 9.86 ET just a few weekends prior. So, it was definitely the track, we opined, and so the theory going into my run was to be gentle with the bike. Just get off the line, roll the throttle open and make sure to hit the first-to-second shift, then focus on getting the power down.
The men who would be my Yodas that day expressed some concern as to whether the air-shifting mechanism was working properly and coached me on what to do if pressing the horn button (which was hooked up to trigger an upshift without having to roll out of the throttle) didn't net me the desired result. I paid them, of course, no mind. Instead, all my focus was on being slow off the line, smooth on the throttle and precise when pressing the horn button.Now, you might be saying to yourself that the thing makes only 150 horsepower, but 150 foot-pounds of torque is quite a bit. And that the Warrior is capable of sub-10 second times on a decent track is quite impressive. It's something that's not hard to wrap your mind around, but the way the thing feels is unexpected. Every twist of the throttle is greeted with a rapid climb in revs, followed by that most excellent blacka-blacka-pop-blacka-blacka orgasmic shuddering as the motor returns to idle where it just sounds like one-quarter of John Force's funny car.
I idled up to the starting line but not before a brief burnout to clean off the rear tire and get the feel for the clutch. I also did a little practice launch to see how the clutch would feel. The result, with very little throttle, was still nothing but a spinning tire and little forward progress. This only confirmed my strategy to just get off the line, get rolling, and then start the run.