By: Alan Dockery
Photo by Matt Polito
She did it again! Janette Thornley of Statesville, NC, defended her 2015 title by taking the National Hot Rod Association Pro Fuel Harley Championship for 2016. Last year was her fifth season riding a seven-second, 180-mile-per-hour Pro Fuel Harley Drag Bike.
Pro Fuel bikes are cool machines. This is the small class of nitromethane-fueled drag race bikes with 121 cubic inch engines, single-speed no transmission, and gravity fed carburetor. I have always been impressed by folks who can make these bikes run right.
Janette got her first taste of drag racing about ten years ago when she bought a Sportster with wheelie bars and air-shifter and tried drag racing a few times that summer. Years later, she hung out with Ray Price and knew she wanted to race again. Once she sat on a Johnny Vickers Pro Fuel Harley, Janette signed up for his class on how to ride and race nitro.
She passed the class, qualified for the race that weekend, and was really hooked. Soon she bought a Vickers Hawaya Racing Derringer Engine Pro Fueler. Carolina Harley Drags fans first got to know Janette when she partnered with Ray Price to race. This Nitro Granny thrills the fans as she thunders down the strip.
“After 5 years, it doesn't get any easier,” Janette said. “The nights can still be long and the fight to win is always present. After two years on this motorcycle, I really feel like I've become one with it. My husband and I are a team and I couldn't do this without him. I've been known to get beat by a hole-shot, so a memorable win was Route 66 Dragway in Joliet, IL, when I won the race by a hole-shot.”
“It's quite an honor to bring home back-to-back championships. We do not know what 2017 will bring but you can bet you'll find me at a race track somewhere. My dream is to someday move up to the Top Fuel Harley class. What's the difference? Bigger, faster and injected which equates to over a second quicker in the quarter mile and anywhere from 30-50 mph faster. When will this happen? When it's meant to. I'm not rushing into anything and we all know who's in control here - so when He opens the door, if it opens at all, I'll be ready.”
“I have been asked to participate in the AutoFair held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway where they will have a Woman In Racing display. Other participants include: Janet Guthrie's Indy 500 car, Danica Patrick’s NASCAR and Indy cars, Courtney Force’s Funny Car, and Leah Pritchett's Top Fuel car. I am very honored and blessed to be involved in racing and hope that I'm able to continue pursuing my dreams.”
“Many thanks to Hawaya Racing Products, LAT Racing Oils, Purple Slice, Quality Printing and my folks, Mom and Pop,” she said.
As with many race teams, Janette is seeking sponsors. If you want to help this two-time national championship winning team, contact her at DreamChaserRacin@yahoo.com