NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle’s most successful and visible program — and a key presenting sponsor of the NHRA’s professional series — are seemingly on the way out, unless new funding can be found for 2021 and beyond.
First reported by veteran two-wheel drag racing journalist Tim Hailey of EatMyInk, Harley-Davidson has not renewed its contracts for 2021 with Vance & Hines, forcing it to shut down its American Flat Track and NHRA racing programs. Says Hailey: “I’m told that Terry Vance and CEO/President Mike Kennedy flew to Brownsburg to deliver the news personally, and that there are many layoffs.”
Harley-Davidson confirmed the news on Wednesday, issuing a prepared statement regarding its new marketing initiatives.
“Harley-Davidson’s heritage is rich with racing lore and legacy, and throughout our brand’s history, Harley-Davidson dealers have been the cornerstone of our racing programs,” said Jon Bekefy, general manager of Brand Marketing. “We are excited to continue to support the XG750R racing motorcycle and NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle efforts through our dealers.
“As it leans into a more grassroots approach, Harley-Davidson would like to thank the Vance & Hines organization, the riders, team members, and every individual involved with the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle and American Flat Track (AFT) team efforts for their passion, commitment, and expertise for over a decade of winning competition and championship titles.”
“Over the past 18 seasons, the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle team has been wildly successful, generating 107 wins and 10 championships, proving to be one of the most successful programs in the history of the sport. Additionally, Vance & Hines has been instrumental in ushering a new era of flat track competition with the development of the Harley-Davidson XG750R SuperTwins and Production Twins motorcycles and earning a championship in AFT Production Twins for the 2020 season. Vance & Hines will continue to manufacture and support the sale of XG750R SuperTwins and Production Twins bikes to qualified teams.”
Harley-Davidson’s new Chief Executive Jochen Zeitz noted in a Wall Street Journal report on October 25th that the brand is going back to basics by making large, expensive motorcycles for its most devoted customers, and abandoning a decade-long effort to appeal to younger riders with more affordable and sporty models. Zeitz has said Harley must cut expenses and make its motorcycles more desirable. Harley-Davidson is cutting about 30-percent of its models and encouraging dealers to close some stores. Among those to be cut is the FXDR, which Vance & Hines raced in 2020. Harley-Davidson has laid off 500 workers globally, or 10-percent of its workforce, in recent months.
Vance & Hines and Harley-Davidson have won 10 NHRA championships and more than 105 races together with riders Andrew Hines (six titles), Eddie Krawiec (four titles), GT Tonglet, and Angelle Sampey.