by Dale Walker, 4-time national drag racing champion
I was hired by Cycle World Magazine and Popular Mechanics to ride the V-Max at the drag strip in 1985. It was in the Cycle World May 1985 issue, and this was the original bike test that also went head to head with a 427 SC Cobra. The track was Bayland's raceway in Fremont, CA known for it's good sea level air and always a slight 3/4 mph tailwind in the afternoon. It was my home track that I raced at every Wednesday night and Sundays for many years. It was a clear, cold day and the air was primo. I sprayed VHT for the first 150 feet. VHT is a traction compound that will tear your shoe off if you try walking on it.
The V-Max was brought to the track by the Cycle World Senior Editor Steve Anderson. It had 1800 miles on the clock and at the time was the first one I'd ever sat on. I held over 40 National Drag racing production records at that time and was excited to see the best we could do. After a few feel out passes, figuring out the torque curve, shift points, and what RPM to launch at, the thing flew. This one was a runner, and it shifted pretty well.
After about 8 passes, it ripped out a 10.62 ET at 129.87 MPH with the mirrors on. Let me tell you - in 1985 that was awesome for a stock bike and I was very impressed with the horsepower. Keep in mind at the time I was competing with Jay (Pee Wee) Gleason, who was maybe 130 pounds wet, where I weigh 170 lbs in my leathers.
We then installed a special machined rim with a small 6 inch Firestone car slick and a set of wheelie bars. What surprised me was that the engine made enough torque to pull off wide open, drop the hammer launches. The best time with this setup was 10.41 ET at 126.82 MPH. Anyone that says it's easy to run a 10.50 ET on a stock V-Max has been smoking a little too much something.
Most magazines correct their times for sea level conditions and other theoretical who-knows-what. The numbers I ran that May afternoon in 1985 were right off the scoreboard - no correcting.