Roy Thacker's grandmother would be pleased. She nicknamed him "Frog," and he's been getting the jump on the nation's top fuel motocycle drag racers this season. The 39-year-old Woodbridge rider is second in national standings going into this weekend's $500,000 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Thacker, a glass worker, has been racing motorcycles for a dozen years. A few weeks ago, he hit his best top speed, 186 miles per hour, over a quarter-mile strip. "I could have done a little better, maybe 190, but i needed more tire," he explained. "There's a lot of horsepower in my engine to get on the track."
There's 460 horses in his 73-cubic-inch Kawasaki supercharged engine, to be precise. The bike and Thacker weigh only 700 pounds.
Steering is done with the feet, not the handlebars. "Your feet are on pegs at the rear wheel. A little pressure on either foot, or leaning left or right, is how you do it," said Thacker. "Keeping straight is the important thing Swerving costs time."
To check his style, Thacker has films taken of his runs and studies photos of his starts. "I want to cut a perfect light (at the start). I can win a race on my reflexes that way, even if I'm a little slow in the race," he said.