Could NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle’s most successful and visible program — and a key presenting sponsor of the NHRA’s professional series — be on the way out?
According to veteran two-wheel drag racing reporter Tim Hailey of EatMyInk, Harley-Davidson has reportedly 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’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.
Messages left with members of the Vance & Hines program for comment by Dragzine were not returned.