Jerry Savoie at the Pomona season fnale - Anne ProffitEnlarge Photo
Sure, the title went down to Harley-Davidson (champion Eddie Krawiec) against Buell (Hector Arana Jr), but there was Jerry Savoie, a rookie on the wrong side of 50.
Alligator farmer Savoie, who hadn't raced in over 30 years before sitting on a Pro Stock Suzuki motorcycle to make his debut at Gainesvile last year, had a breakout year.
At the Mac Tools US Nationals--arguably the most important race in the NHRA season--Savoie changed motorcycles, going from a standard Suzuki to Hayabusa bodywork.
It fit him, and Savoie ended up making the finals at the Nationals, giving eventual winner Andrew Hines of the powerhouse Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson team a run for the Wally. If Savoie had goals for his first year of professional competition, he must surely have bettered them, making the Countdown to One playoffs and finishing the year as one of the top 10 riders in the class.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class doesn't start its season until Gainesville, third race of the year, but Savoie is planning for another season of diversification. While he's not abandoning the Hayabusa Suzuki that brought hi to the dance, Savoie has purchased a Buell to add to his White Alligator Racing arsenal.
"We aren't abandoning the Suzuki, " said Mark Peiser, crew chief. "Our paln is to run both motorcycles. Whichever bike will work best for the different conditions and different racetracks," he said.
Peiser, who's been deep in the team's Brownsburg, IN shop working on chassis and engines for both motorcycles since last year's finals said "Our decision to acquire the Buell was based on a couple of things. One, we feel like the Buell has an advantage over the Suzuki and we'llknow for certain once we get deep into it and see what we can do with one. Second, I've had a whale of a time getting parts for the Suzuki."
In the past season Peiser has been crew chief, tuner and engine builder for Savoie's team. In addition to the team hoping that the novel approach to the new season will put them on a more even playing field, Savoid has confidence that switching between the bikes will not be an unsurmountable task.
"I've been on all kinds of motorcycles in my life. After proving to myself that I could take on the challenge of riding a Pro Stock Motorcycle," Savoie said, "I feel like I can adapt to just about anything. I'm pretty excited - but I'm not in the groove yet because I haven't been down the track on it. I know that once I make that first pass, I'm going to get the fever!"
Savoie will test--presumably with all of his equipment--the week before the 43rd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL. The race is set for March 8-11.