History of the bike:
Dick Prime, The New England Flash, got started in motorcycle racing on a Harley-Davidson CRTT on the road racing circuit. It was a short period for him since the factory team had the financial backing a privateer couldnt consistently defeat. Because of some urging from a friend to attend a drag racing event as a spectator Dick got interested in motorcycle drag racing. After racing the CRTT bike in local amateur drag classes he was committed. He ran undefeated in class working his way up from D Stock to C to B and finally A. Dick then pulled his street Sportsters engine and built up a drag bike in Gas class. This lasted only a few months before he knew he had to be in the nitromethane powered Top Fuel class. He raced Top Fuel in the late 1960s and 1970s before retiring from the sport around 1978.
During his time on the track Dick ran three different fuel bikes as designs and times changed. His first scratch built Fuel bike was based on a Dave Yetman built drag racing frame which other racers also used at the time. This machine used a special built Harley-Davidson Sportster engine, the leader of the pack back in the day. Dick was a privateer and did his own engineering and wrenching. He built the bike himself in a shed in his backyard. Even hogging out the engine cases using a hacksaw to create clearance for stroker rods. He ran this bike into the early 1970s while continually modifying it as he tried out new ideas to get the bike to run faster. His second bike was a Sandy Kosman built frame also using a single Sportster engine. His third and final Fuel bike was also a Sandy Kosman built frame, delivered to him at the 4th annual NHRA Motorcycle Championships, Beech Bend International Raceway, Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1973, and was powered by two 114 Sportster engines.
We found Dick Primes first Top Fuel bike, the Yetman bike, in late 2005. Recognizing how important the pioneers of Top Fuel motorcycle drag racing were to the sport a costly restoration began. This piece of drag racing history is now being restored to the original specifications received from Dick Prime during multiple interviews using actual parts from Prime`s shop and many more period correct pieces. The research and restoration continues!
Preservation of history is important. It is our hope that the restoration of such a piece of the sports history will help fans understand where the sport came from before parts could be bought out of a catalog and information was freely shared. The sport back then was small but the pioneer racers involved were not. They helped promote the sport and technology. Several of these racers have passed on, some recently. Fans of the sport need to embrace these racers and understand the roots of the sport.
Our thanks go out to all of those that have helped this preservation effort to date. The short list includes:
Dick Prime Many thanks to Dick for building and racing this bike back in the day! Little did he know what it would mean to others some many years later. Thank you for all of your time and help with the restoration. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
George Gale - Machinist extraordinaire. Thank you for your time and interest in this ongoing project.
Frank Camillieri - For building the frame all those years ago!
Jim Leineweber - Help with cam details and originally building the vintage cams many years ago
Bonnie Truett - Sharing information about drag bikes and flywheels
Dan Umstead - Sharing information about building nitro Ironheads
Greg Guarinello - Interest in a story about the restoration and professional photographer from back in the day. The Drag Bike community lost Greg in 2006. May he rest in peace.
Paul Jones - Source of the original set of Leineweber L6 cams
Frankie Toth - Ironhead drag bike fan and promoter.
Nitro Mikee - Source of the Chrysler Hemi race valves
Chris Calovini - Source of the modern electric starter rollers, Cycle Cat RMS 2
Mark Brown - Supplier of the Nitro and Methanol race fuels
Tim Ware - Photos and memories
If you have any memories or photos of Dick Prime we'd love to hear from you. Drop us an email:
Click here to email
- Frame Yetman drag frame, low-carbon drawn steel tubing and brazed (not welded) with a high-silver-content, low temperature brazing rod
- Engine specifications:
o Cases Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster, 1965
o Bearings standard H-D
o Flywheels 4 13/16 stroke S&S
o Rods stock H-D
o Pistons forged with piston pin buttons. 10.5:1 compression
o Cylinders custom finless iron drag cylinders
o Heads H-D, flowed and ported
o Valves 2 1/16 intake, 1 15/16 exhaust. Dodge 426 Hemi (Manley) stainless steel race tulip valves turned down in diameter and shortened valve stems.
o Tappets 74 big twin
o Tappet blocks Early Sportster (pre-64) steel tappet blocks
o Valve Pushrods stock rods cut down in length to work with the taller 74 tappets.
o Cams Leineweber L6
o Oil pump H-D race pump with 4 window slot
o Generator block out An old round electrical box
o Oil tank custom aluminum tubing
o Carb S&S F marked carb for Fuel/nitro use
o Fuel line Clear nylon laced reinforced 0.5 inner diameter hose
o Fuel shutoff Aircraft shutoff petcock
o Intake manifold S&S
o Exhaust Stock Harley drag pipes cut to tuned length
o Magneto H-D rebuilt for racing
o Spark plugs Champion
o Starter Rollers!
o Transmission Hi-gear (4th) only. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gears as well as countershaft removed. 4th gear on the mainshaft locked it into gear.
- Seat/Rear Fender custom made out of aluminum with a custom vinyl seat pad
- Front end - Ceriani 30mm
- Rear sprocket 51 tooth
- Clutch sprocket 24 or 25 tooth
- Engine sprocket -- tooth
- Clutch - Dry clutch. Sintered iron & steel clutch plates
- Chain, final drive - Azusa stainless T-50
- Chain, primary - Triple row
- Handlebars Custom made of straight aluminum pipe and mounted low on the fork tubes.
- Rear tire 4.00x18 M&H Racemaster slick on a H-D aluminum hub and Borrani WM3 aluminum rim.
- Front Tire Pirelli 2.50x18 tire, Honda CL160 drum brake hub, and Borrani WM1 aluminum rim
- Fuel tank 2.75 custom made out of aluminum tubing
- Footpegs Anderson aluminum pegs mounted at the rear axle dropouts.
- Paint - Royal Blue DuPont Centari
Engine build work being done by George Gale