From HotBike, Summer 1971, Volume 1, No. 1
Joe Smith and Son racing team pose proudly with the world’s quickest drag bike. Joe does the riding, Gene helps his dad with much of the work between rounds. Maintaining a fuel bike while racing on tour becomes a full time familyproject, but end result is new world E.T. record!
THE NINE SECOND barrier is history! Joe Smith of West Covina, Califomia, opened a new era of motorcycle drag racing at Bakers- field this year with a stunning 8.97-167.28 to be- come the first man in history to ride a motorcycle through the quarter-mile in less than nine seconds. The heart of Joe’s machine is a late model Har- ley shovelhead displacing 108 cubic inches with S&S flywheels and Burkhardt barrels. Joe did the head and valve modifications of his motor and chose a Leinweber cam to complete the valve train.
The heart of Joe’s machine is a late model Harley shovelhead displacing 108 cubic inches with S&S flywheels and Burkhardt barrels. Joe did the head and valve modifications of his motor and chose a Leinweber cam to complete the valve train. An S&S carb meters the nitro to Venolia forged pistons, spark is by a Joe Hunt magneto and Gary Hooker fabricated the chromed headers. The lower end is built and maintained by Bill Cobb, the shop foreman at Laidlaws Harley-Davidson, where Joe works as parts manager.
Joe says that Bob Laidlaws’ enthusiastic sponsorship is responsible for much of the bike’s good fortune at the races. The separate transmission has been reduced to a high gear only unit. Diamond chain transfers the horsepower to the rear wheel. Paul Burkhardt built the right side cover. Smith designed and built the fueler frame of chrome-moly tubing, making 70-inch wheelbase including the Ceriani forks. The front wheel is a light alloy rim laced to a Harley Rapido brake and mounts a shaved and trued 2.75 x 19 Avon tire. A wheel shroud is installed to give Joe every last bit of advantage at the starting line without red-lighting. Lead weighs bolted to the forks reduce the possibility of wheelstands.
Short drag bars carry the controls and kill button, while fork brace and a steering damper help to eliminate any undesirable handling problems at speed. Fuel is carried in twin tanks strapped to the upper frame rail with large Neoprene lines to route the mixture to the S&S carb. The rocker covers have been opened up to provide access for hand oiling; there are no oil lines to the heads from the cases. The rear wheel assembly is a Triumph unit mounting an M&H slick, size 4.00 x 18. The rear brake is actuated by a simple foot lever attached to the hub. Engine and rear wheel sprockets are changed as needed to match strip conditions.
From the 50’s to 1980 Joe Smith built and rode the fastest shovelhead powered drag bikes whether single or dual engined. Visit his main website http://granddaddyjoesmith.com for some nostalgic goodness or follow the links there to his blogs and read what the man himself has to say.
Joe Smith Winning the 1974 US Nationals