TOP FUEL BIKES
©1999-2001 Dwight Drum
Story by Dwight Drum
Photos © Dwight Drum and Gary Larsen
We visited Top Fuel Harley-Davidson Champion Bill Furr while covering champion territory at nearby Darlington International Raceway in South Carolina. At Bill's Harley-Davidson shop, we found room between the trophies, and time between phone calls so I could ask Bill my questions. Bill Furr is an intense winner and speed parts supplier, ever- busy, but he carved us an hour out of his day. Step up, move a few trophies to the side, and listen in as Bill gives me his candid answers.
DWIGHT CHATS WITH BILL FURR…
DOB: 10/17/ 1952
What personal quality (one trait) would you want to be admired for the most?
Birth Town: Charlotte, NC
Home Town: Orangeburg, SC (since 1972)
"I've worked hard to make motor cycle drag racing safer. I make a living supplying parts to other race teams. My youngest brother died in a car crash. The coroner told me he would have survived the crash if he had been wearing a seat belt."
What's most important?
Do you have a nickname?
"Lots of them. The Southern Son."
Who are your Heroes?
"I look up to a lot of people. All of them are Top Fuel riders…Jim McCLure, Elmer Trett, and Pete Hill."
Are you pleased with life?
"Oh yes. Absolutely. Not today maybe, but we live in prosperity. It's never been bad, not even if you have to work for a living "
What could please you more?
"An IHRA championship. I've won all the others, but I really haven't been as focused in the last three years."
When driving a car, do you always wear a seatbelt?
1. Yes. 2. No. 3. Sometimes?
"When I leave town, I do."
Is racing your full-time occupation?
"I sell racing parts, and we have Furr Glass Service also. I've been racing since 1984. I blew up a few motors at first. I won my first championship on a Pro Fuel bike in the AHDRA."
Do you have time for a hobby?
"I don't have time for a hobby. I used to race 28 to 32 weeks a year. Winter is nothing. But building."
What vehicle do you drive on the street?
"2001 Ford F150 Harley-Davidson edition truck."
Do you work out?
"I play racquet ball with a buddy three times a week at 6:30 Am in the morning."
Name one other sport, you feel you could master or be competitive at?"
If you could make one part of your body stronger, what part would that be?
Do you have pets?
"Elvis, my Scottish Terrier."
Do you have a special diet?
"Everyone who races is on some kind of a diet. I try to eat good. I drink too nmuch beer, but I rarely eat red meat."
What quality do you admire most in other people?
When frustrated. What do you do first?
1.Erupt. 2.Withdraw 3. Try to be cool. 4. Other
"After I throw something through a window, I walk away."
What mental routine prepares you for each run?
"I don't have a routine. I've raced so many motorcycles; it's easy. It's real easy for me to do it."
What are (or have been) your scariest moments?
"I've had really close calls in my motor home, not on my bike."
What do you do to unwind?
"I can make myself unwind."
If you could change one thing about drag racing, what would you change?
"I've taught a lot of people how to drag race, but it's important that people who want to race know about safety. We should make sure new racers know how to race. It's so easy to buy a six second motorcycle right now. We need to make sure that new racers know how to handle a six second bike before they compete on race tracks."
When asleep do you ever dream you are racing?
"Oh, all the time. Every night."
Where do you find the most peace in your life?
"At about 11:30, having lunch by myself, reading a newspaper."
You're a skilled racer… On public highways, what's different about you and other drivers?
"Half the people on the highway can't drive. You have to be a 'tuned person'. Drivers with low IQ's are the worst drivers. Racers are higher IQ people, and we are observant. We see what's going to happen and respond quicker."
What do you worry about the most?
"I don't worry much, but I worry about doing for my customers. I'm so much at peace in my life."
Can you describe the G-forces at the tree…the launch?
"I'm probably not the person to ask this question. I've raced three different bikes in a weekend. It doesn't bother me."
What does your fastest speed feel like?
"Believe it or not, it's the smoothest run. When you think you haven't run a good pass. It's too smooth, the easiest run."
Most people learn something from mistakes. What mistake caused you to learn the most?
" Running bad equipment early in my career. Getting hurt by bad equipment will teach you. (three crashes)."
Who means the most to you?
"All the people around me, my workers, my friends, my racing buddies, my family."
If you could acquire three traits from three people, what traits would you take from whom?
"I'd like to get my youth back from my son (28 years old). I'd like to weigh 175 pounds like my buddy who plays racquet ball with me…and Johnny Mancuso's money."
How did you get started in drag racing?
"I opened a Harley-Davidson repair shop, and everyone wants to go fast. I had to go faster. I had to have the fastest motorcycle in town. If I sell the parts, I have to race them on the drag strip."
What do you fear?
"DNQ. (Did Not Qualify)."
In a few words, how would you sum up…yourself?
"I don't know."
We finally got the opportunity to interview Bill Furr, a frequent champion racer, in the hometown surroundings of his shop. Bill gave me than we expected, but that is typical of a proven and confident competitor. Gary Larsen and I agreed. Bill Furr is a…