Pearson Racing - Fast Engines from a Small Shop.
J. C. Tilton
We are investigating sports of a different sort this summer. Last week was Kart racing, this week we move to racing on 2 wheels. When you mention motorcycle racing in our area, the first thought is of moto-cross racing. But there is motorcycle racing of a different sort - quarter mile drag racing. Just like their counterparts on 4 wheels, these racers need to have tough sturdy engines to stand up to the punishment of high RPM's, high temperatures, and high torque. That is where Pearson Racing of West Alexandria steps in.
Owner John Pearson has had an interest in motorcycle racing since the age of 14. John's uncle raced drag bikes and he invited John to come along and help. John discovered that he liked the speed and power of drag racing and decided to pursue it. He had to have a day job, so he became a machinist and later did some work on cars. Learning the ins and outs of metal work as a machinist helped John on the track. He discovered that he could do his own work on his racing engine and make them perform. They performed well enough to give John about 20 National Records during his career and at one point he spent 3 years rated in the top 10 of the US.
Over the course of time folks asked John to do work on their engines. He eventually retired from racing, but kept on with the engine building. He started a formal shop around 1994 and the business has grown to a point where advertising is no longer needed. “We haven't advertised in 3 or 4 years, the word of mouth is enough to keep us busy”. The shop's specialty is crankshafts, he is one of 6 places in the US that does this type of work for drag bikes. They do other engine work of course, doing work on heads to increase air flow, boring out engines to take larger pistons, etc. Oh, and the work is not cheap. Just doing a crankshaft can cost a racer from $500 for basic work up to $2500 for a completely polished, balanced, high performance one with titanium connecting rods.
The customer base is the entire US with customers from England, New Zealand, and Australia using his parts. Most of his parts go into racing bikes, but some find their way into mini pulling tractors and mini sprints cars - anything that uses a motorcycle engine. The shop has one additional employee in addition to John, but the week I visited that person was on vacation. So John was putting some extra hours to keep up with demand. Why the high demand? John told me that a week ago a Kawasaki turbo-gas drag bike using his parts set a new speed record of 213mph! With results like that it is little wonder that customers find their way to his door. Comments: email: Chris Tilton