This is the second of a 5 part video I shot for Tombo Racing. In this video Tommy Bolton explains engine teardown procedures. I shot this video with multiple cameras, external audio, and on-set lighting, then edited the video in Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects.
Yesterday we saw Adrian Lottie with his Pro Comp drag racing motorcycle. Today I have a picture of Glen Nickleberry’s Funnybike drag racing motorcycle. This bike has run in the 6.7 range at 218 mph in the quarter mile at the drag strip and has won numerous drag racing championships. I have photographed Nick several times in the past on this motorcycle. Today I was at the Tombo Racing shop and saw the bike there undergoing the normal between races tuneup and overhaul. For this shot I used my Toyo VX-125 and swung the front standard so that I could keep the entire length of the motorcycle in focus even when using a fairly wide open aperture.
Adrian Lottie likes to ride motorcycles. FAST motorcycles. As in 6.9 seconds, 200+mph in the quarter mile fast motorcycles.
This is a portrait of Adrian with his “Predator” Pro Comp drag racing motorcycle built by Tombo Racing. This bike as a 10″ rear slick, a wheelie bar, and is wicked fast. I see Kermit at Tommy Bolton’s race shop on a regular basis, where he works with Tommy to build this rocket ship of a motorcycle. I shot this with my Toyo VX-125 using a Rodenstock 150mm F5.6 lens on Ilford HP5 film.
I wrote this story for Ride Oklahoma Magazine in January 2009.
Tommy Bolton, championship drag racer, race winning engine tuner, and hot-rod Hayabusa builder, recently ran across a 2006 Yamaha Stratoliner that was in need of some tender loving care. On a recent trip to Houston, Tommy spotted the shell of the Yamaha’s big v-twin cruiser that had suffered the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
After close inspection of the engine to ensure it was free from water damage, Tommy offered the owner the miserly sum of $400, expecting to be turned down without comment. Surprisingly the owner accepted Tommy’s offer. Shortly thereafter the battered Yamaha was loaded in the back of Tommy’s pickup, heading north to Oklahoma City and a complete “Tombo Touch” rebuild.
What is the “Tombo Touch”? While normally used to turn the latest high performance 4-cylinder sport bikes into tire shredding, arm stretching, fire breathing machines of polished chrome and glistening paint, this time it was used to breath fire and sparkle into Yamaha’s big 1854cc (113 cubic inch) V-Twin bruiser.
The first step was to completely disassemble the bike and have the frame, front forks and wheels powder coated black by the wizards at Coat Pro. This provides a longer lasting and more durable finish than a painted frame. While the bike was apart, Tommy sent the frame to Steve Moyer, who straightened the frame and lowered the front and rear end 1.5” to give the bike it’s mean, low, aggressive stance.
While the bike was apart, Tommy sent the seat to Eli at Easy Trim for a custom alligator covering. “I caught the alligator by hand, wrestled him to the ground, and pealed the skin right off him so we could use for this seat” jokes Tommy. “Stay tuned for pictures!” Tommy also wrestled his friends at R&B cycles for a set of Harley Davidson beach bars low profile tires, which enhanced the low profile look he was after.
Of course, any Tombo Touch bike would not be complete with Tommy working his magic on the engine. Tommy used his experience of building six second/250 mph drag bikes to tweak extra performance out of the big Yamaha motor. A set of Patrick Racing cams improved engine airflow, adding power to the top end and increasing torque. A set of straight Cobra exhaust pipes give the bike a deep, throaty rumble.
To add the finishing touch to Tommy’s metric screamer, he called Tim Rains at 2Brothers Painting to apply the custom paint job. “Tommy first suggested a two tone job, but I felt this bike would be look better with flames” said Tim. Tommy agreed and told Tim “Do your thing!” Tim chose PPG paint with a base coat of black. He then applied the flames and added a PPG clear coat. “The clear coat is crucial, since it protects the base coat and makes the paint more durable” explains Tim.
After 3 months the end result is a low slung, pavement wrinkling Yamaha Stratoliner returned to life from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina by a master bike builder. Punching the starter button on the big Yamaha immediately brings to life a deep, powerful rumble. Unlike some V-twin’s that are all noise and no power, you know this lump of steel has plenty of ponies under the hood. Flicking the bike into first gear and dropping the clutch will easily light up the rear tire as the ample torque makes it easy to burn off some expensive rubber. As with any Tombo Touch bike, you know it is not only going to look great, but have some serious power under the tank. Yet unlike a full on drag race bike, Tommy’s street legal creations are easy to live with and maintain. You get high performance along with “ street-ability”. “I like to make great looking bikes that go fast, but I want to keep the bike reliable so the owner can enjoy riding the bike and not working on it” explains Tommy.
In our opinion he was successful on both counts. This bike not only looks great, but it goes very, very fast! Tommy Bolton, with the help of the local Oklahoma motorcycling community, resurrected this broken beauty from the scrap piles of Hurricane Katrina to cruise the mean streets of Oklahoma in style.
Tommy Bolton with Tombo Racing started out as a customer but has turned into a very good friend over the past couple of years. He is one of the funniest guys I know and will do anything for his friends. We did a story about him for Ride Oklahoma Magazine about a year ago. The story was about two good friends who used Tommy to help build their drag racing bikes, and who competed against each other on a regular basis.
I have photographed at Thunder Valley Raceway several times and it just has a wonderful sunset, right down the track in the summer. The people there know Tommy well since he is a major figure in the local and national drag race scene, so I can get create access to the track for photos. For the shot above I placed a Nikon SB-900 at the starting line to fill in the shadows of Tim Howard as he launched his bike from the starting line. I shot with a wide angle lens very close to his rear wheel. The noise from here is deafining so earplugs are a must. I used a pocket wizard to trigger the lights. I have learned to watch the start tree and trigger my shot when the light turns green. If I wait to fire when I see the bike move it is too late, they are gone.
While waiting between rounds this really powerful Mercedes came up for a run. I quickly threw a couple of lights on it during the burnout. I used two SB-900’s to light up the smoke from his burnout. Unfortunately I didn’t get to photograph him starting down the track since he blew a rear tire in the burnout. I picture really shows the potential of these supposedly luxury cars!