Running the Patrick Racing Warrior

Pull the trigger on 150 horsepower

Patrick Racing Yamaha Warrior
We experience heart-pounding thrill aboard the Patrick Racing Warrior.Kevin Wing

This article was originally published in the December 2002 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser. Drag racing exists in a strange world where time both slows down and speeds up simultaneously. In a sport where winners are determined by thousandths of a second, it can take hours just getting to the starting line. In the days, weeks or months prior to an event, preparing a bike to the absolute limits of a class involves seemingly slow-motion progress, while days fly off the calendar like in black and white movies.

Motorcycle Cruiser Editor Jamie Elvidge and I have been fortunate enough to race cruisers in AMA/Prostar national events. We understand the buzz you get from the crowd in the stands. We also know the rush of launching a bone-stock cruiser down the strip when testing. The pulse races, and every trip down the track reveals a new adjustment in technique to pursue that elusive perfect run. Drag racing is loads of fun.

Although the bikes we raced in the national events were modified and significantly quicker than stock, they hadn't been gone over, rule book in hand, with the expressed intention of winning a class championship. So when Yamaha invited Motorcycle Cruiser to a press day aboard Patrick Racing's built-to-win Warrior, I crossed my fingers, hoping that Jamie would be too busy to attend. Plum opportunities like this don't crop up for freelancers very often.

Nigel Patrick
Nigel PatrickKevin Wing

Patrick Racing, the premier performance-cruiser-parts manufacturer, rolls its race-prepped Yamaha Warrior out from under the awning by the support vehicle. Sitting there, lowered, lengthened and hulking, the bike oozes power before it's even started. When the starter is thumbed, the bark exiting the open pipe only a couple of inches longer than the two headers it joins, fills the air of Southern California's Pomona Raceway. Mark Underwood, Patrick's professional rider, smokes the Mickey Thompson rear tire in the burnout box, does a dry hop or two, and moves towards the line. Underwood rolls the Warrior into staging. One light. The second staging light comes on. A moment with the Warrior's engine holding at around 3000 rpm. The three yellow lights flash, and 0.4 seconds later the green. Underwood and the Warrior leave the line sideways with the first 60 feet written in S-shaped black rubber down the strip. Things fall quiet in the journalist area.

Patrick Racing Yamaha Warrior
Even when the bike isn't running the Warrior oozes power.Kevin Wing

AMA/Prostar's Hot Rod Cruiser class has pretty straightforward rules. The bike must be one of a listed number of models. Maximum displacement is 1800cc. You can enlarge the bore, but must leave the stroke alone. Minimum weight is a porky (for a drag bike) 800 pounds with the rider aboard. A stock tank and bodywork are required but may be modified. Fenders must resemble stock items.

Although some family resemblance remains, the Patrick Racing Warrior could not be confused with a stocker. Maybe it's the fact that the fork has been lowered 4.5 inches. Perhaps it's the billet axle blocks that stretch the wheelbase an inch to the class limit of 68 inches. The chain final drive (which Patrick says is only to ease gearing selection) is a dead giveaway, as is the Mickey Thompson DOT (wink-wink, nod-nod) racing tire. This machine just begs you to come closer and look at the trick parts. That is until the engine starts. Loud is an understatement. Painful would be more accurate, particularly if you're standing behind the bike.

Patrick Racing Yamaha Warrior
Mark Underwood shows how we should approach each run on the Patrick Racing Warrior. He appears not to notice the nervous twitches exhibited by many of us.Kevin Wing

Underwood has given me my preflight briefing. My head is full of dos and don'ts as I ride to the burnout box: Don't set the launch rpm much higher than idle. Do feather the clutch. Don't stab the horn button; press and hold to shift.

As you might expect of a tuner who has a reputation for building killer V-twins, most of Nigel Patrick'*s attention has been lavished on the Yamaha's power plant. After initially taking delivery of the two Warriors he would be developing in January, Patrick took only three Prostar race weekends to set the National ET record of 9.86 seconds. Consider it to be the prudent application of tried and true modifications.

Patrick Racing Yamaha Warrior
The billet cover for the lockup clutch is plainly visible. The chain drive conversion was only utilized to ease gearing changes while dialing in the bike.Kevin Wing

Patrick bored the barrels to a massive 100mm, netting a 1775cc displacement with the required stock stroke. But nobody said the connecting rods had to stay stock, so this Warrior wears a pair of sexy Carrillo rods. A set of JE forged pistons manufactured to Patrick*s specs filled the holes. Patrick modified the OE heads to accept oversized stainless steel valves. A set of off-the-rack Patrick Racing valve springs carrying titanium retainers keep things snappy. Web Cams custom ground the bump sticks to Patrick's liking. The lifters and tapered aluminum pushrods also came straight from Patrick's aftermarket inventory.

Feeding those big, empty spaces are a pair of carburetors that Patrick declines to name any more specifically than to say that they're modified American-made downdraft items. He plans to return to the Yamaha injection system once the rest of the engine is dialed, saying that the carbs were only used to shorten the already brief development time. Although a modified stock ignition is currently used on one of the Warriors, a Dynojet box will soon reside in both chassis, raising the rev limit to 6200, among other nifty things. The final tally? A massive 150 hp. Again, Patrick, with a knowing smile, refused to be specific with the torque figures, stating that the engine makes "more than 150 foot-pounds."

Patrick Racing Yamaha Warrior
You can't see most of the modifications, but 150 hp and more than 150 foot-pounds of torque originate in this monster. Note the 80 pounds of steel bolted below the air dam to meet the 800-pound minimum weight.Kevin Wing

I decide to try two dry hops to get the feel for the Warrior's clutch and the super slippery track conditions. My first launch has the Mickey Thompson spinning before the clutch is fully engaged. Pulse racing, I pull in the lever. Again, I prepare to launch. With the engine almost idling and a measured throttle roll-on, I release the clutch.

The stock clutch utilizes a Patrick Racing/MTC lockup with a billet cover on OE clutch plates. Underwood tells me that the clutch is still set from the last Hot Rod Cruiser race. Apparently, the track was so sticky there, that he merely set his launch rpm and dropped the clutch for the green, a prescription for disaster at this venue. Amazingly, the dual 150 power figures are transferred to the Patrick chain drive via the original transmission. Do you think Yamaha overbuilt the cogs? Imagine what this brute would feel like hooking up off the line. Fortunately, shifting is simplified for the rider with an air shifter and ignition cut-out operated with the push of the horn button.

I place my heels on the rearset pegs, my toes balancing the bike as I inch forward. The pre-staging light announces my progress. I set my launch rpm at a conservative 2200, the engine not even revving enough to smooth out. I find the clutch engagement point, back out a hair, and nose the front tire into the staging beam. I focus on the three yellow lights, attempting to tune out my internal noise. Yellow means go; for all practical purposes. Despite my conservative twist of the throttle, the shift light flashes far too quickly for me to react. The Warrior briefly taps the limiter before I press the horn button.

Patrick Racing Yamaha Warrior
Three players: The clutch is used to get off the line. Crank the throttle wide open—it requires a loooong turn. Press the horn button when the pretty yellow light shines in your eyes.Kevin Wing

According to Patrick, the 60-foot times (an intermediate measurement made by the computer 60 feet from the starting line used just to see how well you leave the line) are where the Warrior is crushing its competition, and I believe it. Torque is the operative word, which is why Patrick is so coy with his dyno figures. The thought of launching this bike at a properly prepared strip with enough grip to allow the big Yamaha to leave the line with the front wheel in the air is both intriguing and terrifying. Every time a new journalist mounts the Patrick machine, conversations stop, and all eyes are upon the hapless rider.

Time flashes in a blink on the drag strip, but this bike intensifies the effect. Instead of the violent acceleration I expected, the Warrior smooths out and just goes. No sooner have I released the horn button than the shift light tells me to press it again. The chassis tracks straight, only giving a slight wiggle at one point on the strip. I know I've stopped breathing, and just as I reach the Zen state of man, machine and acceleration, where the world shrinks to my hand on the throttle and feet on the pegs. My chest merges into the tank and for an instant we are one slashing the timing lights....

Back to reality.

During my debriefing, I learn that my time was 11.809 seconds at 126.54 mph, fast enough to rank third among the journalists, yet missing first by 0.26 seconds (an eternity in drag racing). Like a newly minted junkie sniffing around for my next dose after the proverbial, "Sure kid, the first one's on me," I discover that Yamaha is developing a Speed Star performance kit for the Warrior. Priced somewhere around $5000, the kit will give Warrior owners over 100 hp at the rear wheel. Although this is good news for Warrior owners, I got more excited when I learned that Yamaha wanted to lure some journalists to another drag strip to sample the Speed Star package in a few months. Could be trouble...Jamie better be out of town.