Dave Schultz The King of Pro Stock By Keith S. Kizer Photos by: Dave Kommel, Matt Polito, and unknown.
Stats by: Kevin McKenna
Born May 15, 1948 in Chattonooga, Tennessee, Dave Schultz was born with a competitive spirit. Even as a child, if he was racing down the hill on a bicycle he would make sure all of the bearings and chain were well oiled and if one kind of grease worked better than the other, that’s what he would use.
The bug to race came from his older brother, Ernie, who taught Dave at an early age the love of mechanics and the challenge of making things go as fast as they could go. Dave’s mother would not allow the boys to get involved with race cars but there was a dragstrip within earshot of their house. When Dave’s mom saw him sitting outside being entertained just by simply listening to the cars race, she decided to take him over and let him watch.
Although Dave started racing cars for fun in the early 70’s he switched to motorcycles in 1976 because he didn’t want his day job and hobby to be the same. Dave owned a very successful 10-bay automotive repair shop in Ft. Myers, Florida. Cars were for making a living and motorcycles were for spending it. Dave went Pro in 1985 and won his first NHRA championship in 1987 dethroning Terry Vance.
Dave Schultz beat every challenge he undertook. But on February 11, 2001 Dave lost his six-month battle with colon cancer and died at the age of 52. The sport of motorcycle drag racing had again lost another legend in a short span of five years starting with Elmer Trett in 1996, John Myers in 1998 and Dragbike.com founder Marty Kane in 2000.
In a quote pinned by Scott Rousseau, he wrote, Drag racing legend Terry Vance summed up Schultz, the man who took over from Vance as the dominant force in the sport, by saying, "He was the best guy who ever rode a Pro Stock motorcycle and I don't think anybody would argue with that. He was the most dedicated person to that sport that there has ever been. He was stout - he really was. I also thought that if anybody could beat this thing [cancer], it would be him. He was totally dedicated to his trade and it showed."
We know the beginning and we know the end, but it’s the life that Dave lived in the years between that makes him the legend that he was. In Dave’s early years of racing, fellow racers and other legends included Terry Vance, Bob Carpenter, Paul Gast, Elmer Trett and Bo O’Brocta. Meredith said Larry McBride was just a puppy then. Racing was not all the glitz and glamour of having a full time racing career and traveling the country in a semi. Like most racers of today, the Schultz’s used a motorhome and an enclosed trailer. Meredith said, “They didn’t make enclosed trailers for racing back then so we had one made out of fiberglass.” “We worked all day Friday, piled the kids and dogs into the motorhome, drove all night to get to the race, raced Saturday and Sunday, drove all night to get back home in time to go to work and get the kids to school for Monday.”
At the bottom of this story I’ve listed all of Dave’s accomplishments thanks to NHRA’s Kevin McKenna, but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about some of my own Dave Schultz memories and the impact that he made on the sport. Most fans remember Dave with his ultra slick and aerodynamic Hayabusa but Dave’s racing career started in what some would refer to as the Stone Age.
For those who either love or hate the 2-stroke Kawasaki H2’s that Prostar used to feature at selected events, that’s exactly what Dave was riding the first time I saw him at an IDBA event. This was back in the day when Paul Gast built bikes and engines for Dave.
The Schultz name will always be synonymous with the sport of motorcycle drag racing. A family rich in the history of our sport and a name that will not be forgotten. Meredith has remarried to Earl DeGlopper, former crew chief of Paul Gast. They now live in Ft. Myers, FL and where Earl runs a battery distribution brance for Safe Start in Ft. Myers. Dave’s bike which is on permanent display at the NHRA Museum in Pomona, California is currently part of an NHRA “Sixty Years of Thunder” exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles through May of 2011.
Other Areas of Interest
Spouse’s Name: Meredith
Children’s Names: Brian (deceased) and Kimberly
Occupation (at time of competition years): Auto mechanic, Auto Repair Shop owner, Auto Tech instructor, Failure analysis expert
Home track (at time of competition years): Bradenton FL
Team Names (at time of competition years): Blue By You, Eagle-One, Sunoco Race Fuels, National Car Rental
Crew Members (at time of competition years): Meredith, Kenny Willams, Jim Peterson, Greg Cope
Sponsors (at time of competition years): Fast by Gast...Eagle-One Car Care Products...Vance & Hines.., National Car Rental, Sunoco Race Fuels, Kendall, Dynatek, Cope Racing Engines, Ward Performance and Trac Dynamics.
What sanctioning bodies did nominee race with? NMRA, Dragbike!, IDBA, NHRA, and Prostar. Who are some of the officials that you remember? Captain Hook, Big Carl, Glenn Gero, Wayne Buckler,...those are off the top of my head Nominee’s interest outside of racing: Water Skiing, tennis, boating, fishing, racing radio-controlled cars, dirt bike riding, What was nominees first motorcycle?... A Triumph, (can't remember model)
Accomplishments: • Most successful Pro Stock Bike racer in history. 45 NHRA national event wins and six Winston championships, (1987-88, 1991, 1993-94, 1996). • In AMA/Prostar competition, Schultz earned two championships (1991, 1994) and 21 national event titles. • He also holds the record for most consecutive NHRA event wins in a row at 8 set in 1994. • In addition, Schultz recorded 7 IDBA championships and is the only racer to score motorcycle drag racing's "Triple Crown" - simultaneous championships in NHRA, AMA/Prostar and IDBA - which he accomplished in 1991 and 1994.
1985 won his first NHRA national event at the Winston Finals that year. In 1987, Schultz posted four wins and claimed his first national championship.
The sports biggest rival was Dave vs John Myers - between them they won every Pro Stock Bike championship from 1990 to 1996 - maintained a mutual respect. Together, they became the torchbearers for the class when Pro Stock Bike legend Terry Vance retired in 1988.
After finishing second to Myers in 1992, Schultz focused on regaining his crown in 1993, but his season nearly ended before it began. At the season opener at Houston Raceway Park, he was thrown from his bike at speed and slid more than 800 feet through the shutdown area. The accident left him with a broken right wrist. Bruised and battered, but undeterred, Schultz went on to win seven events and take his fourth NHRA title. He capped the year with a six-race win streak and a barrier-breaking 7.59, 181.85-mph run at the Keystone Nationals. It marked the first time that anyone ran in the 7.5s or over 180- mph in the Pro Stock Bike class.
In 1994 Dave won 9 of 11 NHRA races compiling an astounding 40-2 record in eliminations (the two losses were on red-light starts). During the season he passed Vance to become NHRA's all-time winningest two-wheel racer.
Dave's bikes were the first to feature an onboard computer, full fairing, lowered steering head, dual eight-inch brakes, vacuum pump, and air in the frame. His greatest technological achievement might have come in 1999 when he led a team of designers and engineers to produce a highly detailed and realistic replica of the popular Suzuki Hayabusa bodywork.
About the Author: Keith Kizer is one of the original founders of Prostar Motorcycle Drag Racing, former publisher of The Prostar Report and Motorcycle Street & Strip magazines. His brother is Terry Kizer of Mr. Turbo fame, who was himself a 9-time national champion in Pro Comp, Funnybike and Top Fuel. It is through this relationship that Keith (known as Scooter to his friends) came to know most of the subjects in the Legends series. Source: DragBike.com