Date published: June 1, 2012
After three years on the sidelines, championship-winning Pro Stock Motorcycle team owner and crew chief George Bryce has returned in a big way with a two-bike team, featuring rookie riders John Hall and Scotty Pollacheck. The new Star/Sovereign team is a partnership between Bryce and Hungarian sugarcane producer Jeno Rujp. Last season, Bryce made several overseas trips to help Rujp's Sovereign team claim the European Pro Stock Motorcycle title. This year, they have chosen to return to the U.S. in order to challenge for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series championship. After the first three events of the season, Bryce provided a quick update on the team's progress.
Q: How did this new Star/Sovereign venture come about?
A: During my three-year hiatus from NHRA racing, we were doing some ADRL races and some local races, and [European team owner] Jeno Rujp contacted me. He had brought his two riders, who were from Denmark, to our drag racing school, and we taught them how to race. Afterwards, he asked me to come over and work on his bikes. We won six of seven races last year and the European championship. Then, Jeno said he wanted to try something really difficult, which was to race in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle. He shipped two bikes and all the engines back over here, and we put this deal together three weeks before the [Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals presented by NAPAFilters.com].
Q: Tell us about your experience racing in Europe last season.
A: I'd always dreamed of racing over there. I'd heard about places, like Hockenheim and Santa Pod, but I never thought I'd get to run there. What impressed me most was the enthusiasm of the racers and the fans. They are absolutely passionate about what they're doing. They're willing to sacrifice everything to race, and we don't see that so much in this country. They absolutely do it for love, not for the money.
Q: Are you satisfied with the progress of the team so far?
A: I think it's been great. In Gainesville, we were just there. Our bikes were good and our drivers are talented, but we didn't do much of anything right. We only qualified by the grace of God. Then we had a five-week break, and we burned up all the time and money we could. When we got to Houston, it was much better. John and Scotty both made the best runs of their careers. We're definitely moving in the right direction.
Q: Give us a quick evaluation of John Hall.
A: John had never ridden a slick and wheelie-bar bike before he joined us. He's a Pro Street racer, which is a totally different animal. Although he didn't have experience, John is a winner. He used to ride for Orient Express and raced street bikes against Ricky Gadson, Ryan Schnitz, and Chip Ellis. He had a good racer's mentality, but he's learning that it takes a different kind of finesse to ride a Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Q: And a quick evaluation of Scotty Pollacheck.
A: Scotty's been at this 20 years; in fact, he was a student at our school 19 years ago. He is the right size to be a good Pro Stock Motorcycle racer. Scotty also has 15 little Wallys from NHRA divisional races, and if you can win 15 Wallys as a Sportsman racer, you're badass. He's calm, and he knows how to race. Scotty had made a lot of seven-second runs, and now he's adjusting to making six-second runs. These bikes are so fast that they demand respect, and that's something that both riders are learning. The good thing about both Scotty and John is that they are in their 40s, so we don't have any maturity issues. They're both going to do well.