To win a Nationals is the aspiration of many drag racers but to win two in a row is an elite feat not many will ever achieve.
But at just 23 years of age that is something Victorian rider Corey Scholes has already achieved aboard his turbocharged Kawasaki Comp Bike.
Scholes has been riding for longer than you would expect, having grown up with the Heathcote track in his backyard which had somewhat more liberal rules when it comes to young riders.
“We used to have a holiday farm in Heathcote in central Victoria. We were up there for Christmas in 2000, and were invited by some family friends to go out to the drag strip and have a look,” he said.
“My dad (Ron) used to race Street Bike, Competition Bike and Top Bike back in the mid 70s through to the early 80s.
“He started out on his road bike, and then eventually stepped up buying the bike built from the ex-Peter Allen twin engine Kawasaki. He ran it on nitro in Comp for a while before switching to a nitrous-oxide system. He sold that bike to build and race his turbocharged GS750, which Marlene Bailey also rode.
“When he updated the bike to Top Bike spec, he had a disagreement with Calder Park management, sold everything off and vowed not to step into the place again, which is a vow he kept.”
Scholes recalled getting a ride for the first time.
“Back to 2000, Dad had decided to get back into racing as a social thing,” he said.
“We went to a fair few trophy days at Heathcote. One day, I was up in the tower grabbing a time card and Dad was chatting to Russell Clarke (track owner). Now, those who have seen me know I am a rather large framed lad, and it was no different nine years ago. Russell made a comment about giving me a shot on the bike to Dad. So I did.
“To say I was nervous would be an understatement. While I had been riding since I could walk, I hadn’t ridden anything more powerful than my DT200. I somehow managed to get Dad’s leathers on and took to the track posting a 23.7 @ 64mph, on a bike that had been running 11.40s all day.
“Russell then came up to Dad and asked why I went so slow, so Dad started by saying it was what he had told me to do, and that I was only 14. Russell’s jaw hit the floor. He thought I was a few years older.”
While young, Scholes said he always had equipment exceeding ANDRA’s minimum safety standards and was on solo passes until officials said he could move on to paired racing.
Scholes started racing on a Kawasaki GPZ 550 but it turned out to be unreliable and soon he was on his father’s Suzuki 1200 Bandit.
“I raced the Bandit in this trim for a while, before stumbling across a set of carbs, which we fitted to the bike. The carbies jumped me into the tens, with my PB being 10.87 @ 117mph,” he said.
“Then for my 15th birthday, I got what every 15 year old boy wants, a set of shiny new Wiseco 1216cc high comp pistons, cylinder head porting, .380 lift Yoshimura cams and the man, Ronnie “Balls” Solomon (RIP) offering to wave his magic wand over the assembly.
“The result was a PB of 9.99 @ 131mph, and a bike/rider combination that has proven hard to beat in the eight years since. During 2002-2003, we won or runner upped at every event at Heathcote bar two, which basically paid for the bike.”
From there Scholes moved on to ex-Godeassi family Modified Bike, riding to a best of 9.28 @ 144mph.
But it is his current ride, supported by Car Guys Garage / Shearer Brother Race Cars, Cryogen Industries, Hi-Torque Cylinder Heads, United Tools Coburg / E & I Supplies, Ballistic Drag Racing, Speed Cycle and Hendrys Custom Floors, that has seen him get his main headlines. It is an old US built Martin chassis previously owned by Allan Gedye (brother of Mark). He bought the bike many years ago with the intention of running in Top Bike, but never finished it, Scholes said.
“We bought the bike or rather parts off him in mid 2004. We had the equipment we needed to build the bike, but didn’t know how to use it,” he said.
“With Mark Shearer’s help we finished the rolling chassis by the end of 2005 including the bodywork which we made from scratch. A few of my mates and I then went about wiring and plumbing the bike, while I was also building the engine.
“We had the bike running mid 2006 and ran 8.57 @ 158mph in the original configuration, which was built for CC/CB. We then had a catastrophic engine failure which saw us move to the current engine configuration.”
Scholes looked at his turbo efficiency and decided to move to a 1260cc combo.
“It was during the early part of development with this combination we worked out that all our prior problems were a flow issue,” he said.
“We built a rudimentary fuel flow bench and optimised our fuel flow which saw the combo drop into the 8.6 second region quite consistently, and more importantly reliably.
“Plus, being at the lower capacity, we moved to DD/CB, which also saw us well under the index. It was a turning point for us.
“Being an old school draw-through carby deal made everything difficult. It would have been a bunch easier and cheaper to have run EFI, but we didn’t want to race DYO. So we built the bike for the class, and have developed it specifically for that class.
“It’s home grown and developed. That is what I am most proud of. I started building the bike at 17, and really have never stopped building it. A couple of kids from the northern suburbs of Melbourne designed and built one of the most competitive bikes in Australian drag racing, using a combination many people have said wouldn’t work.”
Scholes has dreams to eventually move into Top Bike and also to get his brother Jack into riding.
“I want to continue to race with the turbo bike until we are satisfied we have reached its potential,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to getting the Bandit out to some events this season with my brother Jack in the saddle. He has been racing for a while, but can get his ANDRA licence in February. He has pipped some well known competitors at reasonable events here and has even won a couple of them.
“If we broke it up into short and long term ambitions, I suppose my short term ambition is to run a 7. Our previous combination would have run into the 7s with some fine tuning, but that was cut short by the turbo eating itself. The new combination should see us go there relatively easily. To put this into perspective, we should be able to run up to 1.2 seconds under the current index, which is 8.95.
“The ultimate ambition is to race Top Bike with a nitro four cylinder combination, but that is a fair ways off yet, so we’ll stick to concentrating on doing the best we can with what we have.
“Because I’m a uni student with a part time job, money is a limiting factor. We have to go interstate to race. We have been to four race meetings in the past two years because of this. We won three of the meetings, but the prize money available doesn’t cover entry and fuel, let alone accommodation, food and parts.”
The two stand out victories for Scholes were his ANDRA Nationals wins in Sydney in September this year and 2009.
While 2009 was special as his first gold Christmas tree, it was also Scholes’s most controversial win.
“2009 was strange. We had played the meeting almost flawlessly. Qualified where we wanted to qualify, gone as quick as we wanted to go and had made it to the final, where it was ours to lose, which we managed to do quite comfortably. We burned a clutch pack out before 60 feet and had lost as far as I was concerned,” he said.
“Five minutes later, a re-run was called as we had the win light and a 6.609 ET, which was quite obviously wrong. They gave us 15 minutes to refuel.
“We towed back, nearly had a brawl with some Super Sedan racers and somehow managed to get a new clutch in the bike and back to the line within the 15 minutes.
“I had a brief discussion with Blair (Pennington), of which the details will remain between us, and raced.
“As soon as I’d got to 60 feet and the clutch was locked up, I knew we had won. James (Hendry) who has crewed with me since 2005 came down to pick me up with the scooter and said “I hope you can fight”.
“We towed behind the startline and were faced by a mob of angry racers. I calmly parked the bike, asked Glen, another crew member, to hold the bike while I went up to face this group. Considering the things that they yelled at us while towing back, I would have thought that having a face to face conversation with me was their ambition, but as I approached, they backed down. It made me feel ashamed to be called a “sportsman” racer in the same way these people where.
“So the first Nationals gold tree, which we have since named Con (Controversial), was a strange feeling. I suppose I still feel like it is Blair’s win and not ours, even though we did officially win the event and reset both ends of the record with perhaps one of the best runs of the past few seasons in Comp Bike. (.89 under the index and 10mph over the speed record).”
Thankfully for Scholes 2010 was less dramatic.
“The back to back tree was, in one word, special,” he said.
“We hadn’t sorted the new combination out prior to the meeting and hadn’t run a representative time since the 8.11 in the final the year before. Somehow we managed to string it together and raced exactly to plan. We nicknamed this tree Bucket, as the bike was running like a bucket of shit all weekend.”
Not having a track in Victoria has made much of this difficult for Scholes and of all the places he would like to race, a purpose built ANDRA championship facility in his own state is at the top of the list.
“Most drag racers would say in the USA, but as a Victorian that has started racing in the last nine years, I would like to race at the first Nationals back home, in Victoria, at a purpose built facility,” he said.
“Being able to have my mates on the hill cheering me on at the Nationals in my home state would be as fulfilling a dream as possible.”