Gainesville, pre-race: Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Sr. made his Pro Stock Motorcycle debut at Indianapolis nearly 22 years ago. But despite competing in 209 races as a pro, Arana’s heart still races when the season-opener is looming.
“Oh, definitely,” Arana said as his team prepares for this weekend’s 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville.
“I get butterflies, I get nervous, all those good things. Just to hear that and talk about it, my heart rate goes up and puts a big smile on my face.”
Arana also feels pride when he thinks about Gainesville, where he set the Pro Stock Motorcycle national elapsed-time record of 6.777 seconds last year, a mark that still stands.
“You know, I never really thought about it,” Arana said of keeping it for a year. “It did hold for a whole year, and that’s a helluva accomplishment. It’ll be nice if we can still hold the record after Gainesville.”
Gainesville is usually a track that is very fast, and Arana knows there are plenty of threats for his record. Notably, his son Hector Jr. could take his record away.
“Hector’s been running strong,” Arana said. “I believe he might reset the record – if I don’t do it first. But you’ve still got the other bikes there that are contenders, and they are capable of setting those records.
I know they’ve all been working hard but so have we. We’re trying to do the best we can, and hopefully, we found something for Gainesville.”
The off-season has been busy for Arana and his team, which also includes son Adam, but the last few weeks have been especially hectic. Getting engines ready for 2012 has proven to be a Herculean task as suppliers have only recently been able to deliver parts.
“We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us,” Arana said.
But Arana knows that’s part of the business, and he smiles when he thinks about it.
“I said, ‘One of these days, I’m going to be way ahead,’” Arana said. “I thought this year I was going to have plenty of time, but we’ve waited for parts, and that’s the holdup. They just started showing up, and we’re assembling the engines. We have two assembled, and we’re working on the other two.
“But I am looking forward to being done way ahead of schedule one of these years so I can relax. Not now… now it’s time to race.”