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Vance & Hines offers up drag-racing secrets

A visit to the Vance & Hines design, engineering, and manufacturing facilities near Indianapolis Motor Speedway provides a look at a record-setting championship motorcycle drag-racing team.

NHRA drag-racing first-place trophies line the lobby of the Vance and Hines research and development center in Indianapolis. John Scott Lewinski/CNET

INDIANAPOLIS--At first glance, the Vance & Hines facility outside Indianapolis wouldn't seem to offer much of interest to anyone. And that would be precisely the case, unless you're interested in motorcycles, speed, drag racing, burning rubber, loud engines, championship trophies, world records, and elite precision engineering.

Two expansive, blandly adorned warehouses hide off a side road beside several acres of corn stalks. But the engineers and mechanics working inside Vance & Hines produce some of the fastest two-wheeled vehicles in the world.

Competing in National Hot Rod Association motorcycle competitions, the 2.6-liter, 385-horsepower Vance and Hines/Screamin' Eagle team motorcycles were the first racers to break the seven-second mark on the quarter mile, with a 6.99.

According to Vance & Hines racer Eddie Krawiec, the next Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson racing goal is to break the 200 mph mark: "I'd love to be the guy who does it, but every racer on the circuit wants the same thing."

While Vance & Hines racing mechanics work on their racing team's motorcycles and engines, they also engineer parts and equipment for Buell and Suzuki. Krawiec said they're happy to do the work for competitors, but there can be awkward moments.

"There's always a moment when you have to hand over your work--an engine or a component--to the client, and... you're wondering if you're handing them they edge they'll need to beat you."