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November 18, 2015

Andrew Hines

THE MODERATOR: We will go ahead and get started with today's teleconference. Thank you all for joining us. The 2015 NHRA season came to a close over the weekend in Pamona, California. And we had crowned Antron Brown in Top Fuel and Erica Enders in Pro Stock at the second to last race in Las Vegas. And this weekend we crowned two very deserving champions that will be joining us today, Andrew Hines and Del Worsham; both of the drivers will be on the call. If you would like to ask a question of the drivers, please hit star 1 on your key pad. Going to start off our call with Andrew Hines, rider of the Screaming Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley Davidson. Andrew, as always, thank you for joining us.
ANDREW HINES: No problem, Scott. Easy enough, love doing it, especially when it involves winning the championship.
THE MODERATOR: Exactly, exactly. This is the fifth championship for Hines, 2004, 2005, 2006, and last year. He is the youngest driver in NHRA history to win 5 World Championship titles, and during the season he increased his career win total to 42, passing Angelle Sampey on the Pro Stock motorcycle all-time win list, and moving into second behind Dave Schultz.
He clinched the championship on the second round of the season finale race at Pamona, where his closest challenger, Jerry Savoie lost in round two. Andrew, when you came to the media center on Sunday night, you were still looking like you were trying to process everything and really put it all together. Have you had a chance to reflect on everything that took place on Sunday yet?
ANDREW HINES: A little bit. Just hanging out with the crew and having a good time celebrating what had happened there on Sunday, you know? Took a lot of work to get to that point, and it's a lot of pressure in that situation, especially with the way Jerry had been putting up such fierce competition, so it was taking a toll on all of us, for sure, and like you said, I was still trying to process what had happened. It happened so quick there in the second round, when Eddie raced him, that it really threw me for a loop. I was sitting in the burn-out box and watching my teammate hopefully driving away to a win, and, you know I couldn't see the reactions from a lot of the crew guys, initially, and it just kind of caught me off guard.
But it was an interesting way to have the season end. Jerry was running real strong qualifying No. 1 at the last three races, and the momentum he had was tremendous, and we were able to take a Harley Davidson and make it consistent and keep my riding in check, where I was getting good reaction teams and helping the team get those round wins whenever I could.

Q. You talked about being in the burn-out box and obviously the races are -- you have your routine each time you go out. How shocking was that? I saw your crew come up and start hugging you and congratulating you, but how hard was that -- A, how cool was that but? B, how hard was that to refocus because you had to go up against Arana, Junior?
ANDREW HINES: That was a crazy scenario with how Jerry spun the tire real hard and then Eddie went down the track. The really stressful parts about that was I was sitting directly behind Eddie, and he was going down the track, and even he will admit it, that was probably one of the runs of his career. He was over by the center line, and I was just saying, don't hit a cone, don't give it back to them right then and there, and finally after the win light turned on, my entire crew ran back tome, and we are hootin' and hollerin' and jumping up and down, and it was a surreal feeling.
I hadn't had a championship end that way, with -- I was still competitive, going rounds, had a chance to win that round and had my teammate take somebody out for me, so that was huge, and the pressure was off instantly right then and there, and I felt great about my chances for that next round with Hector, Junior in the other lane, and I knew I had a strong Harley Davidson around me all day.
I have had issues in the past, lost a couple of championships, by going out early and red lighting on Sunday there in Pamona, with having the same points lead I had this weekend against Jerry.
I had been in that position before, and luckily this year I learned from mistakes I made in the past and figured out how to focus my energy and my thoughts into where I needed to go and that paid huge dividends. I was able to take those situations and use that, and I had a killer string of reaction times in Vegas and Pamona, and I kind of thrived on the pressure this year. I don't know, I used it to my advantage, I guess, and used the experience that I had in those situations and pushed through it. As soon as the championship was locked up and we got done celebrating there in the burn-out box, I just -- as soon as the bike fired up, I just went right back in my racing mind frame and just kinda worked out from there.
I went up there, did my normal job again and had a 27 reaction time and got the win light, so it was a great way to cap off getting the championship by getting the win light there at the end of the track. It would have been a little bittersweet had I lost that specific round. I was ready to go to the semifinal and race Jerry if need be.

Q. Congratulations, Andrew. I was looking at your history. Talk about starting out as a young guy and having a lot of success and having a drought period and now you're back on the hot streak. Talk about coming in and growing up and having a little bit of a tough time and then getting on fire again.
ANDREW HINES: Thanks, Dwight. Beginning of my career I came in really as a true, true rookie. My first year in 2002 I really hadn't ridden -- I think I made eight full runs on a Pro Stock motorcycle before I we want to Denver my first season. I ran that half a year there in 2002 on the Suzuki, and Harley decided they wanted a two-bike team in 2003, so I was still in the learning phases of that -- our new V twins that we were debuting at the time, so there were growing pains there in 2003, and we had a respectable season, finishing seventh, and after that it was like a landslide, you know?
We had three championships come in a row, real easy. I shouldn't say really easy, really quick. Won some good races there through those years and just had consistency back then, too, and I look back on it now and there's a lot of stuff that I was doing wrong back then, not focusing on the tree, focusing on who I was racing in the other lane and doing things like that, giving away rounds on red lights. We had a few mishaps with engines races back then, obviously with growing pains.
So those three championships, I was young, and I still say I was naive back then, because I didn't really know any better. I won a championship, won a second one, won a third one and was like, hey, what's going on here? This is happening really fast! '07 the first year of the count-down format, we had the two cuts in the playoffs there, and I entered the second cut going into Las Vegas as the number one seed and went to Las Vegas and won that event, and I thought I was looking pretty good, again. I had about a 40-point lead when I got to Pamona, and I lost my focus, and I threw that race way on a red light; I believe it was second round.
I will never forget that. I turned the throttle and rolled backwards out of the beams. It wasn't because I let the clutch go early, it was because I wasn't doing any proper procedures on the starting line, and I backed out of the stage lane. That was tough, and ultimately that cost me a championship, because had I gone probably one more round, I might have been able it take out the guy that won the race. Matt Smith won it that year, and then -- I just got in a funk after that. I was still able to win races but, man, at the end of the year I would start getting that pressure on me, and I would crumble here and there, and I did the same thing in 2010.
Elliot and I were battling for a championship, going to almost every final together in the count down and same thing in Pamona, I messed up and had another red light, so I didn't learn from my past experience on that one, but this year I brought the mentality back -- I did the same thing last year, brought the mentality back that I've got to forget about what people can say or people want to think. I've got to go out there and prove I can win rounds, and that's going to ultimately lead to winning races, and hopefully championships.
So the pressure from those situations, I learned from that and converted that into a positive focus for me and it worked out great last year and this year, and I was able to push through those hard situations and figure out how to get my team at getting another Wally on Sunday.
They've done a great job giving me a motorcycle that's consistent enough, at least I could do is do a good enough job leaving the starting line and do that stuff.

Q. Andrew, in the early part of the season, Jerry wasn't running so well, but then figured out that Vance & Hines Suzuki engine, come late in the season were you guys questioning giving guns to your assassin?
ANDREW HINES: We've given these people these engines for so many years and it's -- they kinda get a glimmer of positive performance every now and then, and some people they can't hold on to it. They can get it back and kinda bounce in and out of the window but, man, as soon as they got Jerry's motorcycle in the window this year, I was like, oh my gosh, what does he have? That thing is really fast and they're making killer consistent laps and Jerry was riding good. It was -- by no means are we going to get an engine back from somebody and detune it; that's not what we're going to do. Those guys have paid for that horsepower. So we're going to do everything we can to make our program better to try and overcome what they have found.
It's tough, you know, they put a great program together, and Tim's got a dyno at his shop so he can take the engines he gets from us and go do some experimenting and some tuning on it with his fuel injection system at their shop, so that's one place they have excelled, and they have taken our Vance & Hines fuel injection system and adapted it to their needs, you know, changed a few things and really worked with Motek to get this thing refined, and they've done an outstanding job. It's going to be tough. We have a long winter ahead us, but we know what we give those customers every time.
My Harley dynocell that I'm blasting on weekly is sitting right next to our Suzuki dynocell, and we got two guys that run it Josh and Blake, and we're making back-to-back dyno pulls and comparing numbers all the time, and it's like man, these people are getting good pieces.

Q. It's got to be gratifying to know that you've provided such power for the other teams, and yet you were able to rise above it and win the championship. Congratulations.
ANDREW HINES: Yeah, thank you. It's nice that they could take that power and use it, put it to the ground and make it charge that hard. It's nice to see from advance and my aspect that they're out there turning heads and going fast and making -- made the quickest run of the year on our Vance 94 cylinder, so it's a great deal, and like you said, it was gratifying to overcome that. Those guys were running so strong that either one of us was going to have to dig to get that championship.

Q. Andrew, if you take a step back, what's the rest of this career look like for you? Do you have other things you would like to try? Is there something else you would like to experiment with? I know you're invested in the division but is there anything else you would like to do?
ANDREW HINES: Right now I'm focusing on Vance & Hines and Harley Davidson with our V twin program in our shop, so with Matt, Eddie and myself, we run the day-to-day operations at our Vance & Hines race shop, so we have 20 employees underneath us that work at our shop to make sure we provide good parts, not just for our drag racing program but for all our cylinder head services, and everything we do for a bunch of different types of motorcycle organizations around the country.
Right now I'm loving what I do, I grew up around motorcycle drag racing and always a fan of drag racing in general. If the opportunity ever came forward and somebody wanted me to drive something with four wheels, I definitely would not pass it up. I had toyed with the idea a few years back of driving a Pro Stock car and couldn't really make that materialize in a decent time frame and kinda ran out of time there when the off-season was over.
I don't know. It's something I've always wanted to pursue. Not a lot of people know, but I hadn't really intended to riding a motorcycle, we were going to go down the Pro Stock truck route years ago, and we were really, really close and unfortunately, that class was cancelled.
So back to motorcycles, because we had a bunch of parts laying around the shop. So like I said, I have the passion for four wheels, just gotta find the right opportunity, I guess.

Q. What specifically do you do at the shop? Your expertise?
ANDREW HINES: I'm the director of engineering, so my team handles all our CAD design, straight through the manufacturing process, new cylinder head, porting stuff straight out of billet (ph). We do all our own stuff there for our Harley Davidsons at our shop, and Vance & Hines crank shafts that we use on our four-cylinder bikes. I got one engineer working on some stuff for Harley Davidson right now, and it's kind of our push, you know. I was kind of the lead designer on a lot of our race products here the last five years, so luckily I have a guy that's working for me now that's really good, and he can help when I'm out of the shop racing.

Q. Andrew, Jerry came very close to, I guess, the magic 200-mile-an-hour barrier this year. Is there a race within the division to see who gets that first?
ANDREW HINES: Oh, absolutely. Everybody is chomping at the bit to try and get that speed mark. Hector, Junior, really close there in Charlotte at the beginning of the year, went 199.88, and last year in Englishtown I went 199.23, so we got a handful of people knocking on that door, and I know it's going to be the last major milestone, in not just Pro Stock motorcycle racing but NHRA drag racing. That's one of the doors that you can't kick open year after year. That's a number that's going to stand, and people are going to remember who ran the first 200. So it's on the radar, and we've just got to have the right conditions; that's the big thing.
We've got to have the low sea level track and probably a tail wind to help push us there, and it could be up for grabs here at the first race in Gainesville next year, so we're already hard at work. I got things coming in weekly for our Harley Davidson program to try and achieve that, so we will be out testing this winter, and who knows you might see a couple of those pop up in preseason.

Q. How important would that be to the manufacturers now that you have a solid list of different manufacturers? How important would that be to Harley?
ANDREW HINES: Oh, that would be huge. We got the first six-second run for them back in 2005, and they promoted the heck out of that, and that was a very special deal, so if we could cap that off, and have one of our Harley's pull of a 200, they would have a few of the biggest milestones in recent Pro Stock Motorcycle history. So that would be outstanding and believe me, we're going to fight tooth and nail to try and get there. Our guys are going to work a lot of hours. They're willing to put forth the effort, and we're going to try and do the best we can for them and the USA manufacturer, Harley Davidson.

Q. I see you're only three victories behind Dave Schultz. I don't know how much you knew about him, but what would it mean to get that -- be the youngest guy to win five championships, 45 wins and those championships?
ANDREW HINES: It's a crazy stat. When I grew up around this sport, I had no idea I would ever be in this position, obviously. I remember Dave well. I was a young kid but I consider myself a friend of his. He was part of the Vance & Hines team back in 1991, riding the Eagle 1 bike, back way -- the Eagle 1 Kawasaki his bike was based out of our shop in California, and going to the races as a young kid with my dad and my brother, I grew up around Dave Schultz and John Myers; they were like uncles, basically, running around, playing with them. I could walk into trailer anytime I wanted to and just talk and they -- they would probably say there is that punk Andrew, but, it was good, and it's nice to be associated in that level.
Dave and John, they owned those early '90s, and luckily we have been able to hold our own, here and slowly pick away at those numbers, but, unfortunately, we lost both those guys too early, and I'm sure they would have continued in their winning ways. So it was a tough deal when all that happened and it's stats that are -- they're frozen in time because of the way things ended.

Q. Have you been reached out to by someone that you would not normally expect to reach out to you for the job that you've done this year?
ANDREW HINES: That's a good question. I have had so many emails and text messages and calls, it's been absolutely crazy. The entire inner circle of NHRA, you know, it's nice to walk around, and everybody takes note of what happens. It was pretty drama-filled there at the last race with Del and Jack Beckman, and me and Jerry, with both of us winding up on the same side of the ladder, and same thing with Del and Jack. There is the potential to be huge ramifications in specific rounds. So everybody took notice.
I haven't had a whole lot of people outside of the NHRA community reach out, but that -- that usually happens around PR time when we are looking for new avenues and new sponsors and things, so we will see what happens but it's been a heck of a wild ride. Everybody has shared their congratulations, and every time I hear it I can't believe it. It's astounding what my team has been able to do over the last decade, and I'm glad to be part of it.

Q. Inside your team, someone we don't normally hear about, was there a single person out there like that that was very critical to your accomplishments this year?
ANDREW HINES: Other than my brother Matt, the crew chief, who made some crucial decisions there in the middle of the season to help get our performance back on track with our fuel injection, my right hand guy, Mike, Mike Mullaney, he's a new guy last year, so we spoiled him by getting him a championship last year and spoiled him again by getting him another championship this year. He's made sure that the motorcycle has been flawless. He's in charge of both motorcycles back at the shop, getting them prepped and prepared, fixing anything that's broken, rewiring things, and getting it ready to go to the next race, and it allows me to focus on my job of engineering at the shop.
I'm not as hands-on on the motorcycle as much as I used to be at the shop, and he's made sure that that void has been filled. And I never once had an issue with the bike where it didn't start or we had to push it off the starting line or had a shifting problem. He made sure it went down the track and it was good, and when you can rely on your guys that much, to put it in their hands, and they can give you a perfect piece of equipment, I've really, really appreciated that, and he's a young kid, came out of the motorcycle technical schools.
He went to MMI down in Florida, so he has that on-hands knowledge of working on motorcycles and making sure everything is right, because he was working at dealerships and he was giving bikes back to people who are going to go ride on the street, so you gotta make sure that stuff is perfect, so they don't have issues, and he's brought that mentality to our shop, and I really appreciate what he's done. You don't find people like that very often that you can depend on, and they fit in so well with the team that's already been established for a decade or more, and he's come in and worked out perfectly, and I appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Del, have you joined us?
THE MODERATOR: Andrew, thank you very much throughout the entire course of the year for joining us. Congratulations on your championship. Enjoy what little off-season we truly have, and we will see you guys when we -- your portion of the season kicks off in Gainesville in March.
ANDREW HINES: Thank you, Scott. Del congratulations on your Funny Car championship; it's pretty cool. And like I told you the other night, it was pretty awesome, one of my first memories of going to get an autograph at a race was going to get Del's Worsham's autograph back in the pit area, so special deal.
DEL WORSHAM: Awesome, thank you, you, too, Andrew.

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