Road warrior Dorn wins Nitro Harley championship
Nitro Jam Media
Aug 30, 2011
Nobody piled up the miles this season more than Steve Dorn.
Based in the great northwestern city of Milwaukie, Ore., Dorn set out on the road on January 15 in the dead of winter and his bike didn’t return home until the late stages of summer in late August. That is seven months on the road and thousands of miles logged all with one goal in mind – win a Nitro Jam championship.
So when Dorn finally made it to U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in mid-August for the final stop on the tour and held that championship Ironman in his hand for the first time, the Oregon native will admit that there was simply no greater feeling in the world.
And that is truly something coming from a man that spends his weekends barreling down a racetrack at over 220 mph on only two wheels, sometimes one.
“It was a great year with the IHRA. This is a huge win for us, especially when you go against and beat a guy like Jay Turner,” Dorn said. “My truck and equipment have not been home since January, which is a bit of a disadvantage for us because we don’t get to work on the bike except for what we can do at the track, but it just made this win even more special.
“We don’t have 8 or 12 bikes like others, but we held our own with the best all season and came out on top.”
Dorn’s incredible run to the 2011 Nitro Harley championship actually began late last year when he found out that the IHRA would be bringing the fan-favorite bike class back for the 2011 season. As soon as Dorn got word, he began preparing his bike for a run at the championship knowing even then that it would eventually come down to himself and Jay Turner.
“It has been me and Jay everywhere the past few years,” Dorn said. “Every time I have to run Jay it is like a championship in itself. He is one of the best out there and a good friend and it couldn’t have worked out any better getting a chance to race against him again with it all on the line.”
With his bike ready to go a few months before most racers even thought about racing, Dorn’s team made the over 3,000 mile trek from Oregon to sunny West Palm Beach, Fla. for the season opener and he made his presence felt right away, winning on opening night against Mike Scott and finishing runner-up the following night to, you guessed it, Turner.
From then on Dorn’s reign of terror on the class was underway as he made the final round at every race on the schedule that featured the class, the only driver that can make that claim.
Dorn compiled wins all over the country, including Palm Beach, Baton Rouge, Tucson, Grand Bend and Michigan, but it was one non-win that actually stood out as the highlight of his season. Easily the shortest trip on his schedule, Dorn traveled to Edmonton, Alberta for Nitro Jam’s biggest race at Castrol Raceway in July in a unique open-field format. And still, with over a dozen Canadian riders on hand in the heart of bike country, Dorn qualified first and made it all the way to the final round against Turner, once again establishing the strength of the two teams.
“It really worked out well for us. Jay and I really look forward to racing each other and we really want to beat each other and that showed in Canada,” Dorn said. “Obviously they weren’t real happy because we were the only two Americans there and then we go and do it again in Grand Bend. It was really cool to be able to do what we did.”
The three final round finishes in Canada ultimately sealed the Dorn’s championship as he entered the final race of the year in Michigan with a sizable gap over Turner. Still, Dorn finished the year exactly the way he started it, with another big win to add icing to his championship cake.
All told Dorn finished the season with five wins in 11 final rounds, nearly double his closest competitor. Thanks to that final round streak Dorn finished 64 points ahead of runner-up Turner who had six wins in seven finals on the year.
Dorn also had an impressive 20-11 round record and recorded the fastest lap of the entire year back in Palm Beach at 220.01 mph. He just missed having the quickest lap of the year by four thousandths of a second to Turner who set the mark that same weekend in Florida at 6.302.
Canadian Mike Scott finished the season in third with three wins, while Randal Andras was fourth and Jake Stordeur was fifth.
Combined the Nitro Harley class was the most competitive of all the Nitro Jam classes with no driver able to sweep an entire weekend – the only class to do so. The new class also saw vast improvement out of its riders and provided a unique thrill to fans all across North America.
“It has been awesome. Racing with the IHRA has been the best,” Dorn said. “This is a first-class show with fans unlike anywhere else we have been. The fans seem to have a unique connection with the bikes. When we went places like San Antonio that just had so many people, everybody was coming up to us and telling us how much they appreciate us being there. None of them had ever seen anything like what we do and when you hear that it makes you proud and excited to go out there and put on a show.”
Now Dorn can add the words Nitro Jam champion to his name in addition to showman wherever he goes, an interesting feat for a man that never even considered racing until a little over a decade ago.
“I got started on a chopper by accident. I didn’t want to go, but this buddy of mine who built the motor forced me down to a local dragstrip to see how fast it would go,” Dorn said. “I made one pass and I was hooked. I made over 100 passes on that chopper and it wasn’t long after I wanted to run a pro class. I ran a modified bike a few years later and won a championship. A few years after that and I was ready to go nitro racing.
“I had never seen anything like it and when I first got on the bike I knew it was for me. I have been doing this for 11 years and not once have I been behind the wheel of a car. This is the only kind of racing for me.”
From being forced to his local strip 11 years ago to being a champion in the fastest bike class in the world, Dorn is loving life and can’t thank his friends and family enough for their support.
“I want to thank my crew chief Mike Slonaker, Sonny Burres and those guys. It is just the three of us doing it all,” Dorn said. “I also want to thank Huser Sales, Latus Motors, Milwaukie Tire and Completely Nuts. Thanks to all of them for their support.”