Recently, Elmer Trett’s daughter Gina visited the National Motorcycle Museum. She had never visited the Museum before and was at once pleased and Elmers-daughter_2awestruck to see her father’s Mountain Magic drag bike displayed. It’s been just over 20 years since Trett’s 1996 fatal crash at the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis. Indy is also where in 1983 Trett was the first to break the 200mph barrier.

Drag racing was a family business for the Trett’s; everyone played a role both in the shop and out on the road at races. For more than 20 years, Elmer Trett was unmatched in Top Fuel Motorcycle. He was the first to run 200, 210, 220, and 230 mph. He also set the record 15 times and captured 8 national championships and would always give credit to his team, his wife and two daughters, for his success.

Between 1984 and 1996, Trett campaigned five machines named Mountain Magic. He used the bike at the Museum for his historic 6.06-second run. At first, per rules, the machines used Kawasaki cylinder heads. In time, they would use an engine built entirely by Trett, patterned after the Keith Black V8 motor so popular in Top Fuel and Funny Car racing.

When Elmer Trett died in a racing accident in 1996, he was nearly a tenth of a second quicker than anyone else in the class, and had recorded the ten fastest speeds on a motorcycle. There’ll never be another like him. Inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, his biography there summarizes his amazing career: At the time of his untimely death Trett held the ten fastest speeds ever on a Top Fuel bike. He was the first to pass the 200, 210, 220 and 230 mph marks, and he held the record for three of the fastest elapsed times in Top Fuel. Perhaps equally as impressive as his records was his three decades at or near the top of the sport. One writer said the legend of Trett is his longevity.

Elmer Trett was so important to the Top Fuel Motorcycle—and drag racing in general—that the NHRA recognized him as one of its “50 Top Drivers of All Time”. As one observer suggested, “The name “Trett” is to motorcycle drag racing what “Garlits” means to top fuel racing and “Yeager” means to jet aircraft.”

When you visit and walk through the drag racing exhibition area at the National Motorcycle Museum you can view Elmer Trett’s Mountain Magic and a dozen other fine championship level hand built drag bikes, and see some great drag racing-related photos and artwork. To learn more about the history of motorcycle drag racing, pick up a copy of John S. Stein’s Motorcycle Drag Racing, A History in the Museum store.

Mountain Magic Specifications:

  • Engine: 1325 cc, in-line four designed and built by Trett
  • Horsepower: Estimated: nearly 1100 at the crankshaft
  • Fuel: 90% nitromethane/10% methanol depending on conditions
  • Chassis: 4130, chrome-moly by “Puppet” of Race Visions
  • Rear tire: 14-inch wide Goodyear slick
  • Weight: Just over 1000 lbs.
6 replies
  1. Christopher Sanchez
    Christopher Sanchez says:

    back in the late 1970s my friend ( Michael Keehan ) and me rand a motorcycle shop ( Performance Speciality Albany NY) and we had an opportunity to see Elmer Tret race. It was a true honor to see him race. The best was we went over in the pits were he was and his wife was getting the bike ready for the next race. I was to alstruck to take to them, but wish did. Mr. Tret will alway be remember is the racing world

  2. LenNY sINNET
    LenNY sINNET says:

    Elmer was the best of the best. Back in the seventies and eighties worked closely with Elmer and the family while working at Sifton Cams. Great racing family RIP Elmer
    LenNY Sinnet
    Barnett Harley Davidson
    Photo is myself and Elmer in front of Sifton Cams San Carlos California late 70’s
    I think this link will work …
    /Users/lennysinnet/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/resources/proxies/derivatives/28/00/28da/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_28da.jpg

  3. Ernest Byrd
    Ernest Byrd says:

    I watched him race in rockingham and he once came to our local track here in shelby NC called shadyside drag way he was good guy cool to talk with RIP

  4. Dennis Asher
    Dennis Asher says:

    I think it was around 1971 or so and a friend had Elmer build him a Harley pan head I think it was..Elmer lived in Oxford Ohio and I remember to this day going to Elmer’s garage at his house to pick up that engine

  5. Tony Rufo
    Tony Rufo says:

    I’ll never forget Elmer was very nice guy always took the time to speak with fans I saw him race the first time at rockingham dragway nc. I was about 8 years old miss him greatly 🏁

  6. John Mowery
    John Mowery says:

    I used to balance Elmer’s crankshafts at Lamar Walden Automotive and have been to his shop and got to sit on his motorcycle and give it a little throttle it was awesome.


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