When Scott Pollacheck was a teenager, his first car was a 1973 Chevrolet Nova capable of an 11-second quarter mile and his first motorcycle was a lightning-quick 1986 Yamaha FJ1200.
The Central Point resident went fast back then, but he's going even faster these days.
WHO: 44-year-old Central Point resident and co-owner of Quality Tire in Medford, Pollacheck began a second full season in the National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock Motorcycle division at the Gatornationals last month. He finished fourth there.
up next: Four-Wide Nationals, April 19-21, Charlotte, N.C.
"I was just kind of a hot rod kid," says the 44-year-old Pollacheck, whose childhood passion grew into a dream opportunity racing motorcycles in the National Hot Rod Association. "I had a fast car when I got my license. From the minute I was able to drive I Iiked going fast so I went out to the race track."
When Pollacheck isn't taking care of his duties as co-owner of Quality Tire in Medford, he's spending time with his wife and three children. And when the South Medford High graduate isn't hanging out with his family, he's knee deep in the world of professional racing.
The man standing behind the counter at the tire store, it turns out, has appeared on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 and has signed autographs for droves of fans.
In his chosen sport, riders accelerate down a quarter-mile long, two-lane, straight-paved track. The racer to reach the finish line first is the winner as long as there are no fouls like leaving too early, crossing into the other lane or hitting the wall at the end.
After a successful Pro Stock Motorcycle rookie season in the NHRA last year, Pollacheck has returned for a full-schedule sophomore campaign that kicked off last month with the Gatornationals.
Pollacheck, who finished seventh in the standings in 2012, advanced to the semifinals for the first time ever in the NHRA opener in Gainesville, Fla., and took fourth place on his S&S Cycle XB12R Buell.
Next up is the Four-Wide Nationals April 19-21 in Charlotte, N.C.
In his final race at Gatornationals, Steve Johnson's 6.840-second run topped Pollacheck's 6.885 (Johnson hit 196.96 mph and Pollacheck 193.24).
"We left the starting line at almost exactly the same time, but his bike was a little faster than mine," Pollacheck says.
Pollacheck made his way through several qualifying rounds to get there. The pressure of winning was just like that felt by NCAA basketball players in the Big Dance... one loss and you're out.
He picked up 73 points and is 52 points behind Hector Arana Jr., who secured first in Florida.
Pollacheck's squad — Sovereign-Star Racing — is a partnership between Georgia-based Star Racing and the Hungarian-based Sovereign Racing Team. Michael Ray, whom Pollacheck defeated, praised his teammate's effort at Gatornationals.
"Scotty did a bad-ass job of driving this weekend," Ray posted in a facebook note. "He had some crazy stuff happen to him during qualifying, but he stayed very composed. He's a true leader when you look at how calm and collected he always is."
In one of those crazy moments, Pollacheck drifted left during the fourth round and took out finish-line cones. He hit one of them with his left foot at 140 mph.
Last season in the Full Throttle series, Pollacheck qualified at all 16 Pro Stock Motorcycle events and received a finalist nomination for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award. He concluded the year on a high note with his best qualifying position of No. 3 at the AAA Auto Club NHRA World Finals in Pomona, Calif. Pollacheck also claimed 12 elimination-round triumphs and made his way to the No. 5 position in the Countdown to the Championship.
Pollacheck said all the experience he gained has made him feel even more comfortable this season.
"Last year, (the Gatornationals) was the first race of the year," Pollacheck says. "And it was pretty much a lot better this time. So it was nice to see improvements on all the important things. The bike was better, I was better."
The race in Charlotte will be quite special. Unlike the other NHRA stops, the track there will feature four-lane racing. With his focus on the Four-Wide Nationals, Pollacheck was pleased to receive a text message on Friday with good news from Georgia. His team had pulled out the Dynamometer and, according to measurements, the new parts that they had installed on his bike had made it even better.
"It's going to take a higher level of concentration," Pollacheck said of Charlotte's task. "I'm really looking forward to it and hoping it plays into my wheelhouse as far as being able to concentrate and do my job on the starting line. I am focusing on that and the team back at the shop (in Americus, Ga.) is getting every last bit of horsepower."
And to think that Pollacheck is doing all this while juggling a job and the responsibilities of being married with two girls and a boy.
"With the racing thing there is a lot of time away," Pollacheck says. "That makes it tougher on my (business) partner and everyone else here (at Medford Tire) and everyone at home. It's a big commitment to be gone that much. It's a lot of travel. There are 16 races on the NHRA schedule and then three to four other events (on an electric motorcycle) and other testing that we do."
It's not unusual for Pollacheck to sign autographs for hundreds of fans before and after races. But when he comes home, he says he's just another guy.
"Here in town I have a lot of friends who are racers and they see me on TV," Pollacheck said. "It's a neat opportunity, but when you are here, away from the races, its not quite as big a deal."
Pollacheck's just fine with that, too.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org