Gadson vs. ManCup
here’s the story, you decide


story and video by Tim Hailey

I hate to fan the flames of a non-story, but here goes: Last week at the Manufacturer’s Cup, Rickey Gadson was seeking big numbers from and live publicity for the 2012 Kawasaki ZX14. Robert Fisher of Roaring Toyz brought a custom ’12 ZX14, a beautiful metal flake gold and black beauty prepped more for style than speed. With only lowering, a hand-built Brock’s pipe and a miss-matched Power Commander, Rickey ran an 8.99. Now he wanted more and a lightweight rider (his nephew Richard and/or Jeremy Teasley) was the way to go. A knowledgeable crowd of potential customers packed the stands and Mike Seate’s Discovery Channel “Cafe Racer” film crew was on hand to tape what went down.

So Rickey ran upstairs to ask ManCup race director Jay Regan and the track timer for an exhibition pass. He was put off ‘til later, as he was several times until he was told “No.” Rickey was livid, and he vented his frustration in the staging lanes. View his rage in this video:


In an e-mail obtained by, Regan explains his decision: “I gained no joy in having to argue with him or deny his time shots. I put the event before mine and RG relationship and now I'm sure I'm the bad guy and that our relationship will suffer because of the decision. But, I knew the potential pitfalls when I took the job. I do agree with, and realize RG is beneficial to the sport overall and if I could have accommodated him without penalizing the event, I would have. But, letting him go and then saying no to the TF Harleys or the Grudge guys would (in my opinion) just start the process I truly hated of Prostar / AMA Dragbike of there being different classes of society. A no from me to him was also a no to all time shot request in an effort to help finish the event no later than it had to—which was 10:35pm by the way.”

Race Director Jay Regan and fellow manufacturer Dave Schnitz in the Valdosta tower

We can all agree that there were times back in the day when Big Team Green seemed to get their way whenever the race director was asked, and no one hated it more than your’s truly. In those “different classes” days, it seemed that Team Kawasaki (spending big bucks on the sport at the time) was getting a competitive advantage through backroom maneuvering. But what Rickey was asking for in Valdosta was merely a promotional advantage.

Ever resourceful, Rickey put Teasley on the bike for Rickey’s Street ET round. That pass is in this video here:


Thus was launched a thousand forum post outrages. According to many on the forums, Rickey was cheating. According to at least one of the Manufacturers, Rickey was cheating. Rickey was clearly in violation of the rules, but was he trying to gain a competitive advantage? Common sense (and watching the video) will tell you “no.” We know instinctively that Rickey is merely seeking that promotional advantage I spoke of earlier, and we know by the video that Rickey instructs Teasley to “run it out the back door no matter what.” Since my camera is not trained on the other lane, I have no idea how Jeremy won the round despite running well short of a ridiculously low dial-in, flubbing a shift in his first time ever on the bike. Since the ManCup hasn’t posted results, I have no clue who was in the other lane. The round was his if he’d paid attention to Jeremy wearing leathers clearly marked “Teasley” and Rickey standing alongside the bike at the line. No attempt was made to deceive, but to merely run the bike down the track.

So was Plaxico Burress in violation of New York City gun laws when he accidently shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub? Clearly. But was he attempting to commit the crime that the law is in place to prevent? That is, was he trying to rob the nightclub? Clearly not. Was Rickey in violation of the rules? Clearly. Was he trying to gain a competitive edge with his rules violation? That is, was he trying to “cheat?” Clearly not.

OEM (Kawasaki, Suzuki, BMW, H-D, etc) money is necessary to the growth or even maintenance of the sport. When Kawasaki and Suzuki stopped spending money on marketing a few years ago, I had to stop publishing Straightliner magazine a couple of years later. Without their money, I can say at the very least that media coverage suffers. Likewise, OEM’s need big events like the Man Cup and MIRock Superbike Series to successfully promote products to their customers. I’ll never forget several years ago when Chip Ellis and Coby Adams brought the then new ZX10 to Rockingham. What Chip did that weekend with that orange bike in front of that crowd spread like wildfire and the ZX10 was instantly legitimized as a drag racing product.

That kind of credibility can’t be bought in ads. Rickey knows that, Kawasaki knows that, and that is why getting that bike down that track right then and there is what Rickey was obligated to do for his sponsor. Regan similarly made a decision based on his obligations to the racers and the track staff.

What call would you have made?

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Rickey Responds to his Critics

Rickey Gadson responded to his critics on the forums after the controversy of replacing himself with Jeremy Teasley in the middle of Street ET at the Manufacturers Cup. Many, or least one, of those critics, had his conspiracy goggles on, but the facts of the issue couldn’t be more plain than as laid out in my article.

The unofficial results (the Man Cup has no results posted on their site) show a Reginald Harper as the rider of bike #62 in Street ET, leading some to believe that Rickey had tricks up his pinstriped sleeves from the get-go. “Let me start out by saying, everyone should know, but just in case—62 has always been my number since 1989, and I have never EVER  raced with any other number!” said Rickey. “I have no idea who started this rumor of me racing as Reginald Harper nor do I know who that is? Everyone knows that I was riding a 2012 ZX14 under bike #62 in Street ET, and announcer Jack Korpela had been talking about me riding The Roaring Toyz custom 2012 ZX14 all day Saturday and every time I staged during Sunday’s eliminations. How come nobody questions the fact that it says Reginald Harper on a 2006 Kawasaki ZX10, when everyone knows I was  debuting a 2012 ZX14? Why would I ‘Rickey Gadson’ with my name AND number all over my signature pinstripe leathers, and riding for a Discovery Channel profile for a premier on the show Café Racer?

“I was told Sunday early by race director Jay Regan that at some point in the day I would be able to put Jeremy Teasley and Richard Gadson on the 2012 ZX14R for a couple exhibition passes finish the piece we were doing on today’s technology in drag racing compared to the baddest bikes of the 70’s.”

That didn’t happen, so as reported, Rickey took matters into his own hands. “I was wrong and should not have felt so strongly that television coverage of—not me, but Jeremy Teasley—on the 2012 ZX14R was helping to promote the sport of drag racing, instead of just abiding by the rules,” said Rickey. “I knew I was sacrificing being DQ’d  especially since I was standing on the starting line with Jeremy video taping WITH MY LEATHERS ON AND A KAWASAKI TEAM SHIRT which basically proves I couldn’t have been too concerned with advancing rounds. I apologize to the racer that lost to Jeremy. Even worst yet is I went through all this trouble and Jeremy was 2/10ths off his dial, but somehow the racer didn’t realize how far back Teasley was and broke out any way! I was only thinking about what I thought was THE BIG PICTURE (which was marketing the new bike and promoting drag racing) and not considering the consequences or the racer in the other lane. For that I am truly sorry!

“Because Kawasaki dropped its racing program 2 years ago, they no longer care whether I go racing or not, nor  do they see any value since there is not a national series any longer. With that being said, they don’t sponsor my racing at all, there is no big rig, no factory team, no factory mechanics, and nothing for me to gain by switching riders in Street ET except testing and marketing. Why would someone who has been drag racing professionally for 20 years ask a 20 year old kid to ride his bike to try and win a $500 Street ET purse that I could have possibly won myself, and then stand on the starting line with him while Tim Hailey is filming? Another thing people aren’t thinking of is how do I take a chance and win the race and stand in the winners circle AS REGINALD HARPER? It just doesn’t make sense!
“Thinking back I realize I should have made better decisions that day, as to not damage the integrity of the sport. Just wanted to say SORRY to all my Street ET racers!”