We’re big fans of European 1/8-mile sprint racing, where custom-built bikes from workshops across Europe compete head-to-head in old school-style drag races at events like the Glemseck 101.
The wildest, most creative of these was the highly popular Sultans of Sprint series, featuring a wildly diverse array of high-powered twin-cylinder sprint bikes, crazy costumes, and a whole lot of burning rubber:
“It’s perfectly normal to bump into zombies, yetis, Frankenstein and Hercules: Sultans wear crazy outfits. Because not only speed but also performance and power in the form of style, creativity and craziness are very much part of it. So there are points for the race and points for creative design and party-hungry behaviour… Freaky is the name of the game.” –BMW Motorrad
Unfortunately, the Sultans of Sprint series was discontinued in 2019, leaving a quite a vacuum in the sport. Fortunately, Philipp Ludwig of Kraftstoffschmiede (one of the original Sultans founders) and Krzysztof “Kris” Szews of Man & the Machines, both of Rennstall Moto, stepped forward to found Rocket Race Club.
After Glemseck, we caught up with Kris Szews to learn more about the origins of RRC. In 2022, they were interested in getting the old Sultans back together for Glemseck.
“Some of the old crew were up for it, others had their heads in different places, but luckily we were able to add some fantastic new people from all over Europe and Switzerland to the group and arrived with a large starter field in Glemseck in 2022.” –Kris Szews, Man & the Machines / Rennstall Moto
Kris and Phil founded Rennstall Moto in 2020 to produce and sell custom parts for Triumph motorcycles, including cafe racer seats, fairings and belly pans as well as exhaust systems in partnership with Hattech Exhausts.
They put a big chunk of their profits into getting Rocket Race Club up and running, including tents, banners, sound equipment, apparel, and more.
“There was no way we were going to be as large or spectacular as the Sultans of Sprint and we didn’t even try…we were after a more ‘roll up your sleeves and do the best you can with what you got’ kind of attitude.”
As the photos attest, they’ve done a damn wonderful job. It also helps that they have such a supportive crew of racers and supporters. Kris describes the Rocket Race Club thus:
“International bunch of like minded and slightly crazy custom bike builders with a huge passion to build insane and fast sprint bikes for 1-2 races a year!”
For 2023, Rocket Race Club fielded nearly 20 bikes in two classes:
- Moon Shot Class: Two-cylinder air-cooled. Turbos, Superchargers, NOS: all allowed. You can see the full regulations here.
- Brand Bash: Two-cylinder water-cooled. Turbos, Superchargers, NOS: all allowed, comparable power to weight ratio.
Whereas the Moon Shot class is the more extreme, Brand Bash is designed to give OEMs the opportunity to compete against each other, bringing more modern bikes into the series. They are on the lookout for sponsors for this class, and interested parties are welcome to get in touch directly.
“It is something we want to develop into a sponsorship programme for 2024 and also adjust the Moonshot Class regulations somewhat.”
With both classes, the focus here is on speed, style, and fun. The bikes are loud and wild, built as rolling spectacles of hot-rod ingenuity and drag-racing style.
The Rocket Race Club is as much about atmosphere as competition, and the rivalries remain friendly.
“Technical regulations are definitely a lower priority…it’s a lot about the show factor. That is also why we love having Andreas Straschewski and Sven Thiele aka Batman & Robin at all our races to deliver a fantastic show and hype up the crowds!”
This year, there were two races lined up:
- Race 1: Bikers Festival at Spa Francorchamps, August 12-13, 2023
- Race 2: Glemseck 101, Sept 1-3, 2023
Our man on the ground at Glemseck, Roman Juriš, got to catch some of the bikes in the pits and on the strip, where Glemseck 101 race control oversees the sprints on a length of the old Solitude racetrack outside Leonberg, Germany.
The racing was fast and fun, and Glemseck has landed squarely on our bucket list of events to attend in future years. Andreas Straschewski, aka Batman, has described the event as akin to Woodstock with motorcycles.
We’re thrilled that Rocket Race Club has stepped up to be part of the action. Like the Sultans before them, the community is the soul of the series:
“Rocket Race Club, as much as the Sultans also were, feels like family! We love to hang out, eat, race and party together and would love to have events like Glemseck every weekend!”
What’s more, we’ve been told that RRC has plans to expand beyond sprint racing, so we have even more to look forward to in the coming months and years.
What’s more, we’ll be bringing you a number of Rocket Race Club sprint bikes over the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned.
Glemseck 101 Gallery: Anna Gala Photography
All photos: @annagphotography