NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Angelle Sampey scores an emotional Pro Stock Motorcycle victory in Charlotte

Racing for her hurricane-ravaged hometown and injured fellow rider and former teammate Cory Reed, Angelle Sampey scored an emotional 44th career win at the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals.
19 Sep 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Race coverage
Angelle Sampey

Angelle Sampey defeated sentimental favorite Joey Gladstone in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final at the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals, but it was a bittersweet win for the three-time world champ. After back-to-back runner-ups this year in Pomona and Indy, Sampey made her way back into the winner’s circle for the first time in more than a year but it took a malfunctioning kill switch to rob Gladstone of the win in the final.

After an uncharacteristic late light, Sampey raced past powerless Gladstone on the top end, 6.86 to 7.15, for the win, the 44th of her career, but both of their minds were on Gladstone’s teammate (and her former teammate), Cory Reed, who was injured in a second-round top-end tumble.

"I felt very guilty, especially after what happened with Cory," an emotional Sampey told the media. "And I know how bad Joey wants this. And I want to see everybody win their first race. And it was probably the least happiest I've ever been to win. And I was emotionally torn because I wanted to win it so bad for my friends and family back at home. I wanted to win it for my team. I wanted to win for Vance & Hines and Mission But I hated to take it away from Joey in that fashion. "

Sampey, racing in support of her Louisiana hometown ravaged by Hurricane Ida, looked impressive in qualifying No. 2 with a 6.848 aboard her Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki, raced past Ryan Oehler with another 6.84 in round one then beat Vance & Hines teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec in back-to-back rounds with runs of 6.907 and 6.863. 

Her win against Hines came via a quick left hand as she dropped the clutch for a .022 to .051 reaction-time edge and a win over his quicker 6.901. The win was the first for the Vance & Hines team's new Suzuki that debuted this year.

"We have struggled this year' I didn't think it was going to be this hard, especially after learning how to ride a Harley, because that was pretty tough., and I mastered it. And just when I got it, they took it away from me and put me on this rocketship that I affectionately call Black Beauty. Anyway, so I was struggling on the bike, but I finally am coming around with it. I'm not exactly where I need to be."

Gladstone, who was runner-up last year in Dallas in his only other final-round appearance, qualified a solid No. 4 with a pair of 6.88s, setting him up for what looked from the start like it would be a long day in competition.

After running a 6.912 in round one to beat Jianna Salinas, Gladstone squared off with his Reed in round two, Gladstone put a holeshot on his stablemate and won the round, 6.94 to 6.93, only to see Reed cross in front of him in the shutdown area fighting for control of his bike. The rear tire of Reed’s bike appeared to hit the front tire of Gladstone’s bike, pithing Reed off the bike and into the guardwall. Gladstone was among the first to reach Reed, who quickly sat up and clutched his ankle, and was later transported to a local hospital. Over Gladstone’s objections, Reed insisted he stay and continue to compete.

A round later, heavily favored low qualifier Steve Johnson had the lead on Gladstone approaching the finish line when his Suzuki hit the finish line block, disqualifying him. To make matters worse, Johnson also drifted precariously in front of Gladstone in the shutdown area in a near-repeat of the Reed incident.

Ironically, in April of this year, Gladstone had taken his own high-speed tumble when he came off of another of his bikes at a non-NHRA event and suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade, a bruised lung, and multiple abrasions.