NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Hector Arana Jr. is proving seasoned in tense Pro Stock Motorcycle arena

With each passing year, Hector Arana Jr. is showing he isn't the new kid on the Pro Stock Motorcycle block anymore. Inching up on his 35th birthday, the second-generation rider has weathered the challenges over 12 seasons to remain a regular threat for the championship.
14 Feb 2024
Kelly Wade
Hector Arana Jr.

With each passing year, Hector Arana Jr. is showing he isn't the new kid on the Pro Stock Motorcycle block anymore. Inching up on his 35th birthday, the second-generation rider has weathered a variety of challenges over 12 seasons to remain a regular threat for the championship.

Walking in the shoes of father, crew chief, and 2009 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Hector Arana Sr., the younger Arana is more than a rider. The two are side by side for tuning calls and adjustments, and although he resides in New York with wife Nicole and their two children, Arana Jr. has been back to the shop in Indiana to help build engines and prepare for a full charge in the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series. 

"It's great working with my father, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world," said Arana. "Yes, there are times we butt heads and don't agree, and if he wasn't my father, maybe it would be handled differently – but I still wouldn't change it for the world. Having him there is the sanity check for me. Even though we don't live close by, we talk almost every day about different parts, designs, what we're going to try next. He's the one who executes and makes sure it all happens."

The father-son aesthetic stretches the impression that he's one of the young ones, and even Arana himself wrestles to maintain a clear perspective of how much time he's put into the class.

"It's crazy when I hear the announcer call me a veteran," he admitted. "In my mind, I'm one of the young kids out there racing. But I have learned a lot over the years. Drag racing teaches you hard work, dedication, and how to take a methodical approach with everything, from tuning the bike and looking at all the data to setting up your schedule.

"I use those same methods at work all the time. You take in the information, come up with a plan, and schedule the year. Along with that is the work ethic you learn in drag racing and how to become efficient. Everything has to happen within a specific time constraint. I use all of this in my day-to-day life."

Alongside the useful life and racing lessons, Arana has been able to hone a refined approach to competition, and that came in handy last season as season champion Gaige Herrera emerged from seemingly nowhere as a dominant force. Arana put up a fierce battle, however, and finished No. 3 in the nation behind Herrera and his Vance & Hines teammate, Eddie Krawiec. 

Arana's strong performance was notable as it was in his first full season since 2020. In 2021 and 2022, he raced a partial schedule but was able to compete in earnest last year due to full support from GETTRX. 

Arana qualified the GETTRX EBR in the top half at the Gainesville season opener, and although the event didn't produce the results the team had worked for in the offseason, that changed steadily over the races that followed. Arana's qualifying position elevated at each event, finally coming to a crescendo in Denver with the 23rd No. 1 qualifier award of his career. Race day proved equally as encouraging as he stacked round-wins on his way to a victory in Norwalk to move up to No. 2 in the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings.

"We were very competitive and came to every race with a chance to win. All in all, I think it was one of my most successful years as a driver and for us as a team," said Arana, who qualified in the top half at every race and was third or better at eight of 15 events. He reached the semifinals at seven races and reached three final rounds –  including the Norwalk win – to collect 26 round-wins on the season. Only two drivers claimed more: Herrera ended the season with 50, while Krawiec claimed 29. 

"At the end of last year, we were running really, really strong," Arana continued. "Our plan is to start this year off building on that. We're not going to start with anything brand new and get lost. Now we have the opportunity to do R&D and work on some things in the shop to improve our performance, but we want to build from where we left off in 2023."

In his most memorable march of 2023, Arana rode the GETTRX Buell to a 6.725-second pass at a bold 203.48 mph in the first round of Dallas eliminations, carving new notch marks into the post for both ends of his career best numbers. Arana's goals for the new season are to etch a couple of marks even higher on the post, with the added target of joining just a handful of riders in the 6.6-second range. After a strong campaign last year, he feels fully prepared for whatever – or whoever – comes his way. 

"My confidence level is really high, and I know I'm going to be good on the bike," stated Arana. "GETTRX has given us an opportunity that wouldn't have been possible without them – for me to continue this long career as a Pro Stock Motorcycle racer – and we definitely figured out a lot last year. We closed the gap, and we can build off of that.

"This season is going to be tough, but I don't want it to be easy. There is satisfaction in winning a championship without somebody saying, 'Well, he didn't have any competitors.' I want it to come down to the rider. I look forward to the challenge, because that's what makes me and my team stronger. You want competitors that raise the bar and keep us trying. They give us a reason to work hard every day, become even better."