In 1983 a young man named Ed Hughes arrived at New England Dragway with his Suzuki GS 750 street bike.
Focused and determined, Ed became a member of the points program that year and ultimately earned enough points to get the last available spot on the New England Dragway Bracket Finals Team. In the process, he bumped out Ed Doherty who was one of the top guys to beat in those days. Doherty, was upset at first but soon realized Ed’s talent and said: “Hey, you’re pretty good – want some help building a drag bike?” This was the start of a mentorship that created a “Monster” in drag racing, and lend to Ed’s first Points Championship in 1986, and a repeat Championship in 1987.
In 2004, following a third Championship season in Top Bike, Ed, accompanied by his buddies “Team Ho”, went to the ProStar Race in Gainesville, Florida. At that race chassis builder and Funny Bike Champion, Gary Clarke noticed Ed’s talent, and told him “You’re not going home without this frame.” Ed replied that he could not afford one of Gary’s frames. Gary told him was going home with it anyway. That winter “Betty” was born inside Harry’s Machined Parts in Northborough, Mass. Ed and Betty quickly became the most feared competitors at the track, and the bike helped Ed earn his fourth Points Championship in 2005.
If you were to ask any motorcycle competitor on the property they would tell you, “To beat Eddie is almost as satisfying as winning a race.” The respect the entire drag racing community has for Ed is immeasurable. He has become the mentor to many racers over the years and he will do anything to help a competitor.
Ed’s accomplishments are not just on the track. For more than 15 years Ed has battled and worked with New England Dragway to build the motorcycle drag racing program. Before every round of racing Ed can be seen going in and out of the tower handling qualifying ladders and run sheets for all his fellow racers.
In total Ed has won two NHRA Wallys, an IHRA Ironman, the Man Cup, and 15 points Championships, including doubling up in 2012 and in 2018.
Over the years there are two races that stand out. The first was in 2016. Team Ho had made the annual pilgrimage to the Man Cup in Valdosta, Georgia where Ed competes in the 8.90 Super Comp class. Ed was going rounds on Sunday and the rest of Team Ho was loaded up and ready to head home when the track announced they were shutting down due to curfew. The team decided to stay over until Monday when the race could be completed. The pressure was on and everyone knew Eddie was thinking “I’ve got to win this one because I made them all stay over.” Ed did win the Man Cup, which is considered by many to be the biggest motorcycle drag race in the World.
The second race that stands out would be the final points race of the 2017 season at New England Dragway. Ed started the day in third place, and the track announcers were suggesting that someone else would win the Championship. Undaunted, Eddie went to the tower to get the ladder as always and said to the staff, “Not so fast. Do the math. I’m still in this.” In order to win the championship, Ed needed to qualify #1 that day, which he did. Then he had to win the race and he did that too, thereby winning the Championship by two points on the final day of the season.
There is one final title that Ed is most proud of and that is Grandfather.
The Orientals Hot Rod Club is honored to induct Ed Hughes into the 2019 class of the New England Hot Rod Hall of Fame.