JESUP, GA--Jesup's Kenny Poppell rides all over America, one quarter mile at a time. In his second year on the ProStar Drag Bike Circuit, he captured the season championship in Florida last weekend.
"Going in to Gainesville, all I had to do was qualify to win the season championship," he explained. "I qualified and that sealed the deal. But we still wanted to win."
He won his class at four of the season's eight races. His latest bike will max out at 160 miles per hour, thanks in part to his girlfriend/crew chief who comes from a racing family herself.
"I could pretty much put that bike together, take out clutches and replace them, line them up and get him down the track," noted Shawna Morrison. The two started dating in high school when Kenny raced cars.
Kenny's sponsors range from an exhaust pipe company in Japan to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, where his dad works as a deputy. Even with his dad's job, Kenny got in some trouble as a teen for racing off-track around Jesup and Wayne County.
He'd like to move up to the National Hot Rod Association when he's ready and it's easier to get there on two wheels instead of four.
"I like to go fast and motorcycles seem to be the way to go and the cheapest," he explained. "You won't spend ten or $12,000 on a car and go as fast as we go."
His 84-year-old grandmother remains his biggest fan. He just hopes to make her and everyone else proud next year.
Besides the season title, Kenny holds the distinction of being the first rider to break the 9-second barrier on the new track in Atco, New Jersey.