InSLIDE Line 42...From Mickey's House!Oct 18, 2013
Hello, and welcome to the InSlide Line Presented by Bell Helmets. This week's column is coming to you from Orlando Florida, home of the AIMExpo. I've been kicking it in the Memphis Shades booth all week showing off some of our latest products along side other industry leaders and dirt track supporters likeSaddlemen Seats, Motion Pro, Silkolene, Spectro, Bell Helmets, Arai, Evans Cooling, K&N Filters and more. It sure has been cool this week talking to other dirt track fans in the industry about how great Pomona was. Speaking of Pomona, we have 2 new champions and a lot to talk about. Let's get to work.
Pomona is always billed as the race not to miss and man this year did it live up to the hype. Just like we talked at length about last week, both titles were coming down to the line and for both the Pro Singles and the Experts, it was truly a go big or go home moment. In the Pro Singles class we had Wyatt Maguireleading Ryan Wells by just 5 points but coming in with a fractured leg. At the end of the night in the Pro Singles class though it was the racer who lost the most in the Santa Rosa Mile when the heavy mist came who stood the tallest. JR Addison was your big winner and it couldn't have come at a better time. Now the rookie from Ohio can enjoy his entire off season knowing he has what it takes to stand on that top step of the podium. Not only did he win the race, but he was also your fast qualifier and the fast heat winner. It was really JR's night as he went into the main event sitting on the pole, got a great start and just had the race of his life and just smoked the field by over 7 seconds.
Rookie Kyle Johnson also kept his stellar season alive when he qualified 2nd and then went out and won heat number two. In a sea of Honda 450's Kyle stands out on his Kawasaki. Sure, I'm a fan of Kawasaki's myself, but Kyle has a little extra help with his program from Johnny Olmstead who you may remember asHenry Wiles' mechanic through most of his wins. Kyle has had one heck of a season. Enough of a season that I posted on the Fight For Dirt Track facebook page posing the question: "If the Pro Singles class had a rookie of the year award, who would get it?" Sure it is possible to tally up the points and figure it all out, which would put Kyle as the Rookie of the Year, but from pure opinion, the overwhelming response was that the fans had Kyle pegged for the great season he has had.
Two big hats off go to Andrew Butler and James Monaco. Andrew Butler put his Honda into the main event straight out of heat race number 1 by taking the 7th and final transfer spot. James Monaco, the fastest Almond Farmer in California put it in the main event by winning the LCQ. It wasn't all peachy for some though and I have to give the Pro Singles hard luck award to Dan Lowther who not only missed the transfer spot in heat number 2 by one spot, but also missed punching his ticket to the main in the LCQ by just one spot. What a heart break!
Ryan Wells came into the final round knowing that not only did he have to beat Wyatt Maguire, but he had to beat him by a few spots. While he did do just that, his amazing 2nd place finish just wasn't quite enough to seal up the title and he heads back to New York just 1 point shy of the Pro Singles title. Ryan had a great season, very consistent, and as one of the most likeable characters in the pits, it's tough to see somebody get that close to a goal and not be able to bring it home. However, Ryan will build off of his experience and will no doubt come back very strong. You have to give Ryan a ton of credit though, he left absolutely NOTHING on the table, he really gave it his all.
Wyatt Maguire heads back to his home state with the Pro Singles title and what a roller coaster year he has had! From winning his first national in Stockton to breaking his leg in Peoria, the hard working kid has seen it all in a short amount of time. Even after re-injuring his leg in a crash in Santa Rosa and showing up to the race in an air cast, Wyatt strapped up, made the main event and did exactly what he needed to do to take home the title. His 4th place finish gave him the 1 point boost and while they say "To the winner go the spoils" It was the fans in the stands who really won that night. You couldn't put more suspense into a points battle. Well, that is until the Experts took the track!
Make sure if you linked directly to the column that you head back to the home page to not only read the Championship interview with Wyatt Maguire, but also the race winner's interview with JR Addison. They are both great reads, and especially in Wyatt's case, you really get a great feel for everything that he went through during the year.
While the Pro Singles class was amazing, it's no secret that it was a bit of a run away as far as the race winner was concerned. However, in the Expert class a race for the ages took place. Brad Baker and Bryan Smith not only came into the race fighting tooth and nail for a championship, but they fought tooth and nail in the main event. Those who were there certainly got a treat as the two riders went at it as hard as two racers can go for over 10 laps, crossing lines and pushing each other to the limits. When Brad lost control in the middle of one and two and nearly had a meet and greet with the air fence, he said in his interview that he noticed that he needed to back it down a little bit to preserve the championship. However, obviously, his "backing it down" was still out of this world fast, as he tracked down Bryan and still won the race. Of course he did have the help of a couple of red flags, but even with that, what he pulled off was amazing.
I do believe that what gets lost in the entire weekend is the accomplishment of Briar Bauman. Briar, in his sophomore season put himself on the podium. Now, this wouldn't seem like a big stretch for a kid who finished first in Peoria from the back row in the Pro Singles class a few years ago, but Briar did it on a motorcycle that many have given up on, the Suzuki 1000. Together with tuner Ronnie Brown, who was a tuner during the Factory Suzuki days for Jake Johnson, Briar put the big yellow beast on the box and it's sad that it is largely over looked because of the huge championship points battle. Perhaps Briar is the first racer to really come to grips with the big bike, maybe he and Ronnie have found a set up that is going to work for him. Maybe Briar just has so much talent that he just forced that Suzuki to do what he wanted. Myself, I see it as a combination of the three.
The day started off with your podium finishers going one, two and three in qualifying. I can't really remember that ever happening, but it was very cool to note. Maybe Bert Sumner can add that to his stats list! In fact, it was a close call for our podium finishers also winning each of their heats until Kenny Coolbeth came to the line in heat 3. Just like last year's dominating performance, Kenny set sail in what would be his last ride on the Factory Harley Davidson to crush the field by 4 seconds in just a 10 lap race. Honestly, watching live timing on my way home from the Mid America Short Track, I was thinking we could see a repeat of his huge win there last year. It wasn't meant to be, but at the same time, it was great for Kenny to get up on the podium for his heat race win and once again be able to talk about the great team who has been behind him for quite a while now. Kenny would go on to finish 6th in the main event.
The defending champion Jared Mees had a good night with his 4th place finish. Jared sure didn't have the season he would have hoped for while carrying the number 1 plate, but he also faced a lot of adversity with a near crash in Stockton, but then rebounded at times such as his huge win on the Mega-Mile in Virginia. Wrapping up the season with a 4th place isn't too bad, but I can bet you that Jared will come back next season with quite the drive to get rid of that number 9 on his plates again.
Behind Jared Mees was JD Beach, who put in a solid top 5 finish. JD is quite the dirt tracker, sure, but I think many people don't give him enough credit for how impressive his year has been. In fact, in the "modern" era, I could be wrong (I usually am) but I'm not too sure of many full time road racers who podiumed at a road race national and a dirt track national in the same year. JD Beach and Nicky Hayden?That's pretty good company. I guess there would be Bubba Shobert and Chris Carr from not too long ago at all, but at the same time, that is still some VERY solid company. JD, as many of you know is a close personal friend of mine, so sure I may be a little partial to his cause, but he just keeps on progressing in both sports. With his work ethic and drive, it's hard not to be a fan of the guy!
Congratulations to Dustin Crow and Josh Koch for making the Expert main event. Dustin and his family headed out to Pomona just wanting to make one more main event this year and they did just that. Dustin is an awesome cushion rider, so of course Pomona was right in his wheel house. Dustin didn't just make the main however, he went out there and put in some work, eventually finishing 13th. Josh Koch also made the main. Josh has been in the main before, but he did it on his Buell powered bike which he has pretty much developed on his own. It's a great looking motorcycle and obviously it is working well for him. Way to go on putting yet another brand into the main!
I know that Brandon Robinson headed home a little upset that he came so close to a Grand National Championship this year. I'm sure his 9th place finish was nowhere near where he wanted to be. Heck, that is nowhere near where I thought he would be! However, there is no way on Earth for Brandon to let this bother him too much. Man what a year he had! For starters, he went to a new team, the Burnett Farms/USC Kawasaki/Hart Racing team. From there, he kicked things off by showing the world at the first All-Star events that he was going to be a big player and his motorcycles were nothing to be scoffed at when he took some big wins. He heads into Daytona with some confidence and wins his first national. Keep in mind that this is the guy who a few years ago wasn't sure that he would walk again after a horrible crash. Brandon backed his Short Track win in Daytona up with a dream weekend in Springfield Illinois taking back to back miles. With 3 wins on the season and a solid 3rd place in the points, Brandon Robinson moves out of the "dark horse" category and straight into the "threat" position for the 2014 season.
They say that "all's well that ends well" and that point was more than proven in Pomona. A great race track, over the top drama when it comes to a point battle, and live coverage from AMA Pro Racing that was incredible according to everybody that I have talked to. This is a big turning point in our sport. Sure, we don't have the TV coverage that everybody seems to beg for, but if we have good live programs streamed on the internet and if those are archived for future use, we are making steps in the right direction. With AMA Pro Racing stepping up, it's time for rider's a teams to step up as well and take this sport to a new level. Hey, we have a whole off season to talk about that though right?
While the track was great, the racing was incredible and the live coverage was very positive, we did see something come to and end. As mentioned above, it was the last ride for Kenny Coolbeth aboard the Factory Harley Davidson. The King Of Cool has been with the team for many years, won a lot of races and on top of that, carried the number 1 plate for them. It's true that all things come to an end, but it is going to be different seeing Kenny on different equipment. I haven't had the chance to talk with Kenny yet since I have been on the road, but I sure hope that this isn't the end of Kenny at the race track. Kenny is one of the nicest, most approachable riders in the pits and what he can do on the race track is simply amazing. Win a race just a few months after breaking his leg? Check. Show up at a cushion track and destroy the field when he is known as a groove type rider? Check. Kenny was one of the first to start really riding the rear brake to control wheel spin coming off of the corner. His style and really, grace on a motorcycle is still relevant in this era of the sport and I sure hope that Kenny can put a great deal together for next season and show everybody that he still has what it takes. Trust me, he still does.
With the Factory Harley Davidson seat vacant, well, that's one heck of a ride to be open. However, will Harley Davidson even go racing next year? Now that the Kawasaki is proving that it can beat the Harley, and nearly broke the 105 race half-mile win streak, it seemed like Harley could just save the money spent on the race program and throw more parties in Milwaukee. From the rumblings and grumblings that I have been hearing though, I do believe that "The Motor Company" will be back for 2014. Who would fill that seat? Many are pointing to Brad Baker. If you remember, Brad filled in for Kenny when he was hurt last season, though I'm not real sure that Brad was so hooked on the bike at that time. Also, Brad loves his Dodge Brothers Harley Davidson, so would he leave that? The promise of a paycheck can be a very luring thing. I have also heard that Jared Mees has been in talks with them. Jared was a support rider for the Screaming Eagle squad back when they had their "Wrecking Crew" a few years ago. It's going to be neat to see who ends up with the factory for next year. I will do my best to report things here as soon as I hear something!
What about the Harley Davidson itself? The XR750, while winning a lot of races and the title this year is still an awesome dirt track weapon, it is basically 41 years old. I asked Kenny early in the year and asked if he was testing anything new for them and he just laughed over the phone and said "of course I couldn't tell you that even if it were true." Now, I do believe that is racer speak for "Yeah I'm testing and I can't talk about it per my contract." Could Harley be cooking up something cool with an XR1200 based motor? Something like what Nichole Mees has been testing here and there? At one time Harley had a 3-valve XR750 engine, could it be time for that to come out? Harley invested a lot of money into testing a development a few years ago, even getting into the wind tunnel to try some new things regarding drag on the motorcycle. With that kind of investment, why would they throw in the towel now? We are coming off an awesome season and it looks like we have a lot more exciting things right around the corner too.
The AMA Pro Racing Grand National Championship may be over, but there are still races this weekend! Check out where you need to be to throw a little dirt around.
Volusia County Speedway, Ocala, FL (Two Day Biketoberfest Event)
Willow Springs, CA (Two Day Eddie Mulder Event Big $$)
Oakland Valley Speedway, Cuddebackville, NY
Next Weekend the racing continues!
Mid America Speedway, Indianapolis, IN Short Track (RACE IN COSTUME!)
DuQuoin Illinois, Indoor Short Track (Halloween Party!)
Prarie City OHV, Sacramento, CA
Steve Nace Racing Promotions has released their indoor schedule for the 2013/2014 season and we are going to be moving around this year. Sure, we are coming back to DuQuoin Illinois, but the series will also make a stop in Springfield Illinois on November 16th and then Sturgis Kentucky on December 14th. We haven't been to either of those tracks in several years! The Springfield races are held in the Coliseum which is outside of turn 1 at the mile. The series kicks off in DuQuoin Illinois on October 26th, so it's coming up very soon. Don't forget to bring your Halloween costume to the track, because there will be a Halloween party after the open practice on Friday night! For more information, check out www.stevenaceracing.com
I'm a little torn on the subject because the same day that the Steve Nace Midwest Indoor Series kicks off in DuQuoin Illinois, Mid America Speedway is having their annual Halloween Race in Indianapolis Indiana. I think this is the 3rd or maybe 4th annual Halloween race and yes, we race in our costumes. At this event, myself and Ion Stear will be there judging costumes and since this is a FUN event, the better the costume, the better your gate pick. Oh yes, it's true. So dress it up and we'll have some fun! I know I have my costume all ready to go! October 26th, either be in Indy or DuQuoin, no excuses!
The unofficial dirt track statistical expert, Bert Sumner sent me an email this week that was just chocked FULL of awesome stats from the year. For instance, Brad Baker is the 4th youngest ever Grand National Champion. However, that is pretty widely known. Check out the rest of the facts that he sent along. For instance, this year we had 3 different OEM's on a mile podium for the first time since April 30th 1972 and we had 3 different OEM's on a half-mile podium since October 9th, 1976. We had the most first time winners this year since 2002 when a whopping 6 different riders won their first national. The last fact that I thought I would include was that for the first time since May 3rd 1987, we had a Grand National Mile without a Harley Davidson on the podium. Pretty neat stuff about our 2013 season. Thank you for sending that along Bert!!
This week's featured Motion Pro tool is their mini-brake bleeder. This thing has been flying off the shelves and is priced right at just $26.99. This set up puts the wrench and the bleeder valve all in one tool with extra tubing to keep air from back feeding through the line. Makes bleeding your brakes very quick and easy. See more about it at www.motionpro.com
That's all I have this week. Next week will be quite a different column as we won't have any Grand National races to preview or review, but trust me, there is a ton going on behind the scenes that hopefully we will get the scoop on and be able to discuss. Also, don't forget to check out the home page and read the Brad Baker, Wyatt Maguire and JR Addison interviews. There is some quality reading there! I'm going to sign off here and get some rest for the 9am-9pm show tomorrow, going to be a long one! Thank you so much for reading and have a great weekend!
Best Freestyler: Jake Mataya
Freshest Lid: Brad Baker
Biggest Goon: Bronson Bauman
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