InSLIDE Line 3...Coming In Hot!Jan 17, 2014
Hello, and welcome to the InSlide Line Presented by Boughner Racing Suspension. 2014 just keeps rolling right on along. Once again I'm out and about on the road, this time things are coming to you from the West Coast as I'm bouncing between L.A. and San Diego in my ultimate quest to dominate the motorcycle windshield marketplace. A lot of stuff has transpired since last Friday, so let's get to work!
There was a LOT of racing action last week. Whether you were in Shawnee Oklahoma at the Mary Adams memorial race, hustling through another round of the Midwest Indoor Series in DuQuoin Illinois, enjoying the smell of coke syrup on concrete in Las Vegas or watching things from Spain, there was no reason for any dirt track fan to go without some race action! Deep in the heart of Oklahoma things heated up at the indoor arena in Shawnee. It was the 2nd annual Mary Adams Memorial race and a LOT of people showed up to do battle. In the pro class there were standouts like road racer Danny Eslick and our dirt track fountain of youth Ronnie Jones. As the checkers flew for the main event, it was none other than Ronnie Jones taking the race with Hunter King in 2nd and Danny Eslick 3rd.
It Was A Packed First Turn In Shawnee Oklahoma! Photo: Mike Spivey
A bit further west, the annual Las Vegas indoor took place inside the South Point Casino. In the Open Pro class it was none other than last year's Daytona short track winner, Mikey Rush, pulling off the two day sweep! In the past injuries and just a simple lack of commitment have kept Mikey from his true potential, but with his recent success, could this be his turning point? Running 2nd both nights was Chad Cose. On night one the podium was rounded out by Scott Baker, while the honors on night 2 went to Dominic Colindres. This race was important for a couple of different reasons besides the results however. For one, it marked the debut of Kenny Coolbeth on the Zanotti Racing team. While Kenny's results weren't much to speak of after getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time (hey, it's indoor short tracking) I can tell you that the team is VERY happy to be working with him and are excited about the new year. Kenny's teammate Stevie Bonsey also raced on night two. He originally said he was going to save his newly repaired knee so that he was in perfect shape for Daytona, but the racing bug bit him, and he took off on night two. He did win the Dash For Cash, but he also crash tested his knee too. The good news is that the knee took the impact just fine and Stevie was still in shape to do some testing at the famous Perris short track after the Las Vegas event. The Zanotti Team is looking incredibly promising for the upcoming season!
In DuQuoin Illinois the turn out was a little light, but the racing action was just as intense as it typicall is.JD Beach once again had a sweep on the weekend, but it was Pro Singles rookie Kolby Carlile doing his best to knock the King of DuQuoin off of his throne. Kolby vowed to beat JD by the end of the indoor season, and it seems like at each event, he is inching a little closer to giving JD a run for his money. Bri Hazen rounded out the podium in the 450 Pro class, while it was Jake Gutterridge finishing out the podium in the Open Pro/Am class. Jake Gutterridge also took the win in the 450 Mod short track class.Jake Gutterridge kept his winning ways going as he marched to the win in the 250 Mod class also, ruining hot shot Kevin Stollings' bid to sweep the 250 divisions. Kevin did rebound to take the win in both of the other 250 classes. On the TT side of things, it was JD taking the win in the Open Pro/Am class while Kevin Stollings swept all of the 250 divisions. The next race in Duquoin takes place February 8th. For all of the information you need, check out www.stevenaceracing.com
The race heard around the world last week was the Superprestigio race in Barcelona Spain. At the last minute, Cycle World Magazine along with AMA Pro Racing teamed up to provide live internet coverage of the event. I was working on Saturday, but I was able to catch a few clips of the race, and then LUCKILY several facebook fans posted clips of the races. Just as I predicted, it was our boy Brad Baker sweeping the event. Not only did he win the invitation only Open class, but that win qualified him for the Super Final, which he took with ease after he and the host, Marc Marquez made contact going into turn 1. American dirt tracker Merle Scherb was also very impressive, carding a strong 3rd in the Open class and riding hard to a 6th place finish in the Super Final.
Now, the contact between Brad and Marc could be discussed for hours on end. My opinion? Yeah, that's what you guys tune in for! Well, my take on it, I think Brad was laying up on things a bit to provide a good race for the press and fans. I've watched countless races since 2009 when Brad first turned pro. I have NEVER seen him leave the door open so much or his riding style look so casual. I will give him this, that place looked REALLY slick. I have no experience on 17" rain slicks, so I'm sure that would be different too. However, during the Super Final, while Marquez seemed to be just a little bit over his head trying to keep pace with Brad, Brad looked totally relaxed. Marquez pushed Brad wide a few times and as the laps wound down, it looked like Brad had enough of putting on a show and wanted to make his bid for the win. Brad finally squared up turn four and shot down the straight away and put himself ever so slightly ahead of Marquez going into one. Without making any contact with his bike, Brad did touch Marc Marquez with his arm, and the force seemed to completely send the MotoGP champ off balance and onto the red clay. Brad quickly looked back and saw the damage and it looked like he once again laid up a bit to keep the field tight. After the race it seemed like there were no hard feelings as both of them celebrated together. Hey, two champs just out there pushing each other, right?
While I do believe Marquez was riding over his head to try and keep pace with Brad, I am overwhelmed at the dirt track skills that Marquez has in his arsenal. Yes, I realize he's the MotoGP champion, probably the most gifted racer on two wheels at this time. I'm sure if you took Marc's times on a dirt tracker and compared them to Brad's times on a road racer, you'd be impressed also with what Marquez pulled off with his limited dirt track experience. Brad and Merle weren't the only American's over there either. While I didn't write last week about Kenny Noyes, he is an American and he was racing, and he was very fast! Kenny's time in the states was before my time in the sport, and while his father was responsible for helping Brad travel to Spain, both Kenny and his father have been in Spain for a long time with Kenny having a pretty successful go at european road racing, and now running a dirt track school. There was one more American there, and this one wasn't wearing a helmet. None other than AMA Pro Racing's Kevin Clarkwas on on hand to wave the flags in a way that only he can. I hope the Euro's enjoyed his skills!
Brad Baker Getting Some Practice In With Marc Marquez
The best news was that the coverage was INCREDIBLE for our sport. News outlets that seem to barely know what dirttrack is were covering the race, we had live internet coverage and the photos and videos from the event are just incredible. Hopefully Brad is invited back and maybe Nicky Hayden will be healthy for the event next time. He was invited, but he is still recovering from surgery on his wrist, so he declined the invite. Hopefully JD Beach will get tossed an invite also. What I would love to eventually see is some sort of match race. Maybe one day in the future we can send our top 5 guys over and they can field their top 5 racers. I think that would be incredible for the GP guys and would be an incredible shot in the arm for our sport. While racing in general isn't a big deal over here, and we all know that Dirt Track isn't the most popular form of motorcycling racing in the states, motorsport in europe is HUGE. Spain is now the hotbed of MotoGP talent, and the natives are crazy about their countrymen. I will say one thing, the Euro's know how to put on a show! Brad commented that he didn't want to leave Spain after receiving the treatment that he did there. They put on one heck of an incredible event and maybe we can grow the sport further with an event like a match race.
With all of the talk of what happened last week, it's tough to fathom that in the dead of winter, we still have plenty of racing to talk about for this week. The event on my to-do list is the annual Steel Shoe 3-hour endurance ice race on Kettle Moraine lake in Campbellsport Wisconsin this Sunday. This event benefits the Steel Shoe Fund, which helps out injured racers. It's a great cause and a great race. Please come out and support it. For any information you may need, head over to www.steelshoefund.org
Don't have a set of ice tires? Never fear, there are dirt tracks to go racing at this weekend too!
Caldwell, ID (2-Day Event!)
Next weekend the racing continues on opposite ends of the country!
News trickled down this week and now we know what the Burnett Farm's team is going up be up to for the 2014 season. They have gone their own way after a successful partnership with the USC Kawasaki/Hart Racing team last season. They are hedging their bets on the Pro Singles rookie Davis Fisher for the upcoming season. Davis has been very impressive every time I have seen him on the track and after all of the top named racers that I have seen Davis compete against, along with having a father who was a successful racer himself, I think Davis will do some very impressive things this season. One thing that impresses me about Davis is that he has a REALLY cool fund raiser going on. For just $5 you can get one of these laser cut key chains below. Find Davis Fisher or TJ Burnett Farms Racing on Facebook for details on how to order them. They come in several different colors. What a cool product!
Help A Racer Out, Spare Him A Five Spot!
The Daytona opener is scheduled for March 13th and 14th and while that is still 2 months away, for a race team, that is not a lot of time. In the pressure cooker that is AMA Pro Racing, 2 months is like 15 seconds of microwave time. Coming even sooner than the Daytona opener is the All-Star Series opener in Savannah Georgia. This is one of the fastest half-miles in the country and nearly every twins team uses the track to test before and after the All-Star event. From Zanotti Racing to the Bonneville Performancesquad along with the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team and probably the Latus Motorsports Triumphteam, all of the heavy hitters in the twin series typically test there. However, word coming from the track is that the factory Harley Davidson team has a TON of dates scheduled at the facility, making it hard for the other teams to get much track time. The strongest rumor is that Harley is bringing the Wrecking Crew back to the fold for 2014, so you will see more factory supported racers on the grid. No word yet on who may make up the Wrecking Crew, but rumors are swirling.
What we do know is that Brad Baker is going to be atop the sole Factory Harley Davidson steed. DidHarley Davidson schedule all of this track time to get Brad acclimated to the new bike and team? Being that Brad has spent quite a bit of time on XR's, my guess would be that there is more of a motive here. I have great sources telling me that they have seen pictures of Harley's new 750cc liquid cooled motor in a dirt track chassis. Could they be reserving all of this track time to shake a bike down? I sure hope so! We need new equipment!
Speaking of Brad Baker, I also heard a little rumor floating around that Brad's deal with Factory Harley Davidson is only for the AMA Pro Racing nationals, which isn't very surprising. However, I caught wind that Brad could possibly be fielding Dodge Brothers Racing Harley Davidson equipment for non-national twins events such as races in the All-Star series. Now, this is a PURE rumor, and it caught me a little off guard. With the Atherton's leaving the Dodge Brothers and going to Zanotti Racing for the upcoming season, who will maintain those bikes? How many All-Star twins races would there be? It seems a bit fishy to me, but hopefully we can confirm some of this stuff soon.
Because of my job with Memphis Shades, you guys all know that I spend a lot of time on the road. While being on the road a lot isn't always all it's cracked up to be, it does provide me with the opportunity to see a lot of things, and get a lot of scoops for you guys that ordinarily I wouldn't have the chance to see. For instance, Wednesday night the head Mack Daddy, George Mack put me up at his house while I was traveling through Chicago. George is always tinkering with something, whether it be restoring a Viper framed Yamaha or building a 2-stroke ice bike. Well, even though he has a twin already which is co-owned by Jeremy Deruyter, George is also building a Kawasaki. It's a rolling chassis at this time and he has plans to have it on the track this season. Things are up in the air right now as to who will be on the seat of it, but it seems like at this point it may be a "rent-a-racer". This isn't a new concept in the sport, but it is one that I believe isn't used quite enough and in the right situations, it can work out great for both the racer and the bike owner.
Here's how it works. The bike owner builds a high quality bike and then rents it out on a per race or maybe even a per season basis. Nothing shocking there. However, for the racer, this could be very economical for them. Instead of spending between $10,000 and $25,000 to build their own twin that they may only ride a handful of times per year, they can pay anywhere from $500 to $1,500 a race depending on the bike and the owner and have a bike for that event. Details such as how the winnings are split and who covers the cost of tires can be negotiated, but for the racer, this usually means that the bike owner will be at the race to tune the bike also, so you are getting a mechanic in the deal. Let's say, especially for the Basic Twins racers, that you only do 8 twins events in the next 2 seasons. If rent is $1,000 per race, the math is pretty easy, you have spent $8,000 to race. While that seems steep, you haven't paid for the upkeep of another motorcycle and depending on your agreement, you haven't spent money on tires or fuel either. At the end of it, you also don't have a twin in the garage that you WILL lose money on when you sell it. I can also promise that unless you have access to a dirttrack junk yard of free frames, wheels and suspension, you CAN NOT build a competitive twin for $8,000. Remember the whole losing money when you sell it thing? Yeah, let's say you spent $15,000 to build your twin, after 2 or 3 seasons on it, $7000-$8000 is the typical resale price. A new Harley will cost you about $25,000 to build if you don't have any parts laying around and resale on those are about $16,000-$22,000 depending on the quality of the build.
For the bike owner, they put around $20,000 into a typical twin and in a few seasons, the bike is paid for. Most people who build twins are known for quality builds, and will want to keep their bike in top condition at all times. I know a lot of bike owners and they just love to race. If they can justify the price of this hobby, even better. I think we have a lot of "sleeper" owners in this sport who could pony up to build a great bike and provide a cost effective way for several racers to put together a good twins program. A lot of people look at the total cost and it scares them away from renting a motorcycle, but if you REALLY look at the true cost of building a bike and maintaining it, sometimes it makes more sense to rent a bike than it does to build one of your own. Now if you have a place to test a twin, or have the opportunity to hit every national or have some half-miles and miles to race on locally, it probably doesn't make sense for you to rent, but for a racer such as myself, who would typically only have the chance to ride a twin between 3 and 5 times a year, it makes a lot of sense.
While the rental bike game is great, we still need those team owners out there who are providing bikes for their racers. I think we'd lose a lot of top talent if the Kenny Coolbeth's, Jake Johnson's, Brad Baker's, Mikey Martin's and Stevie Bonsey's of the world had to pay for their own motorcycles. Our sport isn't to the point yet economically for everybody in the pro ranks to have a free bike yet, so while the fastest guys are still going to have "free" motorcycles, and we all know they deserve it, for those of us a little down in the talent pool, renting could be a great move. Hopefully with the new Pro Twins class renting to lead to some nice full fields. I know it won't all happen the first year, as a lot of people are just getting their twin's programs off the ground, but hopefully it's a 3 year or so plan to build around and by the end of the 3 years we will have nice full classes and a very deep pool of talent to watch out there on the track.
Well, that's all I have this week. It was nice once again typing out the column with my knees shoved into the back of an economy seat on an Airbus A320. Next week I'll have a report from the Steel Shoe 3-Hourrace and I'm hoping that I'll have time while I'm in San Francisco to drop by and see the folks fromMotion Pro as well as take a peek into the Zanotti Racing Team's race shop and see how their program is coming along. I appreciate you guys taking the time to read the column this week and taking such an interest in our sport. If you are able, get out this weekend and enjoy some racing action for yourself! Have a great weekend!
Best Dressed Trumpeter: Tyler Porter (photo: John "Cockatoo" Boucher)
Most Ready For The New Season: Dan Johnsen
Best Way To Begin A Pro Career: Mikey Avila
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