InSLIDE Line 4...We're going big time!Jan 24, 2014
Hello, and welcome to the InSlide Line Presented by Boughner Racing Suspension. We are a month into 2014 and things are still going great. Teams and riders are finalizing their bikes, graphics companies are busy printing number plates and inking jerseys all while the twins teams are putting in late nights on their bikes trying to get them ready for the unofficial twins opener in Savannah Georgia just before Daytona. This column is coming to you high in the clouds once again as I make my way to San Francisco for another event with Memphis Shades, so while racing is the only thing on my mind, let's get to business.
Last week I teamed up with George Mack, Jeffrey Carver and Rob Williams to tackle the Steel Shoe Fund 3-hour Ice Race. This race goes down each year in Campbellsport Wisconsin and this year the course was once again laid out by Jeff Fredette. We had 6.5 Miles of some of the most perfect ice you could ever imagine. While a mechanical took my team out after practice last year and I only got 2 laps out on the ice, and I can't recall the track the year before that too well, I can say this, the track this year was AWESOME! They ran the track "backwards" this year, meaning clock wise, so there were a ton of right hand turns. Now, typically you would think that a dirt tracker wouldn't be a fan of that, but let me tell you this, we all love going right too. In fact, I think it's more fun because both feet are on the pegs a lot longer so you get that feet up sliding feeling a lot more. Everybody in our pits had a blast and in fact, George Mack's new gauge in his van was maxed out!
It's funny to me how much buzz this race gets AFTER it goes off. After results and photos start being posted, EVERYBODY wants in for next year. Well, I put plenty of info up about this race leading up to it every year, so there is no excuse. We had 72 teams this year, how about we make it 100 for next year? How about the Harley jumper himself Bubba Blackwell wanting a spot on my team next year? We might just have a lot of fun! As for the racing itself, It was the king of the Wisconsin ice, JR Schnabel taking back his crown from the Mischler Brothers. JR wasn't happy about having to run the number 2 on his Suzuki for the event, and not only did he win, but he did it Iron Man. JR Schnabel is a beast folks. TheWest Bend Harley Davidson team of Jesse Janisch and Jeremy DeRuyter put up one heck of a fight, but ended up with 2nd place. Ryan Wells and Kyle Johnson were off to an amazing start until they had a rear fender break near the finish line in the early stages of the race and a swap in the pits cost them quite a bit of time. They ended up 10th over all, the last team to be on the lead lap. The defending champs, theMischler Brothers were looking great too until they had a mechanical on lap 12 and were forced to retire. What an event, and I can't thank the Sumner family enough for inviting me up there to take part in it all. Did I mention that we had a blast?
This weekend the racing continues on with events on nearly opposite ends of the country. Check them out!
Next weekend the West Coast continues racing on!
Something amazing happened this week and I'm sure yesterday if you are connected to facebook or twitter and you follow anybody in dirt track, you know all about it. Brad Baker, Jared Mees and Nichole Meesare all in Aspen Colorado at the X-Games riding the new Harley Davidson Street 750 on ice. Harley flew them all out there to put on a promo of sorts and to encourage the folks from the X-Games to include ice racing in future events. It was funny, I knew the three of them were going out there, yet none of them would tell me anything. When Harley leaked the news yesterday, Brad and Jared both told me they were out there, they shot video before hand, but that they would not be riding. Well, the trio all rode yesterday. This folks is how powerful the media machine is at Harley Davidson, and how afraid of their wrath their riders are. While we all know that Brad is going to be their factory rider, it was the debut of Jared and Nichole in Screaming Eagle gear. Jared still denies that the deal is finalized, but I would say there is a 99% chance that Harley Davidson has revived the wrecking crew to have their first ever husband/wife racing team. Excellent marketing strategy!
So where does this leave us? Well, in my opinion, once again, Harley Davidson has taken a MAJOR stride towards single handedly reviving dirt track. That's right, I said it. Harley put us on their backs and we now have the potential to explode back into the mainstream. If you aren't familiar with the X-Games, you are looking at an Olympic style sporting event that much like the original Olympic Games, has a summer version and a winter version. Obviously, we are talking Winter X here but the exposure that X-Games athletes get is absolutely astounding. In Free-Style motocross, there are several athletes that make their living based on the compensation they receive for the X-Games alone. They work all year long just to compete in the X-Games. Yes, it's that big.
Harley is going after the young demographic with their new Street 500 and 750 motorcycles and they hit the absolute perfect place to go after that. We should all consider ourselves lucky that they picked us to show off their product. Let's just say that Ice Racing makes it to next year's X-Games. All of the racers that they invite (yes, it is invite only) could become house hold names. If street luge racer Biker Sherlockcould become a house hold name in the late 90's, I think our racers have a fighting chance here. With those names comes a back story. Where did these racers come from? AMA Pro Flattrack. Mainstream companies will want to be all over our racers just for the X-Games. Energy drinks, car companies, fast food, the sky really is the limit here. This could be the huge open door that we have been looking for since Camel Pro left us.
While Harley is the company that tore down the door and got us in there, if Ice Racing goes to X-Games,would the racers ride twins? My guess would that we would be on 450's. If they are on twins, could our twins suppliers, Harley, Triumph, Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki, KTM, Aprilia and hopefully soonYamaha start throwing support our way? If it's 450's, actually, we would have fewer manufacturers withHonda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and KTM probably being involved. Either way, if we can get the OEM's to build relationships with our racers, and our racers are professional, responsible and entertaining, this could be the breath of life that we needed to get our sport out of the ICU that many people believe that it is in.
One person who has X-Games experience is JR Schnabel. When JR was on the Factory Yamaha/Memphis Shades team, he was invited to compete in Super-Moto, which the track designers really pushed towards more of a Supercross layout, putting JR at a major disadvantage. JR however is a complete animal on ice. JR is also coming back and racing Daytona at the season opener. So, with JR back on his game, having connections with X-Games and even possibly having slight ties to an OEM, this could be huge for just JR alone. I asked JR while he would come back for Daytona, a place where he won a national, but also a place that isn't JR's style. JR typically moves towards the front when there is a lot of traction. Daytona isn't that place. Not even close. However, JR was quick to point out that it was a decision between he and his wife. They decided that after his injuries, Peoria was too dangerous, Springfield's singles races weren't nationals, and he didn't have a great twin to hop on to at the moment. JR said that it didn't hurt that Florida is a terrific vacation destination for his wife and kids either. I can't wait to see the big 33 back on the track! JR will be riding a bike built and tuned by his good friend Jeremy DeRuyter, so make sure if you are at the race that you stop by and see the two West Bend Wisconsin residents.
The one problem with the X-Games is who they would invite. Would they try to make it a mash up of different forms of motorcycle racing or would they pull the elite dirt trackers? That is the one thing that scares me a little. We have 20 guys in our sport that could use the boost, but if they only take 5 and then bring in some motocrossers and road racers, I think that not only would it make for less competitive racing, but it would steal a little bit of glory for our racers who need it the most. Here's the promo video that Harley Davidson put together!
Speaking of racers that need a little help, my teammate last weekend, Jeffery Carver is a very talented racer who doesn't have a lot of support going for 2014. Last year he won his first national at the Castle Rock TT and this year he is looking for some support. He is mainly looking for twins support, but he said that singles support is needed also. If you want to get on board with Jeffery, you're going to be on a team with a kid who can no doubt win another national.
I know last week I told you that I would be dropping by the Motion Pro factory in San Jose as well as theZanotti Racing headquarters, but I didn't quite think about my dates correctly, because this column will be posted before I make it by for a visit to either place. Sorry folks, you're going to have to wait until next week!
Several of you know that Fight For Dirt Track isn't my REAL job. While it does consume about 20 hours of my week most of the time, it is purely a hobby of mine and provides me a way to get the dirt track news out to a wide audience. My real job is with Memphis Shades where I travel the country and really, some parts of this big wide world, educating riders, dealers and distributors about the world's finest windshields and fairings. While this could be tossed around as a shameless plug, if you guys are into social media, go give Memphis Shades a "like" on Facebook, follow us @memphisshades on Instagram and@memshades on twitter. (make sure you use MEMshades on that one) I have convinced the crew at the factory that I'm responsible enough for access to the accounts, and I'm posting things from my travels all the times. Heck, at some point we might even start giving a few things away to our fans. You just never know. Keep track of my craziness!
I read pretty much anything I can find about our sport. Yes, I am extremely biased and as much work as I put into this site every week, some would say I'm pretty judgmental about what others write in our sport. Hey, we all have personal faults, and being overly proud of this website where so many of you guys have become some of my best friends while allowing me to do a lot of things in our sport and in life that I never imagined could be one of those. A headline caught my eye this week, and it was talking about the breath of life that our sport needed. It stopped short of calling our sport dead, but it did make it seem like we are are just trudging along. The suggestions to help out were very sound, and something we all should be doing, but my opinion right now is that you simply can't kill dirt track. I feel like a few people have tried, but dirt track can't die.
The reason? All of us are survivalists. We don't have the semi's, huge salaries, and huge sponsors to lose. We aren't so spoiled that there is a dollar amount that we must have before we take the risk to chase our dreams. We love our white windowless vans and older model bikes. None of us are too proud to sleep on a couch or accept a free meal. Dirt Track at its very core is more than just another motorsport, most of us are family. Most of us would love to walk away, but we can't. I have seen a lot of people leave the sport, but it pulls them back in. We can't get away from the atmosphere and we have a love for it that can't be denied. Dirt Track isn't dead, dirt track is hibernating. If this X-Games deal goes off, I can see an awakening and like I said, if we know how to manage it, be professional and be true athletes, we are going be in a VERY good spot.
AMA Pro Racing has everything opened up for Daytona registration. With their new online system, even applying for a one day credential is easy. Now, they sent 2 emails out about credentials that were VERY confusing. The one saying that the one day credential is $125 per day is for road racing...The one stating that one day credentials are $45 are for flattrack. Go us! However, there is a $55 membership fee on top of that, but that's a once a year fee. For the racers, the entry portion of the site is open also to get those pre-entries in and save some money. Daytona will be here before we know it!
While there has been a lot of good news in our sport this week, I woke up on Sunday morning to some very very horrible news. AMA Pro Flattrack Expert Ben Knight and his girlfriend Kristy Etchison were involved in a multi-car accident near Champaign Illinois and while Ben suffered two severely broken legs and some deep cuts, Kristy did not survive the accident. Ben and Kristy were fixtures at Mid America raceway, and Kristy is somebody that many of us are going to deeply miss. Ben has a very long road to recovery, but the hardest thing to recover from is the loss of someone you love. A GoFundMe.com account was set up for Ben's recovery efforts by Jeremy DeRuyter, so you can look for that. Kristy also had two young children who will need the utmost support as they deal with this loss. Please keep both families in your thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. If you would like to donate to help Ben's recovery, click this LINK to help out. The amount of support already has been amazing.
That is all I have this week. Thank you guys so much for reading this week and for all of the support. We are still working on a few things for the 2014 season, things that are going to help you guys out. Product giveaways from some of our sponsors and you may even find my writings in a few new spots, so it's something to look forward to. I know that the AWESOME guys at Side Burn Magazine have some cool stuff cooked up in their next issue, so I will let you know when that hits. Have a safe weekend and I hope you find yourself near a race track this weekend!
Best Child Photo Of All Time: Some Guy Who Hangs With Zanotti Racing
Biggest Four Legged Race Fan (yes, sorry it's supercross): Luke Porter
Best Coolant Hose Routing: Jeffery Carver
Racing, General News All Article Tags