The Best Dirt Track Racers in the World Put on a Show in Calistogaposted Aug 19, 2010
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Mile and Half Mile dirt track racing have been absent from California for over 10 years, and its triumphant return to the Golden State was nothing short of spectacular. There were hard fought battles all night in every class on the perfectly prepared blue groove track, and the riders performed in front of a sold out, standing room only crowd.
The event started off on Friday night, where there was a special event honoring some of the Californian legends of dirt track; Dick Mann, Carroll Resweber, Joe Leonard and Everett Brashear were special guests. Many racing stories were shared and everyone enjoyed the excellent food and wine that the Napa Valley has to offer.
Saturday was a packed schedule, with bike shows, autograph signings, and many other attractions and activities to keep fans busy until the racing action started.
The Calistoga Speedway is somewhat unique. It’s a slightly smaller venue with a capacity of only 5000 people and is situated right next to downtown Calistoga, one of the nicest small towns in the Napa Valley. The promoters prepared a perfect, racy track for the riders and it was praised by all of them for its excellent, consistent and safe riding surface.
The races featured the two primary Grand National Classes, the Expert Twins class for the big V-Twin engine race bikes, and the Pro Singles class for the 450cc single cylinder bikes based on production motocrossers from the Japanese and European manufacturers.
The heat races started off with a bang as Joe Kopp suffered an unheard of mechanical failure when his swingarm pivot bolt broke, and the rear end of his motorcycle literally fell off at about 80mph! Luckily, the AMA has invested heavily in Air Fence safety barriers in recent years and he came to a safe stop without injury. Hats off to the AMA for really stepping up and showing that they care about the riders who bring the show.
The Expert Twins main event had 18 riders battling for the win, and the 25 lap race featured multiple lead changes, with Chris Carr, Sammy Halbert and Stevie Bonsey all leading the race at one point or another. It was to be Bonsey’s night though, as once he took the lead on lap 17, he checked out and was not challenged for the lead again. This race marks Bonsey’s first GNC win ever, and is as close as a hometown race could be for the Salinas resident. The rest of the top 5 included Sammy Halbert, Jake Johnson, Chris Carr, and Jared Mees. In one of the most exciting stories of the night, Joe Kopp came back from his heat race crash to win his Semi, and then finished the main event in 7th position, quite an accomplishment for someone who suffered such a mishap earlier in the evening. It should be noted that every single rider who made the main event that evening is sponsored and supported by Motion Pro!
The Pro Singles event features some of the fastest young guns in the country on very similarly prepped 450cc singles, and they put on a great show for the fans. There was an exciting battle for the lead between Jeffrey Carver and Brad Baker, with Baker edging Carver for the win this time around. Mikey Avila rounded out the podium in 3rd place, his first top 3 finish in the AMA National series. All three of these riders are also supported by Motion Pro, as were seven others in the top ten of this event.
Can you see a trend here? If you want to win, get Motion Pro…
The Calistoga Half Mile will be back again next year, so if you missed it this year don’t make that mistake again.