Alanf’s blog…
Scattered thoughts

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2006 road race calendar…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA Superbikes, AMA Supermoto, MRA, MotoGP, Other Forms Of Racing, WSBK

The 2005 MotoGP field streams through

Last year I built a combined road race calendar for 2005 (with race dates for AMA Superbike, AMA Supermoto, World Superbike and MotoGP, as well as local races like the MRA, the local round of the AMA Supermoto series, the local round of the AHRMA series and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb). I found it really useful so I decided to do it again for 2006. Here is the current road race calendar for this year:


25 - WSBK @ Losail International Circuit; Doha, Qatar


5 - WSBK @ Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit; Phillip Island, Australia

11 - AMA SBK @ Daytona International Speedway; Daytona Beach, FL

26 - MotoGP @ Circuit de Jerez de la Frontera; Jerez, Spain


8 - MotoGP @ Losail International Circuit; Doha, Qatar

23 - WSBK @ Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo; Valencia, Spain

23 - AMA SBK @ Barber Motorsports Park; Birmingham, AL

29 - AMA Supermoto @ California Speedway; Fontana, CA

30 - MotoGP @ Istanbul Park; Istanbul, Turkey

30 - AMA SBK @ California Speedway; Fontana, CA

30 - MRA @ Pueblo Motorsports Park; Pueblo, CO


7 - WSBK @ Autodromo Nazionale Monza; Monza, Italy

14 - MotoGP @ Shanghai Circuit; Shanghai, China

21 - MotoGP @ Bugatti Le Mans Circuit; Le Mans, France

21 - AMA SBK @ Infineon Raceway; Sonoma, CA

28 - WSBK @ Silverstone; Silverstone, UK


3 - AMA Supermoto @ Road America; Elkhart Lake, WI

4 - MotoGP @ Circuito del Mugello; Mugello, Italy

4 - AMA SBK @ Road America; Elkhart Lake, WI

4 - MRA @ La Junta Raceway; La Junta, CO

10 - AMA Supermoto @ USA International Raceway; Shawano, WI

17 - AMA Supermoto @ Miller Motorsports Park; Salt Lake City, UT

18 - MotoGP @ Circuit de Catalunya; Catalunya, Spain

18 - AMA SBK @ Miller Motorsports Park; Salt Lake City, UT

24 - MotoGP @ TT Circuit Assen; Assen, Netherlands

25 - WSBK @ Circuito Internazionale Santa Monica; Misano, San Marino

25 - PPIHC @ Pikes Peak Hill Climb; Colorado Springs, CO


2 - MotoGP @ Donnington Park; Donnington Park, Great Britain

8 - AMA Supermoto @ The Palace of Auburn Hills; Detroit, MI

9 - MRA @ Miller Motorsports Park; Salt Lake City, UT

16 - MotoGP @ Sachsenring Circuit; Sachsenring, Germany

23 - MotoGP @ Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Monterrey, CA

23 - WSBK @ Brno; Brno, Czech Republic

23 - AMA SBK @ Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Monterey, CA

30 - MRA @ Motorsport Park Hastings; Hastings, NE


6 - WSBK @ Brands Hatch; Brands Hatch, UK

6 - AMA SBK @ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; Lexington, OH

13 - MRA @ Pueblo Motorsports Park; Pueblo, CO

20 - MotoGP @ Automotodrom Brno; Brno, Czech Republic

20 - AMA SBK @ Virginia International Raceway; Alton, VA

27 - MRA @ La Junta Raceway; La Junta, CO

27 - AMA Supermoto @ TBA; TBA, CO


3 - WSBK @ TT Circuit Assen; Assen, Netherlands

3 - AMA SBK @ Road Atlanta; Braselton, GA.

10 - MotoGP @ Sepang International Circuit; Sepang, Malaysia

10 - WSBK @ Eurospeedway Lausitz; Lausitzring, Germany

10 - MRA @ Motorsport Park Hastings; Hastings, NE

17 - MotoGP @ Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit; Phillip Island, Australia

17 - AHRMA @ Miller Motorsports Park; Salt Lake City, Utah

24 - MotoGP @ Twin Ring Motegi; Motegi, Japan

24 - MRA @ Pueblo Motorsports Park; Pueblo, CO


1 - WSBK @ Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Imola; Imola, Italy

1 - AMA SBK @ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; Lexington, OH

8 - WSBK @ Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours; Magny-Cours, France

14 - AMA Supermoto @ Music City Motorplex; Nashville, TN

15 - MotoGP @ Circuito do Estoril; Estoril, Portugal

22 - WSBK @ TBA; TBA, South Africa

29 - MotoGP @ Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo; Valencia, Spain


4 - AMA Supermoto @ Queen Mary; Long Beach, CA

Well, it looks like I’ll be making a few trips to Utah in ‘06 since both the AMA has moved from the now deceased Pikes Peak International Raceway to the new Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. They have even thrown in a Supermoto event to make the event even more enticing despite the long drive. Then AHRMA moved their Fall event from the Pueblo Motorsports Park to Miller Motorsports Park as well. I already have my tickets for the combined MotoGP/AMA races at Laguna Seca in July so I will definitely be out there this summer. Finally, I’d like to catch some MRA races, since I try to support the local racers, but that will be pretty challenging this year since all of the races are so far away from the Denver metro area. Naturally, I will continue to watch everything on TV and do my best to provide some coverage here on the blog for all the races and in my WSBKPod podcast for the World Superbike races. Make sure to mark these dates on your calendar and watch some racing this year, preferably in person but if not then at least on the tube.

[image from the web site.]

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Credit where credit is due…

Author: site admin
Category: MRA

Back in June I wrote a blog entry about the MRA, the local Colorado roadrace series, in which I stated that “Many of the top riders in the MRA have been ruling the club’s races for a decade now…Its time for some talented youngsters to step it up and give these guys some competition“. Well, now that the season is over it is time I give one rider in particular some credit for doing just that: Brad Hendry, MRA rider #616.

Brad Hendry at 2nd Creek

I’ve been watching the MRA for over ten years now. During that time the same riders have always dominated: Ricky Orlando, Donny Hough, Dan Turner, Aaron Turner, Shane Turpin. All of these guys are great club racers and many have had flashes of success at the national level but all are older, most are in their thirties and a few in their forties. As much as I enjoy watching talented riders demonstrate their skills on the bike no matter what their age I also enjoying spotting the young guys that have the talent to go on to greater things. At the moment I think Brad Hendry is far and away the fastest rising star in Colorado.

There are a few reasons that Hendry impresses me. First off, he’s clearly just naturally talented on a motorcycle. After racing motocross since he was 13 he just made the switch to road racing three years ago. Despite racing on pavement for such a short time he is already pushing the MRA front runners. Clearly he has adapted quickly to the speed, the feel and the technique needed to road race. Another sure sign of talent is when someone can consistently push hard enough to run at the front and yet rarely crashes. So far this season, Brad hasn’t had a single DNF.

Second, the guy has an amazing work ethic. I think there are a lot of talented racers in the world (a guy like Anthony Gobert, for example, had amazing raw talent) but many lack the understanding that hard work is required to do well beyond a certain level. Brad is not only racing the MRA season full time but also raced select AMA and AHRMA events during the ‘05 season. In addition to racing Brad is also a full time student at University of Colorado scheduled to graduate this winter with a degree in marketing. Oh, and on top of all that he is also working part time at Foothills BMW. Clearly, this kid is willing to punch the clock if that is what is required to get the job done.

Another positive aspect of that mindset is that he seems to have set his goals very high and that motivates him to keep diving into the deep end in order to become a better rider. After just two years of racing with the MRA Hendry decided to focus his efforts in 2005 on the Open Superbike and Race of the Rockies GTO classes. These are probably the two hardest fought classes in the club’s line-up. For a relative rookie rider to pit himself against the best in the club meant that he would have to learn fast and that is exactly what he’s done. He has shown that he has the hunger to improve with each race and a burning desire to be the best. When he’s finished in the top ten, he wanted a top five. Once he was in the top five, he wanted to be on the podium. Once he was on the podium, he wasn’t happy until he won. Because of that drive, his results for the year speak for themselves:

At the first race at PPIR:
Race of the Rockies GTO - 10th
Open Superbike - 6th

The second race at Second Creek Raceway:
Race of the Rockies GTO - 4th
Open Superbike - 5th
Supertwins GTO - 12th

The third race at Continental Divide Raceway:
Race of the Rockies GTO - 4th
Open Superbike - 3rd
Supertwins GTO - 9th

The fourth race at La Junta Motorsports Park:
Race of the Rockies GTO - 4th
Open Superbike - 2nd

The fifth race at Pueblo Motorsports Park:
Race of the Rockies GTO - 3rd
Open Superbike - 2nd
Supertwins GTO - 9th

The double header, races six and seven, at PPIR:
Race of the Rockies GTO #1 - 3rd
Open Superbike #1 -3rd

Race of the Rockies GTO #2 - 3rd
Open Superbike #2 - 2nd

The nineth race at Pueblo Motorsports Park:
Race of the Rockies GTO - 3rd
Open Superbike - 2nd

Finally, the tenth race at Second Creek Raceway:
Race of the Rockies GTO - 5th
Open Superbike - 1st

The final points for the season haven’t yet been posted by the MRA but it looks like Brad has a good shot at winning the Open Superbike championship and being top three in Race of the Rockies GTO title race. This shows a trend of steady improvement throughout the year and a very respectable pair of finishes for the year.

On top of all this success there is another thing that I think will really help Brad out in the future. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy. There are a lot of guys racing who have attitude and ego problems which seem to hold them back. There is a fine line between having a healthy dose of self confidence and having an major ego issue. Some riders, notably Ben Spies and the Hayden brothers, seem to have found the former while others like Jason Disalvo appear to struggle with the later. So far, Hendry has shown a lot of respect towards his rivals while still having the competitiveness and aggressiveness needed to race against them. When beaten on the race track by more experienced riders he still has the unshakable belief in himself to learn from his defeat and then to line back up against them on the starting grid with the intent to win. When the racing is over, he can shake their hand and share in the experience of racing motorcycles with his fellow riders. That kind of attitude is always welcome by team owners who not only want results but also want riders who can interact in a positive way with fans, crew, teammates and other riders.

So, you may be thinking, why devote so much time on my blog to one club racer? Well, it is because I really hope to see big things happen for the guy. When I talked to him at Second Creek a week ago his plan for 2006 is to again climb another rung up the road racing ladder. He and his father have bought two ‘05 GSXR-1000s from the Corona Suzuki team and hope to race the entire AMA series next year competing in the Superstock and Superbike classes. Its going to be a steep learning curve but one which I think is essential if he wants to continue to challenge himself and if he wants to attract the attention of people who can help further his career as a roadracer. Brad’s degree in marketing should immediately be put to the test since marketing himself off the track is going to be just as important as his results on the track. Next year will require a lot of hard work: travelling, learning new tracks, racing at the top national level, constantly trying to improve as a rider, doing the delicate job of learning the political landscape in the AMA paddock and somewhere in there trying to still have a family and social life. I think he has the talent, the drive, the work ethic and the attitude to be successful in the sport despite all of those challenges. I’m looking forward to watching his progress in ‘06.

[image from my photo collection.]

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

In da club…

Author: site admin
Category: MRA

Back in June I did a write-up about how cool club racing is after catching one of this season’s MRA races. At the time I talked about a few different issues including criticizing the quality of the local tracks, pointing out the continued dominance by veteran riders in the series and talked about how great it is to watch a race in such a casual environment rather than being confined to some spectator only area like at a big pro race. Well, this past weekend was the final race of the 2005 MRA season and I headed down to be part of the last hoorah for the year. After just a few months some of the items I mentioned back in June have changed so I’ll try to touch on all that during this posting.

First off, the race at Second Creek marked the end of racing at this venue, not just for the year but permanently. As I mentioned in a posting I did back in April the encroachment of house developments has finally put an end to Second Creek Raceway. With the season over, the track is boarding up its doors and going up for sale. With the recent announcement that PPIR is being sold and closed after October the MRA has lost two race venues in one summer. Ouch! I hope that the new Miller Motorsports Park facility outside Salt Lake City is worth riders making the long drive and that the MRA can get at least one event there in 2006. What the club will lack in quantity of tracks perhaps it can make up in quality if a date at MMP can be added to the schedule. Anyway, with this being the final race at Second Creek as well as the last race of the season there was an added bit of excitement in the air on Sunday. Racers came out of retirement for brief race appearances, lots of stories were told about the history of MRA racing at the circuit and most riders put in that extra little bit of effort to win the last race at the track for their class or to try to break the lap record one final time. The attendance was huge, following a trend for the entire season, with more and more riders registering for races and and equal positive trend among spectator turn out. Definitely a good weekend to be at the track.

I again spent about half my time hanging out in the Brewer/Baker pits. In addition to racing and performing their regular MRA board duties the two clowns were also helping out with announcing races. This mean their normally chaotic race weekend was even more crazy. When Jim or Tony were around the pits, the usual pit banter ensued which generally means that insults, lewd comments and cussing were the norm. In Jim’s case, he had family from out of town visiting but it turns out his brother only added to the mayhem. Good entertainment value for those of us in the area but probably even more insanity for Jim to deal with…why again is it he calls this fun?

Jim Brewer at 2nd Creek

The two amigos had a mixed weekend but a good season overall. Jim got knocked out of the lead while passing a backmarker in the Super Twins GTO race. Fortunately, he’d tied up the championship at the last round so it was only pride, plastic and contingency money that got damaged in the accident. The crash bent the bracket for his electric shifter and that caused him problems in his remaining races. He started strong but faded in Heavyweight Superbike while having to re-learn how to manually shift a motorcycle when the fancy gadget quit working. After adjusting the shifter for Race of the Rockies GTO he found it was too sensitive and was causing the engine to constantly cut out on the bumpy track. Jim runs RoR to pick up extra contingency cash and the bike problem relegated him to 17th, two spots outside the money paying positions. The one accident in the morning pretty much screwed up the day especially since he didn’t have time to focus on the bike given his other duties. Ah, the sacrifices of being a Big Kahuna with the club… Winning the twins class on his RSV Mille means Jimbo qualifies for a pretty big check from Aprilia so at least he’ll have that to console him after a rough weekend at the race track.

Tony, meanwhile, had a better day. He had a solid finish aboard his RZ500 in Modern Vintage which was what he needed to earn him that championship. The previous day he’d sewn up the Supermoto Sportsmen class which puts two number one plates in his garage for the winter. Tony bagged on the rest of his races for Sunday to focus on the announcing and helping out with club duties. Or so he claims…there is always a question mark over how well the old two smoke is handling the stresses of racing so perhaps taking a day off was just giving the old mule a much needed rest. Tony and Jim both spent about half the day in the tower on the PA system and they did a respectable job there as well.

“Congratulations” and “Thanks” go out to both guys for winning their titles, entertaining nearly everyone in the pits at one time or another and for all the work they put into the MRA.

Another of the gripes in my June posting was that the MRA was dominated by old guys and that there wasn’t enough new blood coming along to challenge the established order. Well, I’m glad to say there are signs that is changing. First of all, there is Brad Hendry who consistently challenged the front runners in both Open Superbike and Race of the Rockies. I’m going to do a separate blog entry focusing just on him so look for that in the next week. On Sunday Brad had mixed fortunes. He took a commanding win in Open Superbike but then had a mechanical problem while leading Race of the Rockies that dropped him back to fifth. He rode over half the race without a shifter so to finish that strong was impressive even if losing a potential victory was heartbreaking for him. Also impressive at Second Creek was Ryan Burke. While Ryan quit qualifying for newcomer status about five years ago he is at least on the lower side of 40 which makes him young compared to the guys that have been winning MRA titles for the past decade. Ryan ran strong in Race of the Rockies GTO, the premier race class for the club, which is the surest sign that a rider is improving. He has also been runnin at the front in Open Superbike and Open Supersport all season which again shows he’s running with the big dogs. I hope that Ryan continues to improve next season as he may be the best hope for some new blood to win the #1 plate in ‘06.

As for the established order, they continue to rule in the MRA. Shane Turpin ran strong for the first half of Sunday’s races before a crash while leading Race of the Rockies GTO ended his day early with a knee injury. It is a rare day indeed that sees Turpin crash but the turns at the back side of Second Creek seem to be one of his few weak spots as he has crashed there before. The trip into the dirt also ended his chance of sweeping every RoR GTO race of the season. Still, he tied up the championship a few races back and will once again be carrying that big #1 plate for 2006. Likewise, Dan Turner ran in the top three for most of his races including a strong win in Race of the Rockies GTO. Ricky Orlando made a rare MRA appearance and showed why he’s such an established part of the scene with good results in his races. In fact, club elders were at the front in most of the classes with guys like Dave Galant, Denny Burke, Rich Deeming and Mike Applegate all turning in strong performances for the weekend.

Finally, I want to again touch on just how much fun it is to hang out at a club race. The pits are casual and the riders approachable. Since this was the last race of the season the entire place turned into a party as soon as the checkered flag few on the final race of the day. Grills were fired up, beers were opened, rear tires went up in huge clouds of smoke and crazy stunts were performed on pit bikes. There are a lot of great things about the rules that are in place for national and international level motorcycle racing: bikes and riders have to look professional, pits are generally roped off, unsafe behavior is stopped immediately, a strict schedule is generally adhered to and the general atmosphere is one of organization. This is all well and good but it does have a bit of sterility to it which tends to exclude the enthusiastic spectator from being a part of it all. Club racing, on the other hand, is so much more relaxed. Sure, you will have to be more alert to make sure you don’t get nailed by the guy doing wheelies on a mini-bike and you may want to think twice before bringing your kid into someone’s pit space without first listening in to make sure the conversation in progress doesn’t touch on topics you may not want Little Billy to learn at a tender young age. Still, the great thing is that its so “real”. The guys that crashed aren’t sitting around waiting for mechanics to wheel over their replacement bike they are in there frantically turning wrenches trying to get ready for the next race. The guy that came in third probably isn’t sulking in an RV he is instead more likely to be sitting under his neighbor’s canopy excitedly detailing the race. The guy that won isn’t wisked away by the media he is hanging out in his pit drinking a gatorade and chatting with whoever walks up. You can be part of the scene at a MRA race not just be watching it.

Club racing is fantastic and I’m already looking forward to next year. The MRA has some hurdles to over come but the group exists because there are a bunch of people in Colorado that are passionate about road racing. As long as there is that passion there will be somewhere to race, whether it is Mark Miller Motorsports Park, Continental Divide Race Park, La Junta Raceway or Pueblo Motorsports Park. If you are in Colorado, please plan to come out in 2006 and support the club.

[image from my photo collection.]

Friday, September 30, 2005

Another one bites the dust…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA Supermoto, MRA, MotoGP, WSBK

This weekend will be another one that is jammed packed with racing. Since there are a lot of racing I’ll just say a little about each one.

Losail Circuit in Qatar

First up, the MotoGP guys return for their second ever race at the Losail circuit in Doha, Qatar. The race is being held on Saturday, in deference to the local Muslim population, which means the bikes, teams and riders have had to get from Malaysia to Qater in just four days to be ready for first practice on Thursday. The 3.36 mile, 16 corner track has a right hand bias with 10 of the turns heading in that direction. Like most of the new tracks built primarily for F1 the track surface is billiard table flat and the asphalt is almost perfectly smooth. In the the only negative thing that can be said about the track, because after all it is in the middle of a freakin’ desert, is that it is hot and sandy. This means that it will again be a race where tires may be the deciding factor. Because the track is so smooth and the circuit is so flowing the bikes can be set up with a relatively soft suspension. This is definitely a good thing because it will help the riders with all important front tire feel which is essential due to the heat and sand. It is especially true in turn 1 were the riders are slowing down from around 200mph for one of the slowest parts of the track. Last year this race was the most dramatic of the season with the now infamous penalty against Rossi’s team for their cleaning his grid position by doing burn-outs with a pit scooter. One of the repercussions of that was the Rossi “curse” which was placed on Gibernau forecasting that the Spainard would never win again. After Sete won at Qatar last year, that prediction has held true. If Gibernau could win at Qatar it would be an amazing turn of events. The favorite going in, other than Rossi, has to be Capirossi who has won two in a row on the resurgent Ducati. Biaggi desperately needs a good race to maintain his spot as #2 in the title chase. Melandri is still riding hurt after his foot injury in Motegi. Hoffman and Bayliss are still out. Jacque is riding the Kawasaki while Byrne is again subbing at Camel Honda. Finally, there should be some more silly season info leaking out this weekend so watch for that news.

Next up is the World Superbike race at Imola. This is the penultimate race for the WSBK series so the riders hoping to claw their way back into the championship points battle better be on the ball at the Santamonica track. Obviously, all eyes will be on the championship battle between Chris Vermeulen and Troy Corser. Both of the Australians will probably be at the forefront all weekend though both have histories of having championship runs fizzle at the end of a season. The other riders to watch at Imola will be the Ducatis. With Bologna only a short hope away, the riders of the Italian equipment will be under a lot of pressure to perform for the bosses. To add to that pressure, the four year history of WSBK coming to Imola shows Ducati have won five of the eight races and that every race has been won by a v-twin. Talk about big expectations! Toseland is probably looking for a job next year and thus needs to impress. Laconi is coming back from injury and needs to settle any lingering doubts among his bosses that he should be their star rider in ‘06. Superstar Lanzi is back with the privateer team but now armed with factory bikes. He’s looking to solidify his position as Laconi’s teammate at the factory next year. The field of honor for this weekend’s event is a historic track with a fantastic layout. The 3.01 mile long track has 16 turns with over half of those being of the left hand variety. Nearly half a lap at Imola is spent at high speed making flip-flop transitions through fast, flowing turns. There are three tight left hand turns and one right hander but otherwise its a high speed circuit. Add in a rough track surface and you have an event where the suspension guys will be earning their money. The always slippery Pirelli tires will get a workout so expect some guys to have tire trouble in the later stages of the first race unless everyone decides to run the hardest thing in the tire truck.

The big finale of the AMA Supermoto series is being held this weekend in Reno and it promises to be a hoot. Both the Supermoto and Supermoto Unlimited classes are yet to crown a champion, though Jeff Ward will almost certainly tie up the former but with double points being paid in the second race there is still a chance for second place Jurgen Kunzel to win the thing. The Unlimited class champ is anyone’s guess as three riders are all bunched within six points of each other: Darryl Atkins, Micky Dymond and Troy Herfoss all have a shot at the title this weekend. Even David Baffeleuf and Robert Loire still have a long shot chance being only 23 and 24 points back respectively. Mark Burkhart has already sewn up the Supermoto Lites championship. The track is a mix of really cool stuff and some pretty boring stuff. The 12 turn, 1 mile track has a small but technical dirt section and a interesting sounding banked turn that goes up onto the side of a building. Sadly, about half of each lap is a point-n-shoot style square going around a city block with three short straights connected by 90 degree right hand turns (why not turn the track around 180 degrees so these turns become left handers and thus give the dirt track guys an advantage?!?). Not exactly the most inspired layout in that sense but with this being in the middle of downtown Reno it is example of the philosophy that Supermoto racing can be set up anywhere. I *love* Supermotos so I suspect the track will prove exciting and the racing will be good. It bad enough that I can’t be there to watch but to add insult to injury OLN isn’t broadcasting the race until mid-November.

Finally, another series is coming to a close this weekend. With fall right around the corner here in Colorado this Sunday marks the season ending race for our local MRA club. As as been the tradition the past few years the final race of the season is being held at Second Creek Raceway out by Denver International Airport. As is typical of the tracks our club races at the place is small. In fact, it is only 1.7 miles in length but with 10 turns crammed into that short space. Despite its size the the layout is actually interesting and it makes for some great racing. Shane Turpin has already tied up the premier Race of the Rockies GTO title but needs to win this weekend to complete a sweep of every race for the season. Likewise, he has already locked up the Race of the Rockies GTU championship as well but a uncharacteristic fourth at Pikes Peak ruined any chance of him sweeping every Race of the Rockies event this year. I’m heading down on Sunday to watch the racing and to catch up with my buddies ‘05 SuperTwins GTO champ Jim Brewer and Modern Vintage GTU points leader Tony Baker.

[image from the Losail Circuit web site.]

Friday, September 2, 2005

Double superbikes in September…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA Superbikes, MRA, WSBK

This weekend servers up a three course meal made up of double shots of production bike racing. First, the World Superbike series lines up for their ninth weekend of a twelve race season in Assen, Holland. Then the AMA boys take a visit down south for their final race of the season with a double header at Road Atlanta. As if four superbike races weren’t enough for one weekend, the local MRA club has their first ever double header weekend at PPIR. Regional, national or international, this Labor Day weekend has you covered.

First up, lets cast our eyes on the International stage. The World Superbike series is entering the final quarter of their season with this weekend’s race at the famous Assen TT Circuit. With Troy Corser on top by 110 points, it seems unlikely anyone will be able to win the title without the Aussie having some sort of problem but since they don’t give out the trophies until the final checkered flag it is still a bit early to declare him the champ. The riders that will have to step it up here at the end of the season to even keep their hopes alive are Honda’s Chris Vermeulen and Ducati’s Regis Laconi. Unfortunately, Laconi threw his Duc down the track in practice this morning and ripped a few holes in his body. At a time when he needs to be at his best, he may be at his worst. I think today’s highside has ended the Frenchman’s ‘05 championship run. So that leaves Australian Vermeulen as the great hope if the Superbike championship battle is to stay exciting for the last four races. Fortunately, his Dutch Ten Kate Honda team are on home ground this weekend which may be enough of an advantage to tip the balance in Chris’ favor. Chris has been consistent over the last three rounds with four podium appearances in six races (two 2nds, two 3rds) but hasn’t won since the second Monza race back in June. He needs to get back to his winning ways this weekend. Haga, on the other hand, has won two of the last four races but with him mired down in fifth in points he is just racing for pride at this point. Vermeulen doesn’t need to crash but he does need to maximize his points. Haga, if he continues with his current form, is going to hamper that goal as he may well take much needed points away from the Honda rider this weekend. As with the MotoGP guys earlier this summer the World Superbike guys are visiting this Assen track for the last time before a major construction project dramatically changes the layout and just like the GP riders the WSBK riders are already bemoaning the changes to the track. Lets hope this weekend’s race is a good one and that it doesn’t end up going down as the last of the great Assen motorcycle races.

Superbikes at Road Atlanta

Closer to home, the AMA Superbike series has their last race of the year this weekend. What isn’t unusual is that Mat Mladin comes in as the clear favorite to win the championship having won 10 races so far this year. What is unusual is that the now traditional Rd. Atlanta double header is closing out the season where normally it is held earlier in the year. Strangely enough, despite the event being the last on the calendar all four AMA classes come to the Georgia track without a champion in any of them having already been decided. Thus all the races this weekend will be closely watched to see who is crowned but none of them will be more highly anticipated that the two Superbike races. Mladin leads teammate Spies by a scant 21 points after his double wins at VIR last weekend. As with the World Superbike points race, Mladin has the upper hand and only a crash or a bike problem will keep him from earning his 6th AMA Superbike title. However, problems have often found Mat at this track including his spectacular rear tire failure in ‘03 and his nearly running into an ambulance in ‘99. Since Mladin opened his weekend at Road Atlanta by turning laps a second faster than anyone else, the odds are clearly in his favor even considering his infrequent bad luck on the back straight. With the other Yoshimura riders also riding well at Road A, another pair of Suzuki podium sweeps may be likely. This morning, Honda’s Miguel Duhamel and Ducati’s Neil Hodgson were also fast so expect them to be involved in the fight for the final podium spot.

Finally, the MRA is heading down to southern Colorado to knock out a double header weekend at Pikes Peak International Raceway. This will be the seventh and eighth of the ten round season and the points earned this weekend may well lock up the premier Race of the Rockies titles…in practice even if not in points. Shane Turpin has trounced the competition this season having won every RoR GTO race. The only reason he hasn’t already tied up the title is that second in points Dan Turner has been nearly as consistent only failing to finish second on one occasion (when he finished forth). Turpin currently holds a 28 point lead over Turner with Rich Demming a further 14 points behind. Turpin also leads the RoR GTU class with a 31 point lead over Marty Sims and a 45 point lead over Greg Greenwood. It seems nearly certain that Shane will be the double #1 plate holder for the MRA in ‘06. The MRA has 28 different classes so there will be lots of racing this weekend and plenty of excitement for those following the points battles. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of PPIR. However, I do hope people will turn out for the races this weekend, not only because I want to see people support the MRA but I think PPIR deserves a little as well after they supported the Racing 2 Save Lives event earlier this summer.

Alright, so I’ll admit that all the major title chases have lost the majority of their interest. Suzuki seems to be ruling the production bike roost and the points leaders have seemingly insurmountable leads. Still, the racing in all three series is fantastic and the competition seems to be working hard to close the gap on the GSXRs. There may yet be a surprise or two in store for us fans. I plan to spend at least a little of my Labor Day weekend watching racing and hopefully you will too.

[image from the Road Atlanta web site.]

Monday, June 20, 2005

Support your local racer…

Author: site admin
Category: MRA

Normally during the weekend I’m busy writing up race coverage about big name racers like Rossi, Corser or Mladin. The MotoGP, World Superbike and AMA series are huge professional racing organizations with a worldwide fan base. The racers also are also very professional and are, particularly in the case of the MotoGP series, wildly popular. Because each race pits some of the best racers in the world against each other, the racing itself is always exciting and often awe inspiring. Short of actual riding, nothing thrills me quite as much as plopping down on the couch and watching a Grand Prix or World Superbike race…knowing that what these guys can do on a motorcycle is limited to just a handful of humans. However, there is a whole other world of motorcycle road racing out there and its probably right in your back yard. Its club racing and its rapidly growing in popularity both with racers and fans.

This past weekend the MRA, the local Colorado based road racing organization, held its fourth race of the season at Continental Divide Race Park in Mead, Colorado. As with the the race two weeks ago at Second Creek, this weekend’s event hit new records for both racer and spectator attendance, clearly more and more folks are getting interested in club racing. I went up on Sunday to catch up with the action and was again thrilled with the experience of spending a day watching racing.

I hung out with my friends Jim “Pull My Finger” Brewer and Tony “Got One In the Oven” Baker most of the time. Their pit area is sort of a cross between the movie “Animal House” and what goes on behind the OSHA curtains at your local bike shop. There is definite male bonding going on but its more in the John Belushi food fight sort of way than a Robert Bly male drum circle. Off-color humor is the norm and conversations fluctuate between calling each other’s manhood into question and how to deal with rear tire grip exiting turn five…frequently both occurring in the same sentence. Additionally, both Jim and Tony have raced with the MRA for over a decade each and both are currently on the MRA board. As a result the pit is a constant bee hive of activity as folks drop in to chat, check on race results, ask for technical advice or toss around a few insults. Its sort of ground zero for getting the club racing experience.

MRA racers at Continental Divide Race Park

On track is where the club racing experience really shines. Unlike walking around a MotoGP grid, everyone here is footing their own bills. This is where people spend their own money, their own time and their own sweat (and at times blood) to follow their obsession. Club racers range from someone with a beat up, out-of-date bike in the back of a pick-up truck to the fancy trailers adorned with sponsorships stickers pulled by monster diesel dualies. Pit crews can be non-existent or can be a huge group of dedicated friends. Pits themselves can be a simple as a folding chair and an umbrella to a huge pop-up canopy with all the niceties of home. But what really makes club racing great is that there is a general sense of camaraderie among everyone involved. If its a hot day, the guy with the umbrella may get invited to share space under the pop-up. If someone crashes, there will usually be a group around to help get the bike back together or at least help pack up the pit. In this way, it is perhaps the best racing around.

This weekend at Continental Divide Race Park, the story was all about local super-star Shane Turpin. As he has done for most of the season, he won nearly everything he entered (a big crash in one of his races prevented a complete sweep for this weekend). The usual suspects filled out the podium behind him (Dan “Otis” Turner and Rich Deeming) but in every case they were racing for second as Turpin pulled huge leads in every race. He is amazing to watch especially through the first three turns at CDRP. All are very fast and turn three is riddled with bumps, all require both stones and finesse to do well. Turpin keeps the throttle pinned while graceful arching the bike back and forth allowing the front suspension to soak up the bump right at the apex of turn 3, all without getting the bike out of shape. Its doubly impressive when he does all this while passing someone.

Although the MRA has a large number of classes, including endurance and supermoto races which run on Saturday, the premier classes are Race of The Rockies GTO and Race of the Rockies GTU. Both run longer than the other sprint races (usually twice as long) and both pay trophy money down to 15th place. While the various fast experts all race in different classes throughout the day you can be sure that nearly all of them will be in one RoR race or the other (and sometimes both). As a result, the Race of the Rockies winners generally represent the best the club has to offer. This is where I’m a bit disappointed…not with Turpin, Turner or the others but the fact that so few young riders show up in the top 10. Many of the top riders in the MRA have been ruling the club’s races for a decade now. If you total up the RoR titles held between Shane Turpin, Dan Turner and Ricky Orlando (Ricky is an MRA regular but is only doing select MRA and AMA races this year) the number is probably close to 15. Its time for some talented youngsters to step it up and give these guys some competition!

If there is another downer to the MRA races, its the quality of the tracks that the club has available. PPIR is the best circuit on the calendar and its definitely not a spectacular venue as it is built inside a NASCAR oval. Second best is Pueblo Motorsports Park which is a decent length and an interesting layout. Both Second Creek and Continental Divide Race Park are small and bumpy but both are close to Denver which is a plus for most of the races. La Junta has a track but other than a fast turn one, its not particularly inspiring in layout. It is also a *long* way from Denver so many MRA regulars skip it, especially when the race is run in the middle of the summer when its freaking boiling down there. Nearly all of the tracks have serious safety issues with CDRP probably topping the list…most of the track is lined with tire walls backed by dirt filled 55 gallon drums. Not a place you want to crash. Unfortunately, club racing (whether bikes or cars) doesn’t bring much money to the table so track owners rarely have the money or motivation to make expensive track improvements. Even if they did, the first thing that would help safety is to re-pave, so moving back walls is pretty low on the list.

Those gripes aside, back in the Brewer/Baker pits it was a mixed weekend. Jim won Supertwins GTO on his Aprilia Mille. This is the class he is focusing on this year, and the contingency money for that win from his tire, fuel and bike sponsors will help offset the cost of the weekend’s racing. Jim struggled to a seventh place finish in Heavyweight Superbike and then had bike problems which meant he started Race of the Rockies GTO from the hot pit, scoring an eventual 16th place finish…one place out of the money. Tony struggled all day with the heat, a track he doesn’t like and a lack of rear traction from his Yamaha RZ500. Thus the pit was a microcosm of the whole club racing experience. Some success, some struggles and another weekend spent racing.

If you’ve never been to a club race, I highly recommend it. The racing is more “real” than the shiny bikes and glossy presentation of a professional series and the racers are generally more approachable as well. The racing is just as exciting as any premier series. And besides, they can always use your support. Who knows, you may end up watching the next Nicky Hayden or Colin Edwards…or at least pulling the finger of a Brewer.

[image from my photo collection.]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

2005 road race calendar…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA Superbikes, MRA, MotoGP, WSBK

WSBK full grid photo

My buddy Jeff today was complaining that no one had put out a combined road race calendar for 2005 (with race dates for AMA, WSBK and MotoGP). Since I keep all those dates anyway, as well as the dates for the MRA, our local road race series, that seemed like a good topic for today’s blog entry. Without further ado, the current road race calendar for 2005:


26 - WSBK @ Losail Int’l Raceway; Doha, Qatar


12 - AMA @ Daytona Int’l Speedway; Daytona, FL, USA


3 - WSBK @ Phillip Island; Phillip Island, Australia
10 - MotoGP @ Circuito Permanente de Jerez; Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
17 - MotoGP @ Estoril Circuit; Estoril, Portugal
22 - AMA @ Barber Motorsports Park; Birmingham, AL, USA
24 - WSBK @ Comunitat Valenciana; Cheste, Spain


1 - MotoGP @ Shanghai Circuit; Shanghai, China
1 - AMA @ California Speedway; Fontana, CA, USA
1 - MRA @ Pueblo Motorsports Park; Pueblo, CO, USA
8 - WSBK @ Autodromo Nazionale Monza Circuit; Monza, Italy
15 - MotoGP @ Le Mans Circuit des 24 Heures; Le Mans, France
15 - AMA @ Infineon Raceway; Sonoma, CA, USA
15 - MRA @ Pikes Peak Int’l Raceway; Fountain, CO, USA
22 - AMA @ Pikes Peak Int’l Raceway; Fountain, CO, USA
29 - WSBK @ Silverstone Circuit; Silverstone, Northants, Great Britain


5 - MotoGP @ Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello; Mugello, Italy
5 - AMA @ Road America; Elkhart Lake, WI, USA
5 - MRA @ Second Creek Raceway; Denver, CO, USA
12 - MotoGP @ Circuit de Catalunya; Barcelona, Spain
19 - MRA @ Continental Divide Raceway; Mead, CO, USA
25 - MotoGP @ TT Circuit Assen; Assen, Netherlands
26 - WSBK @ Autodromo di Santamonica; Misano, San Marino


10 - MotoGP @ Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Monterey, CA, USA
10 - AMA @ Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Monterey, CA, USA
17 - WSBK @ Automotodrom Brno; Brno, Czech Republic
17 - MRA @ La Junta Motorsports Park; La Junta, CO, USA
24 - MotoGP @ Donington Park; Donington, Derby, Great Britain
24 - AMA @ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; Lexington, OH, USA
31 - MotoGP @ Sachsenring; Sachsenring, Germany


7 - WSBK @ Brands Hatch; Fawkham, Kent, Great Britain
14 - MRA @ Pueblo Motorsports Park; Pueblo, CO, USA
28 - MotoGP @ Automotodrom Brno; Brno, Czech Republic
28 - AMA @ Virginia Int’l Raceway; Alton, VA, USA


4 - WSBK @ TT Circuit Assen; Assen, Netherlands
4 - AMA @ Road Atlanta; Braselton, GA, USA
4 - MRA @ Pikes Peak Int’l Raceway; Fountain, CO, USA
5 - MRA @ Pikes Peak Int’l Raceway; Fountain, CO, USA
11 - WSBK @ Lausitzring; Lausitz, Germany
18 - MotoGP @ Twin Ring Motegi; Motegi, Japan
25 - MotoGP @ Sepang Int’l Circuit; Sepang, Malaysia
25 - MRA @ Pueblo Motorsports Park; Pueblo, CO, USA


1 - MotoGP @ Losail Int’l Raceway; Doha, Qatar
2 - WSBK @ Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferreri Imola; Imola, Italy
2 - MRA @ Second Creek Raceway; Denver, CO, USA
9 - WSBK @ Never Magny Cours Circuit; Magny Cours, France
16 - MotoGP @ Phillip Island; Phillip Island, Australia
23 - MotoGP @ Istanbul Circuit; Istanbul, Turkey


6 - MotoGP @ Comunitat Valenciana; Cheste, Spain

Nothing beats watching a race in person. I’ll definitely be at the AMA Pikes Peak race in May and the combined MotoGP/AMA weekend at Laguna Seca in July. I’ll also make about half of the MRA races. I’ll also watch all the MotoGP, WSBK and AMA races that are televised and will probably give my views on each here on the blog. Our support can you all the support it can get, whether that is by buying tickets to see races live or tuning to watch the race on TV, so make sure to mark these dates on your calendar and watch some racing this year!

[image from the Motorcycle-USA web site.]