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, January 31, 2006

January \’06 Odds and Ends…

Author: site admin
Category: Other Forms Of Racing

I thought that things would be so slow during the winter that I wouldn’t have enough unmentioned news items each month to do my monthly “Odds and Ends” postings. However, I have slacked off so much in my posting schedule that I now find it is the last day of January and there is a long list of things that I’d intended to talk about this month. So here is is, a January edition of the “Odds and Ends” postings.

The theme of this entry is going to be “dirty movies”. Sorry, this isn’t a review of porn but instead the topics here are motorcycle movies and off-road racing. I’ll wait to talk about the MotoGP, World Superbike and AMA news in postings in mid-February (once I get back from Costa Rica). I haven’t been ignoring everything that is going on in the racing world, just haven’t had the time yet to talk about them in depth…its coming!

World's Fastest Indian promo shot

First up in the movie category has to be The World’s Fastest Indian. In the September ‘05 Odds and Ends posting I mentioned that this movie had been released in New Zealand but that it probably wouldn’t be coming to the US. Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong and that the movie is now starting a national release this coming Friday, February 3rd. Given that the last motorcycle related movies to make it to the big screen were Torque and Biker Boyz, I think it is fantastic that a film is being shown that doesn’t make all motorcyclists look like the Las Vegas Extremes crew. From the movie trailer and the clips I’ve seen it looks like Anthony Hopkins does a great job with his portrayal of New Zealand bike builder Bert Munro. The plot should ring true to many riders since it is the story of one rider’s obsession with his bike and his desire to push the boundaries of speed. The supporting actor in the movie is Munro’s 1920s Indian motorcycle which Munro modified over a 25 year period into a Bonneville Salt Flats land speed bike. A fascinating story, a great actor and lot of cool motorcycle images. Alright, bikers, get out there and support this movie!

If you read the above statement criticizing the last motorcycle movies to make the big screen and thought I’d forgotten Dust to Glory, I didn’t. I just didn’t include it because it is technically only half about motorcycles since it covers the entire Baja 1000, cages and all. However, I recently bought the DVD and loved it. It is obvious that Dana Brown, like his father, has a soft spot for motorcycles and that he has a real talent for documenting the excitement of motorcycle racing. If you haven’t seen Dust to Glory, make sure you buy, rent or borrow it. It will have you talking about Mouse McCoy with your co-workers and talking about getting some Mexican dirt on your dual sport bike with your riding buddies.

Lets step away from the big screen now and dive into the DVD offerings. I recently borrowed Bang Production’s Enduro at Erzberg DVD from by buddy MikeDz and thought it was amazing. The Rodeo-X Enduro at the Iron Giant in Erzberg, Austria is won of the mind-bogglingly difficult races that was won by Brit David Knight in ‘05. While the focus of the movie is primarily on Travis Pastrana, it is the racing that really amazes (though Pastrana’s attempted back flip in the middle of a hill climb is pretty impressive as well). I think the best part of the movie is actually one of the pieces of bonus footage: a five minute long aerial shot from a helicopter following Knight on his final decent of the mountain. I’ll be buying a copy of this for my DVD collection.

One thing I’ve already added to my DVD shelf is the Bruce Brown’s Moto Classics boxed set. Unlike his previous releases, which were collections of unused film from the ‘On Any Sunday” film reels, this new boxed set is actually a set of three DVDs covering four races that Bruce Brown taped for ABC’s Wild World of Sports in the 60s: The 1968 Baja 1000, a 1967 Hare & Hound race through the Mojave desert, the 1967 Hopetown Classic and the 1970 Ascot TT. If you’re a fan of motorcycle history this is a really enjoyable set of DVDs to watch. I was fortunate enough to get them the weekend I came down with the flu so I spent a weekend glued to the TV (and glued to a box of lotion Puffs tissue). This is real “when men were men” stuff…no suspension, no brakes, unreliable motorcycles and tough courses. Some of the giants of our sport were caught on these tapes like Joel Robert, Roger de Coster, Mert Lawwill, Skip vanLeeuwen and J.N. Roberts. It almost makes we want to own an old Triumph but the DVD doesn’t have dodgy electrics and doesn’t strain your back when you pick it up.

Finally, when I get around to buying the Enduro at Erzberg DVD, I’ll also be buying a copy of Troy Lee Design’s 2 Laps 2 Go. I haven’t seen this one yet but I’m a big fan of Supermoto racing and I enjoyed the races during the 2004 season that I saw and I think Jeff Ward is a demi-god for winning the championship that year. The DVD should offer plenty of entertainment even if it just follows Ward backing his Honda into every corner at every track.

Alright, leaving the boob tube behind, let me get on to talking about the off-road racing that I mentioned at the start…the dirt part of the dirty movie theme.

The winner of the Enduro at Erzberg was the 2005 off-road superstar David Knight. The guy won Erzberg, won at the 2005 ISDE, won the 2005 World Enduro 3 Championship, won the AMA EnduroCross and cleaned up at the Red Bull Last Man Standing event. So how does a guy with that kind of record follow up? Well, by winning everything he enters in 2006, of course. The enduro giant, both figuratively and literally, won the UK’s Tough One event, a two hour extreme hare scrambles race split between daylight and nighttime. As the reigning champ from ‘05, Knight was forced to penalize himself with a self-selected handicap at the start of the race. He chose to start by having to sprint 1/4 mile to his bike when the green flag flew, putting him at the back of the 30 rider deep field in the Premier class. Yet despite his deficit, he still managed to lap the entire field including not only the Premier class but while also having to work his way past 30 Expert and 30 Clubman riders. The man is an animal.

Not content to rest on his laurels from the Tough One, Knight then headed over to Austria to compete in the Rodex-X indoor arena enduro that is part of the Die Bike Austrian Motorcycle show. As a quick aside, remember back in December when I was complaining about how lame the American motorcycle show is compared to the ones held in Europe? Consider this indoor enduro another data point to back that assertion up. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the enduro… Despite being held indoors the event is run in sub-zero temperatures and has a difficult man made terrain course like the one recently seen in the AMA EuduroCross. Naturally, Knight won both races but added another twist to impress the fans by finishing over two laps ahead of his nearest competitor. If anyone is placing best on the ‘06 World Enduro series, I think you better be putting that money on Knight. Oh, and if SpeedTV is considering whether they should continue showing the World Enduro races like they did in 2005, consider this a big vote “yes”.

Thats it for this month.

[image from the Indian Motorbikes web site.]

Monday, January 23, 2006

Aged like fine wine…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX, AMA Superbikes, AMA Supermoto, MotoGP, Other Forms Of Racing, WSBK

So I, like most of the official motorcycle press, spent a lot of time last year heralding the new guys that were joining the sport of bike racing. Guys like James Stewart, Ben Spies, Max Neukirchner, and Marco Melandri got more than their fair share of bits and bytes at the beginning of the season. However, as it turns out, 2005 was a good year to be one of the old folks. Despite many current racers being considered near retirement age, the old guys generally stuck it to the youngsters last year. What is really amazing is that this trend was pretty consistent across all disciplines of motorcycle racing.

First off, the sports of Supercross and Motocross have always been considered a young man’s sport. They are two of the most physically intensive sports in the world and the combination of jumps, ruts and crashes can exact a harsh toll on the body. The top news story at the beginning of the 2005 AMA Supercross season was the 19 year old sensation James Stewart. However, at the end of the season, it was the seasoned veteran Ricky Carmichael, at 25 years old, who swept both premier AMA Supercross and Motocross classes. In SX, 23 year old Chad Reed was second overall but the runner-up in the outdoor series was Kevin Windham who is two years older than Carmichael. Impressive stuff for guys on the second half of their twenties but the real surprises are found just a little further down the championship points listing.

As I pointed out in a blog posting last season, old timer Mike Larocco embarrassed most of the factory teams by bringing his privateer Honda home in 5th place in championship. Not bad for a then 33 year old. Even 34 year old Jeremy McGrath turned in some strong riders in his one-off appearances in ‘05, showing that the King of Supercross can still teach the youngsters a thing or two.

John Dowd at Washougal

Want to really blow your mind? Take a look at the AMA Motocross points table for 2005. Despite competing in the most physically demanding form of dirt bike racing, 40 year old John Dowd managed to snag 7th overall in the AMA Motocross division aboard his privateer Suzuki! This guy was born in 1965, turned pro in 1988 and was the 1998 West Coast 125cc Supercross Championship…the year Dowd start racing in the Pro ranks James Bubba Stewart was two years old and Chad Reed had just turned six. For a little perspective, remember that Reed finished the ‘05 season in 8th, 15 points *behind* Dowd, while Stewart finished up in 12th a staggering 135 points down on the vet. Lets all say it together now…”JD is the man!”

Alright, so the more experienced riders did well in the premier class. Surely the young guys made their mark in the entry level 125 classes. I mean, there has to be a whole hoard of teenagers out there just waiting for their chance to race with the twenty-somethings, right? Well, sorry to disappoint but the stats don’t bare that out either. The 125 champs, Grant Langton (1st in 125 SX East and 4th in 125 MX) and Ivan Tedesco (1st in SX West and 1st in 125 MX), are both already in their twenties. Langston was 23 last year and and Tedesco a year older. Not exactly ready to hand up their riding boots but not representative of a youth movement either.

Fortunately, things in the dirt world aren’t totally bleak. James Stewart looks to have turned around a miserable ‘05 and is riding strong this year and starting to live up to the hype. The teenage Alessi brothers seemed to have knocked the edge off their egos and are steadily improving as riders. Ryan Sipes, who had some strong showings in the 125 class last season, is just barely breaking the twenty mark. The two Ryans, Villopoto and Mills, are still in their teens and both are riding well so far in this year’s Supercross Lites class. Hopefully these are the guys that can step it up and run with the grey hairs. Frankly, I think they will have to if they want to justify their getting a factory ride in the year couple of years.

Okay, lets shift gears now and look at my personal favorite: Road racing. Its generally understood that road racing is an environment where older and more experienced riders can be competitive against the young up-and-comers. Still, the stats for 2005 have to be a little disappointing for the folks that are looking to the younger generation for the next big thing. Of the four championships crowned in the AMA series, three of them went to riders who are in their thirties. Matt Mladin won his *sixth* AMA Superbike title while at the same time celebrating birthday number 33. His 32 year old teammate Aaron Yates topped the ultra-competitive Superstock class to put a third championship trophy on his mantle. Miguel Duhamel, the elder statesman of the AMA series, brought home his seventh AMA title by winning the Formula Xtreme class despite being just a couple years shy of forty. Even Tommy Hayden, the relative spring chicken of the 2005 AMA champions, isn’t exactly representing the youth movement since he was 27 when he sewed up his second straight AMA Supersport title. This trend towards old riders is generally true across the entire AMA Superbike paddock with only a handful of riders under the drinking age and all of them eligible to vote.

Okay, lets look a little further afield. 2005 World Superbike Champ Troy Corser was 34 when he lofted the title trophy last summer. In fact, the WSBK paddock has more riders over the age of 25 than they have riders under that age and the series appear to be skewing their average even higher in 2006 with ex-GP castaways like Alex Barros, Troy Bayliss and Max Biaggi rumored to be racing there. It is nearing the point where WSBK teams should drop sponsorship from youth oriented companies like Corona or Koji and switch over to old foggie brands like Geritol and Metamucil.

Alright, since I mentioned the topic of MotoGP up there I’ll admit that things are looking better in the Grand Prix paddock. While seven time World Champ and 2005 title winner Valentino Rossi isn’t exactly a rookie at 26 he’s also a decade years younger than some of his competitors were in ‘05. Things really start to look up when checking the stats of second place Marco Melandri (23) and third place Nicky Hayden (24). The outlook is even brighter when checking the age of the new comers to MotoGP for ‘06 as Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Chris Vermeulen are all under 25. Finally, things are downright heartening in the 250 and 125 classes were the average age on the podium is regularly under 20.

Alright, how about a couple more quick examples of how old age and experience is overcoming the exuberance of youth? In the world of AMA Flat track racing, it has been Chris Carr who has dominated for the past half decade. The younger riders in series look up to him as a mentor and, at 37, its a good thing they do because he is old enough to be their father.

Finally, as a sign of respect, I’ve saved the oldest for last. Logic would dictate that a rider that is 44 years of age shouldn’t be able to win at anything in competitive motorcycle racing. Yet the legendary Jeff Ward did just that in 2004 by tying up the premier class in the AMA Supermoto series and it was only a stalled bike in the final round that prevented him from winning it in 2005 as well. In fact, the past three seasons have netted Ward one Supermoto championship and two second place finishes…not bad for a guy who won seven AMA Motocross championships in the 80s.

I want to see the various forms of motorcycle racing grow and thus I’m always looking at the young guys to see who will be the next big thing. However, for 2006, I have to say “Viva la Veterans!”.

[image from the web site.]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The dangers of the desert…

Author: site admin
Category: Other Forms Of Racing

This past week the 2006 Dakar rally completed it’s 15 day, 5613 mile journey from Lisboa, Portugal to Dakar, Senegal.

This year’s rally was again a challenging one made up of 15 separate stages with the longest being 543 miles (874 km) in length and the shortest clocking in at only 68 miles (110 km). Sprinkled throughout these stages were special sections where the riders could forget about navigation and instead just race against the clock through the stage in an effort to cut the fastest time. As I mentioned in my Odds and Ends posting back in July, the rally entries were sold out six months before the race and among those registered were 240 people competing in the motorcycle classes. The vast majority of the bikes were KTMs, in fact, there were 106 of the Austria bikes entered while the second most popular brand, Yamaha, had only half that number. The rest of the field was made up of a smattering of Hondas, BMWs, Suzukis, Kawasakis and an Aprilia. Finally a mix of ATV and sidecars completed the field.

The big news before the race were some rules changes that the Rally organizers put in place in an attempt to make the rally safer after two high profile deaths on the factory KTM team in ‘05. Most of these new rules were aimed at improving the conditions for the motorcycle riders, including: 1) mandating a shorter fuel range and thus lighter bikes, 2) imposing a maximum speed limit of 100 mph (160 km/h) for the bikes which would be enforced via GPS, 3) instituting a mandatory 15 minute rest at fuel stops, 4) and changing the starting order for the longer stages so that the slowest riders go first and thus have the largest amount of daylight in which to finish compared to the faster riders who would need less time for the stage.

Despite the new safety precautions this year’s rally was again plagued with tragedy. First, during stage 9 of the rally, KTM rider Andy Caldecott had a fatal crash while running at high speed across the desert. This accident was particularly devastating for the KTM team because it was very near the location of and very similar to the accident in 2005 that killed rally superstar Fabrizio Meoni. The entire paddock was shocked by news of the Australian’s death and the 10th stage of the rally was cancelled out of respect for his fellow rider’s grief. Additionally, KTM effectively quit tracking the rally from a PR/marketing stand point after Caldecott’s death in an effort honor his memory (not to mention that their top two riders had effectively cemented their positions which took most of the excitement out of the rally anyway).

However, death didn’t just strike the riders this year. The biggest tragedy of the rally was that two children were struck and killed by rally cars in the final two days of the event. As a result of these fatalities the final stage, a loop around Lac Rose in Dakar, was un-timed and run only for ceremonial purposes. The actual scoring of the rally reverted back to stage 14.

Marc Coma on the Dakar podium

When the checkered flag flew and the numbers were crunched it was Marc Coma, the KTM mounted Spaniard, who won the motorcycle division with a time of 55:27:17. 1 hour, 13 minutes and 29 seconds back was fellow KTM teammate, Frenchman Cyril Despres, with a time of 56:40:46. The final podium spot went to Italian Giovanni Sala who brought his KTM home in third at 57:57:05, nearly two and a half hours behind Coma and over an hour behind Despres.

Other news worth mentioning is that Team USA rider Chris Blais, also on a KTM, came in fourth with fellow American Jonah Smith bringing his privateer KTM over the line in 17th place to finish up a fantastic Dakar premier. Also of note, Charley Boorman of Long Way Round fame was out early with a broken arm (or possibly even two) after a crash during stage 6. Nonetheless, a valiant effort by the Brit. All of the top eight were on KTMs with Portugese rider Helder Rodrigues preventing a complete sweep of the top 10 by the Austria company by finishing 9th on his Yamaha. As is typical for the Dakar, over half the bikes failed to complete the rally with only 93 of the original 240 making it to the finish in Dakar.

I see a few things from this rally worth mentioning:

The first is obviously the continuation of the recent trend of great rally riders being kill during the Dakar rally. As with the Isle of Man TT and the Macau GP, I firmly believe that any event has a right to run as long as the riders chose to race (and there aren’t contractual and/or championship obligations to do so). Still, it is becoming increasingly painful to cover such events when the best riders of each respective discipline are being killed each year. As the bikes get faster and faster the danger levels increase and I think even more needs to be done by the organizers to balance the challenges of the event with the safety of the riders and spectators.

Second, this year’s Dakar was a turtle versus the hare battle in which Marc Coma won the overall without taking a single victory in any of the individual stages. It is worth noting that the Spaniard’s ability to be consistently fast over the entire course of the rally was a more successful strategy than a rider like second place finisher Despres who won four of the stages (and was in the top three on seven different occasions) yet whose time when averaged out over the course of the rally still put him over 75 minutes behind Coma at the finish. Undoubtedly some of this was luck but then again, as the saying goes, perhaps the riders were making their own luck.

Third, I think this year shows the success of the Team USA Red Bull KTM team who started two years ago with the goal of building up an American rider to be a world class rally racer. After 15 stages, American Chris Blais was only 10 minutes behind third place rider Sala at the finish and thus tantalizingly close to a podium in only his second Dakar. His best stage finish was a fantastic second place on the 352 mile long day 8. Also impressive was rookie Jonah Street who also scored a second place stage finish during the rally, his coming during the next to the last timed stage on day 13. Clearly the Americans have rapidly risen from being also-rans to being front runners in the Dakar. Hopefully, this will increase both fan interest and media coverage in the event next year.

Finally, I want to mention that Charley Boorman started his rally with more than just the normal equipment carried by a contestant. He also brought along a film crew and a bunch of camera equipment. This goal was to make a documentary movie about his running the Dakar rally. Despite his injury in the middle of the event, his film crew continued on following the rest of the Dakar. I hope that this project comes to fruition, as I’d love to see a well done movie on the Dakar in the same vein as the recent Dust to Glory movie which captured the excitement of the ‘05 Baja 1000. Best of luck to Charley in this endeavor.

[image from the Official 2006 Lisboa Dakar web site.]

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We have a winnah…

Author: site admin
Category: Other Forms Of Racing

Since I’ve been slowing down on the blog postings, I haven’t been following all the races that have gone over the past month. Time to catch up on who has been hoisting the trophies lately.

Hengeveld on the Honda

First up is the big surprise that Honda has won the 38th running of the Baja 1000 with Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell and Mike Childress on board their big XR. Not only did Honda best everyone in the desert but also brought home the runner up honors as well with XRs finishing 1-2. Even though this was Honda’s ninth consecutive win in the Baja 1000 they at least they made things a little easier on the competition since star rider Johnny Campbell was sick with a stomach ailment and struggled during his stints on the bike.

As if Honda’s win at Baja wasn’t surprising enough Brit Michael Rutter won the 39th annual Macau GP. This was the sixth win for Rutter on the dangerous street circuit. This ties him with Ron Haslam on all time winners list. Unfortunately, Rutter’s fantastic win was overshadowed by the death of Frenchman Bruno Bonhuil who was killed in an accident on the armco lined track. Many of the European riders sat out the event in honor of their fallen rival. There was a UK sweep of the podium as second place went to John McGuinness and third was Les Shand.

Dominance was the name even with two new events. David Knight has blown away the offroad community this year as the overall winner at the 2005 ISDE event, as champ of the 2005 Enduro at Erzberg and by bringing home the 2005 World Enduro 3 championship. He then showed up at the inaugural Red Bull Last Man Standing event and dominated from start to finish. At the end of the day, be brought home nearly $18,000 in cash. His win is all the more impressive since he raced the grueling event with the flu running two 40 miles loops during the day and then two 30 miles loops at night on his KTM. Second was Nathan Kanney and Michael Lafferty rounded out the podium.

As if being crowned the Last Man Standing wasn’t enough, David Knight then won the second annual AMA EnduroCross this month in Las Vegas. This added another trophy to his mantle, another $10,000 to his wallet and another boost to his reputation as the best off-road racer in the world. Just to prove that he always likes doing things the hard way he crashed on the first lap of his heat race. This not only meant he had to go through semis to make the final but that he was also racing with some pretty serious bruises. He got a horrible start in the main and crossed start/finish in nearly last place but then worked his way through for the win. Also impressive in the EnduroCross was old man John Dowd who came in runner up. Ricky Dietrich came home in third.

Okay, so really no surprises in any of these cases but great racing nonetheless. The Campbell/Hengeveld pairing aboard their Honda XR have dominated the Baja 1000 in a way that even Rossi or Carmichael would envy. Michael Rutter has found success at the Isle of Man but his career will probably be defined by his successes over the years on the Macau GP circuit. Finally, there is David Knight who is winning everything he enters this year. He is the best enduro rider in the world and has proven himself to more flexible than any other rider as well.

Great stuff from all of them.

[image from Dirt Rider Magazine web page.]

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Those wacky Canadians…

Author: site admin
Category: Other Forms Of Racing

So some interesting news filtered out onto the ‘net back in early October but I’ve been so busy with other things that I haven’t had time to give it any attention for a blog write-up. Now that race season is nearly over I am finding more time to go through my backlog of things that I’ve wanted to write about this summer.

So the big October news was that the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia has decided to host a road race in 2006. By “road race” I don’t mean an event on a race track but instead a good old fashioned race on real roads just like the Isle of Man TT, the North West 200, the Ulster GP and the Macau GP. The press release, done by Vibe Marketing (a Nova Scotia based marketing firm that sounds more like it should be selling “adult” products than promoting motorcycle races), announces an event called the Cape Breton Festival of Speed.

The coast of Cape Breton

This event is being done in partnership with the body which has managed the Isle of Man TT for the past few years and should feature some of the big names of the TT like Ian Lougher who was involved in the press conference which announced the event. The track is still being laid out but is expected to take place on a 32 mile long loop near Sydney, Nova Scotia. This is near the Cabot Trail which is a famous scenic drive around Cape Breton and should thus be a beautiful area in which to race motorcycles. All in all, this sounds like a pretty good thing, right?

Well, yes but I do have a few concerns:

First is the safety issue. The Isle of Man TT is on very shaky ground after several high profile deaths in the past few years. With the 100th anniversary of the historic race just around the corner (in 2007) there is a ever increasing buzz that the TT will soon come to an end. Likewise, the Macau GP has a reputation that is not better than the TT, even if the safety record is slightly better. Classic road circuit races in Europe have been shutting down for the past decade and this trend looks to continue until only Ireland and the Isle of Man actually host the events. One thing this Cape Breton Festival of Speed has going for it will be its newness. With no prior history and thus no longstanding tradition to adhere to they may be able to lay out a route which is challenging to ride while still being safer than the existing loops like the Isle of Man circuit or the Macau layout.

My next concern is the weather. While Nova Scotia is warmed by the Gulf Stream and thus has different weather than may be initially pictured when considering its northern location I still think that the conditions could be unpredictable during the late September dates for which the event is scheduled. It will be hard enough to get sufficient crowds of people to make the trek to remote Canada for a motorcycle race without throwing in the risk of an ice storm cancelling the whole shebang.

Third is the condition of the roads. I’ve been going through a bunch of my old VCR tapes lately and in particular have found episodes of the Canadian Superbike series from over the past four years. One thing that seems to be a recurring theme is that the track surfaces at their purpose built race tracks is pretty bad. One race I watched at Mosport in Ontario showed the rear wheel of the bikes hammer up and down so bad I thought there was a bike problem but it turned out to just be bad pavement. As I can attest from our roads here in Colorado, extreme variation in seasonal temperature is just the thing for turning nice, new asphalt into a crumbling mass of gravel and dust. Frost heaves stretch the pavement in the winter, a boiling sun shrinks it in the summer. Road circuit racing is dangerous enough without having a surface more appropriate to adventure touring bikes than to race machines. They will have to pave this coming summer to be ready for a race in 2006 and then re-pave regularly to keep the roads in good condition. Does Nova Scotia really have that kind of tax money sitting around? Maybe they should turn it into a 32 mile long supermoto race!

Money…this leads me to my final concern. It is tough to generate a big enough crowd anywhere on this continent to support a motorcycle race. The MotoGP race at Laguna Seca this past summer was a massive success but the difference between the GP’s attendance and that of an AMA superbike race (or, worse yet, a Canadian Superbike race) is dramatic. For Cape Breton to support a huge event like they one they have planned will require a large influx of visitors in order to generate the necessary injection of money into the local economy. No local or provincial government will want to continually fund road improvements, staff costs and other budgetary items for a big motorcycle festival. I just don’t think motorcycle racing is popular enough in the Americas to support this event. There might be a critical mass around a major city like Toronto or Calgary but I don’t see it happening on a remote northern coast of a remote peninsula of Nova Scotia. I hope the people that are putting this thing together are made up of more business people than marketing people…

Alright, so I’m a cynic and a skeptic and a downer. Its not that I dislike races on public roads, or that I think Canadian race organizers are idiots or that I have some great insight into the economics of Nova Scotia. In fact, I love the idea of a 32 mile long street circuit, so long as they have safety has a primary concern when figuring out the track layout. I’m all about travel and would love to visit Nova Scotia, with or without a motorcycle race. For me, this sounds like a great thing. But then again, I am willing to do all kinds of silly things to watch a race since I’m obsessed. Its just that other people aren’t obsessed like me and the folks putting on the Cape Breton Festival of Speed can’t rely on a small population of moto-addicts to bouy their event. The Isle of Man TT has nearly 100 years of heritage, not to mention the entire population of Europe to draw from. This will be an uphill battle from the beginning. I hope to hear more over the next twelve months that will allay my fears.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to go join those crazy Cannucks next September to watch some road racing!

[image from the Nova Scotia’s Tourism web site.]

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Motorcycle interuptus…

Author: site admin
Category: Other Forms Of Racing

One thing I’ve generally avoided on this blog are posts which basically just bitch and moan about things I don’t like. There is enough negativity in the world without another self righteous blogger spewing bile on his web site. Nonetheless, there have been rare occasions when I use the blog to complain about something and I’m sorry to say that I’ll be doing that again today…

This past Tuesday SpeedTV televised shows which chronicled the two rounds of the FIM World Endurance Championship’s Master of Endurance mini-series. This series highlights the two most famous motorcycle endurance races in the world with the Bol D’Or at the Magny Cours Circuit and the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Bugatti Le Mans Circuit.

So SpeedTV shows motorcycle racing and I find something to whine about, I can hear you thinking…what kind of ungrateful sourpuss am I? Well, its not the that they showed the endurance races that is the problem but instead the format of their footage. SpeedTV chose half hour episodes with which to cover the two races. These are 24 hour endurance races so that is a huge amount of content to be cutting down to a 30 minute show. Throw in 10 commercials and you only have 20 minutes of race coverage.

Now let me take a moment here to talk a bit about motorcycle endurance racing. Unlike the MotoGP, World Superbike and AMA races that I traditionally cover here on the blog endurance racing is a very different form of two wheeled competition. Sprint races are usually a little over 1/2 hour in length with a single racer on the bike and usually involves riding as fast as the person can go for the duration of the event. There are factors like tire life and race strategy when running with other racers but these are usually secondary to just squeezing every last bit of speed out of the bike.

GMT94 pit stop during the Le Mans race

Endurance racing, on the other hand, is as much a mathematical game as a contest of speed. It is a team sport rather than an individual effort so it is important to find racers who work well together, can all use roughly the same ergonomic configuration and can use the same chassis settings. When it comes to race strategy there is a long list of variables to be considered. How long should the rider’s stint be? A pit stop can take anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds depending on the equipment available and the components being changed. Longer stints mean fewer pit stops but that means tire life, gas loads and rider endurance must all be adjusted to compensate. Tires have to chosen…softer tires mean faster lap times but more time killing tire changes. Likewise, less fuel means faster laps but more frequent gas tops. Running hard means faster laps but puts more stress on engine and brake components have to last 24 hours or be changed during the race. It is also challenging to pick rider order: putting the fastest rider on first may mean jumping out to an early lead but then means you have to wait a few hours before you can put that rider back on the bike if you need to make up time against the competition. Even during the race there are hard decisions. Do you do longer pit stops and change tires, brakes, oil, filters each time or just splash in gas and run parts as long as possible. What do you do if you crash? Some duct tape and bailing wire can quickly fix up a bike but may mean slower lap times than taking longer to install new parts. If other teams crash then the race may be red flagged which gives everyone free time to make repairs and change tires. Do you risk running longer stints knowing that the time you save could be pointless if a red flag brings all the riders back to the pits. Decisions, decisions.

What I’m really trying to get at here is the fact that while a 22 lap road race may be cut down to a 40 minute TV show (with 20 minutes lost to commercials) without losing the gist of the event, trying to turn 24 hours of endurance racing into a 20 minute show is ridiculous and pointless. The guys at SpeedTV are predominantly car guys…specifically, they are NASCAR guys. These folks spend their days putting together shows about races that last two or three hours. Most of the NASCAR coverage on SpeedTV show the races full length but some of their enthusiast shows cover a race in a single one hour segment. These NASCAR guys wouldn’t dare think they could cover a NASCAR race, with all its pit strategy and race tactics, in just half an hour. Then how could they think they could cover a motorcycle race that is twelve times that long in such a short program?

Basically, the race coverage for both the Bol D’Or and the LeMans races was horrible. There was barely enough time to to show the start, a few laps of the race, some crashes, a few highlights and then a quick shot of the winners on the podium. No coverage of the various team’s race strategies, no play-by-play of the team’s pit stops and certainly no narrative of how the race progressed as crashes, mechanical problems, pit tractics and lap times separated the field.

I want to see more, not less, motorcycle racing coverage on SpeedTV but I have to say that the hour they devoted to the Master of Endurance series was wasted time. If they can fill hour after hour of their broadcast day with crap like “Texas Hardtails”, “Build or Bust”, “Kyle Petty Charity Ride” and “Corbin’s Ride On” then they can find the time to give better treatment to their coverage of endurance racing.

[image from the GMT 94 web site.]

Monday, October 31, 2005

October \’05 Odds and Ends…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX, Other Forms Of Racing

As the race seasons come to a close I find more time to delve into interesting stories and thus fewer items to put in the monthly “Odds and Ends” postings. This may be the last one until the road race season cranks back up next year. Nonetheless, there a are a few things that happened in October that didn’t get the time they deserved so here is this month’s catch up.

First, with the major race seasons all coming to a close, Fall represents a small window of opportunity for big name racers to get out and show their stuff in other forms of racing:

Troy Corser at the Trace Superbikers event

Newly crowned World Superbike champion Troy Corser, along with Ex-Harley roadracer and seven time dirt track champ Chris Carr, headed to Mettet, Belgium this month to participate in the Trace Superbikers super-motard race. This race is split between a “pro” class with supermoto regulars and a “stars” class with special guests like Corser and Carr. It shows just how popular Super Motard racing is in Europe that a star-studded event like this can exist.

Just across the channel that same weekend a bunch of stars like World Superbike regular Pierfrancesco Chili, British Supermoto champ Christian Iddon and British Supersport rookie Craig Jones all showed up at Mallory Park in the UK for the Moto 1 event. This is a very cool cross-genre motorcycle challenge that involved separate trials, multi-vehicle “pentathlon”, supermoto, motocross and roadrace events. Its a sign of just how popular motorcycle racing is in England that such an amazing event can get started. A further sign of that support is that it is sponsored by Dunlop and attended by many of the big national stars from the various national motorcycle racing series.

Even more exciting is that a “best of the best” event is coming to the US this year thanks to Red Bull. They are sponsoring the Last Man Standing competition which is a cross-discipline event to be held in Texas this November. This four stage event is set-up to run over a 40 mile enduro circuit. Nearly all the best National level Enduro, Trials, Cross-Country, Hare Scramble and Desert racers will be showing up. At the end of each stage, half the contestants are removed. The first two stages are run during the day, the second two at night (and in reverse). At the end of the final lap, a single rider will be crowned as the winner. This is a great idea and I hope that more events like it are spawned which may eventually bring in Motocross, Supercross, Roadrace and Supermoto riders. Kudos to Red Bull for again spending some of their corporate bankroll to promote motorcycle events.

Another end-of-the-season event which always draws an interesting list of participants is the annual Macau GP. This event challenges the Isle of Man’s reputation as the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world but has nonetheless been in existence for 52 years. The majority of the focus is on the car races but motorcycles also race around the 3.8 mile track that is laid out on city streets which are lined with armco. The names on the entry list read like a who’s who of real road racing: Michael Rutter, John McGuinness, Stuart Easton, Ian Lougher, Steve Plater and Adrian Archibald are all Isle of Man stars. Pere Riba is an ex-GP rider. Canadian (and ex-AMA Supersport champ) Steve Crevier is attending as are American roadracers Jeremy Toye and Mark Miller. The Macau GP has a long tradition and is an exciting event but a dangerous one as well. Best of luck to all those attending.

On rider who has had enough of danger is three time British Superbike champ (an ex-GP and ex-WSBK racer) John Reynolds. After enduring a season in the British Superbike series in which he suffered to horrible crashes with serious injuries he has decided to retire from the sport. The 2004 BSB champion started his title defense with a crash in the preseason that seriously damaged his leg. After healing up and re-joining the series at the halfway point he then had another crash which left him with multiple injuries including broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken collarbone. Those old bones don’t mend as fast as they used to and Reynolds has thrown in the towel. He is a fantastic rider and can rest comfortably on his many laurels. He will long be remembered at race tracks around the world.

One road race track that won’t be around to remember any racers is Pikes Peak International Raceway which has been bought by ISC and permanently closed. ISC, who own many of the NASCAR tracks around the country, are slowly purchasing race tracks simply to shut them down and remove competition. I am definitely no fan of PPIR, in fact, I’m not particularly sad to see it go, but I must say that the method of it’s demise does leave a bad taste in my mouth. Hopefully, the new Miller Motorsports Park in Utah will be so impressive that all us Coloradans will soon forget PPIR ever existed.

While the AMA’s road race program is taking a hit their Supercross program is getting a huge shot in the arm. Hot on the heals of last month’s announcement that SpeedTV has signed up to broadcast the entire Supercross series comes news that CBS is set to co-televise six of the rounds. Having a major broadcast network on board is a huge coup and should help boost the popularity of Supercross even more. With the season set to open in just a little over a month and with all the major players healthy (Carmichael, Reed, Windham and Stewart) the series should be ready to capitalize on all this TV exposure.

Another bit of TV related news which ties back to the first item is the rumor that ESPN is working on creating a new supermoto series in the US for 2006. With the pr0 AMA Supermoto series slowly growing and the new amateur NASMOTO series taking off it is hard to tell if adding another series is going to help or hurt. What will help is getting some TV coverage of Supermoto racing on a major sports network like ESPN. (Then again, given that ESPN dropped their AMA Supercross coverage it seems that their interest in motorcycle racing is fickle at best.)

Something which has already benefited from TV time is the Long Way Round series which aired on Bravo last year. Now the US version of the DVD is finally being released and should be on shelves this December.

Well, I think that about does it for the month. The other major news as consisted of new bike announcements and silly season news but I’m covering those topics in other posts. This will be the last “Odds and Ends” posting for awhile. I hope you have enjoyed them.

[image from the Roadracer X web site.]

Thursday, September 15, 2005

There and back again…

Author: site admin
Category: Other Forms Of Racing

I’ve been late in getting this posted, mainly because there have been so many races and a bike trip that I wanted to write about. For those that read my blog primarily for the race coverage you will be happy to know this is the last of my Iron Butt Rally postings.

Friday, September 2, was the final checkpoint of the 2005 Iron Butt Rally. The checkpoint opened at 8am and closed two hours later. Any rider that arrived after that was disqualified, no matter what their prior accomplishments during the rally may have been. The riders had left Portland, Maine on Monday with a final list of bonuses and with four and a half days to get back to Denver. The bonus packet presented the horns of a bull. On one hand, drag your tired butt from Maine to a light house near Seattle, Washington for a single large bonus. Get the requisite photo and then sprint for the Colorado mountains. The other horn of this rider goring bull was to instead sweep down the east coast getting a lot of smaller bonuses hoping that time and the remnants of Hurricane Katrina don’t dash your plans. The light house in New Brunswick Canada, the same one offered as a bonus in the first leg, was again offered along with a length list of ferry crossings, ponds, lakes, dams and miscellaneous other points paying locations.

The star-traxx site showed the remaining GPS equipped riders were split about 80/20 between the east coast and the west. Within an hour of the bonus packets being handed out in Maine, some of the riders pointed the front tire of their bikes towards the Pacific Northwest and tried to get across the Great Lakes region before being completely engulfed by Katrina’s left overs. The rest headed either north to New Brunswick or the opposite direction through New England and then down into the south.

Based strictly on weather, the east coast guys made the right choice. Since the little bonuses also added up to more than the Washington light house, a thorough rider could also outscore those making the longer ride so from a strategic perspective it looked to be the better decision as well. But as with everything in the Iron Butt rally, there is no determining a winner until the fat Preparation H bottle sings.

Friday morning I headed down to the check point to watch the riders come in. While most of the riders looked tired it wasn’t the parade of walking zombies I was expecting. Clearly these guys know how to pace themselves and make at least some effort to be safe while still pushing themselves to their limit. The bikes, on the other hand, weren’t nearly to perky. Worn tires, duct taped bike parts and a wholesale slaughter of insects on windshields were in high attendance. Some bikes had leaking auxiliary fuel tanks. Some had obvious crash damage and a few were missing parts that had simply vibrated off during the eleven straight days of riding.

Jeff Earles at the '05 Iron Butt finish

I ran into my buddy Jeff Earls at the checkpoint and heard his tales. He left Maine in second place and had taken the east coast route. He opted not to head to New Brunswick, taking a slightly more conservative route. Jim Owens, who led in Maine, was reported to be out with a mechanical problem on his bike so Jeff felt good about his chances at the overall win but wouldn’t know for sure until the winner was announced at the banquet that night. In the meantime, he was too keyed up to actually sleep despite having clocked over 11,000 miles in the previous 11 days. Ah, the joys of adrenaline!

I stood around the parking lot talking with various friends while watching bike after bike pull into the parking lot and go through the check-in procedure. By 8:30am, I left to head to work and wait for the final report which would announce the winner. When the news finally broke, it turned out that Jeff didn’t win. Two other riders, Shane Smith on a Honda ST1300 and Chris Sakala on a BMW R1150GS had done the New Brunswick bonus and swept the east coast bonuses. They gained enough points to leap frog over Jeff to to get first (Smith) and second (Sakala). Jeff Earls came in third. All told, 90 riders shoved off for the rally on August 22 and 69 of those made it back to Denver within the window allowed to be considered a finisher. Most rode at least 11,000 miles during the eleven day rally, with the high mileage award winner being Mark Kiecker who rode 13,354. But the rally is not just about clocking miles but about efficiently balancing bonus points earned per mile ridden. Mark finished fourth, one place behind Jeff, despite having ridden 2,400 more miles.

My take on the overall rally is mixed. First, I’m again amazed at what endurance riders can accomplish. Riding a single 1000 mile day is challenging. Doing them back-to-back for eleven days is unfathomable. Doing so while also searching out bonus locations, keep track of paperwork and trying to avoid falling asleep while riding is just amazing.

Second, the route laid out this year by Lisa Landry was both interesting and novel. The water theme was entertaining and the minimum 60,000 point requirement meant that finishers couldn’t just get on the bike and ride. The bonus strategy aspect that has always made the Iron Butt Rally so unique was forced on everyone that participated not just those that were going for the overall win.

Finally, the hypocrisy that has long threatened the Iron Butt Association seems to have finally been made obvious. For years the IBA has tried to present an image that the Rally isn’t a race. If a rider bragged about riding fast or about riding dangerously impaired or of anything else which might give critics a foothold then the rider’s IBA awards were rescinded (For a very public example of this, research what happened to Motorcyclist magazine’s Aaron Frank after he published a story about doing 2200 miles in 44 hours on a Yamaha R1). This draconian action has been regularly taken despite the rather obvious nature of the rally which means illegal riding is basically required by the people trying to win and the equally obvious situation where riders doing eleven consecutive 1,000 mile days are going to become at least somewhat impaired. This year some of the riders carried GPS units which allowed people to track their progress in real time via the Internet. Watching FJR rider Doug Chapman go from Denver to Miami, a distance of 2000 miles, in 36 hours made it blatantly obvious that he was traveling above the speed limit and also indicated that he only made two short stops for naps. If he wasn’t exhausted when he arrived in southern Florida then he’s a robot and not a human. I understand the IBA’s attempts to present a polished image of the rally but its the old “information wants to be free” thing…you can tell people not to talk but anyone that scratches below the surface will learn the truth anyway. In this case, all of us that were watching knew that the ‘05 Iron Butt Rally riders were doing the very things that the IBA has reprimanded others for saying…riding fast and riding tired.

In ‘07 I think the IBA will either have to ban GPS units, blog updates and press releases or will have to swallow their pride and admit they have unfairly penalized riders that have talked about their experience in public forums when what they’ve done isn’t all that different from what is done by all IBA riders. Like the Isle of Man roadraces, the Erzberg Enduro rally, the Paris-Dakar off-road race and free-style motorcross the critics of the rally will *always* think its stupid whether they know the details or not. Grow up all ready…

That bitch aside, congratulations to the Iron Butt Association for putting on another fantastic Iron Butt Rally, I can’t wait to see what they come up with for ‘07, and congratulations to all the finishers for their incredible performance. I once again stand in awe.

[image from my photo collection.]l

Friday, September 9, 2005

Old bikes and new bikes…

Author: site admin
Category: Other Forms Of Racing, WSBK

This weekend offers up quite the contrast when it comes to racing motorcycles. At the ultra-modern EuroSpeedway track in Lausitz, Germany the World Superbike regulars will be racing their ultra-modern sport bikes. Meanwhile, at our local Pueblo Motorsports Park in Pueblo, CO the AHRMA guys will be racing their vintage bikes. Both are equally fascinating though they are such completely different experiences to watch.

First, the World Superbike event in Germany… This will be the third to the last race weekend of the series and probably the first chance for Troy Corser to lock up the title (assuming he gained the maximum 50 points by winning both races and Chris Vermeulen failed to gain a single point). This is an unlikely scenario so expect the title fight to continue into the penultimate weekend at Imola in three weeks. For this round, expect Chris Vermeulen to continue to ride hard and expect Corser to continue to balance conservative riding with opportunistic grabbing of points. Regardless of the championship’s status, the track is bound to throw a wrench into many of the riders’ plans. The 2.6 mile long track, placed inside a huge Indy car oval, is a series of fast straights which are tied together with 13 curves many of which are slow first and second gear corners. Things are further complicated by the fact that the relatively narrow track and the tightness of the turns means that passing in very, very difficult. Expect the race to turn into an hour long series of drag races as riders attempt to get their bikes upright exiting turns and try to pull up along side other riders before slamming back down through the gearbox for the next turn. I think that aggressive riders on bikes which accelerate hard from low speed will be the ones to watch. I think this will favor the Suzuki GSXRs, as they seem to have massive power *everywhere* along with riders like Vermeulen, Haga and Toseland who have proven themselves very aggressive over the past few races. Also interesting in that Lorenzo Lanzi will be stepping up from the Scuderia Caracchi privateer Duck to fill in for the injured Regis Laconi. Since Scuderia just fired their other rider, Fonsi Nieto, it will be interesting to see who they have on their bike this weekend.

Thruxton racing

At the other end of the spectrum are the old bikes, and often old riders, who will be joining the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) for their annual visit to the American south-west. In this case, they are visiting Pueblo Motorsports Park which, in my opinion, has the most interesting layout of any of our Colorado area tracks with its 2.2 mile long, 10 turn road race configuration. The track surface isn’t the greatest, something that will be particularly noticeable on the poorly suspended vintage bikes, but at least it has a mix of straight aways, fast turns and slow turns. I find all the AHRMA road racing classes interesting but the one I’d most like to see is the modern Triumph Thruxton Bonneville bikes being raced in the Thruxton Challenge. These nearly identically prepared bikes have all the right look for a race series tied to a vintage organization but have the added benefit of running more reliable engines in more modern chassis. Since this is a spec class, the racing should be close and the winner’s advantage should clearly be in skill rather than machinery. As a final incentive, some of our local MRA racers, including the guys at Foothills BMW/Triumph, where I have my Beemer serviced, will be there. Unfortunately, I’m out of town this weekend and won’t be able to catch the races…definitely my biggest motorcycle racing disappointment of the year.

Old bikes or new bikes, Multi-million dollar international race circuits or modest local tracks, world champs or aging enthusiasts…either way watching motorcycle racing is good stuff.

[image from the 2WF web site.]