We have been coming here to Miller Motorsports Park for four years now and each trip is different. There are different race events, different racers, different vendors and entertainment. Last year they changed the schedule to hold the Superbike races on Monday, Memorial Day instead of the usual Sunday. It seems to work well for everyone. However, there is one thing that changes like crazy and it makes me nuts, you guessed it, the weather.
When we come to Miller we camp out at the park right next door. It’s a very nice place and you get to meet a lot of interesting travelers coming to the races. The first year we got here so late the first night we had to sleep in the back of the truck in freezing wind. The rest of the weekend was great. Year two was windy but warm. Our third year was dominated by rain, wind, snow, and more rain. It rained so much the second night we had a river running through our tent. Fortunately, we had big air mattress to keep our jammies dry. That same night the snow level was about five hundred feet above track level.
Here we are at year four, we’re pros now; nothing will surprise us. We check weather.com before we get on the road. Slight chance of showers on Friday and Saturday, clearing Sunday and a beautiful sunny day on Monday, race day. The wind, which is almost as normal here as it is at Willow Springs, was only supposed to be 18-20 mph with gusts to 25 on Saturday. That last sentence is why the pretty lady on TV is not to be trusted.
After a nice solid drenching rain Saturday morning which made for some pretty exciting practice sessions, the wind picked up, and picked up, to the point of riders getting blown all over the track and on top of that it was cold. The pretty lady on the weather channel said it would be in the mid 60’s…she lied. Here is where the story gets fun.
We stayed here at the track editing photos and writing stories until about 7pm. Then it was into town to pick up supplies…refreshing adult beverage makin’s. Camping at the races requires a nice cold Martini at the end of a long day. This is Utah, the state runs all the liquor stores, and they only sell them during certain times and certain days. When we arrive at the State store, we find out we are twenty minutes too late – what is a poor thirsty moto-journalist to do? We’ll just go to the market and get a bottle wine. Guess what? You can only buy wine at the State store too. Back to the market for beer. A box of local beer will have to do.
The wind is still blowing pretty strong but nowhere near the velocity of the afternoon. As we pull up to our camp spot I see our nice blue ground cloth with nothing sitting on top of it. “Heather, our tent is gone!” “Shut up, it is not?…where did it go?” I couldn’t help but laugh at the look of utter disbelief on her face…first no martini’s and now no place to enjoy them. Things are from bad to worse and the adventure begins.
Where is our tent? One of our fellow campers tells us that some other camper saw a maintenance guy take it and put it away in a service building. Off to find the gal at the gate; she’s on a break; try to find someone else; no luck; finally find the gate lady; she calls somebody else; then we actually find our tent behind the service building not in it which is a good thing because the man that has the key isn’t there.
We spend the next hour or more finding a better protected spot and repairing all the holes and tears that our poor little portable hotel suffered while getting blown around. By that time we decide against cooking dinner and head for town. But that, friends, is another story.
Finally around 11pm we crawl into our bed only to be blown awake by Hurricane Zelda blowing through a couple of hours later. It was blowing so hard that I truly believed that when I opened the door in the morning, I could look at Heather and say “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
It was quite the adventure yesterday, but every trip here is.
Pictures will follow tomorrow. Wish us luck for tonight, especially with no martini’s.
Its Miller time once again, thank you Jesus!
We here at The Motoworld love coming to Miller MotorSports Park in Tooele, Utah for the World Superbike races every year. It’s a chance to see friends that we only see once a year, we communicate all year via laptops and texting, but we only get to see and drink together once a year. We never know what the weather is going to be like, last year it rained and snowed and this year it’s just a little rain…so far. We always come up a day early to just settle in at the track and at our campsite and make the plans for the weekend. Line up interviews, arrange photo shoots and of course, catch the ‘Family Friday’ Motocross races here at the Deseret Peak Complex (where we camp out).
Friday at Miller is usually a pretty laid back day, teams are getting the garages in working order, vendors are setting up their booths, journalists from around the world are starting to show up and John Gardner, the head guy here, is running around like a chicken with its head cut off attending to everyone’s needs and wants. John is a truly remarkable man. But what are the racers doing? Just hanging around in a motorhome playing video games? Not this year.
Racers are racers, it’s a character flaw that many of us are afflicted with and those that love us have to put up with this lunacy, I think in large part with the help of pharmaceuticals. Racers will engage in a foot race, bicycles, scooters, pit bikes, rental cars (the rental car races are the most fun to watch) and go karts. Yesterday was the go kart race.
Miller Motorsports put together a great event featuring WSBK and AMA racers, local celebrities, journalists, and friends. Teams were put together with one pro racer, a local celebrity, a local racer and a military person. Teams were headed by WSBK Champion Carlos Checa, Max Biaggi, Ben Bostrom, Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes, Danny Eslick, AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes and Former World Champion ‘Mr. Daytona Scott Russell. This was very casual event, except for when Tom Sykes bumped Leon Haslam off the track…good laughs afterwards though. The concept was each team had four drivers; they would each run a bunch of laps and then trade off. The most exciting of the races was the third leg when Carlos Checa, Ben Bostrom and Leon Camier had a great battle which Ben won pretty handily. At the end, they added up the times and the fastest team won. The winning team was headed up by eighteen year old AMA Supersport rider Elena Myers.
It was great to see all the racers just enjoying the time with friends and fans and under no pressure. It was good to see Carlos Checa spend time talking to a few of the military personnel there. All in all a fine afternoon with lots of fun racing, good conversations among friends and much laughter. A fan could meet a racer, get a picture and have a great time too. Next year, if you’re coming to the race, make sure you come on Friday.
David Crosby was right, Its been a long time coming. I have been away from this much too long. Every now and then you have to join the working class. There are plenty of reasons…financial, geographic relocation (you got married and your wife has a better job than you), whatever the reason, it happens. And, as it happens, I have spent the past year or so amongst the working class and less with the journalistic class. A much higher class I might add. So, this morning while awake way too early (it’s 4:30 am) here at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah for the World Superbike races , I started thinking about the interviews I want to conduct, the writing I want to do and the people to see that I only get to see once a year. Then I started thinking about the things you miss when your heart and brain is a journalist, but you step away from it, even for just a little while.
I miss the general involvement in motorcycling. I have been working so much that finding time to take good long rides has been next to impossible. This point was just recently brought up to me by two friends, one who asked me about planning a trip in the next month or so, and a friend that stopped by to visit here at the track. The second friend, Greg, is on a two week trip on his Kawasaki Concours stopping at the races, and then heading off to Montana for some fly fishing, but mostly just riding.
I have spent a long time talking with people in all aspects of motorcycling. Interviews with racers, travelers, journalists, TV personalities and one guy living the crazy life of a motorcycle courier. I’ve talked with tech people, custom bike designers and stunt riders. Everybody has a good motorcycling story to tell and I like telling their stories. So, I realized on this trip up here to Utah that the thing I miss most about taking this time away from writing and storytelling is the motorcycling community. I miss the e-mails telling me about a great trip, the best restaurant in Sonora, or a really fun day ride. The woes and joys of restoring an old piece of junk motorcycle and that the only reason they are doing it is because their dad had one just like it. The racer who is having a great season and the one who is struggling to just to make it to the next race. It’s all wonderful.
I will continue to be a working stiff (gotta maintain my retirement planning…) but, I’m going to get back in the saddle again, make the time for trips and passing along stories. This is what I love to do.