Things we think of while riding down the road

superbikes

Wise old saying…

There is a romantic old saying “if you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you it is true love”. However, those of us that race and ride motorcycles know the saying actually goes,

“If you love something set it free. If it comes back to you, it means you high sided!

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“Asphalt is for racing…

…Dirt is for planting potatoes.”
So said a motorcycle racer, and good friend.

A long time ago I swore off going to funerals, like thirty years ago, but since that time I have been to two. Yesterday was number two.

When I first heard of my friends passing I, like everyone else I imagine who has had a friend die, did pretty much nothing but think of the good things about that person and how they influenced my life. Then I started thinking about everyone else within that circle of friends and how they impacted my life.

I started my motorcycle roadracing life in 1981 then took a few years off to raise a couple of kids. When I decided to get back into racing I headed out to my nearest track, Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California to figure what kind of motorcycle I wanted to race. As I wandered around the pits listening to bikes and racers stories I met Larry Cochran who then introduced me Danny Farnsworth who happened to be the ‘Race Director’. These two ‘gentlemen(?)’ through their powers of persuasion, enthusiasm and God knows what other powers they posssessd that day, convinced me that riding an old Honda 500cc single cylinder motorcycle would be the best way to get back into racing. For the rest of my life I will rue the day I listened to those two guys.

Danny FarnsworthA couple of years later I came in second place in the class championship and while everybody else at that Championship banquet was thanking everybody for support, help,etc, etc…I got up there and blamed Larry and Danny for ruining my life. I could have raced a faster better bike, but instead I was racing this old Honda single and flogging it mercilessly year after year. But, here’s the thing, those ten years racing that Ascot with Danny Farnsworth, Larry Cochran, Scott Fabbro and Scott Spears, Carlin Dunne, Steve Allen and a couple others that came and went in the class were truly the best, most fun years I have ever had on a motorcycle. It was those ten years and that group of men that keeps everything else motorcycling in second place.

Yesterday was Danny’s funeral. A number of us former Willow Springs Motorcycle Club racers attended and swapped ‘Danny Stories’, reconnected with each other and left knowing that in the Golden Era of the WSMC it was Danny that cared more about the racers and their safety, even it pissed off someone, which often times it did. Danny had no problem pulling you off the track and telling you what a bonehead move you made, or there was a problem with your bike. It didn’t matter if you thought he was wrong, what Danny says goes. Period. We all benefitted from Danny’s overriding concern for our safety.

Danny Farnsworth was the type that when your bike broke and you needed a part, he would find one from somewhere or somebody, he would loan you one out of his own stock of spares.

When my son started racing I followed in Danny’s and Larry’s footsteps and put Kelly on an Ascot. As Kelly went through new racers school, Danny took him under is wing, which he did for so many young riders, and even though my son kept saying that Ascot was trying to kill him, Danny kept giving him support and encouragement.

motorcycle pictures 095Those of us that got together yesterday did more than just say goodbye to a good friend and motorcycle racer but a man that gave so much to racing and racers. I owe Danny a lot, he convinced me to ride the worst racing motorcycle there was and have the most fun anyone could possibly have.

Adios my friend. Race in Peace.

Oh, and like you said at the end of every racers meeting “Keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up”, I still live by those words.


Cretins Motorcycle Club

Picture 6When most people hear the term “Motorcycle Club” they instantly change the word club to “gang.” They picture bikers riding into town terrorizing the local folk, taking what they want and leaving the town in shambles. Ok, so I may have watched “The Wild Ones” a few too many times and I do record the “Sons of Anarchy” each season, but not all “clubs” fall into that stereotype, thank goodness.

A long time friend of mine belongs to a motorcycle club that is simply a group of guys and gals that love motorcycles and the motorcycle culture, more precisely the “Cafe Racer” culture. Welcome to the Cretins Motorcycle Club.

First, what is a Cretin? By Websters Dictionary definition you would think a Cretin is a stupid, childlike person full of pointless information that appeals only to other Cretins. If you dig a bit deeper into Cretinism, you find that it is medical term from 18th Century France that describes a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth due to untreated congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones. This condition was often attributed to stagnant air in mountain valleys and bad water. Uh, does Pabst Blue Ribbon count as ‘bad water’? Probably.Picture 12

Second, The Cretins I know are not stupid nor childlike…well maybe a bit childlike (that’s when the fun begins isn’t it?) and yes, in this case we are full of useless information that only we care about…engines, chassis, cool bodywork, fun roads to ride…you get the picture.

The Cafe Racer culture was born in England post World War 2. Blokes would gather at a pub, have a pint and then race each other to another pub and have another pint. There are all sorts of stories about how cafe racers came about, but I’ll stick with this one for now. These were like minded riders just having fun on their motorbikes. And maybe they did terrorize a few motorists here and there. All in good fun…?

Now, the truth about the Cretins Motorcycle Club: These are people that simply love the Cafe Racer motorcycle culture. I had the opportunity to spend an evening with the Los Angeles chapter of the Cretins. This was not my first time with the Cretins. I met them back in 2010 when they hosted the LA Moto Film Fest, but this was the first time I rode with them on their weekly Thursday night ride / meeting. See the photo gallery here
Picture 11“It was a dark and stormy night” (really it was!)…Scott Fabbro, club president, and I had finished our interview for The Motoworld Podcast about his racing experience at the Isle of Man and headed to the first gathering spot, The Thirsty Crow pub on Sunset Blvd near downtown LA.Picture 35 When we arrived we just pulled up onto the sidewalk parked our bikes and waited for everyone else to arrive. In just a short period of time the sidewalk was lined with bikes. Scott’s classic GS750, a cool Honda CB400-4, First Lady Susan’s BMW Boxer Cup (signed by Randy Mamola!!), my old Honda Hawk and a variety of other bikes. The Cretins are an equal opportunity motorcycle club.Picture 31

After a pint (Pabst Blue Ribbon of course), it was back into the damp evening and off to the next stop. Now, it was a wet and rainy night but these guys and ladies didn’t let that slow them down. Picture this – a swarm of cafe racers riding in the wet like it was a warm sunny day at the beach. I felt like we were really keeping true to the “Rocker” culture in England.

Picture 33How about some pinball? That was our next stop…a very cool pinball arcade, ‘Pins and Needles’ in a recording studio somewhere near Downtown. At this point I was totally lost but I didn’t care. I was with the Cretins and having a great time. Some of us played some pinball, some just hung around outside and talked, and after about thirty minutes or so it was off to the club house.Picture 15

The Cretins Club House. When the Cretins show up it’s not quiet. You can’t have a meeting space in a nice residential neighborhood where Ozzie and Harriet are getting ready for bed now, can you? So, you pick a very cool building in an industrial area and make as much noise as you want. Picture 16

Inside the clubhouse is the requisite bar stocked with the required PBR (and some other better beverages…all drank responsibly, really). Inside there is all sorts of memorabilia from racing, rides, charitable events (the Cretins are very socially conscious), and good music.

When we got to the club house, members and friends of the Cretins who couldn’t make the earlier ride were showing up and the place came to life. Talk about bikes, rides, races, politics, family and friends was everywhere. The club really is a family of its own. Also along for the ride were two guys from Cycle World Magazine, photographer Jeff Allen and writer John L. Stein. It was very interesting that the Cretins were invaded by two journalist teams (The MotoWorld and Cycle World) at the same time and none of us even knew it was going to happen. But the Cretins welcomed us all with open arms…or was it handlebars? I didn’t get a chance to talk with John but I did get a chance to spend some time with Jeff (who will be a featured interview on The MotoWorld podcast in the near future) while watching him ply his trade as a pro moto/photo journalist.Picture 32

At around midnight it was finally time to head home. I had had a wonderful night with the motorcycle club. If all goes well this will not be my last ride with the Cretins.

Ride with your mates, share a pint or two, swap stories and carry on the tradition. For this group, this is motorcycling at its best. To know more about the Cretins click http://cretins-la.com/
Thank you Scott, thank you Cretins


Tommy Aquino; RIP

I have been interviewing motorcycle racers for a number of years now, some interviews are notable for how good they turn out and a few are like “well, there is a half hour I’ll never get back”, and then there are the ones that just make you feel good all over, you’re laughing your ass off through the whole thing and you talk about it months and years after. My interview with Tommy Aquino was one of the latter.

Picture 3We were at the AMA races at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California and Kevin Foley of Yamaha set up an interview with the ‘Young Guns’ Tommy Aquino and Josh Herrin.

When I arrived at the appointed time and place (the Yamaha mega trailer) I met the two while they were playing video games. Mind you, these were not motorcycle video games but your basic shoot ’em up games and they were having a great time. The interview was conducted with all kinds of distractions, background noise and a lot of fun. That interview has been a consistent favorite of The Motoworld Podcast. I spent nearly an hour with the two of them and found them to be very fun, welcoming, smart and above all else, they loved racing motorcycles. They also were great teammates.Picture 2

Being a follower and reporter of motorcycle racing, and specifically a follower of those we have interviewed, I have kept track of Tommy’s career. Tommy moved on from AMA racing to the British National Series in the 1000cc Superstock class, which is a stepping stone to British Superbike which is THE stepping stone to Worlds Superbike and MotoGP. In 2013 he had a good season, he was on his way. Sadly, Tommy’s career was cut short while training at a local motocross track.

Piru motocross track is only 9 miles from my home and I happened to be riding by the track at about the time of the incident, it wasn’t until the next morning that I heard the news that Tommy Aquino had died. My heart was broken and my thoughts and prayers went out to his family and friends. Tommy was only 21 years young with so much ahead of him.

Racing has lost a wonderful young talent and the rest of us have lost a wonderful young friend. To hear my interview with Tommy go to
http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/1/6/916a618f12b8306d/02_The_Motoworld_v6.2.mp3?c_id=2339164&expiration=1391535561&hwt=933c1e5c47989befd848dd66d2c9686a

Good-bye Tommy you are missed.
Paul


Never a dull moment

This isn’t really about ‘riding’ with The MotoWorld but it is an adventure with The MotoWorld.

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.


Never a dull moment

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.


It’s Miller Time…Again. Thank you Jesus

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.