Tag Archives: motorcycle racing

Where to find inspiration

I have spent the past years going to races, interviewing racers and loving every minute of it…even when my recorder fails me, like it did today. I have interviewed roadracers and flat trackers and they all have one thing in common, a true passion for racing. Passion and the love of the sport is what drives them each and every day. They eat, sleep and breathe motorcycle racing.

On the way up here last week, Heather and I were talking about others that we have met and talked with that aren’t racers but are doing what they have a passion for in motorcycling. We realized that we produce The MotoWorld out love for motorcycling and motorcycle people, my friend Mitch Boehm of Moto Retro Illustrated magazine started the magazine out of his passion for Vintage motorcycles, and another started photographing motorcycle races following his passion for racing.

Normally when The MotoWorld goes to races we focus our interviews on the racers. Once in a while we’ll talk to a mechanic or technician, but ninety nine percent of the time it’s the racers. This time we decided that we would still talk to as many racers as we could, but also talk with journalists, photographers, anyone that is doing what they do in motorcycling for the love of it. It was amazing the stories that were told to me of following dreams, having something just fall into your lap and never let go of it, to see something start from nothing and watch it grow. The look on a person’s face while they’re telling their story is priceless.

I couldn’t have wished for a greater collection of interviews. In the coming weeks on The MotoWorld podcast you’ll be able to listen to life stories from World Champion racer and Speed TV broadcaster Scott Russell; Superbike Planet.com king Dean Adams; world traveler, journalist and photographer Neale Bayle; author, racer, journalist, and philosopher Peter Jones; SpeedTV broadcaster Ralph Shaheen; Spanish TV announcer and former racer himself Dennis Noyes. All of these men have inspiring stories about following a dream to work and the life they love.

As I said in the beginning here, we do The MotoWorld because we love what we do, and after spending time with these men I love The MotoWorld even more. It’s a good thing it is a labor of love cuz there ain’t no money in it.

And yes, there are going to be good fun racer interviews in there too.

The Church of Speed

Welcome to Sunday morning at the Church of Speed. Everyone is dressed in their Sunday best; racers in their finest leathers, photographers with their cameras hanging around their neck like jewelry, journalists writing sermons, and spectators holding their beers like Holy Water. It’s a perfect Sunday for church in Utah; sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and no wind. All in all a perfect day if you have to spend all of it in church.

The riders are running their practice session right now, the pits are in a flurry and the sound of engines warming up is like the cacophony of a thousand church bells ringing at once. The riders go out for a few laps then dive back into the pits, talk with the mechanics, a few quick adjustments are made and the rider heads back out. Four or five laps later this communal ritual will be repeated. The mechanics are like the brothers in a monastery of exotic high speed machinery, the crew chief is the priest who controls all that happens in his church, and the rider is a mere minion. The congregation is starting to file into the church now.

The congregation, the faithful, will receive their reward in the form of ‘Superpole’. This a sacred ritual that determines which riders sit in the front pews and which listen to the sermon from the back of the church. The faithful watch this ritual with great anticipation knowing that the rider who can read the passages the fastest will gain favor with the monsignor and recieve his blessing, pole position for the race.

Today is the Sunday school before the Mass. This weekend Mass is actually going to be held tomorrow, Monday, because of Memorial Day. Often times though, Sunday school is more exciting.

Superbike Schmuperbike

I’m supposed to be writing this morning what a great day today is going be here at World Superbike, but last night I found the best entertainment value here by the track. No, they don't have those kind of clubs around here, this is Utah you know.

Yeah, World Superbike is exciting and being here at the race is always special. The racing is the best in the motosports world and the facility here at Miller Motorsports Park is the best we attend all year. Yesterday was a somewhat quiet day, some interviews with racers and other journalists, some photos and in general just settling in. Our day ended around 6:30 in the evening looking forward to a nice cold Martini and hoping our tent hadn't blown away.

When we got back to the Deseret Complex the first sound we heard was the sigh of relief that our deluxe accommodations were still standing, the second sound was the local motocross track. We sat in our chairs, chatted with new arrivals and neighbors, planned supper and watched the sun on the snow in the mountains…an excellent evening. After supper it was still too early to go to bed, off to the Friday night motocross we went, it’s only 100 yards away, why not?

As we went in it was obvious that this is truly a family event: moms, dads and kids all dressed in their MX gear, pushing their bikes around and watching friends race. For the next two hours we watched dads helping out the little pee wee racers, giving them a push when they got stuck in a corner, even off the starting line. It didn’t matter whose kid it was, there was a mom or a dad cheering them on. The bigger kids meant faster racing, bigger jumps, boys and girls. And of course there were the old guys, and now it was the pee wee’s cheering on dad, or mom in some cases. We were parked next to a family with four trophies on the tailgate of their truck, a fast family.

Yep, the local Friday night motocross is by far the best entertainment this weekend, and if you ever have a chance to go to your local motocross track to watch the pee wees race, take your camera and be prepared to smile, grimace, laugh, and cheer on the little tikes on their little bikes. I wish we could do it again tonight.

The Ride In Movies

The last Motoworld blog post was all about getting friends together to watch the season opener MotoGP, do some bench racing, eat, drink and plan our spring road trip. While everyone was arriving with pots and plates of food, boxes of beers and good munchies we had a great motorcycle movie on in the background. The movie going was ‘Riding Solo To The Top Of The World’ by my friend Gaurav Jani from India. Riding Solo is a wonderful travelogue that I believe every traveling motorcyclist should watch, it really put’s ‘Long Way Around’ to shame.While waiting for racing to start, enjoying all the good food and visiting with friends, more and more friends became captivated by the movie to the point of ” hey, record the race, let’s watch the movie, then the race”. After watching the races, we finished the movie. After the movie was over and everybody headed home a new idea was hatched…a way to get motorcycling friends together, and another good reason to consume mass quantities of food and beer, wait, who ‘needs‘ a reason for the last two?

Most readers of this blog are probably old enough to remember Drive-In’s and most of us who did go to Drive-In’s can’t remember the movie we ‘watched’…because the windows were too steamed up. The Drive-In in my town was $5.00 a carload… including Steve and Artie in the trunk along with a couple of six packs. So I got to thinking, with Drive-Ins extinct how can we motorcyclists recreate that wonderful piece of Americana, but on motorcycles? Welcome to the Ride-In Theater.

Here are the rules, you have to ride your motorcycle, no cars. Admission is cold refreshing beverages and your company. The Fillmore Ride-In Theater has popcorn, hot dogs and lawn chairs. But now, what to show? I went through my collection of motorcycle movies and came up with a selection that I’m sure will please everyone. We can’t show all of these on one evening so it gives us a nice summertime of motorcycling entertainment.

We start the Ride-In season with the best of all time motorcycle movie, ‘On Any Sunday’. If this movie doesn’t stir your soul, you should trade in your motorcycle for a minivan and call it quits. Next would be Peter Starr’s ‘Take it to the Limit’, truly the greatest motorcycle racing movie made. From Trials riding to Roadracing to Drag Racing, Desert racing and MotoCross, this movie is nothing but pure excitement and a great Saturday night Ride-In movie date.

About mid July, we bring out ‘The Worlds Fastest Indian’. A great feel good movie about a real legend in Land Speed Record Racing. Having been to Bonneville with a race team, ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ brings back a lot of good memories and feelings. You have to watch this movie every once and awhile…just because.

August brings to the big screen…actually my barn door…Robert Redford and Michael J.Pollard, also known as ‘Little Fauss and Big Halsy’. There’s just something about this movie that just plain works. You’ve got Robert Redford at his hunkiest, Michael J. Pollard at his quirkiest, throw in some good racing…you can’t go wrong on a warm summer evening at the Ride-in. Oh, and Lauren Hutton doesn’t hurt the movie either.

Labor Day weekend we wind up The Ride-In Theater season with ‘Faster’. A good look at the inside of MotoGP racing. Excellent racing footage along with some great behind the scenes filming, interviews and commentary. Just in time for the end of the MotoGP season.

So, come on all you motorcycle movie fans out there, drive-in ‘s may be extinct, but Ride-In’s are alive and well. Oh and by the way, that little screen in the picture above isn’t what we’ll be using, I just couldn’t find a big ‘ol white sheet to cover the whole door for the photo, but I promise I’ll find one before Ride-In Theater season starts, but you get the idea anyway.

Steaming up the windscreen on my BMW could be a bit challenging but a lot of fun. I think I smell popcorn…see you at the movies.

What’s the best way…

…to watch a MotoGP race when you can’t be there?

You get your motorcycling friends together at your house to watch the race on TV. Some are former racers (me and Jay), some are still racing (Craig and Howard), some that wished they were still racing (me), and those that never raced but love motorcycle racing…the wives. Throw in a few more motorcycle bums and you have a Race Watch Party.
Years ago, I started a tradition amongst our group of motorcycling friends of getting together to watch races, share some good food, drink some good beer (excepting my son, who likes Budweiser) and in general have a great time.
Over the years some friends have moved away, new friends have come into the cult, the races are being watched by little kids who can’t even reach the handlebars (but can reach the buttons on the TV!) and the food has gotten better and more plentiful…hence the ever expanding waistline and the need for a bigger motorcycle…good thing the Grand Prix racing season is only six months long!!! But who’s complaining?

So, when you can’t enjoy the crowds at the races, the cheering for a good pass or the ‘Oh sh*t’s when someone crashes…thanks to Speed TV and some great friends you can have most of the excitement right in your own living room. Now if only someone would invent ‘Smellevision’…I love the smell of race gas…

How many times can you say ‘UMM’???

…or, “Um, you know”, or…”so…um”??

The main part of The MotoWorld for years has been the podcasts. Great interviews, travel stories, opinions and MotoNews. Putting together a good program takes time; researching news, rumors and new products. Deciding which interviews go with which news pieces and / or rumors and of course choosing background music. But before all that, comes the dreaded interview editing.

In all honesty I love editing. It’s a whole zen of it’s own. I learned the skill while working as a disc jockey and commercial producer for a rock n’ roll radio station in New Mexico a number of lifetimes ago. At that time, it was splicing pieces of reel to reel tape together with a razor blade and editing tape, today it’s a mouse button…but it’s all the same and I still love it. I think.

This morning while editing interviews from the AMA Roadraces at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California last week, I realized that other than editing myself out…which makes the interview sound much better…most of my time goes into taking out the “umm’s”, the “umm, you know’s” and the ever popular “so……….umm’s”.

A couple of years ago while interviewing a very popular racer, we were joking about the “umm’s” and he told me that at one time while being interviewed the PR person in charge would count on his fingers each time he said “umm”. It became a running joke…and don’t worry Jake, I won’t tell anybody who the racer is.

So this morning I finish my interview edits for the new MotoWorld show and I counted the “umm’s”, “you knows”, the “umm, you know’s” and the “so…..you know’s”. Then being the math wiz I’m not, started calculating how many of those edits have I done over the years. Counting on my fingers and toes….30,312…give or take 5. Who ever said being a motojournalist was easy. OK, ummm… back to work.

Race Day delay

So that means that I have time to pass on a few notes to you. We’re out here at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California for the first of the West Coast rounds of AMA Pro Racing. Yesterday, Friday, was a truly beautiful Southern California day.All the teams are here, the garages are humming and the track is alive with sound of motorcycles but, we’re here to work. Interviews to do, photo’s to take and stories to write, who has time for watching practice and qualifying?

Our day was full right from the moment we got here, following up on past interviews, scheduling new ones and figuring how we were going to work it all in. Work,work,work…

We started the morning with our friends at Roadracing World Magazine, lining up our interview with MotoGP and Superbike star John Hopkins.

Next was over to Jordan Suzuki for a visit with Rich Alexander, technical manager and former champion road racer himself about running the Michael Jordan team.A quick hello with Aaron Yates, which who, later in the day set the fastest lap times in qualifying.

Time to sit down with John Hopkins for an interview that I have been looking forward to for a long time. We had a great visit about his life and career.

Wandering around the pits a month or so ago during Superbike testing, I met Danny Eslick, 2009 Daytona Sportbike champion. This young man always had a smile on his face and was usually laughing, and in general having a great time. We didn’t get a chance for a full interview so we planned for this race. We met up at the Geico Powersports trailer and for the next thirty minutes or so we had one of the most entertaining interviews we’ve done.

At 3PM the first round of qualifying got underway and from there until the end of the day, no more interviews so we really did get to watch. It’s always fun to watch the racers we have interviewed, you get to know and like them so naturally we cheer for them.

After qualifying we met up with Ducati Superbike pilot Larry Pegram for an interview. Now, Larry is a really cool guy and a great racer, but…he’s not much of a talker. We like him anyway.

We finished off our day in great style, a half hour with sixteen year old Elena Meyers, super fast, super nice and cute as can be. Oh, she had the wildest toenail polish I think I’ve ever seen.

At the end of the day we had a recorder full of interviews and a camera full of photos, a great day.

That was yesterday. Today the wind is howling, blowing so hard that all track activity is stopped for riders’ safety. It’s hard just walking around much less riding a motorcycle at over 165 miles per hour today. So, a couple more interviews, edit photo’s and update you all.

Our first get together this morning was with young Chris Clark riding a Yamaha R1 Superbike for the Pat Clark Motorsports, a Yamaha satellite team. Another very talented and entertaining young man.

To give you an idea of how hard the wind is blowing, while we were doing the last interview,the giant team hauler was rocking side to side to the point of making almost all of us seasick!

So here it is 1:30 in the afternoon, the wind is still howling, riders are huddled up in their motorhomes and we’re hiding in the media center. If no racing soon, we’ll be back tomorrow.

2:30 pm update..the wind has calmed down a bit, the AMA is sending the Superbike riders out onto the track for an evaluation of the safety concerns..if the riders feel they have raceable conditions…thirty minutes from now the green flag drops.

If it wasn’t for bad luck…

… we’d have no luck at all… and then there’s ‘ the best laid plans of mice and men’… and lastly, ‘what could go wrong?’…we’ve all heard those sayings and for some of us they are all too true.

Building a Bonneville Streamliner is no easy task. First there is the design concept, then the engineering, “what do you mean you don’t fit in the cockpit?”CIMG7233… all the parts, replacing parts, re-engineering for the third time and all the while reading the rulebook…’the tilt sensor has to be set for what angle??’ When you finally think you’re ready, it’s off to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah with lofty goals of a Land Speed Record. Besides all the work you put into the bike, you also need a healthy dose of luck.

This year our team, Left Coast Racing, was mounting its third assault on ‘The Salt’. Past parachute and shifter problems had been dealt with, new electronics installed and a nose cone mounted…we were ready, what could go wrong?? Tempting fate is never a wise move.

It’s a long drive from Southern California to Bonneville, we decided to split it into two days. First stop Las Vegas…confusion at the hotel, room change and a really bad rollaway bed, not a good start…a portent of things to come?? Nah..just a no sleep night. Saturday morning , a really bad hotel breakfast…we should have hit one of the casinos for their $4.99 all you can eat breakfast buffet’s, it would have to have been better.

Interesting drive up what is known as the ‘extraterrestrial highway’; you know, I didn’t see any extraterrestrials or UFO’s… all those extra miles for nothing, sheesh. Finally we caught a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake, I have seen Salt Lake many times and it never ceases to amaze me. No matter how many times you go to a race track, when you see it from a distance and know you’re almost there and you’re going to be racing on it soon, your heart speeds up, your breathing steps up and mentally you are already racing.

Our first day was spent getting the bike tech inspected; a few minor adjustments here and there and we were ready to fly. Well, some tweaks were not quite so minor…re-engineering for the fourth time. Lets go racing…uh tomorrow.CIMG7157

The Bonneville Speed Trials are an interesting dichotomy. The long track (also known as the International track) is either eleven miles or eight miles long and the Mountain Track is either five or three miles long. We started our record quest on the long track. You get anywhere from two to five miles to build up speed and then speed through the measured mile, the whole run takes anywhere from five to seven minutes tops, but…you have been waiting in line for nearly two, maybe three hours. Bonneville is the epitome of ‘hurry up and wait’. The good thing about waiting, at least for a journalist like me, I get to meet and talk to a lot of interesting people. But, more about the luck of ‘Left Coast Racing’.

Monday morning dawned bright and beautiful and no wind!! Perfect for running a streamliner. After a good three hour wait at Mile Zero, the starting line, our Norton powered streamliner was green flagged. The moment Eric, launched the bike…our luck struck…the parachute popped out??!! WTH?? Right at the starting line?? One-quarter mile later Eric and the Norton were laying on it’s side. there went that day. The rest of the afternoon was spent figuring out why the chute popped out…by time we got the problem sorted, there was no way we could get another run in. “Anyone want a beer?” Nobody said no.

Tuesday morning, motto for the day..”we’re prepared , what can go wrong?” Again, tempting the gods is not a smart move when it comes to racing. Another loooooonnnggg wait and we’re back on the track. Eric launched the bike perfectly, the motor sounded great and off we went to catch him at the end of the track. One of the great things about the BUB Speed Trials is that they have a dedicated radio frequency to broadcast what is going on all day…so we’re listening to Eric’s time while he is still on the track…104mph. What??? This thing is geared for around 212mph..what happened?? The announcer said something about damage to the bike as it passed the timing lights. What happened?

CIMG7516The Salt Flats are sitting on top of parts of The Great Salt Lake and every now and then you get a ‘pothole’. Not a good thing on a race track. Track workers spotted it, put cones all around it, warned Eric at the start about the cones but for some reason Eric was determined to aim for those cones. Back to the pits with our crippled motorcycle. Clean up the damage and it’s back to the track. The next run would be great right? Right? A sputtering motor kept the ‘liner to a slow 105 mph.

When you tempt the racing gods, they send the ignition gremlins. Four hours of searching, changing, searching more and changing more; builder Ken and master mechanic Kevin think they have the problem solved. However, it was too late to make another run that day. “Anyone want a beer?” Again, nobody said no.

Welcome to Wednesday morning and high hopes for a good run. We get to the Salt Flats early so we can get a jump on the day. Right out to the staging area to take our place in line and visit with everyone else hanging around for their turn to run. Tom Mellor and his 195 mph Triumph Trident ( towed by a Rolls Royce )CIMG7435 is there, the worlds fastest 50cc streamliner is there as is the former Land Speed Racing record holder, the BUB #7. We’re all back to waiting, that’s part of Bonneville, we’re used to it. While waiting I had a moment to talk with Chris Carr, pilot of the BUBS#7, former Land Speed record holder, multi-time national flat track champion and all around good guy…I asked him about the Indy Mile a couple of days before and then we talked about the BUBS Streamliner, he told me they were having some issues ..fuel? ignition? They didn’t know…HA..even the big guys get caught by the gremlins.

Our turn finally comes up…ok, we’re ready, lets go. Eric launches perfectly, the bike sounds great, and off we go chasing him down. Over the radio comes his speed, 125mph…only 125 we thought? Something still has to be wrong…big sighs from the team. When we pick up Eric he tells us he never got out of third gear. What?? Now, always wanting to think positively, I looked on the bright side…”hey, 125mph in third gear!?. that’s great!! Imagine what it will be at the top of fifth!!” By the looks I got from the rest of the team, being Mr. Sunshine wasn’t going over so well.

If you want to set a Land Speed record at Bonneville, you have to make two runs…one up and one back within a certain period of time, making no modifications to the motorcycle. Even at 125mph we were on record pace so we set out for our return run. Again, a good launch but…it sounded like we hadn’t exorcized all the gremlins, Eric’s top speed 105mph. Back to the pits to start the process all over again. Another few hours of searching revealed…not much. It was getting late in the day, the track was closed and the restaurant was going to close soon. “Anyone want a beer?”

Now, its Thursday, the last day, we have until three o’clock to achieve our goals and set the record for our class. We have done everything we can so now it’s up to the ‘Salt Gods’. After waiting for what seems like an eternity… is this beginning to sound familiar??..we’re lined up, Eric is strapped in and………the Norton won’t start. Are we out of gas? Can’t be, but it won’t start and it won’t start. Our hearts sank, this was our last chance. I couldn’t muster up a Mr. Sunshine comment. We just went back to the pits in silence. “Anyone want a beer?”..no answer required, I just passed them out and cursed the ignition gremlins.

We packed up our home away from home and headed back to the hotel. Showers, another beer and off to dinner to start making plans for next year. That is one of the beauty’s of racing..there’s always the next race. There is only one problem with running a streamliner, you can’t just run it up and down your street to see if it’s running right…your neighbors won’t like you and neither will the local constables.

Friday morning we say good bye to Kevin as he heads home to Reno, Ken, Eric and I start the long trip back to Southern California. It’s an easy drive, long, but easy. Breakfast at the Silver Cafe in Pioche, Nevada, the best breakfast I have had all week. Next stop Las Vegas.

Like I started this tale with, if it wasn’t bad luck we’d have no luck at all. While leaving the gas station in Las Vegas, we discovered that someone had put concrete posts at the end of the gas pump islands right where we wanted to go…how inconsiderate…one of those posts took the fender right off our trailer and bent the axle. Didn’t we leave the gremlins behind in Utah? Fortunatley a trailer supply house was literally around the corner and three hours later we were back on the road to home. CIMG7654

The Bonneville Salt Flats is a very humbling place, not only for the fact that it can dash your hopes of being in the Land Speed Racing record books, but also for it’s stark beauty. Flat, white and seemingly endless. Mountains seem to float in the sky, motorcycles disappear into the distance followed only by the wail of the exhaust. Bonneville is so much more than seeing how fast your motorcycle will go. There is something about the salt thats brings you back year after year. Whether you are riding, wrenching or writing, the salt gets in your blood. I’ll be back next year, nothing could keep me away.

Cruisin’ the pit’s…always fun

CIMG5935We just got back from cruising the pits which I love doing. I love watching mechanics swarm over a motorcycle when it comes in off the track. The rider jumps off, starts talking to the crew chief, the bike goes up on the stands, if it is going back out the tyre warmers go on or new wheels put on, a technician hooks up a laptop computer to download the information from the bikes computer, evrything is checked over, everyone has their job, including the guy that polishes the bike. The rider going back out hasn’t even taken off his helmet and is surrounded by mechanics, tyre tech and a suspension tech. Controlled chaos…I love it.

If the session is over or there is serious problem with the motorcycle it’s less chaotic, but not much. Computer tech plugs into the bike, wheels come off, bodywork comes off and work begins. The motorcycle looks a skeleton of itself. It’s a similar story if the practice session is over. The mechanics still swarm the motorcycle, the computer tech hooks into the bike instantly, wheels come off, bodywork comes off, mechanics are discecting every thing. The bike looks like a skeleton of itself.CIMG5870

This time the riders helmet is off he get’s a chance to sit down and is surrounded by the crew. They analyze the data from the computer,they talk about feel and how to improve the bike. Debriefing they call it and it takes about twenty to thirty minutes. Mechanics are working away and and that’s when we in the media get a chance to talk to the rider about how things are going. This is a great job.CIMG5974

it’s Miller Time…A day at the races

CIMG5906Yesterday was quite a day for us, some disappointments, some high spots. We finished our day with a good interview with current championship leader Ducat’s Noriyuki Haga and then a nice dinner with a friend.

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning here at Miller Motorsports Park and the pace, in all respects, has picked up a lot. Yesterday everyone was serious and working hard but today you can feel the difference. The support classes were on the track good and early this morning, World Supersport is on the track now and the Superbikes take to the track in a few minutes.

The media center is almost empty of photograhers, they are all out on the track. I envy them being out there, I don’t envy them out there in the heat. Moto Sport photography is fiercely competitive yet they are all friends and help each other in all ways. The only ones here in the room are reporters and story writers. But, after the practice sessions this morning end, this room will be filled with millions of dollars of camera equipment and a lot of hot , sweaty photgrahers grabbing as much water as they can.

CIMG5926Today should be a good day for interviews, we’re focusing on the Supersport racers, acouple of Superbike pilots and an American woman, Melissa Paris. Melissa is the first woman ever to compete in the World Supersport Championships and should prove to be a fun interview. Update…interview w/ Melissa was good…end of update…

Success is the pits, I mean in the pits. Short but sweet. Three world class riders in their leathers getting ready to go out on the track were kind enough to each spend a few minutes with us. Then on the other hand, some racers look right at you, you ask for a minute of their time and they just plain ignore you. Oh well, they’re stars. Time to catch up with ‘The Sultan of Slide” Garry McCoy.

Another update…Interview with Garry McCoy was one of the most fun I have done…end of update…CIMG5991Time for Superpole, going to be very interesting…especially with Big Thunder and Big Lightning coming our way.

That’s it for Saturday at the races