I want to speak shortly on the tragic events of the past week.
As a Oklahoman I, as well as many others have weathered yet another very emotional week.
This past week we suffered a new link in a long chain of disasters that have taxed the the spirit and the soul. The horrific damage and losses left behind are our history… it will be remembered forever along with past like kind events. To be measured against, the tornado’s that swarmed our state this week have again become a new deadly benchmark. But it is not our legacy…
Oklahoman’s, our neighbors in north Texas who recently suffered as well and those other nearby states that are a part of the alley are very much in tune with our surroundings. The weather is always extreme. We never are really afforded a quiet springtime and the watch for dangerous storms is a continuous part of our lives.
But it seems for Oklahoma it seems we are given special opportunities to have our resolve and faith continually tested. The spirit of Oklahoma has always been one of persistence in the face of dire conditions. Whether they be natural or man made. As a relative newcomer, being a resident of the state for only 30 some odd years I have always been amazed at the grit and determination of this great states citizenry. It seems that the core of American ideology… freedom and independence are forged in steel here. But the hard edges of our existence are tempered by the kindness shown others in times of strife. When things look most bleak it’s a very emotional thing see how close Oklahoman’s will gather up, roll up the sleeves and do the dirty work together of straightening out the mess. When others suffer loss whether it be a loved one or be a home the states beauty shines brightest. It makes me proud to be a Sooner.
Yes, there is no doubting the same things can be said across the country. Time and time again the country has proved itself as a nation of quality when times are at their worst…. But to me it’s Oklahoma that shines brightest when the darkness is overwhelming. The events we witnessed this week are indelibly etched forever in our minds. I will never forget the devastation.. but I won’t let it obscure the beauty of Oklahoma… it’s my home.
Last weekend I was once again given the great chance to go watch and participate in a small way, the motorcycle races held by the CMRA. The races were held at Oklahoma’s very own Hallett Motor Racing Circuit near Jennings, Oklahoma.
Hallett is the only true road racing specific track in the state. It’s known by many to be a very tough, technical track. But those who race there have come to love the lovely rolling hills and turns nestled in the natural Oklahoma countryside. The track is well taken care of and gives riders the chance to really test themselves and the machines. The weekend of racing was perfect. The weather Saturday was spectacular and the mini endurance trials were quite exciting to watch. Riders in the Saturday mini sprints put on a great show and the CMRA’s newest format, the Team 60 gave a great preview to what was to become a record breaking Sunday sprint race series.
I was really thrilled to see the Jr Motards running at Hallett. Those youngsters really rode their hearts out and and it was so cool to see what is sure to become the future of the club getting a chance to learn the ropes, have some fun and ride the same asphalt as their heroes…
The big bike sprints on Sunday gave a heck of a show and it was of course what everyone came to see. The Formula 1 race did not disappoint and every class competed hard. Some awesome racing!
I was one of the lucky spectators to see the record breaking run of Danny Kelsey. The battle between him, the track and the other competitors was epic! For sure an event to be remembered…..
So today I was going through the many pictures I took that weekend. I have many great shots of the riders and bikes. I have photos of the bikes, the track and riders doing power wheelies off turn five hill…. I took shots of fast and hard competition through the sweeping turn six and the resulting drag race past seven! But one small group of shots I took for no apparent reason that on retrospection really brought it home… it’s just a few shots of a young boy and who I can only guess is his father. They were standing by the fence looking over the grass the man sitting on a bike while the boy stood watching the riders.
Photo by Scott Finning
Photo by Scott Finning
Photo by Scott Finning
Photo by Scott Finning
Photo by Scott Finning
The pics really put the sport into perspective… why we come, what the club is really about. Those little motards out there running like mini MotoGP champs waiting their turn for the future… This youngster with stars in his eyes and rapt attention to the instructions or explanations the father was offering him. It reminded me of why we do what we do… love of racing. Love for our families…. And that special feeling we get when we can share it with others…
For me looking at those pictures melted away all the bad of the week…. They drew me back in time to the track, the racing and spending time with my lovely wife as we corner-worked, watched the racing and snapped some pics…. good times….. in Oklahoma
So the week is over and we go into the holiday. We’ll watch parades and B-B-cue. we will visit friends and family. Mostly we will heal up. It’s kind of like what Okies are good at…in good times and bad…
So your just getting into racing?
Well so am I. Bet you thought it was gonna be easy! So did I.. Bet thought you could do it cheap! So did I! And I bet you thought you could take your cheesy street skills and they would be enough! So did I ! After all this time watching (and hopefully) learning I think I am kinda ready. But probably not.
I will say the hare-brain idea that I could throw a bike together on the cheap and then go out and mix it up with 2 year novices is long gone. I probably will have many thousands into this before I turn a lap. Even my old F3 is going to be a expensive little starter bike. And if I did like like most of the other guys do and buy a late model bike and gear it up for racing I would be a lot more in debt than I already am. It ain’t cheap to race and the newer the equipment the more it will cost. I remember what I read the other day on one of the club forums. Some guy said.. “Wanna win a small fortune racing? You got to start with a larger fortune and be ready to spend it all!” Ain’t it the truth!
And my skills are minor! I know I have none…. I rode dirt years back but that ain’t gonna be enough to flatten the learning curve. Sure, I have ridden for years on the street. But there’s no comparing the two. Competition driving is so unlike street driving. Everybody I have talked to and everything I have read tells me that. On the street you spend most of your time trying to avoid cagers and cops, trying to watch the road signs and keeping from getting hit. You can’t gain riding skills when your spending all your time worrying. Sure every once in a while you catch some fast sweepers and find yourself on an empty stretch too pour it on. Mostly your on defense…
But on the track.. and this is assumption talking, not experience… you are getting the chance to learn your bike capabilities… you own skills and expel the bad street habits while you learn the track and how to master close competition riding. Watching these guys I will say that The tools of the trade are more than a fast bike. Nerves of steel are nice but it helps to have a healthy respect for the tracks. There is so much you have to remember, grid spots… tech rules, the forms and where to put your frigging stickers so your eligible for contingency money. But the one thing you better keep in mind is to forget the money… if it comes great. But chances are you ain’t gonna be doing a lot of taking. It be more of a giving thing.
So why am I going over this crap? It’s not like I haven’t said this all before or that anyone else hasn’t said it before either. Well I have been following a post on another site where some fairly new rider..(not as new as me for sure) was bitching about possibly getting bumped to the expert class next year. The guy was concerned he wasn’t going to be winning class championships or placing on the podium if they forced him to expert. That’s great! Here’s some guy who has skills and instead of dicing it up with like skilled riders he wants to be slamming lesser riders so he gain a little contingency cash and put a champ number on his bike…. what a chump!
I don’t know about anyone else but I’m sure I fell in love with racing not cause I thought I was the next Ben Spies and Josh Hayes or I was gonna win a bunch of races but because nowhere else could I get the chance to ride my sportbike like it was meant to be ridden and maybe, just maybe get to mix it up and hone my new skills against some better riders. If I knew I was like a strip steak sitting on menu beating out nothing but meatballs I don’t think I be so proud. I’d want to get across the street to that fancy restaurant and get on the classy side. At least then I might get confused by someone as a t-bone.
I’m a fan of speed…
Sure a lot of guys are. But how did motorcycle road racing become a passion for me? Well to be honest as a older guy this particular passion has come late. For years I played around with a number of forms of racing. I did the usual motocross and dirt thing as a youngster. I always loved drag racing so I followed that across the years but was never very active. Like a lot of folks I watched NASCAR and the roundy-round series and enjoyed it. And open wheeled carried some attraction both the dirt and asphalt versions but it never was a big draw for me.
Growing up in the northern New York countryside during the 70’s there really was not much in the way of motorcycle road racing going on. No one in the family was involved, you never saw any on T.V and it was not in the news at all. But in the stores there were magazines on the sport and I always looked at them when I had the chance. The images of those exotic bikes seemed so alien but beautiful at the same time. The riders with their knees dragging, the bikes with those swept back fairings seemed to quietly whisper…” I am fast, I’ll bite you if your not careful!” I really loved that…
As the years went by more important thing took over my life and I never followed my heart. I did some dirt racing and filled my need for speed with hot rods and the regular car guy stuff. but the images never left my head and I still always turned my head when a sport bike went by. It wasn’t until just a couple years ago that I went to my first road race… and there was no fooling myself. i was hooked and like a river the passion has poured forth ever since. I live and breath this sport now. I can’t stop thinking about the sport and as I look around the scene I am jealous of the guys who have been a part of it for years.
But I won’t let the past get me down. I will try to make up for the lost time by learning all I can and soon be chasing the rabbit myself. In the meantime I hope I can give the sport some well deserved props and high-lite those who make this passion real. There are so many individuals who are the backbone and reason club road racing is so strong. All over the country are hundreds of racers and the necessary supporting cast member that make race day happen. The community is so much larger than I ever imagined. To be a part of this collection of like minded speed freaks is so satisfying.
So now I have come full circle. The young boy standing in Woolworth’s thumbing through a magazine with starry eyes to a confirmed road racing fan. Sometimes it all just comes together!
So that’s my story… What’s yours?