Both here in the USA and around the world club style motorcycle roadracing is a hotbed of talent.
There are hundreds of grassroots road racing organizations that cater all kinds of racing from vintage racing to world class GP racing. Club riders and the supporting cast that fills out the membership ranks are some of the mosted talented and experianced in the world.
While dedicated fans line the fences to watch racers take on the twists and turns of their local asphalt track, riders, many sporting late model sportbikes taken right off the showroom floor or on hand built custom racers, compete against each and the stopwatch.
As they say " On any Sunday" you will find them handlebar to handlebar, each rider testing the limits of their machines and their own physical or mental abilities. Competing one another for little or no money these clubs are filled with young men and women who may be hoping to be the next Ben Spies while older,more experianced riders are just enjoying the club racing, the competition and the comraderie that come from years of racing one another.
Whatever the reason for their involvement, club racing requires the same amount of preparation and attention to detail just as the best pros need to be safe and competitive. The riders, crews and officials at these events treat each race weekend with the the same amount of pride, care and professionalism that any MotoGP, World Superbike or AMA PRO-Racing sanctioned event participant would display!
Probably one of the best run organizations offering club road racing is the CMRA.
That club has produced many top name racers that have gone on to racing fame in the AMA and MotoGP series.
CMRA racers are known throughout the club scene as some of the most talented and promising around. A tightly run ship, the CMRA offers endurance as well as sprint series racing opportunities for all age groups and abilities.
Individual racers as well as sprint & endurance teams from all over Texas, Oklahoma and the surrounding states come to the CMRA for some of the most intense competitive racing around. Competetions are held on multiple road tracks throughout the season and offer an abundance of different racng opportunities that is sure to keep things interesting month after month.
One of the finest racers ever to sport a CMRA badge is Ty Howard.
Ty Howard has been a staple in the club and pro racing scenes for years and his success is well documented. From the mid 1980's to the present Ty has raced tracks ranging from dirt flat track to the most modern,fastest asphalt road race courses in the U.S.
As a teenager Ty raced his first pro dirt race and by 1991 was running the AMA pro circuit going on to win the Springfield Mile. Afterwards Ty set his sights on road racing and after a time in the Harley Davidson Twins series Ty went on to battle for WERA and CMRA endurance championships. Ty also competed in those respected club's sprint series winning multiple championships.
Ty's success gained him a spot on the Kawaski Team Green competing in the 2000 Formula USA earning a top ten finish. In 2002 Ty moved on to ride for Annondale Racing in the AMA National series with multiple top ten spots in both the superbike and superstock classes and a very respectable 8th place at the 2005 Daytona 200.
Riding for Team Aprilla USA, Ty brought home the 2007 and 2008 AMA Moto-ST
championships, winning the 2008 Daytona 300 and four other Moto-ST races during the two year span.
Throughout this time Ty continued to compete at his home base the CMRA. Now riding for KTM, Ty competes in CMRA Sprint and Endurance series aboard the KTM RC8R. In CMRA racing Ty has set and holds numerous tracks records and has won multiple overall championships. An icon in club road racing Ty continues to be the dominant force and the rider all others are gauged by. While racing in many classes Ty has found the time to give back to the club by serving on the club's board of directors and all the while running a successful private lesson clinic at The Ty Howard Advanced Road Racing School.
Ty Howard has had an impressive run in racing that any racer would be proud of but it seems he's not done just yet! In 2012 Ty is yet again vieing for an overall championship while trying to fend off a never ending series of young stars who are hungry to be the next club phenon. As of this writing Ty is on the cusp of regaining the #1 plate yet again and that would truly be something....
So let's ask Ty what's new and what's happening "inside the grid"
Welcome to Soonerbillz.com!
SBZ It's been a pretty eventful season this year. A lot of good riders and teams have have some real success and again some have seen more than their share of bad luck.
What is your take of the endurance sessions this year so far. Anything surprising?
Ty Obviously it’s really disappointing for the KTM team not to finish the year. After the crash at MSR the bike just had way too much damage to repair before the end of the year as the crash also caused major engine damage.
The Village Idiots have had another outstanding season and if all goes good at TWS they will win their first overall championship.
The surprise of the year for me has been the NORDCO Team. If not for a blown motor at Hallett they would be with in sight of the championship. That whole team has stepped up and dropped the hammer. With a little luck they still stand a chance at the overall.
SBZ Is there any particular sprint team or rider that has impressed you this year with their improvement from last year to this?
Ty I really feel that Danny Kelsey has turned a page. He has his whole package working good and has a lot of support. He will be the guy to beat for the #1 plate for many years to come.
SBZ You have multiple championships and have won many,many races.
You obviously have years of memories as a racer.
Can you tell us which one stands out above the others in your mind?
Ty My 2 years in MotoST were very good memories. It was a really fun series with lots of media coverage. The series ran with the Grand AM car series so that was really exciting to see that. The bikes were evenly matched with weight limits, HP limits, same tires, and fuel. A lot of top guys in AMA ran the series also and it was very gratifying to win against those guys on equal equipment. The Lloyd Brothers ran the Aprilia factory backed team and those guys were such a pleasure to work with.
SBZ What do you feel makes the CMRA stand out from the crowd in the club racing world?
Ty The CMRA is a huge family with every member owning a percentage of the club. Every voice is heard and this helps the CMRA to be a club for the racers. The CMRA is not putting on races for an owner to get rich. They are putting on races to give its members (the real owners) a great place to race. As a BOD member I work with the other BOD members to make sure the club doesn’t go broke but at the same making sure our members don’t go broke trying to enter races.
SBZ With the economy being so lean, high fuel prices and so many other body shots to racing as a whole, in your opinion what is the future health of club racing and the CMRA in particular?
Ty It has been tough to say the least. The schedule was shortened to 9 races for 2012. The BOD implemented a lot of cost saving changes and introduced a few new classes. The new classes have been very successful and overall we are back on track. For 2013 we have a few new class sponsors stepping up. These sponsors are instrumental in keeping attendance up.
SBZ As an amateur and pro racer you have had many opportunities to see up close, racers in action winning races in high fashion with lesser skills and machines, while others failed when they had the advantage of superior physicle ability and better equipment. So how much importance do you place on mental toughness vs. physical strength in this sport?
Ty A rider’s sense and feel for traction is more important than anything for overall speed. Every aspect of racing, including physical condition and good machinery, is key to winning.
SBZ What advice would you give a young person and their parents on getting into this sport?
Ty Racing is about having fun but first make sure your can afford it before you get started.
SBZ Is there anything that you believe is detrimental that folks new to the sport tend to do that
makes being successful in racing harder than it should be?
Ty Listening to people that have experience is vital. Spend some money getting lessons and schooling before spending money on performance parts. You have to know who you’re getting advice from and make sure they know more than you do. Otherwise it could set you back and make riding more dangerous.
SBZ What is the toughest thing you have had to overcome to stay successful in racing?
Ty Money is always a challenge. I have been blessed with outstanding sponsors and mechanics over my career that help keep me competitive.
SBZ The past race at ECR was a tough weekend for a lot of the competitors. Saturday endurance riders faced some really bad track conditions.
Sunday was not much better and you had some difficulties early on.
Can you tell us how it was from your perspective
and what you had to do to come back for your wins?
Ty I was racing a new KTM RC8R RS that weekend. I ran out of time to get a fuel map built on the dyno. It was not a problem during Friday practice. However during the rain Sunday the RPM’s were lower and the bike became very rough on/off throttle. Going into the off camber turn 8 it finally caught me out causing me to highside. I was very fortunate not to be hurt. Luckily, the bike I use for teaching lessons was at home ready to go. So I quickly drove the 45 miles home to get the bike. Realistically I should have only won one race on the school bike but Danny Kelsey ran off track and I was able to just barely win the second race.
SBZ You must be pretty happy with your success this year. Your are currently leading the overall Expert by 40 points as of ECR. There is less than a 100 point difference between 1st & the 5th place rider. With only one race left this year, outside of Danny do you see any chance of someone in that top 5 catching you?
Ty Danny has the best chance of beating me because he also runs the same races I do. So he has to win the 750 classes and the 1000 classes and I have to stay consistent all day. If I falter in any race he can hold onto the #1 plate for another year. We are also battling for class championships that pay to win. So the pressure is on to win the races also.
SBZ New board members are on tap for the coming season. Any thoughts or words of encouragement for the newcomers?
Ty Being a BOD member is not easy work. It’s a complete team and every member is key to the continued success of the CMRA. Check you personal agenda at the door and be prepared to make the best decisions for the CMRA membership and future races.
SBZ Is there anyone in particular or maybe a sponsor you would like to tell us about and thank who helped you to be successful either currently or in the past?
Ty I have had many great sponsors over the years and they were all at some point a big part of my success. There have been many people over the years that without I would have zero success. They have spent countless hours working on my bikes and have been beside me through think and thin. I would like to thank my dad, Steve Upchurch, Don Ross, Jim Cambora, Marcus McBain, and Brandon Spradlin.
SBZ Can you tell us what your plans are for the coming year? Anything new and exciting?
Ty I’m currently working on my program for next year but its looks to be similar to 2012. I will be riding the KTM RC8R RS again. I’m hoping to put together enough sponsorship to run the AMA Superbike round at NOLA in 2013.
SBZ After all these years and all the racing I've got to ask
Are you still having fun?
Ty I love riding motorcycles. Cutting laps with my students and seeing them improve is so gratifying. Sometimes I enjoy riding more than racing but nothing is a substitute of the adrenaline rush from a good battle. Recently I have rediscovered my childhood love of riding dirt bikes. After 17 years of not riding cross country events, I attended one in 2010 and now I attend about 20 a year. Funny thing is when I ride my dirt bike I think it is the coolest thing ever. Until I get back on my 170 HP RC8 and then the real excitement begins!!!
Thank you so much Ty for taking the time to share your thoughts with us and everyone out there!
Hopefully you all enjoyed this conversation as much as I did and find Ty as fun and smart as I did.
Obviously Ty has a great love and respect for this sport and is always thinking about what can make himself and others better riders and racers. I am excited to see how the seaon ends, who finishes on top and what exciting challenges next season will bring to the CMRA series.
See you all at TWS!
This youtube video courtesy of Motorcycle1