It’s that time of year again when Kevin and I head down to Leeds, Alabama for the final round of the MotoAmerica series at Barber Motorsports Park. This weekend will have us watching (95) Roger Hayden taking his last laps before he retires from racing.
We’ll also be watching (43) Caroline Olsen to see how she fares in the last of the year. Caroline had a bad spill at NJMP last year but has been she’s working hard this year to get back in the groove. Personally, I’m elated to see her back in action as I feel she truly loves motorcycle racing. I’ve caught a lot of photos of her over the years and she always looks so happy when she’s on her bike in the grid ready to take off.
2018 brings some new/changed classes to the fray which should make for a packed weekend of racing. Though not “new”, the KTM cup has evolved into the Junior Cup with the field of KTM only machines now holding mostly R3’s and Ninja 400’s with just a brace of KTM 390’s in the lineup. The new Twins Cup class is something close to my heart as the field is seeded with a large dose of SV650’s, a bike have owned myself and still feel is one of the best all around bikes of the past two decades.
It’s going to be a lot of action in Alabama this weekend and Kevin and I will bring the highlights to this space as best we can.
The Twins class will allow for a lot of modification to the machines allowed to compete in the class which comprises 600cc to 800cc displacement two cylinder engines. Plus this segment offers a lot of inexpensive and versatile places to start including Yamaha’s MT-07, Kawasaki’s Ninja 650, and Suzuki’s SV650 (replacing the SFV650 for 2018).
Modifications can be applied not only to suspension and engine components but competitors will be allowed to modify ECU programming. This will be a boon to tuners looking to get the most out of these middleweight machines. These lenient rules are going to likely make for a very interesting and diverse field of machines on the grids for 2018.
During Sunday morning’s warm up for the 600cc machines we had another bike on fire incident, this time involving Michael Gilbert (55). Gilbert had a low-side get off that of course wasn’t great for him, but not anything that likely would have prevented him from taking the track later in the day. However shortly after the bike was moved a fuel tank leak resulted in the motorcycle catching on fire.
This was the third motorcycle to catch on fire during this weekend races here at Barber during the final round of MotoAmerica’s season. David Anthony and Josh Hayes also ended up with their own machines in flames the previous day. Needless to say it has been a rather dramatic weekend so far.
Michael appeared uninjured when I spoke with him a but later on after the crash but I know this was a big disappointment for him. It was for me too as I’ve been following his progress this year and was hoping to see him on the podium in person this weekend instead of reading about it later. With any luck I’ll get to see Michael on the podium next year as he told me he will be coming back. Looking forward to seeing you there again soon, Michael.
The sad aftermath of Gilbert’s (55) bike after catching fire.
Saturday’s 600 and 1000cc races resulted in some unfortunate crashes. In the 600 class Shane Richardson (26) and Max Fernandez (128) collided in turn 5 resulting in both riders going off the track. Max comes off his bike pretty early on while Shane seems somehow to come out of and then land (nearly) back in his seat during the slide off the track. Both riders escaped receiving major injuries. The somewhat blurry sequence of images below gives you an idea.
In the second lap of the 1000cc race for the afternoon, Sylvain Barrier (28) had highside going into turn 5. You can see below where his rear tire is heavily loaded up and the front looks very light. The next frame shows the bike tossing Barrier into the air to eventually land just ahead of his machine in the grass and gravel. Sylvain stayed down after coming to a stop in the gravel trap and was taken away on a backboard in the ambulance. We understand this morning that he is already back here at the track and he might have a fracture in the foot. Hopefully that is the extent of his injuries as from my angle it looked like it could have been a lot worse.
The above crash brought the race to a stop but the drama didn’t stop there. The second start of the race had David Anthony (25) and Josh Hayes (4) both having crashes with Anthony’s bike reaching the airwall after the first turn and promptly catching on fire. I understand that the fuel pump may have kept pumping and sprayed fuel spreading the fire in the space including onto the airwall catching it on fire as well. Bother riders escaped any serious injury but the stopped the race again and set us up for a third start.
From the third start the race proceeded to the end with Roger Hayden (95) taking the win followed by Matthew Scholtz (11) and Josh Herrin (2) in second and third respectively. Toni Elias (24) managed a fourth place finish despite an off in Turn 5. Looking at the sequence of images below you can see his left foot hanging off free from the peg. His foot can be seen nearly dragging the ground and then he goes into a low-side carrying him into the gravel trap. Elias is quickly back up on his bike and is soon back on the track to make his fourth place finish.
We’re off to a cloudy start this morning here at Barber for the final round of MotoAmerica road racing this weekend. Kevin and I are here to get some photos and capture some interviews (and watch some motorcycles go roundy roundy). This is always a fun weekend for us as we get to be right in the thick of motorsport and get the view from behind the scenes behind our favorite sport.
Here Kevin contemplates the object in front of him. Yes, it is a motorcycle Kevin! Good job 🙂
It is with a heavy heart that I pass on the news that Barry Boone, the voice of AMA Racing, host of Talking Motorcycles, and all around great guy has passed away. Barry was an incredible advocate of everything motorcycle and was one of the most down to earth people I ever had the pleasure of meeting. I had the good fortune to hang out with Barry and friends after a day of covering the racing at Barber Motorsports park and it was great to hear him share stories from his past.
Barry took the time to talk to us “small potato” media types and even was kind enough to give a shout out to our site during a race weekend at Barber. He even took the time to talk with us on camera for an interview (see below).
Heading to Barber this weekend will be bittersweet as even though Barry had stepped away from the mic since the start of MotoAmerica, I still hear his voice echoing throughout the facility when I’m there.
Former AMA Pro racer Elena Myers published a great article on mental preparation and racing over on the McGraw Powersports blog. Even if you’re not a racer or have aspirations as such, it is still a good read. It also makes a good point about how being prepared mentally for riding (on the track or anywhere) is an important part of creating the best riding experience.
Here’s a short teaser…
When you’re swapping paint with your competition at over 180 miles per hour on the straights, with 50+ degree lean angle in the corners, there’s a lot that needs to be right. Split second decisions have to be made not just to win, but to stay upright. In the blink of an eye, you could be off the track or crashing into another rider. There’s no room for error. This is why being mentally prepared is crucial for professional motorcycle racing.
MotoAmerica racer and associate editor at Sport RiderMichael Gilbert talks about how he got going in racing and some of the ups and downs of the 2016 season . I had the good fortune to meet Michael last year in Uvalde, TX at the Continental Tire proving grounds. We were both part of the USA press launch for the Sport Attack 3 tires. Michael manages to race professionally AND hold down a full time job as a writer/editor both of which take a lot of time and yet he does very well at both.
This was made back in 2011 at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival. During this interview we spoke with Hannah Matthews and Dale Lavender about how this whole sidecar racing action works. Hannah shows us the rig and how she positions herself during the racing and then Dale goes over some of the details of their machine and how it comes together.
NOTE: At the time I this was produced I was running the Nashvilleriders.com website so you’ll see our old logo in the corner. The site is no longer around but the videos can still be seen if you search YouTube for Nashvilleriders.com.
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