Gordon Lunde just sent me the coolest printout of Blackhawk Farms track records from 1982. I remember all of the riders on this sheet (with the exception of the Sidecar pilots). I still see Jerry Holm about every year up at the Peoria TT, Jim Knipp is the guy who got me into road racing in the first place, Ed Key is probably one of the winningest club racers of all time, Mike Harlow was part of the Quester/Sullivan national endurance team and Bobby Goodin was a fast Texan – a predecessor to Doug Polen – who chased contingency money all over the country in the early 1980s. I know Knipp, Key, Goodwin and Holm were all WERA National champs, some of the others might have been as well. Check out the 1:19.8 lap time Goodwin did on a Suzuki GS1100. I’m betting it was a bone stocker to boot. I know Bob Meister held the track record in the early 1990s at 1:13.70 on a 1000cc Yamaha OW01/FZR1000. I don’t know where the current record stands.
When I’m at the Grand Nationals I’m covering the races for Cycle News. Fortunately, veteran flat track photographer Dave Hoenig shoots the photos for the paper, so I bring my camera just to get a few photos for the website and for my own files. The great thing about not having to really produce editorial or advertising photos is that it frees me up to experiment and try whacky stuff like this shot of Brad Hazel charging into turn one at Lima during a Semi. This photo was taken as it was getting dark allowing me to shoot at a super slow shutter speed of a 20th of a second. The result is an amazing blur where Hazel appears to be racing at warp speed. Tracking Hazel precisely meant the other rider in the photo is blurred out of recognition. When shooting at such a low shutter speed you’re lucky to one keeper out of dozens of shots. Like I said, it’s fun to experiment and every once in awhile produce a cool photograph.
Jamie James was one of the riders in the mid-to-late 1980s who traveled the country racing tons of club contingency races, trying to make a living on the road going from track to track al summer. The prize money was good, but by the time you figured in travel expenses, bike maintenance, crashes, etc. it was a tough proposition.
Jamie, Ramona (his ex) and their Shar-Pei dog stayed at my house three or four days between races. I remember Jamie spent all day, everyday he was at my house working on his bikes. The best I could do to help was hand him tools. It showed me what life for a total privateer was really like.
His Shar-Pei was temperamental – at times he’d let me pet and play with him and other times he’d growl at me anytime I got close. One day a group of little kids (a lady in the neighborhood had a daycare) came walking down the street and the dog knocked open the front screen door and went ripping out to the kids. I’m running like a madman after the dog thinking it’s going to attack, but when he got to the kids he just started licking them as they crowded around and started petting him. Turns out the dog really loved kids.
I was happy to see Jamie’s hard work pay off and within a few years he would be a factory rider and AMA Superbike Champion. In Jamie’s case there’s no doubt he made it to the top the hard way.
LIMA, Ohio (June 27, 2010) – The AMA Pro K&N Filters Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com switched from a Singles Short Track to a Twins Half Mile, but Henry Wiles never missed a beat. Wiles just devastated the Allen County Fairgrounds Half Mile in Lima, OH, leading the 25-lap National from start to finish. The dominating performance gave Wiles 50 consecutive laps led as he pushed his # 17 KK Motorcycle Supply / Mike & Eddie Adkins backed Harley-Davidson to a six-and-a-half second win over Sammy Halbert and his # 7 Kings Kustoms / KK Motorcycle Supply backed Harley-Davidson.
“I love this place. This is my kind of track and the fans really get into it. I can see them hanging on the fence all the way around,” said Wiles. “I just tried to get away in the National. It seemed like I was in lapped traffic real soon. It was like, this isn’t the heat race, these are the best of the best. This is really just great, now we’ve got to get it together for the groove tracks coming up.”
Wiles couldn’t have been better as he set the fast qualifying time, won the fastest heat, captures the 5 points and $2,000 in the dash and then dominated the National. The George Roeder Memorial Dash featured double the normal purse for the four-lap race.
Wiles led the hungry horde into turn one when the green light flashed on the eighteen rider K&N Filters Twins Grand National Championship grid. Joe Kopp # 3 Latus Harley-Davidson / ENI USA R&M / Lloyd Brothers Motorsports backed Ducati, Sammy Halbert, Jake Johnson # 5 Zanotti Racing / Leo Vince’s Harley-Davidson and Defending Twins Series Champion Jared Mees # 1 Rogers Lake Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson / Lucas Oil were bunched right behind.
Wiles quickly pulled away as Halbert also separated himself from the pack. Wiles’ and Halbert’s race looked to be settled and both were into serious lapped traffic by lap 15. Two years ago Wiles lost this race when a lapped rider opened the door for Joe Kopp to nip him at the line. No chance of that this year as Wiles sliced and diced his way through the field, lapping all the way up to eighth place. Ironically Kopp was the last rider he lapped right at the finish line.
The race was now for third as Johnson, # 42 Bryan Smith (Monster Energy Kawasaki Werner Springsteen Racing Kawasaki), Mees and # 20 Matt Weidman (White’s Harley-Davidson / SNIP / Mack Daddy Racing Harley-Davidson) battled away.
Smith was looking to put his potent Kawasaki on the podium for the second straight time as he and Johnson exchanged the position all around the track, but it was the youngster from New York, Weidman, who would prevail earning his first ever Grand National podium finish.
Smith finished a couple of seconds back in fourth, followed by Johnson and Mees. Greg Crow Racing / Salina Harley Davidson’s # 61 Dustin Crow was a solid seventh with # 4 Chris Carr (Lancaster Harley-Davidson / Dallas-Fort Worth Honda backed Harley-Davidson), Kopp and # 80 Stevie Bonsey (Johnny Goad / Alpinestars backed Harley-Davidson) filled out the top ten.
After winning three of the last four races Henry Wiles has moved into a points tie for the AMA Pro K&N Filters Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com Championship with Joe Kopp at 129 points. Jake Johnson is just eight points back with Sammy Halbert and Jared Mees another five and six points back. Three-time Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth is lurking 31 points off the pace, but with some strong races for him coming up.
Defending Pro Singles Champion Brad Baker was just about as dominant as Wiles in the 12-lap Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Grand National Championship Main. Baker had his #1 Rod Lake / Mike Velasco Racing / Brothers Powersports backed Honda well in front of a great race for second.
Chris Carr (4) leads Jake Johnson (5), Robert Pearson (in yellow) and Matt Weidman throttle up through turn four during the third Heat race at this past Saturday’s Grand National on the Lima (Ohio) Half-Mile. This photo is classic Lima with riders broadsliding their race bikes over the deep cushion. I like this photo because it’s early evening and the orange light of the setting sun filters through the bike’s roost. Johnson went on to win this Heat race over Weidman, Pearson and Carr.