Eric Moe leans his Suzuki GSXR through a turn at Road Atlanta during the WERA Grand National Finals in 1988. Moe was a leading North Central Region WERA racer in the late 1980s and became an AMA Superbike regular about the same time. Moe raced Superbike from the late 1980s throughout the 1990s. The Spring Lake, Michigan rider raced the series during its peak when there were regularly a dozen or more factory entries in the class. In spite of being a true one-man privateer team, Moe was able to score a slew of top-20 finishes. He even managed a couple of top-10s, a major accomplishment in AMA Superbike at the time. Moe’s best result came when he scored ninth at Road America in 1989. He raced Suzukis, Kawasakis and Hondas during his 13-year AMA Superbike career.
It’s tough to put away racing. I’ve seen very few who leave racing satisfied with their career, ready to move on to the next phase of live. Eddie Lawson and Ricky Carmichael come to mind, but beyond that it’s hard to come up with high-profile riders who walked away from the sport while they were still on top. It’s much more common for riders to hold on beyond their peak or they’re forced out by injury. In the case of both Lawson and Carmichael, they both had auto racing careers to pursue, had they not, who knows?
I’ve interviewed hundreds of racers over the years and it seems the biggest reason riders can’t seem to pull themselves away from the sport are both for financial reasons and almost as common is the notion by these riders that there’s unfinished business. A common psychological thread among champion racers is the undying belief that they can still win. Eternal optimists. There’s always one race out there that they’ve yet to win or a championship that is still within their grasp – at least that’s the way it is in their mind.
This subject seems especially relative today, on the eve of the Mid-Ohio Honda Super Cycle Weekend. It’s with much fanfare that two of biggest names in American road racing are making their respective returns – Doug Polen and Eric Bostrom.
Polen, a four-time World Champion (two in World Superbike and two in World Endurance) is slated to race a Ducshop Ducati in the Daytona SportBike class, while Bostrom is coming back in the Superbike class for Cycle World Attack Performance Yoshimura Suzuki (is that team name even going fit on the entry sheet?).
Now in the case of Bostrom it’s easy to understand. Two years ago Bostrom walked away from the sport, arguably at the peak of his career. The reason given by Bostrom at the time was so he could move to Brazil to attend to business interests, immerse himself into another culture and play guitar. It seemed like an idyllic “off into the sunset” moment. But Bostrom left the door open for return and today at just 33, fit as a fiddle, there’s plenty of good reasons for Bostrom to return.
Polen on the other hand is going to be 50 in a month and a half. He’s been staying sharp on a bike by way of his riding on the track doing instruction for his 1on1 Riders School, but to expect Polen to be a contender this weekend is pushing it to say the least.
I’m of mixed feelings when it comes to Polen’s return. When he walked away (or was forced out depending on who you believe) from Honda’s World Superbike squad early in the 1995 season, he went on a tailspin and seemed to lose his magic touch overnight. He came back and added a couple of World Endurance Championships to his resume, restoring some of the luster lost after the abrupt end to his World Superbike career. Since then Polen has never officially retired from racing and he’s shown up to race various events from time to time for the past 10 years. Until now it’s been pretty much under the radar.
The DMG is making a big deal out of Polen’s return, and knowing Doug like I do (I was his PR man when he won the AMA Superbike title in 1993) I guarantee you in his mind he thinks he can win this weekend. Now I hope I’m wrong and Doug is just coming out for a little fun, but I just don’t think that’s the case. He’s going to ride as hard as he can. If there were a class for plus-40 riders I guarantee you Polen would probably be a prime contender, but to race the current crop of racers like Josh Herrin, Danny Eslick and Martin Cardenas? Let’s just say there’s a reason John McEnroe isn’t out there trying to chase tennis balls hit by Rafael Nadal.
I wish the best for Polen this weekend. If he somehow could become the George Foreman of motorcycle racing and run up front at nearly 50 years old, it would be one of the biggest stories in the history of American road racing, but I think we need to face the facts. I just hope Doug can.
Scott Powersports/DR.D’s Johnny Lewis finishes seventh in his first-ever
AMA Pro GNC Flat Track Half-Mile main event
Lewis was only competitor on non H-D bike to finish in the top ten
LAKE ODESSA, MICH. (July 14, 2010) – Scott Powersports/DR.D/Pit Posse/Monster Energy’s Johnny Lewis headed to Michigan this past weekend with aspirations to compete in his first-ever AMA Pro Grand National Championship (GNC) Flat Track Twins Half-Mile main event after two previous tries this season. With a new motor in his Scott Powersports Kawasaki 650 custom flat-tracker, this athlete came away with an impressive seventh among the nation’s elite, veteran racers at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan on Saturday, July 10.
After two previous outings on the Scott Powersports Kawasaki 650, the Springfield Mile and the Lima Half-Mile, Lewis’ crew did extensive work on bike set-up and built a brand-new motor with the goal to make the main event in Michigan. At Springfield in May, Lewis had a bike failure. The crew was able to resolve the motor failure for the next race. Then in Lima last month, Lewis made significant progress just missing out on the main event.
On Saturday night at I-96 Speedway in the Mecca of the flat track world and surrounded by the infamous Michigan Mafia, Lewis was destined to improve. He qualified in practice at 17th place among more than 50 competitors. On the half-mile oval, a return to this track for the AMA Pro GNC series after a few years hiatus, Lewis rode hard and smooth on his Custom Axis Racing Shocks-suspended Kawasaki 650 to earn a sixth-place. That was not enough to advance him directly to the main as only the top four finishers transfer directly.
The Scott Powersports crew made some more adjustments and Lewis headed out for the semi. This was the last chance to make the main event. Lewis made his way to the front right away and was able to run with fellow Kawasaki-mounted rider Bryan Smith, the only other top competitor on Japanese-manufactured equipment. Lewis held on for second, allowing him to continue his night and enter the 25-lap main event, the first-time ever AMA Pro GNC Twins main for the recently turned 21 year-old.
In the main event as the initial laps ticked off, Lewis was working his way through the pack. Then oil spilled on the dirt oval which caused him to crash. The race was red flagged. On the restart, Lewis was on the fourth row. He kept in a fast groove line and was soon running in the top ten. With raw determination and pure talent, Lewis made his way to seventh with his fastest lap during lap 24, the white flag lap. At the checkers, Lewis earned seventh on his white and red custom Kawasaki flat-tracker.
“Mike Scott and crew worked hard all week and even on race day to get the bike ready with the new motor,” said Lewis who wears number 10 in custom Alpinestars leathers during Twins races. “It was only my third time racing this bike and we started off with a whole new 650cc motor competing against mostly 750cc bikes. Every time I was on the bike, we gained some speed and figured out something new to do to make my performance better. Finishing and then earning a top ten in my first half-mile main is awesome!”
After eight events run in the AMA Pro GNC Flat Track Championship, Lewis sits in ninth place in the standings with 65 points. This is already an accomplishment, considering he missed round three and did not make the main events in rounds four and five. Additionally, in the AMA Pro GNC Singles standings, Lewis is in seventh place, only 12 points back from third place.
The next stop on the circuit will be round nine at the AMA Pro GNC Calistoga Half-Mile at the Calistoga Fairgrounds in Calistoga, California on Saturday, July 31. Race fans be sure to watch Scott Powersports/DR.D/Pit Posse/Monster Energy’s Johnny Lewis on the #10 white and red custom Kawasaki 650 flat-tracker. Stop by his pit area to pick up a custom Johnny Lewis poster by Axis Designs. Keep posted to Lewis on Twitter at www.twitter.com/johnnylewis21 and visit his website at www.johnnylewis.org. You may also “friend” him on Facebook by searching under “Johnny Lewis.”
About Johnny Lewis
Professional athlete Johnny Lewis of Coatesville, Pennsylvania showed last year in his rookie season in the AMA Pro Flat Track Championship that he can develop to be a force in the series. Prior to flat track, he raced in the AMA Pro Supermoto Championship for three full seasons where he was the youngest to ever win in the Unlimited Class. In 2010, Lewis will race the number 10 Scott Powersports/DR.D/Pit Posse Honda CRF450F in AMA Pro Flat Track Singles Championship events and the number 10 custom Kawasaki Ninja 650 flat-tracker in select AMA Pro Flat Track Twins races. Lewis would like to thank his sponsors that make this season possible: Scott Powersports, Dubach Racing Development (DR.D), Pit Posse, Monster Energy, ONE Industries, Arai Helmets, Freestyle Watches, Smith Optics, Axis Designs, ActionSportsTV.com, Kicker Audio, Silkolene, Custom Axis Racing Shocks/Penske Racing Shocks, K&N Engineering, Pro Moto Billet/Fastway, Factory Box, Victory Circle Graphics, Faction MX, FLUIDYNE, Boyesen, Wiseco Pistons, TRX Fitness Anywhere, Motion Pro, and A&A Racing. Visit www.johnnylewis.org.
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