By the headline you might get the impression that this would be a Supercross post, but it’s actually Mike Reed and David McGrath in a road race battle at the 1991 WERA Grand National Finals. My bet is that this is the B Superbike race in which Reed and McGrath were battling over second. Just as Reed started to put some daylight between himself and McGrath, he ran wide coming out from under the bridge and went into pit lane. He crossed back over the gator bumps to re-enter the track and after the race discovered he’d been docked a lap. That gave McGrath runner up in the race to Franklin Knight.
AURORA, Ill (December 27, 2011) – As the clock winds down to the start of the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle, of Holly, Mich., will make his debut in the Supercross Class, following an impressive five-year run in the Lites Class, where he earned a Western Regional Lites Class championship. Tickle will line up against the world’s top racers at the season opener on January 7 at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium.
Throughout Tickle’s 2011 championship campaign, he topped the standings with one win and seven podium finishes. Tickle’s triumphant season earned the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki racing squad, the most dominant team in supercross history, their 18th Supercross Lites Class championship. The year prior, Tickle won his career-first Lites Class race and has to his credit two wins, nine top-three and five top-10 finishes.
“I think it’s a blessing in disguise that I got bumped up to the Supercross Class,” said Tickle. “I’m excited to race with the top guys who have been around for a while. My main goal is to be consistent and run up front.”
Tickle made his first appearance racing on a 450cc bike earlier this year at the Monster Energy Cup alongside supercross’ top guns. With this valuable experience under his belt, Tickle is anxious to run a full season on a bigger bike going head-to-head with the world’s best supercross riders.
“Riding the 450 suits my style better,” explained Tickle. “Before I was a bigger guy on a Lites Class bike, and I feel the KX450F is really where I need it to be. I’ve been training on the KX450F for a while now and am feeling pretty comfortable. Overall, I’m really happy with the bike. I’m pretty thankful to be with Kawasaki and Pro Circuit. I’m happy they gave me the opportunity to stay with the team and transition to the 450.”
For more information on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, please log on to www.SupercrossOnline.com. For all media requests, please contact Denny Hartwig email@example.com or 630-566-6305.
To follow Monster Energy Supercross on Facebook and Twitter, log on to http://www.facebook.com/supercrosslive and http://twitter.com/supercrosslive
About Feld Motor Sports®
Feld Motor Sports®, Inc. is the world leader in specialized arena and stadium-based motor sports entertainment. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. productions include Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMA Arenacross Series, Nuclear Cowboyz®, and IHRA® Nitro Jam®. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. is a division of Feld Entertainment, the world’s largest producer of live family entertainment. For more information on Feld Entertainment, visit www.feldentertainment.com
Billy De Bere was a teenager riding his new Yamaha RD350 in Azusa Canyon in the mountains above L.A. when he crossed paths with a fellow RD rider, a guy named Nick Murufas.
“This old man had the same bike as I had, but he had his set up with lower bars and different tires. He was a trippy old guy, but it turns out his son was a road racer [Rod Murufas]. He asked me if I was going down the mountain and I said ‘Yeah, I’ll go with you.’ I followed him and the guy started hauling ass and when we got to the bottom I was shaking I was so pumped up with the adrenalin rush.”
De Bere was impressed to say the least. He wanted to know how this old guy had gotten to be so fast. “He invited me to check out the road racing at Ontario and I was hooked,” De Bere recalls.
While an instant fan of the sport, De Bere didn’t take it up himself until years later, when he was 25. He bought a leftover 1982 Honda CB450T Hawk brand new out of the crate for cheap and took it to Willow Springs for riders’ school. In his first race he was way off in gearing for Willow, but still managed a fourth. “After I got my gearing right I won almost all the races in the 450 Stock class,” De Bere said.
A couple of years later a buddy bought a Honda 500 Interceptor and asked De Bere to race it. “At first I didn’t do very well with it,” De Bere recalls. “It was kind of scary. I was so new to racing I didn’t know you could raise the suspension and it had a stock shock, so I was dragging everything and I think I ended up fourth in the series that first year.”
But then De Bere got a Fox Shock and Michelin tires raising the rear of the little Interceptor enough that it now had good cornering clearance and the steeper angle caused it to handle better. The difference was phenomenal De Bere remembers. “My wife at the time was clocking me during an off-season practice and I was going a second faster than what Steve Reynosa (the previous Willow Springs Honda 500 Interceptor champ) was running the year before. I couldn’t believe it. I thought she was messing up on the stopwatch.”
It turns out that she wasn’t. De Bere, with his newfound bike setup, had turned a corner as a rider and was blazingly fast. He described the first race of the season.
“I took off and got a holeshot,” he said. “I went three or four laps and I turned around and didn’t see anyone behind me. I thought maybe they stopped the race or something. It was a weird feeling.”
De Bere smoked the field, one with talented riders like Reynosa, Richard Moore and Cal Rayborn III just to name a few. Suddenly he found himself the rider to beat on the Interceptors at Willow.
The big test came when contingency racing king Doug Polen rolled into Rosamond full of confidence with his fleet of Suzuki GSXRs and his Honda 500 Interceptor. Polen humbled the locals by sweeping the Suzuki races that day, just like he had across the country at dozens of club races, but surprisingly he came up short against De Bere in the Interceptor race. It was huge news that Polen got beat, because he’d been equally, if not more dominant on his Interceptor than he was on his GSXRs.
De Bere got some major notoriety for beating Polen that first time, but he suddenly became nationally known a few months later when Polen came back to Willow and De Bere beat him again.
“I was really nervous about racing Polen,” De Bere admits. “Then he goes and beats all our top West Coast guys on his GSXRs. I thought I was toast.
“Doug was a pretty cocky dude and played a lot of head games. He tried to make me think he wasn’t taking the Interceptor thing seriously. He told me how little he had in his bike and stuff like that. I noticed though that he had this massive 160 [tire] on the back. That’s the way they ran them back East. We just ran the 130s and I could just tell his bike wasn’t setup right for Willow.”
Polen finally back came to Willow Springs for a third time that summer in September, just a few weeks before the big Honda Interceptor Final at Road Atlanta during the WERA GNF, and nipped De Bere for his first Interceptor win at Willow.
“It was a good race,” De Bere said. “I was pulling away a little bit and then they red flagged it. And then they re-started it and we swapped back and forth and he kind of got me. That was cool looking back on that one. It gives me goose bumps to know I was running that tight with a guy who would become world champ.”
The buildup to Road Atlanta that year was intense. While the main focus was on the first GSXR Cup, the Honda Interceptor Final was the show opener. Based on beating Polen two out of three times they met, De Bere was expected to be a leading contender at Road Atlanta, but the weekend for him went from bad to worse.
“I’d never raced anywhere but Willow Springs, so I had to learn a new track and most of the guys from back east had ridden there before,” De Bere said. “First I crashed in practice and then I entered the endurance race to get some track time. It was raining and some guy crashed behind me and his bike came up and took me out. Then I got some major bad news from home so my head was not in it at all.”
The news was his wife had been cheating on him. It threw De Bere into a tailspin.
To top it off it rained before the race and the track went from wet to drying and De Bere had no wet riding experience other than the few laps he rode in the endurance race before being crashed out. He ended up finishing a disappointing 19th – a far cry from what most people expected. De Bere left Road Atlanta in a stupor. His life had suddenly turned upside down.
De Bere turned his back on racing. He left the sport for good. Gone, just like that. A rider who had risen so fast and showed so much promise rarely leaves the sport unless they’re injured, or flat broke and without a sponsor. It was closer to the latter for De Bere, but it went deeper than that. He went through a divorce and racing just wasn’t on his radar any longer. That was something “they” did together and going back to the track was too painful. One of the hottest young riders on the West Coast disappeared, leaving the sport cold turkey.
Hardly anyone in racing had heard from De Bere since, but fortunately with the broad web of the Internet I was able to chase him down. Today De Bere runs an auto repair shop in Alhambra, Calif. Even though many people felt he left the sport too early, De Bere looks back with fondness at his brief racing career – this in spite of the gut-wrenching way it ended.
“I miss those days,” he says. “It was kind of one of the only things I was good at. I got to race a lot of great guys and had a good run at it. Who knows what might have happened if I would have kept going. I’m just happy I got to do something I enjoyed so much and really I got farther in racing than I ever thought I would.”
So while De Bere’s name will never be seen in any pro racing record books, those who saw him race that magical 1986 season know the kind of talent he possessed. It took a future world champ three tries to finally get the best of him. That tells you all you need to know about the talent of one Billy De Bere.