The InSlide Line: Week 13 by Tyler Porter
NEWS March 28, 2013
photo by dave hoenig
Courtesy of Tyler Porter's InSlide Line:
Hello, and welcome to the InSlide Line Presented by Bell Helmets. Boy does it feel good to be home! After several weeks on the road, this column is coming to you from the infamous big ugly green couch with my co-pilot Luke dog and man it feels great. Last week's column came to you from seat 30F on an Airbus A320, so if you have ever ridden that far back on a plane, you know that any seat is an upgrade from that. The post Daytona fog has our sport in a daze right now, but there is still a lot to talk about. Let's get started.
To get things kicked off, AMA Pro Racing announced yesterday that the worst kept secret was that the Stockton California 1/2 mile is now round 3 of the Grand National Championship. There has been a May 4th "TBA" date supposedly based in Arizona since the schedule came out, but now it's official that it isn't happening and the series will hold off until May 11th at the new Half-Mile in Stockton. There is still a reason though to head out West early. The Eddie Mulder West Coast Vintage Flattrack Series is having a two day race event on May 4th and 5th at Willow Springs Raceway. May 4th is listed as an open practice at the fast, wide 3/8's mile long oval and May 5th is race day. As usual the race is getting support from some big names in the dirt track racing scene and the top racer's in the country will be there battling it out for some serious cash. Since the next weekend is the Stockton National, teams still have a reason to come out to the Left Coast a little early. For all of the information you need, check out www.eddiemulderswcvdts.com
Next weekend is the famous San Jose Indoor! Here is your chance to see some of the best riders in our sport do battle on a tiny, rubber laden concrete short track. There will be a lot of bumping, banging, take outs and hurt feelings and as if that were not enough, add in the fact that there is a ton of incredible vintage bikes on the track the same day, and you have a winner! This year's event is April 6th, but if you can get in on Friday April 5th they have an open practice. They use the open practice to lay down the rubber for race day, so the more that show up, the better the track will be! The race takes place at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds and for every bit of info that you need, hit up www.sanjoseindoor.com
Right now our sport is in an interesting time period. With such a long gap between our season opener in Daytona and not only the next rounds in the AMA Pro Racing Grand National Championship series but also many local racing organizations, racers and teams are laying pretty low. We still have racers recovering from injury, most notably Sammy Halbert as he continues physical therapy on his knee. Other teams are still developing twins equipment. The two biggest names developing their twins are the Zanotti Racing team with the two time champ Jake Johnson at the controls of their brand new and in a way revolutionary Kawasaki 650 based twin and the Babe DeMay Motorsports Yamaha backed twin with 2012 Rookie of the Year Briar Bauman at the helm.
The Zanotti Racing deal is very interesting. Not only is the team developing their own frame from scratch, abandoning tried and true offerings from some of the other famous brands in our sport, but they are going in a different route than most. In previous columns I posted pictures on their frame, which uses a similar construction method to the stock Ninja 650 frame, but is is much more compact around the motor as well as offering very cool features such as an adjustable swingarm pivot. While the chassis design is very cool, I think the detail that a lot of people are over looking is that the "King", Kenny Roberts himself is helping to oversee testing of the motorcycle! If you go back to homepage after reading the column, you can find Jake's Daytona report where he not only shows pictures of the frame in it's infant stages, but talks about Kenny developing the bike.
On the Babe DeMay Motorsports side of things, their original plan was to use the new Yamaha Ténéré power plant, which is a parallel twin much like the Kawasaki, and 1200cc's from the factory. It seems now that the team may be leaning towards using the power plant that is found in the V-Star 950, which also will be powering the cool new Yamaha Star Bolt that Yamaha is marketing very heavily at this time. This is an air cooled v-twin that already comes from the factory with a belt drive, which is much more easily converted to chain drive than the Ténéré's shaft drive. Sources around the team also hinted at the fact that from just looking at the power plant, it appears that with very little modification to the chassis, that the V-Star mill will slide into the same chassis last used for the Yamaha Vision dirt tracker which saw very limited use with both Sammy Halbert and JR Schnabel at the controls. From an insider's stand point, I can tell you that when I left Babe's race shop a couple of weeks ago, there was a Yamaha Vision dirt tracker up on the lift, sparkling clean and from my stand point, freshly serviced and ready to see the track. Maybe while I was in Daytona, Babe dusted the bike off and applied some Silkolene Pro-Prep just to get me all spun up and wondering what he was up to. I think we are all just going to have to wait until Stockton to see what that team is really up to!
While Zanotti Racing and Babe DeMay Motorsports may be higher profile teams developing new twins, Pro Singles championship winner Weirbach Racing is also fielding a very serious Expert class effort this season with Rob Pearson at the controls. Weirbach Racing is also developing a Kawasaki twin, in a pretty traditional style frame, but their team is chocked full of options! They have powerful Harley Davidson equipment and Suzuki SV650 base equipment that Rob rode during the Bike Week racing action and had very positive results on. For Rob and the team, having that many race-ready options must be nice going into a season where we have so many different types of tracks. I also wouldn't totally be surprised if we see Sammy Halbert and Jared Mees bust out Kawasaki twins on the mile race tracks this year because of their superior straight line speed, however, with AMA Pro Racing changing the restrictors on the Harley's for the miles, the Kawasaki speed advantage may not be quite the advantage that it has been the last few seasons.
Myself, I am looking forward to seeing what is in store for the Burnett Farms/USC Kawasaki/Hart Racing team. After their break through win in Daytona which resulted in them being the current points leader, where can they go from here? Not only do they have Brandon Robinson piloting their trusty Scott framed Kawasaki's and their new C&J framed Kawasaki's but they also have road racer JD Beach on the same top notch equipment when his schedule allows. In talking with JD this week, he made mention of how much his focus was set on the singles race in Peoria Illinois at the famed TT and then the following week at the Indy Mile where the entire world, including the who's who of the road racing world will be watching. This team could really come in as a dark horse and honestly, has a better shot than I think a lot of people realize at winning the title! Sure, the defending champion Jared Mees with Kenny Tolbert handling the wrenches will not let that number 1 plate go too easily and Jake Johnson has struggled so much finding his bike in the pits now that he isn't carrying the number 1 plate after 2 years with it, you know he wants it back too. It's going to be an interesting season for sure.
From my eyes as a pure fan of the sport, I see the 2013 season as a changing of the guard of sorts. To relate this in motocross terms, I see this as the 2000-2004 period. At that time you had Jeremy McGrath who was still the "King" of the sport, but Ricky Carmichael figured out the big bikes, and then James Stewart and Chad Reed came along while Kevin Windham had his second wind of his illustrious career. In our sport, you have the "old" guard who isn't old at all, but the series veterans who are at the top of their game, Jared Mees, Jake Johnson, Sammy Halbert, Kenny Coolbeth, Henry Wiles, Bryan Smith; those guys who are winning multiple main events a year and bringing home championships. However, now we have this new guard coming in. They have different techniques and are bringing a new style to the sport. These riders are Brad Baker, Johnny Lewis, Brandon Robinson, Jeffery Carver, JD Beach and Briar Bauman. Just naming those riders, I feel like we are looking at 12 guys who could honestly win on the any weekend! So, you look at those 12 names, then realize that riders like Stevie Bonsey and Mikey Rush are putting together solid programs for this season and have won races too, not to mention work horse riders like Rob Pearson, Kayl Kolkman, Mikey Martin, Matt Weidman, Chad Cose, Jethro Halbert, and Doug Lawrence who have all proven that they can run deep inside the top 10 and even podium. All I have to say is that it is a VERY good time to be a fan of the sport! Once the season gets seriously underway, I highly doubt I'm going to have trouble figuring out what I want to write about!
What is amazing to me is how much respect our sport has in the motorcycle industry. While I have considered myself a part of the industry since I began working events with Johnny Murphree for Memphis Shades, this year in my full time role, I have had a lot more time to meet the people who make the motorcycle industry work. Sure, I usually start the dirt track conversation, but once it gets going, I am always surprised at not only their interest, but a lot of times, their knowledge of what we have going on. Many of them follow along with us here on the site and then I have great discussions with them while I am out traveling doing my work thing. You may not see it at this time, but our sport is growing and in my opinion we are doing a lot of things right. Though our television coverage is dismal, race attendance at most venues we go to is very good, especially at long standing events like Springfield, Peoria, Hagerstown and Lima and also at the West Coast events. We also have a very strong internet presence, with at least 4 sites doing a good job covering nearly every angle. We are making a push forward and it's great to see! I just suggest that in your own personal travels, any chance you get, tell somebody about dirt track!
Speaking of travels, if you were reading along last week you know that I was out in Southern California last weekend. Due to a little scheduling snafu that was totally my fault, I ended up getting out there a whole day early. Thank goodness my boss is an easy going guy and didn't mind the pictures of me handling a work phone call with my jeans rolled up on the beach with my feet in the Pacific! I was also able to check out the Saddlemen Seat and Luggage empire in Rancho Dominguez. What a cool facility! I'm a bit of a geek type when it comes to how things are made, so I really enjoyed seeing their seats go from liquid in a tank to a seat on a bike, but their office area was just as impressive, with a framed picture of nearly anybody who ever rode with a Saddlemen Seat proudly hung on their office walls. It was sort of like the Grand Ole Opry of dirt track! I also saw where all of our custom dirt track seats are made and to top it off, the crew promised that when I make a main event, they will hang my picture in their bathroom. While I am flattered at the gesture, I have a feeling that is not the most desirable place to be, but it might boost productivity because let's face it, who wants to look at me for any length of time? Check out a few photos of my tour below, and thanks for lunch El Jefe!!
Saddlemen Is A Company Run By Enthusiasts!
Where Your Custom Stitching Gets Done
Seats With Their Saddlegel Inserts Fresh Out Of The Mold!
That's a wrap for me this week. I'm home this weekend to celebrate the Easter Holiday with my family and then next week's column will probably come to you from an United Airlines flight as I make my way to the Philadelphia area for another showcase. I may even have time to check up on what all of the speedsters in that area are up to, but no promises! In my never ending quest for not only more power, but engine protection, I finally had some time to get my new K&N products on my trusty Kawasaki KX450. I can't thank the crew at K&N enough for their support while I put together a custom intake set up. They are a huge supporter of the site, the sport, and pretty fun to hang around with, so make sure you choose K&N whenever you can! Oh, just a hint, their Power Kleen all purpose cleaner is pure magic on a race bike! Pictures of my new set up are below. Thanks again for reading and have a great weekend!