By now, everyone has been talking about the "Big Stories" from the Springfield Mile.
Take, for instance, Bryan Smith... winner of the Expert Main, AND breaking the 22-year long track record (set by Scott Parker)? He lapped the mile at less than 34 seconds! Obviously, that made him the fast qualifier. He went on to secure the wins in both the Dash and the Expert Main, but it wasn't a "runaway," as some complained about in last year's races. While there are plenty of people debating on whether Bryan was "holding back," to put on a good show (or, the latest conspiracy theory... that his tight victory was a favor to Harley Davidson, or planned in order to prevent further restrictions on non-HD brands), my personal opinion differs. Face it... Bryan is one of the best mile-riders in The Sport, today. He has a great team, and access to some of the best technology and equipment, in the field. Yes, he had complete control on that Kawasaki. However, the sweat on his forehead, at the podium, was a very real indication of the fact that he must have worked hard to stay ahead of Kenny Coolbeth (HD), Jared Mees (HD), and Jake Johnson (DUC)... they put on a close-racing extravaganza that had the folks in the stands on their FEET.
That close riding wasn't limited to the front of the pack, or even to the Expert Main. All throughout the day, in each class and event, fans seemed to be loving the neck-and-neck battles between their favorite riders and favorite brands.
Another big topic around the after-Mile beer cooler has been the shakiness that Shayna Texter experienced, on that beautiful Latus Motorsports Triumph. Don't call it a "head shake..." Shayna, herself, reports that the majority of her wobble came from the rear. Several people have jumped on the "Keyboard Expert" panel, critiquing the Triumph's troubles on everything from motor placement to paint scheme.
I have news for you, folks... Shayna was only one of MANY riders who reported that they had struggled with shakiness or wobbling. A few were so obvious, in their struggles, that I was holding my breath when they came down the front straight. It's been interesting, listening to the different teams and riders' views on why the shaking was so bad, and what they can try in order to fix it. The next round at Springfield will be interesting, to say the least!
For us, one of the biggest events of the day... in fact, EVER... was witnessing Jarod vanderkooi win, in his first Grand National. Not just his first Grand National race on a Twin, mind you (several racers in the Main could lay claim to that), but his first Grand National event, EVER. Fast time, winning his heat, winning the Main, entering his first AMA Pro National on a Basic Twin instead of a Pro Single... on a bike he HAD NEVER RIDDEN, BEFORE! In fact, when we spoke to Jarod a week prior, he didn't know if he'd HAVE a ride for his AMA Pro debut.
Now, we love ALL of our Young Guns... and we have a special affinity for all of our Buckeye Bullets. The Vanderkooi family holds a special place in our hearts, however. "Back in the Day," Jarod's Dad (Jerry) chased HIS flat track dreams on Chew's bike, with a #86 numberplate on the front.
Long after Jerry had hung up his leathers, and Chew and his bike had parted ways, the two have remained Brothers-in-the-Sport. We were there on Jarod's first 250 ride, when his feet didn't reach the pegs, and Jerry had to hold his bike up at the starting line.
Did I mention that Jarod won, that day?
We've watched them plan for this day, for ages... listened to them, as they expressed their dreams... and, on Sunday, they came true. Chew and I aren't ashamed to admit it... we cried.
Tears had flowed for another of our Buckeye Bullets, earlier, but for a very different reason. J.R. Addison's horrific crash on the front straight will be forever burned into my mind. This 2012 Horizon Award winning racer and his family are another bunch we love, immensely. Crashes are never easy for me to handle, whether I know the riders well or not. However, when it's someone you truly care about, and consider a part of your family, the agony runs deeper than anyone can imagine unless they've "been there." That helpless feeling, as you listen to their screams of agony... holding their wife or mother in your arms, silent, because you don't know what you can possibly say or do... that agonized wait, praying for a positive report... that nauseating fear, that it might not be so positive...
J.R. amazed us all, and proved just how tough he is.
He had a concussion, three broken vertebrate, bruised lungs, and a broken wrist. Further reports came in... each better than the one prior. By the next day, he had been fitted with a "turtle shell" cast and was walking and making jokes. There was no indication of serious head trauma, and his brain appeared to be functioning normally (well, as normal as ANYONE who willingly races at over 100 mph on two wheels functions). There was no need for surgery, on the vertebrate. The best news? He came home, yesterday!!!
Another of the most-talked about stories from the Mile was the filming of the movie, "On Any Sunday, the Next Chapter." This is a REALLY big deal to those of us who knoe and love the
original. The crew was on scene, all day, shooting footage from the track, pits, and Grandstands. They also held a "mock race," to catch some of those high-intensity shots, like the way that the
dirt flies off the tires. Think of it as Go Pro times 20.
Steve Morehead saddled up, to assist in the filming. His bike was missing a numberplate, but sported eight (yes, EIGHT) specially designed cameras. Before they went out, Steve talked to each rider and explained exactly what they wanted each of them to do for the desired filming effects. It was beautiful!
The film crew didn't come alone, though. This guy (the one on the left, talking to Kevin Atherton) was with them. Now, we don't watch much TV, and I've never seen "Storage Wars," so I had NO idea who Barry was. A lot of other people did, though. People were coming up to get autographs and pics from him, all day. He seemed to be enjoying himself, though, and has SUCH a good sense of humor. It seems he's a big flat track fan. Who knew?
As for Kevin, it is ALWAYS great to see him, at the track. I especially love it when his girlfriend, Maggie, can take a little time off work and join him. Either of them are a true treat to visit with, individually. However, when you get BOTH of them together, you can't sandblast the smile off your face after talking with them!
Well, we've touched on the stories that everyone is talking about, but this wouldn't be a Chewville blog unless we shared... Ahem (apologies to Paul Harvey)... THE REST OF THE STORY.
For instance, we were REALLY happy to see the fastest lady in Wisconsin, Charlotte Kainz, at the track. She had taken a bad spill during the previous night's TT event, and had been transported from the track. With a bruised tongue and some facial stitches, she was still able to work in a smile. :) Kevin Stollings (with a buckled fracture in his arm) and Jesse Long (with a fractured foot) were two more of the TT casualties. I'm understanding that they are healing up nicely, though, and already have their eyes set on the Amateur Grands and Knoxville, respectively.
Speaking of incredible comebacks... how about that Brandon Wilhelm?
After sealing a solid third and a victory, at Daytona, he had a tough time in the Heat races at Springfield and had to come back for the LCQ. After winning the LCQ, he had a rough start from the rear, in the Main. Starting out in the 12th position, he worked his way through the pack to claim a 4th place finish. If there was an award for the most impressive passing, we'd give it to this guy!
Big shoutout to Danny Koelsch... he lost his letter, at the Springfield Mile!
It was a huge honor, for me, to catch this... Mr. Sign and AMANationalNumber.com, presenting a beautiful award to Willie G. and Nancy Davidson, in appreciation for all they have contributed to the series.
See the guy on the left? That's our friend, Dan, from Alaska. Yes, Alaska. He is such a dedicated diehard fan, that he makes the long trip in to the mainland a few times, each year, to attend the races.
The couple on the right are dear friends of Dan's, also from Alaska (although they sold their home, a few months ago).
Dan hadn't seen his friends in ages... but they RAN INTO EACH OTHER as they were coming into the Grandstands!
Flat track... it brings friends together.
All in all, it was another great day, at the Springfield Mile. We can't wait for Labor Day!