The Day a Hooligan Was Born
After riding 2 Iron Butts, crossing up some of the gnarliest Mountains in the North East, racing 2200 miles across the desert in 3 days in 110 degrees to reach my 24th state making my grand total 7,000 miles in 36 days the last thing most people would want to do is race a 500 lb motorcycle in a circle on a dirt track but that's exactly what I did.
Maybe I have a death wish or hitting a mid-life crisis but something in me was telling me I had to do this. I had something to prove to myself and hopefully the abuse I was doing to my body would inspire others step outside of their comfort zones and try something they too never thought they could do before.
I had never raced flat track and only had been on a flat track 3 times in my life and each time the biggest bike I road was a YZ250F. In fact the first time I ever rode flat track I crashed and suffered a severe Labrum Tear that still bothers me to this day. I couldn't think about that though. All I was focused on was the inner challenge that I had yet to defeat.
I had mentioned to Roland Sands, the mastermind behind Super Hooligan Racing, that I wanted to compete. He always said yes but the opportunity never came until this weekend at Lost Highway when I got a text asking if I wanted to come shred with the guys. I took a deep breath and texted back a simple "see you there". Then I immediately started doing yoga poses and working out to prepare! But nothing really got me ready for what I was in store for.
Two days before the races the RSD, Suicide Machine Co and Broken Homme crew headed to Perris Speedway to get in some practice laps before the race that Saturday. This was the calamitous track where my shoulder met my fate only 7 months earlier. The temperature was 109 degrees and the water dried on the track before the truck was finished with it's rotation. The only solace one could get was the random Ice Cream truck that came through providing temporary relief before heading back out again.
I wasn't nervous despite I was on a bike I had never ridden and it was 700 more cc's and a few hundred pounds more than any bike I had raced before. I'm not sure where the calmness came from but I was grateful for it and used it to my full advantage.
First 20 mins on the track I focused on technic. Elbows up, hard on the throttle in the straights, throttle off and back break to turn, push the bike down and drive my right knee into the gas tank. It worked! I was riding well and not getting tired at all. The five more motos I went out I pushed myself harder and I'm proud to say I was the last one that left the track as the sun went down. I just wanted to keep going.
The next day I wasn't sore, tire but still mobile. I spent most of my time working on my bike and drinking as much water as I could to keep from getting dehydrated. I'm glad I did because Saturday morning the temperatures were already 100 in the desert at San Manuel where the races were.
The first thing I did when I got to Lost Highway was inspect the track and when I saw it I felt my heart stop momentarily. It was grass. Slick grass filled with ruts and holes. Even though I wasn't an experienced Flat Track racer I could tell that this was not the safest of tracks to ride on and the more I thought about it the more my nerves started to take over.
The other racers started to show up to the event and all shared the same concern. I have to be honest, that made me feel better that these pro guys were feeling the same as I was and the track talk from the guy who organizes the event was spot on... "Guys, this isn't a race to get crazy. I want to see you win by only a little because on this track if you push it then you're gonna get hurt or hurst someone else." We were all warned and we listened.
Practice was rough. The track was new and slick as Ice. To much throttle and you get squirly, to much break and it did the same. You just had to find a happy medium and six laps didn't give you enough time to find it. Second time out was the Heat Race. I felt better and it showed in my riding. The heat was getting to me though and when I came off the track I could no longer hear out of my left ear because of dehydration but I still had another moto to ride since I made it to the next race.
This time I wasn't nervous. I had already been out in front of the crowd of 20k people and rode slow, then okay and now I had nothing to loose. I got a 4th place start and ended up staying in the back of the pack until one of the riders went down in the 4th lap and we had to start the race all over which means I would now be riding double the amount of time and I was already dehydrated and getting tired wrestling that heavy machine round and round.
I pull up to the start and knew I wasn't going to win this one but wanted to have fun with it instead. I looked at the crowd, put my hands in a fist and threw my arms straight up in the air like I was in an 80's rock video. The crowd loved it and cheered for us all. After all, that's what this is all about, having a good fucking time and getting people excited about motorcycles. The green flag went up and somehow I pulled a second place start and rode the best I ever had. I didn't come in first but I didn't come in last either. It was seriously the most fun I'd had loosing and no matter how tired, dehydrated and beat, I would do it a million times again.
That day I felt like I was a teenager again and in my backyard racing bikes with my friends not caring about anything else in the world other than having a good time. Super Hooligan breaths new life in to motorcycling and brings it back to the heart and soul of what this industry really is and why we all started riding to begin with. There's no egos and that's refreshing in a world where we're all trying to keep up with the "Instagram Jones" however on the track were just trying to keep up with ourselves and push our friends to go faster along the way.
My daddy always joked and called my sister and I hooligans...I guess he knew something I didn't because that on the track I had never been more proud to be called one and you can bet your sweet ass I'll be out there doing it again soon!
Special thanks to Roland Sands Designs, Bell Helmets, Fasthouse, Dainese, Ethika and Alpine Stars for keeping me safe!