1. Here’s some next level flat track riding by Japanese rider Ohmori Masatoshi. There’s a couple times in this video when the bike appears to be completely laying on the ground, only to be picked up and ridden away mid-corner. Amazing. 

     

     
     
  2. The best behind the scenes look you’ll get at this years Isle of Man TT comes from Al Jazeera correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood. His sensitive approach brings a more human look to the racers and their families, follwing the events of this years historic TT fortnight. Enjoy interviews from TT legends John McGuinness and Guy Martin as well as newcomers and veterans of the race.

    Thanks to Hell For Leather.

     
     
  3. A year has passed, and it still hurts. Ciao Marco, RIP Super Sic. We’ll never forget you. 

    Below are my thoughts from last years tragedy. #58forever

    "This week has been difficult. I’ve never mourned for the passing of someone I didn’t know nearly as much as I have for Marco Simoncelli. It’s taken all I have to hold back the tears a number of times since his passing on Sunday, and a few times it’s just been too much. Although I never formally met him, I’ve followed his racing for a number of years, watched his interviews, and often been thrilled by his spectacular aggressive style. In a way, I felt like I knew him.  

    He had something that most of the other racers don’t. Charisma, talent, quirkiness, bravery, humility; a real down to Earth personality mixed with a genuine desire to be where he was. When I snapped a photo of him as he passed by me in the paddock at Laguna earlier this year, partially too much a nervous fanboy to ask for a photo with him, partially just not wanting to bother him, I knew he would happily oblige if asked. He walked through the paddock with a huge friendly grin on his face.

    My close friends and I have all been experiencing similar grief around Marco’s death. Just a couple weeks ago while my girlfriend and I were hosting a very good couple of friends, Marco became the main topic of conversation over dinner. Adam had recently bought a copy of Bike magazine (UK) in which Marco was featured, and we talked about his funny personality, respectable hard-nosed approach to racing, and his sometimes controversial aggressive riding style. We brought the computer over to the table and pulled up his press conference verbal spat with Jorge Lorenzo. We watched some of his controversial passes and crashes. We speculated about his ability to fight for the championship in coming years. 

    I think we all related to Marco in a certain sense, which makes the trauma that much more difficult. Perhaps his youthfulness, talent, and success were all things we enjoyed experiencing vicariously through him. The grieving aspect of losing someone you care about has always fascinated me from a philosophical standpoint; the fact that we grieve in part selflessly for the loss of the person that will no longer be able to experience all he/she may have wanted to experience, and in part (many times the larger part) selfishly for the loss of our ability to share experiences with that person. I struggle with this personally, feeling guilty at times for recognizing this selfishness, when I know that the real tragedy lies solely in this young man and his family losing something very special.

    The only solace I can find in this is that he went out doing what he loved best and that it was quick. My heart goes out to him and his loved ones, as well as Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi. May peace be with them all. I can only imagine the despair those close to him are experiencing. Rest In Peace Marco. We all loved watching you.

    Ciao Sic.”

     
  4. Last Friday I went over to Shelton, WA and did a track day at The Ridge Motorsports Park with 2Fast track days. That’s me above, coming out of “the carousel”, a looooong left hander at the track (photo by Jason Tanaka). As you’ll see below, the track is a left heavy track, with 6 rights and 9 lefts in its 2.47 mile layout.

    In talking with other riders, by all accounts this track is gaining a reputation as one of the best on the west coast. While the facilities are still being built (read porta-potties, well taken care of at least), the track itself outshines any roughness around the edges that remain as they finish construction. The track features an amazing mix of elevation changes through many fast sections and a few tighter technical ones, including “the ridge”, a series of turns resembling the corkscrew of Laguna Seca. In fact, by the end of the day, most of us were calling it the corkscrew.

    The day was a bit of a crash fest, for a while with red flags in almost every session. Mark DeGross and the 2Fast folks did well to mitigate lost track time, adding an extra hour of track time onto the end of the day. They also convened a meeting halfway through the day to try to dial people in a bit, which may have helped. Luckily I wasn’t one of the crashers, only having one big moment at the entry to “the ridge.” Getting in a little hot, I leaned the bike further to the left than usual and my side stand connected with the ground, causing the rear tire to step out for a moment. I can’t pretend to be good enough to definitively say that I saved it with my left knee, but it sure felt like it as the pressure released from the tire, went to my knee, then reconnected at the rear, sitting me up. Exhilarating! 

    Overall, I was really happy with the day. I took it easy as it was my first real track day in 3 years, and my stock suspended SV650S was less than ideal along with the stock foot peg position which cost me toe sliders over the course of the day. Some suspension swapping and aftermarket rearsets are in the SV’s future. Other than that, the bike performed admirably. There’s one more 2Fast track day at The Ridge this year, I highly recommend you hit it up if you’re in the area.

    2Fast track day owner Mark DeGross talks about the entry to “the ridge.” 

    A couple of riders take to the straight as one in the background makes his way down the ridge.

    My 2003 SV650S and 1987 Ford Ranger in the pits.

    My new A&g leather sliders after 8 sessions at the Ridge Motorsports Park.

     
  5. AMA racing behind the scenes with Johnny Grudzien

    My friend Johnny works for Dainese doing rider support at AMA race weekends. He’s helping all the Dainese sponsored racers, which means he’s working with some big names and up-and-comers in American motorcycle racing.  This past weekend, AMA was at Mid-Ohio. Man’s Gotta Do is exclusively bringing you his behind the scenes impressions and photos from the experience. From Johnny:

    "Perhaps I’m hypersensitive as a born and bred Illinoisan displaced to the West Coast, but there is something distinctly American about the Mid-West. US-built autos of questionable quality dominate the roads, slowly being returned to the earth by rust or their own lack of durability. The summer howl of cicadas serves up a reminder that yes, the sticky blanket of heat is heavy, and going nowhere soon. The smaller towns, such as Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s Lexington, have lived through better decades. I imagine post WW2 was a heyday for such a place, with proud 4th of July parades and jobs for all who desired to work hard. But those are memories now, just as the shells of the homes that once bred families here. Like me, I imagine they got out. But for over 50 years, the race track has remained - a testament to our love for speed.

    It was a weekend of fresh experiences for me. I rode my first electric motorbike, a Zero supermoto. It’s exhaust note was a soothing whir from the motor accompanied by linear torque all the way up to 25 mph! Hey, I was in the paddock. The front brakes were terribly mushy, but I was assured there was a front brake master cylinder recall aimed at rectifying the issue. One must think scooter when they saddle up, or flail around with left hand and foot searching for clutch and shift lever. The owner said he’d taken it out for a bit of sumo fun, and the battery overheated - a common problem. Unfazed by this, I’m still quite enthusiastic for the future development of e-bikes, though I’ll miss the inspiring song of internal combustion terribly.

    Overlooking the 3-hour time difference between Lexington, OH and LA, CA, I arrived at the track early Sunday morning to find the entire Yoshimura Suzuki team crammed into their rig watching the GP from Mugello on satellite cable (I’m accustomed to 5AM European races). I huddled in with them and loved listening their commentary. These guys have all worked with their share of American GP studs. I talked the talk too, albeit it begs the obvious question…

    In my constant and ongoing battle to git ‘er done, with Richard Stanboli and Steve Rapp, we firmed up the design for the custom Dainese race suit he’ll don for the Laguna Seca and Indy rounds of MotoGP with less than two weeks to spare. As Stanboli told me, “You don’t get to race MotoGP everyday!” Point taken. Steve extended the offer to drag me in tow to their first and only CRT test pre-Laguna Seca. I’m not obliged to say where, but we’re flying there in Steve’s single-prop Cirrus (look it up), and landing on the track. I don’t remember if I said “yes”, but I’m fairly certain my goofy grin got the job done.

    To close out the weekend, I joined the Jordan Suzuki SuperBike team for middle Ohio’s version of a cultural affair, dinner at the Olive Garden. Buona! Running a bit late and suffering the effects of exhaustion and a terminal case of being weird, I received a hero’s welcome. Did win a race? Maybe for fastest guy to clean bugs off of leather (blame Polish heritage). Like any really great shindig, it was the conclusion of a lot of rewarding hard work accompanied by hilarious stories involving motorcycles and instigated by spirits. Two podiums didn’t hurt either.”

    Thanks to Johnny Grudzien for the words and photos. P.S. Rumors were circulating that the CRT engine that Steve Rapp will ride as a Wild Card rider in MotoGP at Laguna Seca was housed in the ZX-10 you see above for break-in. We’re looking forward to Laguna, where we’ll be joining Johnny and the AMA circus as MotoGP comes to California next week.

     
  6. I made it to a couple of Speedway races while spending some time in Sweden a few years ago. Besides the exciting racing, one thing that stood out was the toughness of the riders. I watched a little Polish guy run into a wall of tire-backed sheet metal (Swedish safety fence), only to eventually get up, limp into the pits and run in a race a couple heats later.

    Here’s a video of British Speedway Champion Chris Harris doing something similar. In this case, Harris literally gets run over by his teammate, lays there for a minute, then sprints to his pit and proceeds to come back out in the rerun heat and rally for an incredible race victory. Watch and enjoy. I found this video by researching armor on Revzilla, particularly the Forcefield back protector that helped Harris walk (run) away from this crash virtually unscathed. 

     
     
  7. AMA racing behind the scenes with Johnny Grudzien

    My friend Johnny works for Dainese doing rider support at AMA race weekends. He’s helping all the Dainese sponsored racers, which means he’s working with some big names and up-and-comers in American motorcycle racing.  A couple weekends ago, AMA was at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Man’s Gotta Do is exclusively bringing you his behind the scenes impressions and photos from the experience. From Johnny:

    "Here’s a math equation most won’t need help with: Alabama plus late June equals? Somehow, the mental and physical preparation I practiced wilted under three days of Sweet Home’s finest early summer heat bath. By race week-end, I was left with a salty crust and a whore’s bath in the Birmingham Airport. 

    Much of the weekend is a sweaty blur. Ambient air temperatures combined with high-horsepower racing motorcycles brought out the drama masks around the paddock. Armed with an 18V Milwaukee drill and a leather punch, I spent a great deal of my time putting holes in things that normal folks wouldn’t dare dream of…with a success rate of, I’d say, 50%. Hey, when it’s hot, it’s hot. In the process I managed to put a hole in myself too and earned a trip to Barber’s on-site medical center. Nice place. Well-equipped. Sterile. With an awesome helicopter waiting outside in case in needed to be airlifted out for a cold beer and a shower.

    The racing was solid all weekend. I’m considering a petition to get Josh Hayes elevated to WSBK so he has a chance to get out of all that fresh air and we can have a serious contender to wave the stars and bars for. I’ve been picking up on racers pre-showtime rituals. Hayes and Blake Young warm-up on expensive road bicycles. Ben Bostrom and Steve Rapp seem to prefer quiet naps. James Rispoli blares hip-hop. Josh Herrin…plays on the Internet. Different strokes. I worked pretty extensively with the Graves Yamaha team throughout the weekend and got a chance to flex my mechanical experience. The Yamaha R1 is a notoriously hot-running bike, and dumps all that energy out the fairings and onto the riders legs. Combined with a header pipe that runs along the right rear-set and consistent mid-90’s temperatures, Herrin’s feet were getting barbecued. We worked all weekend playing around with heat shielding, the bikes fairings, and serious boot modifications to alleviate the slow-roasting. In the end I have no gauge of our success rate, but did hear muttering about “separating the men from the boys.”

    I got a chance to talk with one of the Attack Kawasaki mechanics working on Steve Rapp’s MotoGP CRT effort for Laguna Seca and Indy. He showed me a bunch of photos of the engine mocked up in the frame and the exhaust, a Leo Vince unit built for Tech 3 Yamaha and modified to fit the ZX-10 based bike. I was assured they are putting in ridiculous hours to get it done, and it will be right down to the wire. I’m very excited.

    Any motorcycle rider who gets an opportunity to visit Barber Motorsports Park is a lucky soul. Any motorcycle rider who gets an opportunity to ride the track…well, I hate you. It is a stunning piece of perfect asphalt laid into the rolling hills and surrounded by ample run-off, perfectly manicured grounds, and humorous large scale artwork. One would have to be dead not to appreciate it. And I didn’t even mention the museum! Next stop- Mid-Ohio, but the only thing on my brain is Laguna!”

    Big thanks to Johnny Grudzien for the great photos and words. Be sure to check out Blake Young’s talented umbrella girl, his inflated D-air turkey suit, and the special Yoshimura catch tanks.

     
  8. From the creators of the world’s best go fast, turn left magazine and organizers of Rollerburn, Gary Inman and the crew at Sideburn present Dirt Quake! Rain and mud couldn’t hinder their day at the track, as you’ll see in this well produced video. My personal favorite has to be the inappropriate road bikes class. It’s all about having fun, and these guys are good at it.

     
     
  9. If this episode of RideApart doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will. Jamie Robinson goes to the Hell on Wheels Moto Rally and comes away with a dirt caked toothy grin after spontaneously racing a stranger’s bike. And riding the heck out of it too (remember, Jamie is an ex-racer). Enjoy, and subscribe to RideApart here.

     
     
  10. Featuring beautiful cinematography and a number of compelling characters, TT3D: Closer To the Edge is a great documentary about the Isle of Man TT. Following Guy Martin and other great racers through the 2010 TT, TT3D gives insight to the outsider like never before. If you’ve ever wondered about this storied race or were left wanting more after this years rain shortened race calendar (they had to abandon the Senior TT due to weather), then here’s your chance to get a fix before next year. Thanks to Hell For Leather for the link.

     
     
  11. AMA racing behind the scenes with Johnny Grudzien

    My friend Johnny works for Dainese doing rider support at AMA race weekends. He’s helping all the Dainese sponsored racers, which means he’s working with some big names and up-and-comers in American motorcycle racing.  Two weekends ago, AMA was at Road America in Wisconsin. Man’s Gotta Do is exclusively bringing you his behind the scenes impressions and photos from the experience. From Johnny:

    "Back at LAX and bound for Wisconsin a day and a half after returning from Utah, the weekend promised good things from the moment I boarded my flight with the guy that played Hurley on “Lost”(first-class for a man of his, um, stature), and found my seat next to renown race tuner Ammar Bazzaz. Nice. After Ammar prodded me for all my deep Dainese secrets, I sheepishly revealed that I still ride a motorbike with carburetors. When he found out it was a Ducati 900SS, the digital master pricked up and confessed his love for the very analog old twin. Promising him a spin on my bike when all this race business is over, he had to move on to writing a fuel map for Roger Hayden’s GSX-R Superbike. I had to pretend I was very interested in the moto mag I was reading. Peering over at his laptop, I can only describe what I saw as a linear progression of numbers on an Excel spreadsheet fed through a music recording program with a hungry math gremlin waiting in the wings to chew up and spit out…something. I had to ask, and he revealed to me how difficult his work has become as more and more sensors are piled onto the bikes. We talked baseline settings for each track and how tires, weather, and all those sensors make for some late nights. Understanding the value of his time, I let him be.

    Road America is a special place. I’ve been trying to get “up” to the historic track since earning my Illinois moto license in 2001. Buddies that got me into this amazing lifestyle would come back from these Wisconsin summer weekends with tales of wild parties, gobs of cool motorcycles, and these things they called Superbikes. Wow. Needless to say I was really looking forward to my first visit. I was not disappointed. I know AMA Pro Road Racing is a shadow of its former glorious self, but I’m going on the record saying those days are on the rise again, and the weekend’s turnout was inspiring. The kind and passionate peoples of Wisconsin know how to elevate a mood, and I spent my work week (end) admiring their enthusiasm, ability to bring the good time, and campfire building skills. I took Ben Bostrom’s Aprilia scooter on Saturday evening to fully explore the breadth of the Road America grounds. My findings were as follows- the narrow Midwestern-weathered asphalt of the track meanders through the undulations of the forested hills that make up this beautiful region. The topographical make-up lends its self to awesome track camping; choose a quiet nook if you cherish sleep, or the heavily populated backside if you want to burn the midnight oil with some of the nicest folks around. There is a vintage whitewashed barn of the grounds. Like Laguna, there are many worthwhile vantage points for race viewing that are neither quick, nor easy to get to (unless you’ve got Bboz’s scoot), so plan on coming back. The paddock and hot pits are cozy, and welcoming…they run multiple fan-appreciation laps through the weekend. Perched up on a grassy ridge overlooking one of the party colony’s that evening before I split for my hotel, I soaked it all in. The sunset carried a soft breeze through the trees, and the incense of burning logs and grilled meats. My envy alone would have gladly traded the course of my weekend (PR reports, race reports, and Twitter) for theirs.

    My boys had their own undulations over the weekend- local hero Blake Young was the fan favorite sporting an Arai painted like a wedge of cheese, but had his hands full with Josh Herrin as the other Josh, Hayes, has officially entered “alien” status. It put me in an awkward position where I was asked by both about the other on multiple occasions. I politely refrained from involvement and chose neutrality. The racing was fantastic across the classes. Again, some of the most engaging I’ve witnessed…from racers I’m there to support. James Rispoli- how do you make a motorcycle do that?! I’m in awe. My work life is turning out to be more fun than my civilian life at the moment. I’ll take the high, but when the bubble pops after the last race of the weekend, it sure is difficult to get stirred up about the rest…”

    A big thanks to Johnny Grudzien for the insight and pictures. Up next is Barber Motorsports Park, home to a great track and the best motorcycle museum I’ve ever been to.

     
  12. The two big stories to emerge from this year’s Isle of Man TT have been John McGuinness’ continued winning form and the historic breaking of the 100 mph barrier by the electric bikes in the TT Zero. McGuinness is chasing down Joey Dunlop’s all time winning TT record of 26 victories, and he’ll be shooting for his 20th win on the final day of this year’s TT tomorrow. Michael Rutter was able to hold him off from winning the TT Zero using the bike you see above, the Motoczysz of Portland, OR. Michael Czysz largely used aerodynamics testing and technology to improve the 2012 bike, and as you can see in the pictures they got pretty creative with the fairings.

    Will McGuinness get his 20th victory? Will Guy Martin surprise everyone and take his first Isle of Man victory, or will it be a podiumless TT for the crowd favorite? We’ll be watching.

    All pictures by Michael Czysz via Hell For Leather.

     
  13. The Isle of Man TT begins tomorrow. Here’s a few pictures from local Isle of Man photographer Peter Faragher to wet your whistle. Flying over Ballaugh Bridge, that’s Isle of Man legend John McGuinness, followed by Guy Martin and Stephen Thompson. You can follow the results here. Here’s wishing all a safe and fast TT. Godspeed to the Gods.

     
  14. AMA racing behind the scenes with Johnny Grudzien

    My friend Johnny works for Dainese doing rider support at AMA race weekends. He’s helping all the Dainese sponsored racers, which means he’s working with some big names and up-and-comers in American motorcycle racing. Last weekend’s races at Miller Motorsports Park were his third weekend doing this work. It was a special race weekend as World Superbikes were running as well. Man’s Gotta Do is exclusively bringing you his behind the scenes impressions and photos from the experience. From Johnny:

    "Unwinding in the sun during the WSBK race 2 red flag (thanks Hiroshi!), that old Ben Franklin quote about beer popped into my internal conversation…only substitute the word "motorcycles" for "beer". It went like this- "Motorcycles are living proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy." Beer, by the way, still sucks in Utah (thanks Mormons!).

    For the first time in my 18 years as part of the American workforce, I can truly say that my job kicks ass. The days are long. My fingers hurt. A lot. I’m tired. In yet another twist of irony, I spend 12 hours a day around some of the most bad-ass racing motorbikes I’ve ever seen, but don’t get to ride at all. Breakfast and lunch seem to pass without being burned by my body. But I can’t stop smiling. And none of it seems to matter. I love motorcycles. I love motorcycle racing. AMA and WSBK at Miller Motorsports Park is an interesting experiment. Take one part distance- Tooele, Utah is a destination, not a convenience. Take two parts comedy- stylish, cultured Europeans meets the Flying J truck stop (think a whole wall dedicated to XXXXL sleeveless shirts, and plenty of middle America bodies to occupy them). Take three parts harsh environment- wind, rain, & sun…and voilà! There is a beautiful loneliness breathing through the land.

    I rode the track on Thursday afternoon in a golf cart. I observed little in the way of elevation change, lots of run-off, and a very long front straight. I believe I reeled in a lap time of somewhere around 10 minutes. The layout of the facilities were such that there was little co-mingling between the AMA boys and the surgeons of WSBK. We were sealed off from each other in separate garages. I’d mark this as my single disappointment of the weekend. So much for my manicotti lunch with Biaggi. Ah well, I never had the time anyway. I didn’t get to see so much as hear World Superbike race 1. I was busy juggling maintenance on 4 AMA SuperBike super suits against a ticking clock. Payoff came in the form of a champagne bath an hour later courtesy of one of “my” two riders who took podium after some thrilling paint-swapping (thanks Blake!). Weekend highlight for me was a more traditional bath though- perched on the front straight wall in the rain Friday morning, 7 feet off the race line, getting sprayed by speed gods during WSBK practice 1. It’s the little things.”

    Thanks to Johnny Grudzien for the great photos and words. Note the last picture, in which Earl Hayden is wearing Nicky’s Superbike Championship ring. Not sure exactly how Johnny got that pic, but by the slight blurriness my guess is incognito spy iPhone close up. Well done Johnny, well done… (I didn’t even know they got rings for winning championships).

     
  15. This weeks RideApart features some amateur flat track racing by Jamie Robinson and Wes Siler at the Ventura Raceway Hooligan Derby put on by Iron and Resin. Looks like good fun, if I still lived down there you can bet I’d be lining up too. Subscribe to RideApart here.