On Sunday I attended my first AMA Superbike Showdown race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma as a member of the media.
As is normal for me these days I compared the entire experience to NASCAR. Motorcycle racing couldn’t be more different, from the racers to the fans it was a completely different world.
The first thing I difference was in the insane amount of dudes in attendance. It was probably 80% dudeage. I had no problem with that fact because it was insanely hot that day, in the upper 80s to lower 90s, and lots of guys with great bodies decided to walk around shirtless. Hey, it helps. And, yes, there are tons of men at NASCAR races, but there’s usually just as many women to go with them.
While the size of the crowd on hand was no where near the amount of people that would show up for NASCAR on a Sunday they were all very passionate about the sport.
I didn’t know that much about any of the drivers, except that I could recognize a few of their names, like Mat Mladin and Tommy Hayden. Hayden of course because his brother is MotoGP superstar Nicky Hayden.
Once upon a time I wrote about how I saw a documentary on Nicky that aired on MTV called “The Kentucky Kid.” It was a great glimpse inside motorcycle racing. And from that I learned about the motorcycle racing family that is the Hayden’s.
While I was waiting for the Daytona SportBike race to begin, the first of the day, I stood under a non-descript tent posted on pit road. I stood there mostly to be A.) out of the way and B.) to stay out of the sun, which didn’t help all that much because my jeans were stuck to my body, totally should have worn shorts. But I digress. So I’m standing there, checking out all of the bikes that are lined up on the grid along with various crew members and those women whose only job is to hold an umbrella, wear a ridiculous outfit and look pretty.
So I’m standing there going, ok, where are the drivers? Being the SportBike division I know no one at all, at least not visually. The most notable names to me, and I know nothing, were Jamie Hacking and Roger Hayden.
I know of Jamie Hacking because he picked his number, 88, specifically because it’s Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s. “I chose the number, style and color because of Dale Earnhart Jr.,” said Hacking. “He lives close to where I do and I thought it would be a good way to represent North Carolina. Also since our sport is now owned by the France’s, it seemed good to tie in NASCAR with motorcycle racing. I ran the No. 2 for 11 years and I’ve already moved on and really like the No. 88 better.”
Although, one big difference between the two is that one of Hacking’s sponsors is Monster Energy, and we all know Dale belongs to AMP Energy. Hmm.
Okay, so back to the pits. I’m standing there, melting and these guys start showing up one by one, all with their racing suits unzipped halfway showing off bare chests and a wee little bit of their undies. I am not kidding about that last part.
So I got to watch as Chris Peris, who rides the No. 10 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR, put all of his gear on and zipped himself into his racing suit. He’s a very cute kid (gorgeous eyes). He’s 22 and his bio says that he’s 5’7″ which I think has to be wrong. Here’s a tip for the ladies out there from your BFF Valli, men lie about their height the way women lie about their weight. Whatever he tells you just subtract 3 inches. The only exception is if he’s really tall, like over 6’2″ and above. I am a walking truth monitor because I happen to be 5’9″ and as a woman I don’t lie when it comes to my height. It is what it is, and I don’t aspire to be taller or shorter. So having seen Mr. Peris in person there’s no way he’s 5’7″. I’d say he’s more like 5’4″.
After Chris’ arrival on the scene a couple of the other riders came into view, a couple of them were interviewed for some television show right next to me. It was then that I noticed the older gentleman standing in front of me. It was none other than Earl Hayden. The father of Nicky, Tommy and Rodger! I thought that was so cool. I loved how he had a had that listed each of his son’s names along with their racing numbers. The Hayden mother, Rose, was there too holding a green umbrella which I realized was the same color as Roger’s team. Later in the day I spied Rose holding on to a blue umbrella during Tommy’s race, blue being the main color of his racing team. Very sweet.
Watching the actual races was very interesting. Each race, of which there were three, lasted only 20 laps each. In the second race, the AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei, a couple of riders, Ricky Parker and Leandro Mercado, put on a great show playing cat and mouse for the first and second positions. It was truly exciting.
At the end of the day, and for the biggest race, Mat Mladin came out on top for the AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited. (That has to be THE longest race name ever) Benjamin Bostrom and Tommy Hayden came in second and third respectively.
I dig motorcycle racing. I think it’s crazy how incredibly fast they go and how close to the ground they get without killing themselves or skinning themselves alive. I want to do more with it, and hopefully I will someday.
All I can say is that it’s worth checking out if it comes to a town near you. The ticket prices are reasonable and you get a lot of access without having to pay extra for it.
The garage at the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Starting grid for the Dayonta SportBike race at the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Roger Hayden before the start of his race during the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Moto Garage Racing rider Scott Jensen at the AMA Superbike Showdown at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, May 17, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)