The Journey of a Racer
In 1983, I got my first street bike; an 81 Honda Hawk. All the Japanese manufacturers had a glut of leftover bikes, so I was able to buy one. After I rode the Honda Hawk for a few years, I got an 84 GPZ550. That bike was one of my favorites. In 1985 I went to Blackhawk Farms Raceway to spectate my first motorcycle race. As we pulled up to the gate, bikes were already on course at top speed. My first reaction was that there is no way I could ever do that. By the end of the day, I changed my mind. I thought that one day, I could be down there on that track. Fast forward to 1995—I heard of a YSR racing group in the Mid Atlantic area. I check out one of the events, and I was hooked. I founded a used YSR50 bike, prepped it as well as I could, and went racing. I used leathers and original street tires; talk about sliding around! Fast forward again to 1999—Some YSR friends of mine were big into bike racing, so I was able to get the first SV650 that Coleman Powersports received. All I did for that first year working at Coleman Powersports was safety wiring, yellow number plates, clubman bars, stealthy stock exchange, and stocking. I raced my new bike for a few years, won a few races, but soon ran out of money. In 2007, I had some extra money and bought a used SV650 race bike and got back in to the Western Eastern Roadracing Association. I won a few regional championships in 2009. You could call me a gentleman racer, because I just enjoyed the track and the friends I made. In 2013, I was at Vintage Days in middle Ohio when I won fourth place and was crowned champion. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
In 2018, MotoAmerica decided to introduce the Twins Cup. It was successful enough that they brought it back the next year. Some of my fellow SV racers had thrown their hat into the ring, and I got thinking that I could do it too. Once the schedule came out for MotoAmerica, I circled the qualifying dates on my calendar. I would try to qualify and complete a Twins Cup race at Pittrace. The road to the qualifications were hard. I had to have stress tests, motor builds, teams shirts, credentials, track days, coaching, and a crew. The qualification dates came, and it was my turn. I arrived there on a Thursday morning and hung around in the staging area until two o’clock, when we were assigned a pit area. It was a flurry of activity and excitement setting up our gear and preparing for the next day. We went to bed early to rest up for the first practice at nine o’clock the following morning.
Up early, warmers on, and out on the track. Green track plus eager riders equals crash. Three laps in—turn four. In the pits, my stellar crew mobilizes to fix any crash damage. I debrief with my coach to figure out where I went wrong. I was too excited and didn’t work up to speed. Qualifying for session one, I worked up to speed and managed to get a time that excelled any previous ones, and I got in! The second qualifications were scheduled for Friday morning. I was hoping to pick up some time, but I was unable to. It was time to mound up a fresh tire and get ready for the race. One of my crew members was looking over bike for any problems and he smelled fuel. He looks in the belly pan and sees a few ounces of leaked fuel. That is not good. The whole crew gets together to find the problem. It appeared like the overflow for the gas tank was not plugged and there was a hairline crack in the bottom of the tank. My hero, Chris Parrish saunters over to see what’s going on and announces that it was an easy fix. He comes back with JB Quik, grabs a few screwdrivers, and a piece of paper. He mixes it all up and slathers it on the crack in the tank. Twenty minutes later, it’s dry and we put it back together. It was a crisis averted. Race time arrives, and we go out on the sighting lap and pull back on the grid. I am last on the grid. I soak in the atmosphere of a professional motorcycle road race grid. Everything was just surreal. A couple racers had problems after our warmup lap, so we did an extra lap, which shortened the race to ten laps. I was joined in the last row by Keith Buras, and the race began. The race was a blur. My goal was to just finish safely and stay clear of the leader. I crossed the finish line without getting lapped…mission accomplished. Sunday held the morning warm ups and the last race. I got a better start and hung with some faster riders, and I settled in to finish. The fun trip was over, and it was time to head home.
I would like to finish this with some thanks to the people who helped make this journey possible. First off is to my lovely and long-suffering wife, Bonnie Teeuwen. She has to put up with my obsession over the past nine months. She always motivates me to do my best, even when I was feeling down. Most importantly, she kept the crew fed and watered with delicious vittles all weekend. Thank you to John Turner and Don Andreano, my co-crew chiefs. These guys can fix anything, and I definitely challenged them with the gas tank fiasco and the crash. Thank you to Dr. Matt Dilorenzo for coaching me and trying to get me to think about my riding. Thank you to Kelsey Weberm for bringing Norm and wielding a killer umbrella on the grid and to Greg Reisinger for providing me with inspiration. Thank you to Jerry Reeves for inspiration and answering my myriad of questions over the past few months. Many thanks to Michael Copoulos, who build a stellar motor and to Tim Banish and Jessica Palmer Banish for cheering me on. I am proof that there is never an age limit to following your dreams!