Madras 2002
Hellbent Racing Summary •
Hammer & Tongs, Editor's Report October 5th & 6th 2002

250 Gran Prix Heat Start- the high point of the day for me.... me in yellow; note Bill Grubin #92P to my right • photo: Bryson Williams

OK, Madras 2002 • I was planning on driving partway the night before, but by the time I got things together, the idea of NOT sleeping in my own bed had no appeal, and I resolved to simply do the whole thing in the morning. I did the event shirts for the weekend- I left at 6:15am or so- taking the 81 YZ250H and my old trusty 77 YZ400D.

The drive down was fine. I was in Woodland at seven am, (or that's the way it seemed: one of my VDR compatriots just emailed me to say he needed whatever coffee I was drinking that got me from Seattle to Woodland in 45 minutes. Incidentally that would be something like 160mph- about twice as fast as I was going) just stopping for gas at Safeway. (Safeway has gas now) After 2 cups of coffee I nipped into the bathroom. It's the backside of the little cube where the lady takes the money. I looked at my test shirt in the mirror- it has test prints on fours sides, and as I admired it, I swiveled to see the other side, and hit my forehead into a large sharp box with supplies in it, and it cut me open and I was soon blotting blood with a kleenex® as I drove.

The weekend was Observed Trials and Motocross on successive days, so I needed to be there both days to sell shirts, of course. When I got to Madras, I spent about half an hour trying to find the trials, even though I'd been there before. The turnout was moderate, and I drove very slowly down the hill in the truck because last time I was here with Jonathan's truck, I had two flat tires. Phenomenally, by the time I got to the top of the hill I HAD A FLAT TIRE!!! So there was grumbling from me, while I changed it, but the spare was right there where it was supposed to be, so it was no problem.

From then on everything was cool- & everyone who was there was kind & awesome. I hung about yammering to old and new friends It seemed like the sort of day that you'd get sunburned, but it was perfect. And then it was over. Everyone was leaving- and the field suddenly looked blank and deserted- a cool breeze blowing. I suddenly realized that I hadn't eaten anything, and I drove down into Madras to Les Schwab to have the tire fixed. I walked up the hill to the south end of town to Burger King. As I walked, with nothing but me and the shirt that I was wearing I felt as though I was 18 again- with nothing, no resources but myself- not even my keys. It's weird that you feel naked without they keys. It's just a little set of metal pieces- but I feel different without them. It was a very cool quiet afternoon; and I had a hamburger at BK. It was fantastic ; Oh my God Good.

I stayed with my fellow Racer, Evo Maico Man Marvin Newton & his awesome family, to whom I was very grateful. In the morning I stopped for a very large very good coffee on the way through Terrebonne. I set up camp next to the concessions stand, which worked out very well when I realized how thirsty I was! I took the bikes out of the truck, and was yacking up a storm, and I was loafing about, and barely made the last practice, to my annoyance. But it didn't matter- the track was perfect, and very much as I expected it to be.

Open Historic heat I got an OK start, and thought I was doing alright. A rider on a 4-Stroke bumped into me, but I held him back, and then he slipped by. It turned out to be Donnie Wilson (the dude with the red wheels from Nevada) bumps, then passes me. As he passed me I realized it was him. I really wasn't expecting the man to be so fast, and I think my heart sank a little. Racing is a humbling sport. I then lost two more places. It was disheartening. True, there was no one entered in Open Historic except me, so it was a "win" but I'd been going backwards. Oh well.

250 Gran Prix heat Now on the marvelously violent YZ250H- In this class I had three men to beat, and one of them was my good friend Bill Grubin, who gave me an uphill battle in Eugene! I got a great great start; I was 3rd into turn one behind Monty and someone else. I was feeling good! But to my amazement who should come charging by, but Bill Grubin! I went there's a bad joke... and wicked it up. But Bill pulled me up the next straight- I don't even know which one it was. But I remember watching him and realizing that he was leaving- the gap opened up and it was the point right when you give up. And I gritted my teeth and tried to remember to keep the pressure on, and that only all those little spaces added together could get me back up where he was. I had to dig deep, looking in desperation for fast lines.

Those who were there will remember that over the lip at the top there was a little berm on the inside, and for me that was a good thing to hit at what felt a little too fast, and it'd be a good drive over the top. Then there was a little jog, and many slowed slightly for that; I went WFO through there, and just pretended it was the old days of Road Racing. The wash was choppier as the day went by, and the fast line out was to the right, so I had to make a square corner out of it, but it was worth it-
Ok back to the race - with a gnashing of teeth I eventually caught the G-Man. As I pulled in behind him I started the Dorian Sleeper whooooooo-hooooing to let him know I was there, and for the sheer GLEE of it all. And somewhere I passed him. All the way to the flag I pushed; I didn't look back until I crossed the finish line; and he wasn't as close as I thought he might have been.

(remember Texan Kevin Schwantz used to always look back, and then crash immediately.)

Open Historic main Now back on the line after a lengthy break I had butterflies. I started in the middle of the gates, where I dislike starting, but got a decent start again. Although I was again alone in my class I had a little image of Donnie Wilson's face in my mind's eye and I focused all the evil I could muster on that mustachioed grin. I was ahead of the man again, and again he came by- I hung on grimly, but a second man went by and I watched them ahead of me. It looked like 300 yards but in reality it was probably only 30-40 yards space. The other fellow- who I think had blue on, or - somehow my memory is a blue-turquoise color- and he went by Donnie.

And suddenly I thought it seemed as though that set Donnie off his game a little. I think of Stirling Moss saying if you think a man is gritting on, you think I'll try and pass him.... Now here again I dug deep to catch him, and it worked, and I went by him. That was maybe the best moment of the day.
But when haste is in the saddle destruction is on the crupper! going into turn two on the last lap I was leaned way over, and the back went wide, and wider, and down I went. Dammnit! It was funny really- it didn't matter- I made my point, and the man didn't go down himself; he was the better man of the day.

250 Gran Prix main On the line I revved my YZ knowing full well that I had to do well, and that Bill Grubin would be on his game. But I got a terrible start- the kind where the engine goes wow-wow-wow, and the front goes up and down a few times. The guy next to me did a big wheelie and through a little hole in the insanity I saw Bill zooming away smoothly into the distance and I revved the engine to the moon, but two, then three riders slotted in between us. Up the hill and across the top in huge clouds of dust- where you hold the throttle wide open totally blind hoping that you'll emerge without hitting a fallen rider- really only a second here and there, but sometimes seemed like a strange little lifetime in a yellow planet atmosphere.

Then through the wash for some inexplicable reason the YZ went down. I yanked it up again, and pulled the clutch in again, but it died, and it took about 5 kicks to get it going again. And that was it. Bill was gone; the trophy was gone, everyone was gone. With stoic and sarcastic exasperation I now resolved to kill anyone I encountered. So way last, I ripped along, and I did catch a few hapless humans, at least one of whom was in my class, but I'll have to go back and look to see who it was. That gave me 3rd, which meant 3rd overall. Hmmm.

And that was my race day. My body stopped pushing, and it was like that funny thing when you stop the car on a dusty dirt road, and the dust comes flying past you from behind; the world, now coming back into focus came rushing past my ears. I suddenly realized, just like yesterday, that I hadn't eaten anything all day. The trailer with the food was right next to my truck So I had a hamburger just like yesterday! I sat down and the first bite I took was the potato salad, and it was like an electric shock - I was so hungry that my mouth watered right away. I'm not a hamburger guy, I swear, but it was even better than the one the previous day. They were giving out awards but I didn't care. Ron Predmore sat down at the table with me, and we talked lightheartedly. Ron is a cool guy- a Tacoma Duck - and a perennial Vintage Motocross dude. Afterwards I told the lady who made it that it was the best hamburger I'd ever eaten, which was the truth.

Phenomenally I sold out of the new Madras Shirts - I expected to have some left over, but as the day wound down, right when I was certain that the trail of cool people wandering up to buy shirts was just running down another would show up...

Then the point where the trucks vans and motorhomes all suddenly vanish and the city that was there is now nothing- just a blank field with a few tire tracks- I suppose a little like the place where the tent of a circus stood- you look and think it was all so big and loud- full of sound and fury- and signifying everything- and 20 minutes later there's nothing!

And I walked back, and stood with good friends. Dirk Murphy, Tom Owens, Neil Giertsen, Hank Frenna, and his daughter Barbara- fresh from her first race (!) Ron Predmore- Anyway all were sitting in chairs having a cold one. Hank handed me a cold Peach Snapple from the Ice Box, which hit the durn spot bigtime.

And kind words from Dirk Murphy- who was talkin me up- he said I saw you come into that corner (the one where I laid down the YZ400) and I went damn- and then you went like this (he was holding ther imaginary bars of my bike leaned way over sideways to the sky)

Anyway it was a very cool scene there- a quiet goodness; everyone who was there- thanks that was in some quiet way the best part of the day- just laughing and slowing down finally-

The road home was cool and beautiful. I sailed along with no care in the world, North through Grass Valley. I could have gone back the same way through Portland, but the quieter serene way seemed better. The Sun was so low, and yet so fierce that the shadow of the truck stretched way out into the field. The sunlight under the truck- i.e. the space beneath the truck stretched a good 60 yards out into the field. The sun was sinking- the sky was a huge wash- yellow, then pink, then magenta- and I roared along.

By the time I got to the Columbia the sky was in the last throes before total darkness. I stopped for gas & a sandwich, and battling exhaustion. The run up 97 to Yakima was taken at blistering speeds. Two trucks besides me were absolutely screaming along all together at about 90mph. I was home at 10:45.

Yay. And that was that trip.


©2002 Siege