We members of the Southern California Flat Track Association were pleased, but not surprised, when our season-ending doubleheader’s Pro-class entries included Josh Hayes, newly crowned AMA Pro American SuperBike champion, and John Hopkins, lately of MotoGP. Their seasons were history, and they like keeping in shape and practice and, well, racing. (Hayes and wife Melissa, also a Pro roadracer, are graduates of American Supercamp, same class as yer reporter, and she was on the program, too, in the Open class.)
Also entered was CW’s own Mark Cernicky. This was a logical surprise, in that Mark’s experience has been in roadracing and supermoto. But then, early in this season, he showed up at the club track (in Perris, California) with his Honda XR100 just to have something to do that day.
He had fun, so next he borrowed a full-sized racer and had more fun. And then the Honda CRF450 in the CW barn got prepped, and Mark got his national license and competed in the Singles class at the Arizona Mile. He made the main and finished mid-pack.
Consider here that the average motojourno is more hat than cattle, as they say in Texas. The writer will borrow a machine, ride in practice and praise his ride and mention the owners and sponsors. “Bagging” is the jargon for such shabby stuff.
But here’s Mark, backed only by the magazine (and trust me, it’s not much). He does well in his heat and makes the front row for the Saturday night Pro race.
There’s not enough space for a lap-by-lap, but it’s a tight race, with a red flag, a single-file restart and at the finish, the club’s best, Jimmy Wood—who’s also an AMA Pro Daytona SportBike contender when he gets a ride—wins, with Mark third and Hayes fourth.
On Sunday, Mark wins the Adult 100 class, in which he’ll be class champ this year, while Wood wins the Pro main again, followed by Hayes in fifth, Mark sixth and John Hopkins 10th. Hayes’ busy day included winning the Vet (35+) class; who knew he was that old?
All of which proves mostly that racers are racers, and that Our Guy can compete at the top, and don’t get me going about the days when our national champions ran short-track, TT, half miles, miles and road courses; cowboy Barry Sheene scoffed until Kenny Roberts took him to school.
Now, The Old Guy…
That’s me, obviously, running my Wood-Honda 450 framer in the geezer class, third in points (an important point, as we’ll see) going into the doubleheader, the final two races of the season.
Saturday night was a good night. The stickier the track, the happier I am, and I was fifth in the heat, fourth in the main. Okay, I was helped because two of the faster riders didn’t finish.
But when I checked the bike, I found gas seeping from around one petcock, and recall earlier blogs about how the ethanol weakened the fiberglass tank. One of the lessons motorcycle fans learn the hard way is that when you find a problem, don’t wait to fix until it’s convenient: One, it will get worse; and two, it’s never convenient.
At home, after the first day’s races, wife assured and asleep, I went to make a repair…and got a classic Oh, no! The petcock pulled loose, turning a seep into a gush. Off came the tank, on went a generous dollop of cold weld, and I left it overnight in the warmest place the garage offered.
Next morning, the fix seemed firm and solid. But just in case—sorry, forgot to mention that racers who ran both days got an extra 10 points on their seasonal scores—I rolled out my XR100, my 10-year-old ranch runabout, which, by good luck, I used to ride when the club track was shorter and the bike therefore had race tires and numberplates.
On the way to the track, I bought some instant-set cold weld, again just in case. Geezer class allows any bike you bring, so I put the 100 through tech inspection before I put gas in the 450’s tank.
It leaked. I took it off again, applied the instant weld, let it set.
My crew on Sunday was granddaughter Wendy and her husband Jeremy, who, I’m proud to say, is a Marine combat photographer. I sent them off to get Gorilla Glue.
Glue mixed, petcock held in place until the glue set, tank back on, gas back in…
Practice was in the 100 class, in which I couldn’t keep up with Mark, no surprise there.
In my heat, I was amazed at how long it took to row from first to fifth gear into the first turn while the other geezers on 450s and 500s got smaller.
Ditto the main, in which I wasn’t quite lapped by the rest of the field but was an uncontested last place. It was fun and worth the 10 points.
And the moral to all this?
Two previous lives ago, when I was sports editor at our companion publication, Road & Track, I wrote that, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” R&T’s then-editor, the late and still-missed Jim Crow, wondered if that was a valid, printable rework of the slogan.
In any sport, I said, there are heroes and contenders, and beyond that, there are folks who just plain love the sport, so they spend money and time and effort just to do it, just to be out there.
Take them away, I said, and there is no sport.
You made your point, Jim said.
The point still applies.