Ben Spies made history on Thursday by performing the first drag-race-style pass of any kind—two or four wheels—on the back straight of the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval.
Built by Jeff Nash, owner of Advanced Motorsports Ducati in Dallas, Texas, the radical, open-header Diavel could be heard on the opposite side of the racetrack. After a short warm-up run, Spies pointed the bike toward Turn 3, clicked the transmission into first gear and laid down a textbook burnout. Moments later, the Pramac Ducati MotoGP rider disappeared into the heat waves rising off the tarmac.
After two more runs, Spies parked the bike and pulled off his helmet, revealing a broad grin. “The first time, the tire wasn’t heated too much,” he said, “and it was spinning all the way through third gear. That was pretty fun. I hadn’t ridden a bike for over 13 weeks, so to jump on something like this was pretty interesting. Jeff did a great job with the paint and motor; the thing is super fast.”
Spies, who is returning to competition this weekend after a long shoulder rehabilitation, said the Diavel was easy to jump on and take off. “Once the tire gets hot, you can really launch the thing,” he said. “The front comes up like four inches, but the bike just drives straight. Jeff did a good job setting it up.”
Asked what it was like to ride the bike down the famous backstretch of The Speedway, Spies laughed. “I wanted to keep going. But I was worried the GM would get a little nervous. It was fun.
“We’re going to auction off the bodywork for Dave Stanton, a friend of mine who got paralyzed recently. It was a good way to get people to come out to see something different before the weekend and give me some seat time before I get back on a MotoGP bike.”
Practice for the sixth annual Indianapolis Grand Prix begins on Friday.
Ben Spies tests a Ducati Diavel drag bike
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