Daytona 2011: Bad Day at Black Rock—By Kevin Cameron

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Blake Young, Rockstar Makita Suzuki, American SuperBike. Photos by Tim White

Six bikes in six weeks. That was the job that fell to Attack Performance owner Richard Stanboli when he was chosen by Kawasaki to prepare a team of two brand-new ZX-10Rs and four ZX-6Rs for riders Eric Bostrom and JD Beach to run at Daytona. Fortunately, Stanboli had ready-prepared 2009 ZX-6R heads in boxes, plus many other spares, but the job would be huge.

Racing is hard. On Thursday, it rained, and the team worked to finish important details. When practice started that afternoon, it was clear that the 10R needed a lot of suspension development. The team worked through changes, and Bostrom qualified eighth for the AMA Pro American SuperBike races. It had been a mad rush of going out, evaluating a change, coming in, sitting through a shock change, a fork spring change, a preload change. The weather was cold, and tires work poorly in the cold. But eighth was not bad for a newly designed bike and a new program.

The race started, and riders streamed into the infield. One rider, seemingly certain he could win on Lap 1, came under Bostrom on the entry to the right-hand horseshoe and took him down. For this and another crash, the race was red-flagged.

Long before the crash wagon brought the bike back, the Stanboli-led team was stripping crash parts from the spare bike—gas tank, fairing, footpegs, complete front brake system and right handlebar. When the bike was unloaded, they tore into it, surrounding it with four men at work. Horns sounded to indicate the time remaining. The work was done, the engine started, and Bostrom was able to join the warm-up lap.

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But no happy ending, no sigh of relief for Team Cycle World Attack Performance. Sometimes, your house burns up. Sometimes, your house burns down. A vibration at speed indicated a bent wheel, and that was that. Okay, better luck tomorrow in the 200-miler for which JD Beach and Bostrom have qualified fourth and fifth.

The restarted American SuperBike race (a shorty of 15 laps, run on the short course) was full of drama as Yamaha’s Josh Hayes tried to hold off the Suzukis of Tommy Hayden and Blake Young. Yes, he could, then maybe, then they drafted past on the last chicane-to-start-finish dash to make it Young, Hayden, Hayes.

In the press briefing, we were all reminded of racing’s shrunken state. Nineteen heads were turned toward the three riders. When the talking was finished, there were no questions. Two people clapped. That was that. The racing was grand. Where is everybody?