Thursday, June 14, 2018

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO GET OFF THE COUCH



 What would it take to get you off the couch?
Sitting at home watching flat track racing got him thinking.
But having a heart attack is what made up his mind.
He wanted to go flat track racing again.
Maybe he felt God gave him one more chance?
   -------------------------------------------------------------
Racing is where people like us belong.
Family and business  may pull us away, 
but it's always somewhere on our minds.
Sure, going camping and stuff with the family is nice.
But it's nothing like going racing. 
Just being at the track perks us up.
You might forget the password for the computer 
at work or your wedding anniversary, 
but you can remember the gearing from 
Lima from three years ago.
Yup, you're one of us. 

It was entirely too easy to get back in.
Rick was already an Indian dealer.
Just a few clicks on the computer and the FTR was his.
Word spread around the camp fire.
Doug Stooksberry & Rick Canode have been 
friends for 35 years or so.
They have had quite a few adventures along the way.
When Doug heard about the FTR,
he called Rick up,
'We're going racing again, huh?'
   That David Brown is a class act.
He sent a text congratulating Rick on his purchase.
He didn't expect an offer.
Bugs Pearson is well known as FBI.
No, he's not a Hoover man,
he is one of the Fast Boys from Illinois
and a solid choice as a  rider.
It all came together like that.

Flat track is not the young man's sport they say it is.
For some, our steel shoe days may have passed us by, 
but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of things 
to do in the pits for the hard workers.
Let the rider focus on riding.  Be his right-hand man.
From driving, to set up or clean up-regardless of age, 
you are needed. It takes old hands to get
young ones out there.
  A rider ain't no different than a racehorse.
Keep him fed in the right place and he'll give ya his best.
You can be the difference in a racers success.
There are a lot of young riders at the amateur level that 
could use some help-just offer them a hand.

In my day job, I see people who struggle all the time.
Their jobs just suck the color out of them.
They try to stay hip, relevant, beautiful or 
whatever they need to be, to get right.
I'm in the pits in Kentucky after driving thru the night.
Like a fly on the wall, I watch Doug swap out the rear tire.
He gets the job done quietly, without fanfare.
You earn respect through your actions in the pits.
He is part of something bigger here, he is part a team.
Here he has what the other world searches for.
The race days are the ones we'll remember.

Have an Indian and want it to run as good as Bugs's bike?
Want to have a race tuner look over your machine?
Rick Canode at R/J Performance has the experience 
and the equipment you need.
See www.rjperformance.com
Big Thanks to Hite Trucking & Bryan Hawkins

Friday, June 1, 2018

HENRY & ME

I thought I was all set for the half-mile in York, Pennsylvania.
But, my bike wouldn't fire after first practice.
I ran, I bumped and prayed, but no luck.
We traced it to a failed ignition coil.
No spare to be had so my day was done.
Disappointed was an understatement.
Flat trackers don't cry-right?
I was thinking about just heading home.
Why not stay and watch the races?
Lots of Pennsylvania Posse fast guys
there like Jared Mees & Jake Shoemaker.
Someone said Henry Wiles was here too
but they said he only wins TT's.
Well, they must have forgotten to tell Wiles.
When the flag dropped,
he stormed off to a convincing win
on the pea gravel 1/2 mile.
I was walking through the pits after the dust settled.
I thought I was alone until 
Henry Wiles yelled over to me,
'Hey, did you ever get your bike running?'
I was caught off guard because I didn't
know Wiles and was surprised he asked.
Keep in mind,
I'm just some old guy with a broken bike.
I'm not someone fast or famous.
We talked for several minutes and 
he encouraged me to keep at it. 
I mentioned that I was a writer and
perhaps I could write an article
on him in the future?

I wrote for an urban sport bike magazine.
They were not interested in an article
on a professional dirt track racer.
I kept badgering my editor for months before
he finally gave me the green light.
During the interview with Wiles,
I found we had common ground.
Both of us were newly divorced at that time.
For us, the night life wasn't the right life.
Hanging out in strip clubs or bars didn't appeal. 
We wanted to go flat track racing
and hang out with our kids.
Being a good dad is important to Henry & me.
The article did well for the magazine even if
the editor wrote off the success,
saying it was only due to Wiles' being photogenic.
photo by Steve Koletar
A few years later, I crashed short track racing,
breaking my collarbone and knocking myself out.
My brother blew his top when he found out
I  drove home with my arm in a makeshift sling.
He told me,
 'I wasn't a bull rider and should quit flat track racing.'
Yeah, I know he cares, but it wasn't what I wanted to hear.
Later that day my phone rang.
The caller ID read 'Henry Wiles'.
He called to check up on me after
hearing about me crashing hard.
We had a few laughs but he sensed something was up. 
He said I sounded down.
I told him about my brother wanting me to quit.
Henry said 'What do YOU want to do?'
I said I want to race flat track.
'Well, heal up and saddle up.'
Henry's words of encouragement gave me
the bump to keep at it.

I'm hoping Henry rides the
recent surge of flat track popularity. 
He is a good man and a  goldmine for the media.
Always has a funny or timely quote up his sleeve
and handle himself well in front of the cameras.
His impressive career speaks for itself.
Henry is a good man and would make a fine addition to a 
high profile team or as a brand ambassador.

Friday, May 25, 2018

THE RACERS' CUT
























You never know who is going to sit in your chair.
I've been a barber my whole life.  
So was my dad too.
He always said the trick to a barber shop 
is to keep them coming back.
You got to know your customers.
With some, you talk, others you don't.
  The Racer came into the shop with some guy in tow.
We asked the guy does he want a cut, but he says he’s good.
He must not have mirrors in his house.
The Racer doesn't know I followed his career.
I never bring it up when he is in my chair
either, I don't want it to get awkward.
Still, I like to check out the gossip on
Facebook and watch the racing on television. 
I can tell he isn't a talker.
He always comes in before a race,
always wants to be his best. 
I guess its part of his game. 
I'm all business when I give a cut.
For him, I always take time to do all the detail stuff.
He is a good tipper and his repeat business 
tells me I'm getting the job done.


 I tilt his head forward to trim his neck, 
then straighten up his sideburns.
How can this man with such an angelic face be
such a desperado on the track?
He'll bump and bang you, then push you out to the wall.
It's all fair as long as you don't knock'em down.
On the Mile, he knows when to pull the trigger too.
He’ll put in some impossibly fast laps,
drafting past them when it matters.
His last lap antics will make him a legend.
They shake his hand on the cool off lap,
 but you can tell they're gutted.
 Trimming his brows, I look into his eyes,
and can only imagine what they have seen.
  The guy he came in with is some kind of reporter.
He relentlessly asks The Racer the same questions in
different ways but The Racer doesn't blink. 
He gives one-word answers that make it clear 
that he doesn't want to talk about it.
Still, the reporter will not give up.
He keeps reaching for dirt, 
but The Racer doesn't take the bait,
I guess there is honor among thieves and desperados too.
Holding up the mirror, I show him my work.
He nods his head yes and hands me the cash.
Thanking me for my work,
he pats me on the shoulder and heads for the door.  
He pauses to grab a lollipop.
He might be the man on the track,
but still a boy at heart.
  Yeah, just another day at the shop.
You never know who you will cut next.




Friday, May 18, 2018

HIGH, WIDE AND HANDSOME : HENRY WILES ON THE INDIAN

AFT photo



I saw him first with her on Facebook.
He sure wasn't shy with her either.
First time he throws a leg over her, 
he drops the clutch and wheelies off to the horizon.
It seems to come naturally to some. 

As I walk through the pits in Georgia,
I see him sitting close by her fork legs gazing at her.
Was he bonding with his new mount?
I didn't want to disrupt him, but I didn't
see anyone there helping him either.
Do you need a hand, Henry? 
He seemed far away at first.
'Matt drove down with me,
but can you watch me out there?
Tell me what I need to do to go faster'.
Heck Henry, that's like me telling Superman how to fly.



On track, the tall Indian is a good fit for Henry.
He was smooth and fast out of the gate.
The Windian seems to be the package to have right now.
Few bikes in recent memory have dominated racing like this.
How good is the Indian?
With no team or tuner to help him,
Henry was competitive right out of the box.
Just makes you wonder what could be.

The Indian gave him the confidence to run the high, wide 
and handsome line right there on the lip of the banking.
This line is perilous at best and not for the faint-hearted.
Virtually zero room for error,
with just the walls and air fence to catch you if you play it wrong.
Its got to be the sketchiest line in all of flat track.
I stood there slack-jawed, watching roared by at race pace.
With virtually no practice prior and minimal help setting up.
Henry finished fourth in the main.





Some of us can't make all the rounds.
Thank God for FansChoice TV.
In Arizona, in the Main, Mees checked out, 
taking the win with Brad Baker second.
But all the camera focus was on
Henry Wiles and Briar Bauman.
It was Indian vs. Kawasaki in the
heat, dust and fading sunlight.
The battle for third lasted the entire race.
Wiles didn't fold under the constant pressure.
Bauman made his final attack
in the last corner but got tied up in traffic.
Wiles was coolly waiting and repassed for
third place making the podium an all Indian affair.
It was another impressive ride for Henry Wiles.

AFT photo




Sunday, May 13, 2018

MOM & ME


She smiled, but was not amused-1987
"People of our caliper do not ride motorcycles.
Tomorrow you will either sell your machine or move out.'
I nodded my head solemnly.
The decision made.
I packed my bag and got on the road.
Fresh from high school and new to the world.
Scraped up enough from the rewards of working for my first.
Riding has been the only constant.
Good times, bad times, the girls come and go.
Motorcycling has been there for me through it all.
She was not amused by how I spread my wings.
We mended our fences, but thirty years 
later she still calls them bicycles.
I'm good with it, cause she gave so much.
She is the yardstick for how I measure.
Thanks, Mom.

My 1st Bike/1984

Friday, May 4, 2018

FLAT TRACK & THE SINGLE DAD

photo courtesy of Jake Shoemaker/Ken Kerr

  He knows in his heart
he can touch the stars when things are right.
Sure, he would like to train all day but he's got to earn a living.
The alarm sounds off at 5:30 am.
Time to get his daughter ready for day care then head to work.
The highlight reel plays in his head during the drive.
He relives the agony and ecstasy of last weekend's race.
Unless you are one of the blessed and talented few,
this is the reality of flat track racing.
AFT management is trying hard to improve this, with
better TV coverage which should lead to sponsorship.
It just hasn't trickled down here yet.

MYA

































Finally the work week comes to a halt. 
It's been a grueling mix of playing dad, 
the day job and prepping bikes at night.
We pull onto the highway as the Friday rush hour fades.
It's a long drive to the track in Georgia.
Jake takes the first leg, 
then tries to sleep the rest of the way down.
It's not exactly quality sleep, but that's all he can do.
Yes, in a perfect world, he would get down 
there a few days early to train and test locally.
He would be calm and limber come race day.
But that's a luxury he doesn't have.
You can only get away with pulling off good results
with piss and vinegar for so long.
Rolling down the highway,
we have dinner behind the wheel.
No time to sit down and eat.
This is the life of a privateer.
Always against the wind.


































He starts off looking fast and aggressive 
but gets tangled up chasing settings 
and does not make the main.
It's a long, quiet twelve-hour ride home.
We get back at 4 am Monday-just in time for work.
Why do we do it?

TCX Boots
There is nothing like being at an
American Flat Track race.
Especially if you are part of the circus.
Witnessing the highs and lows of racing.
the senses are heightened to the maximum.
We wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
It is in our blood and this is our family.

The Roy Of Roy Build



Would you like to be better connected with the sport?
It's easier than you think. Starting is easy. 
Pay a riders' $175.00  race fee and be listed on the entry form.
Buy a $208.00  rear tire and you'll be mentioned by the rider.
The sky is the limit.
Now you are no longer an outsider. 
You have a rider and part of the team.
( See Jakeshoemaker55@gmail.com for opportunities)

Batb Shoemaker








 ------The Little One-----
I knew when she was born it would change him for the better.
The relationship with her momma may not have worked out,
but Mya will always have his heart.
Jake has never been one to shy away from work,
and he stepped right up to the role of dad.

Kids have a way of grounding you.
Sometimes late at night on the road,
he tells me about what they have been doing.
Or how he wants to get home to see her.
You can feel it in his voice.

--------The Job-------
The hard work doesn't end after the race.
Monday brings us back to reality.
There is no free ride in the business world.
Jake has worked hard for it.
He has earned their trust and respect.
Company van, company phone & company responsibilities.
They own him for fifty hours a week plus on-call duties.
He might be a valued employee, but they let him know  
they aren't happy with him taking long weekends 
to drive 16 or so hours to go racing.
It's a strange love we have for this sport.

--------Texas Round-----------------------------------------------------
Easy to doubt yourself when you aren't getting results.
It's like spinning your wheels and hemorrhaging cash.
You gotta have a strong belief to keep moving forward.
Against the odds, he makes the trip to Texas.
Roy got the bikes ready in time.
Jake drives to Virginia and hitches a ride with Johnny Goat's team.
Shoemaker will be by himself this weekend.
Reaching deep and he gets results he needs.
Two seconds in the heat races and sixth in the main.
He would have been higher in the main if the tire held up.
He heads back to work Monday knowing he can touch the stars.

(NOTE: For people who want to help.
What role should you play on race day in the pits?
The strong silent type.
Racers have a lot going on in their heads.
They appreciate your support but they must focus.
In general, I never interview on race day but I do gather info.
If racers tell you to get him a blue Gatorade-get him one.
A happy racer is a fast racer.
Remember: Keep the rider happy!
Just don't get in the way before the race😉)