I peeled my face off the pillow Sunday morning around 9:30 when the morning sun finally cooked me into consciousness. It was a rather groggy morning. Clint had wrecked really badly the night before at Charlotte and I proceeded to hose my anger and disappointment down with beverages. Man, I was pissed off. But now it was a new day and the delicious knowledge that it was High Point race day obliterated my sorrow and hangover in one fell swoop. So I grabbed my Racer X “174” T-shirt and my wallet and headed out the door with a skip in my step. I was only two feet outside when the first invigorating rays of sunshine hit me. Another two steps had the smell of the neighbor’s freshly cut grass floating up my nostrils. It was perfect.
It was big smiles for me as I sped down I-68 with 10,000 Days blasting on the radio and the windows rolled down. As the exit sign reading “Mt. Morris” came into view, my left foot began matching the beat of the drums on my stereo. My right foot pressed the gas a little harder. I pulled my beloved black Nissan Frontier into the free parking section, and before I could shut off the motor, I noticed it was being drowned out by the thunder of the morning qualifiers. The skin on my arms immediately shredded into goosebumps. It was perfect.
Soon after, I joined “Bad” Billy Ursic and the rest of the usual RX suspects in the suites to escape the sun and watch the vintage guys ride a lap on the track. Glover, Stanton, Chuck Sun, and more, all on their old-school steeds. Glover had a JLS-1 with a fresh paint job, Stanton was riding with that distinguishable style he always had, and Ryno was cutting a lap on a 1981 YZ400 that would have matched some of the guys in the 250F class. It was perfect.
Soon, the first motos were lining up at the gate and stomping their dirt launch pads into submission. I looked over at Bad Billy and said, “Wanna bet $1,000 Alessi doesn’t get the holeshot?” He replied by just coolly staring ahead and responding with a slow shake of the head. In an instant, the gate went down and the thunder of the 250F riders met the air - quickly followed by Andrew Short hitting the deck! And rounding the first turn was not an orange fender, but Josh Grant (though it turns out that Alessi did lead past the Racer X Holeshot line, only to be passed by Little Goose on the outside and then Josh Grant, but since we didn’t say or see the holeshot line, the bet is a push). Grant went to work and did his best to put the pack in the hurt locker. Meanwhile, Alessi and Grant Langston were locked in a battle for second that was pretty spicy. Mike seemed to be letting Grant have some room, while the Zulu Warrior was showing some surprising staying power, what with that bum arm and all.
After an incredible first 250F moto, the stage was set for fisticuffs between the two men, one of whom is the king and the other who will surely one day be king. It was perfect. The moment I had been waiting for was finally upon me. Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart were pushing their bikes to the line and preparing themselves to enter the six-sided ring of fire. I was stoked beyond all recognition, but something was wrong. I was in the suite checking out James’ bad-ass green gear through a pane of glass; I was hearing Tim Cotter whooping up the crowd through a speaker, and I had an empty bottle of water in my hand. Now wearing a frown, I looked down into the sea of quickly-becoming-sunburned fans and noticed a rather tall one standing by the fence, wearing a black Racer X Films shirt, carrying a cooler of beer. It was Dave Brozik.
Spielberg couldn’t have scripted it better. Carmichael and Stewart got out one and two. Ricky tried to get away but James was just too strong. With the GOAT riding (comfortably) about three seconds back, I overheard some fans saying, “What’s wrong with Ricky?” “He’s just saving it for moto two.” “I guess James is better.” This was four laps in to the 30-minute-plus-2 moto. I just smiled with the knowledge of the inevitable shit storm that I predicted would go down a little past the halfway mark.
I was right.
All of a sudden, the crowd gasped so hard it almost sucked the banners off the fences. Carmichael got squirrelly in a rhythm section and hit everything but the kitchen sink as he tried to get back on the track. I thought to myself, Easy, boys—it’s hot, it’s rough, and it's going to be a long summer.…
James now had a comfortable lead again. Ah, but it wasn’t over. Ricky dug back into the bottomless pit of determination he has in his guts, brought out the fishing pole, and started reeling him in again. I looked down at my watch and thought, Okay, 29 minutes in, maybe we’ll see the 2-card. I looked back up and what met my eyes made my jaw and the Miller Lite in my hand hit the ground at the same time. Stewart’s KX450 was 20 feet in the air, spinning like a seahorse in a tidal wave, sans James Stewart. It wasn’t perfect.
James has a week now to get it all back. After a crash like that, he will need every hour. But he isn’t done. He’ll stand up, flip the bird to Ricky’s face (figuratively speaking), and give it another shot. Next week is Southwick, guys. Oh dear.
Thanks for reading, see you next week.