Ted takes us off the track and behind the scenes for an insider’s look at MotoAmerica racers and their teams
When the MotoAmerica series came to my neck of the woods in the Upper Left, I knew a weekend at my “home track”, The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington would be a must for me. Beautiful weather, incredible views all around, the thrill of motorcycle racing, and the challenge of riding one of the most demanding racetracks in America, unfamiliar to all but a few in the MotoAmerica paddock. So that’s what I decided to capture, in photos and footage- the racers, their teams, their downtime, their prep rituals, their triumphs and tragedies. As we stated in our race report, The Ridge can eat bikes and riders, then spit them out broken and busted. And after being trackside and in the pits all weekend, and seeing that happen aplenty, it almost makes me want to slow down some at my next track day here. Almost…
So here’s a photo tribute to the courageous racers, their tenacious and dedicated teams, and all the passionate MotoAmerica and Ridge personnel who make it happen. You all are champions in Road Dirt’s book.
With a buzz of activity around them, racers need space to gather themselves, block distractions and stretch their cold leathers in Shelton’s 45 degree morning air. Sam Verderico, Cameron Beaubier and Corey Alexander limber up.
A racer’s language. This is Sam Verderico’s (at right) home track and Max Flinders picks the brain of the local. Max suffered a clutch failure in race 1 but rebounded placing 12th in race 2. Sam came away with a pair of 17th and 13th place showings. See their interviews on Road Dirt’s YouTube channel.
Rocco Landers destroyed his bike in Saturday’s Junior Cup warmup. His team rebuilt the bike in 5 hours, completing it only 30 minutes before Rocco took the grid. Rocco then destroyed the field, riding the new bike to a pair of first place finishes in Junior Cup while also scoring first place in Twins Cup. This makes perfect sense. Rocco is from Burns, Oregon, home of God’s Own Racetrack. See our YouTube channel for his post-race interview.
The two sides to the frustrating story. Sean Dylan Kelley has been achingly close to dominating the top step of the Supersport podium all season with one win but eight second place finishes behind Richie Escalante. Sunday, he took home victory.
Cameron Peterson had a busy weekend, taking the victory in Sunday’s Stock 1000 class and a pair of 9th and 7th place finishes in the Superbike races.
The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington embodies the rugged nature of its Pacific Northwest home. It has no asphalt runoff zones, no rider friendly grass fields, few gravel traps and zero second chances. Dirt mounds lie just beyond the tarmac to flip bikes and riders then spit them out broken and busted. Richie Escalante, Kyle Wyman, Rocco Landers and Alexis Olivera are just a few that discovered this the hard way.
Whoever says that the Washington round of MotoAmerica happened without fans is mistaken. When it was time for Saturday evening’s Ohvale Mini Cup, everyone in the paddock dropped their tools to come watch. Mikey Lou Sanchez took the season championship in the 110cc and 160cc classes. Here, he talks to one of his biggest fans, the ever affable Jake Gagne.
Racing is a graduate course in risk management. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.