Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daytona Day 3: Are We There Yet?

Someone warn me the next time the people in "charge" of things decide to move daylight savings time up a few weeks. Better yet, don't bother telling me anything until they do away with it altogether.

As it is now 3:47 a.m. I have made the executive decision to post tomorrow (er, later today), leaving you instead with a few pictures and some links to get you caught up.

Scott Wallenberg, Tim Kennedy and JB build burritos,
courtesy of Corona Honda Racing.

Pirelli's Kevin Allen and his posse.

Johnny "O'Hannah" took notes
from Kevin.

For the Daytona Supercross race report, presented by Kawasaki, click here.

For complete GNCC results and information regarding last week's opener in Melbourne, FL, as well as this week's races in Washington, GA, visit

For the Daytona 200 and Superbike race report presented by Kawasaki, click here.

If you want to check out a slideshow of the Ducati fashion show, click here.

Neil Hodgson didn't have much
to cheer about on Saturday.

Josh Hayes, on the other hand, had plenty
to smile about.

Chaz Davies was runner-up behind Hayes in the 200.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Daytona Day 2: Are We in Kansas Yet?

Ok, so I was a little off on my weather forecast for tonight. The Boots-O-Meter still needs a little tweaking, and certainly not the kind of tweaking it got last night. You see, our hotel sits right next to the Daytona Ale House, a place frequented by many in the industry during bike week. Immediately following last night's update I headed over to there to gather some second opinions about the weather and wound up with a bottle of wine shoved in my face. I tried to fight it, but they made me drink it. Seriously. These guys just don't respect science.

I still stand by my assertion that I was closer than the professionals. We woke up this morning to a soupy mess outside: hot, hazy, overcast. You could feel the instability in the air. It was over my morning coffee that I learned of the first of four tornado watches issued throughout the day. So we tentatively headed for the Speedway with our eyes to the sky. We set up the booth in a way we were confident we could tear down on a moment's notice. When noon came and passed we breathed a sigh of relief; we were out of harm's way. Well, the forecasters were not about to be shown up, so they extended the watch until two, and when two came and passed they upped it to seven, then finally two o'clock in the freaking morning. Great. Just as we're leaving the Ale House.

And at least part of what I said last night held true: The Daytona Supercross race will run rain or shine. I was really looking forward to watching the race live, but I have to be honest with you, I'm glad in hindsight that I was stuck in this hotel room posting Road Racerhead during the race. Personally, I have to question the decision to run a race during a thunderstorm in the tallest metal structure in three counties, but at the same time it shows the dedication of the fans and riders alike to the sport. As I'm writing this the race has yet to air on TV, so I'll not go into any of the details I've received from the track except to tell you that the winner was....

Despite the threat of rain and tornado, Ducati Island was kicking this afternoon. We were fortunate enough to have a booth right next to the HyperMotard stunt show, performed by Eric Wood. That guy knows his bike inside and out. He performed tail-scraping wheelies, slides that came literally inches from the crowd surrounding the demonstration area, burnouts, and a plethora of other mind boggling stunts. There are plenty of videos available on You Tube; if you have the time you should seriously check some of his stuff out.

Another big draw at the Island is the Ducati Fashion Show. I managed to land a spot right at the end of the runway, camera in hand, and dutifully snapped away. The fashion show featured many of the products featured at their on-location store. From racing leathers to teeny-weeny bikinis, they have it all. I've posted a few photos from the show here and I plan to have a full slide show up on sometime tomorrow-ish.

As the afternoon wore on, the skies continued to boil. It was sometime during the second Ducati fashion show (did I mention there were two?) that the clouds exploded on us. It went something like, blip...blip...blip-blip--fawooosh. I ran back to the booth, camera tucked beneath my shirt, to find JB and Scott Wallenberg scrambling to get everything under shelter. It was a lesson in futility. There wasn't a dry spot to be found. It was, as Forrest Gump put it, raining up. We finally managed to secure everything as best we could and made a run for the rental car.

It's been a crazy day, totally dictated by weather (as you probably realized by now). But no tornadoes...yet.

Boots-O-Meter forecast for tomorrow: Snow showers likely.

Damn, this thing is jammed again.Time for me to head over to the Ale House for some more fine-tuning....

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Daytona: Day 1

2008 marks the second consecutive year that we've flown out of snow and into the sunshine. Ok, so last year it was a blizzard and we all missed our flights, whereas this year it was snowing just enough to remind you how glad you were to be heading to Daytona.

Right now it's raining here in Daytona and as far as the so-called "weather experts" are saying, there is a good chance it'll be raining at tomorrow night's Supercross event. But what do they know? Just a couple of months ago I watched it snow six inches in a nine-hour period while the forecasters frantically struggled to keep up. They dropped the weather advisory during a period of particularly heavy snow, only to re-issue a winter storm warning during the waning moments of the storm. Bollocks. The Boots-O-Meter is holding steady at a 30% chance of rain.

Either way, rain or shine, the race will go on. That is not the case for Saturday's Daytona 200, which will be postponed until Sunday in the event of rain. Forecasts say it'll be sunny and mild, and that's really got me worried.

Speaking of road races, the AMA Superbike Series kicked off at the Daytona International Speedway as the Superstock and Supersport classes took to the track this afternoon, with the latter turning out one of the best finishes in Daytona history. Ben Bostrom (who earlier had predicted he would win every Supersport race this season) and his Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Herrin battled it out for most of the race, each taking turns drafting the other coming out of the bank and attempting a pass in the home straight. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Roger Lee Hayden was in the mix, even pulling off a very nice double-draft once, before getting caught up in lap traffic and falling a few seconds behind the two front men. Bostrom had the lead at the white flag and immediately everyone's attention turned to Herrin: Would he be able to draft his teammate and snatch the victory?

The last lap seemed to last almost as long as the entire rest of the race itself with the two riders seemingly joined together in a high-speed game of cat and mouse. By the time the riders had exited the last turn, Herrin had positioned himself for a run at the win. But Ben played it perfectly, shifting to the inside of the track and forcing Herrin to adjust. Though the bikes made contact (at near full speed, mind you), both riders managed to maintain control, and Bostrom went on to win by an amazing one hundredth of a second! The Supersport class was home to some of the best road racing last season, and if today's race is any indication, 2008 will be no different.

After the races were over and we had properly cleaned ourselves up, we headed back to the infield, where we were guests of Honda for their annual Honda Riders of America banquet. Both motocross and road racing were represented well there, with Greg White entertaining the crowd and interviewing the riders. (Davi Millsaps, Ben Townley, Ivan Tedesco, Andrew Short and Ben Coisey represented the dirt while Neil Hodgson, Mat Mladin, Jake Zemke, and Josh Hayes represented the road.) As an added bonus, each rider pulled a number out of a basket and gave the person lucky enough to have the matching number a piece of his gear.

After we adjourned from the banquet, we headed about five miles up the road to watch the second night of the AMA Flat Track races. Jake Johnson had won the first night and was poised to become the first person ever to win the "Daytona Double." Jake scored not one, but three holeshots (they restarted the race twice due to crashes) and immediately put himself in a comfortable lead on the way to victory and into the history books. Congrats, Jake.

Finally, on behalf of Racer X and Road Racer X, I'd like to give special thanks to Ducati North America. For the second straight year they've invited us into their "Ducati Island" to set up a booth. They always treat us wonderfully, and we are grateful. If you're in the area or know someone down here for bike week, come by tomorrow, as they have a full day of activities planned. A fashion show, for one, that you won't want to miss. If you're stuck at home, don't worry. I'll be back tomorrow to fill you in. Until then...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dome Sweet Dome....

Words and photos by Gregg Lowley

Greetings from Indy! We're in the waning moments of day two of the Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo and by all accounts it would appear that everyone is ready to call it a day and head to their favorite watering hole. A lot of people are walking around in a daze, most likely a result of not following the advice of Racer X's survival guide, neglecting the re-hydration portion of the night. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's go back a couple days....

Part I: The Puzzle

After ten years, the process of setting up for a trade show is like second nature to us. We know the rules, where to wait in line, what you can and can't do, and most importantly how to set up our display rack. So nobody seemed fazed when a large crate was dropped off in the office the day before we were to leave for Indy. Its contents? Our brand-spankin'-new display rack. What was missing? Our brand-spankin'-new directions for putting together said rack. Of course we didn't discover this until we had it completely unpacked. After a few frantic calls to the manufacturer we were promised complete directions would be sent to us via email.

To make a long story short, the directions didn't show up until after we had ad-libbed half of the rack together and the laptop battery had long-since died. Needless to say we've learned a valuable lesson from all of this...or maybe not.

Part II: And We're Off!

The Expo kicked off promptly-ish at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. Exhibitors and dealers alike shrugged off the cobwebs spun the night before, consuming obscene amounts of coffee and Red Bull. No time for recovery, it was game time.

Things were crazy at the Racer X booth right off the bat. The special 10 Year Anniversary issue of Racer X Illustrated was a hit! It seemed like every time the table was restocked, someone was yelling for more mags. After eight hours of non-stop running around, we were ready to put some distance between us and the booth; preparations began in earnest for the nighttime festivities.

Part III: Racer X on the Rocks

After a quick shower and a bite to eat it was on to the Pan American Center for the annual Racer X Indy Hockey Challenge sponsored by Corona. After the opening ceremonies, which included the unveiling of the 2008 Corona Extra Honda Racing bike, the players took to the ice. A good crowd was on hand to watch a friendly, yet scrappy game.

The heavily favored Canadian team traded a pair of goals with the Americans before settling into a 2-1 lead that held until midway through the third period. It looked for a while that an upset was quite possible. The Canadians had other ideas and promptly reeled off three unanswered goals behind Rob McCullough's hat trick en route to a 6-3 victory.

The American squad played their hearts out, but once again the Canadian team proved to be the kings of the ice. How about we play a game of basketball next year, eh?

This year's Players of the Game Award goes to Corona Extra for keeping everyone's thirst level under control.

Part IV: Singing the "Blu"s

Next up on our agenda was a party sponsored by Ogio and Red Bull at a club called Blu. These guys did it up. We were set up on a balcony overlooking the entire club, with a self-serve bar to boot. I'd love to go into details, but I've been explicitly told that what happens in Indy, stays in Indy. A few of the highlights include DC handing out Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief to everyone, Brian Deegan showing off his battle scar to whoever was (or wasn't) interested, and the general antics of Fubar, Brozik and JB. Props to Andy and everyone else at Ogio and Red Bull for making us all feel so welcome.

Part V: Here We Go Again!

The second day of the Expo got off to a much slower start, partly because of the late nighters and partly because many people had turned their attention towards the weather forecasts and the storm moving across the nation. From what I hear connecting flights are being canceled or are in jeopardy of cancellation, which seemed to put a slight damper on everyone's mood. There were quite a few that opted for a quick escape and pretty much packed up and took the next flight out. Many others have adjusted their plans to leave immediately after the doors shut today.

The rest of us went about our normal business. Hell, we're here until the end so there's no reason to get worked up over something you can't control. Besides, the weather forecast will change no less than five times between now and tomorrow morning. Trust me.

We welcomed a couple of special guests in the afternoon, as Yamaha superbike racers Eric and Ben Bostrom stopped by our booth for an autograph session. They had been literally working their asses off this weekend, but being the professional and personable people they are, they were all smiles as they welcomed and signed posters for their fans.

In closing, everything and everyone has been wonderful here. Tonight we'll be co-hosting (along with Ogio and Red Bull) a party at a place called Jillians. There will be yet another open bar, only this time bowling will be involved. God-willing, I'll be in good enough shape to give you guys another update tomorrow. Until then...


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Morning Relief

Davey swears by Alka Seltzer Morning Relief, and I'm now a believer. Whoever invented that stuff needs some kind of award. For all of you who may tip back a few too many tonight - get to the drugstore now. You will be thanking me tomorrow.

Our drive from Morgantown was pretty uneventful but we got here just in time to meet some old friends at the Canterbury hotel. We had a pretty epic bench racing session with some key players: Eric Perronard, Fred Bramblett, Andy Leisner, Jeff Nash, Nick McCabe, John Farris... And even our own Chris Jonnum was there (back from Katmandu)! It was a great start to a long weekend.

Did you guys watch the trade show survival video? I have probably seen it 30 times now and still laugh every time. I think I'm going to follow Emig's advice tonight and set my alarm for when it's time to go to bed.

I've been trying to write this for three hours and the words just aren't flowing. I'll be back tomorrow with a real update. We have the Dogger here right now picking the numbers for our Supercross pick board, so if you're one of the advertisers with your name on here, come back and see where you are!

If you're looking for something to do tonight, come over to the PanAm Arena and check out the hockey game. Free Corona beer!

Be sure to stop by to see me tomorrow (booth 1340) and play our photo search game.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Late from Las Vegas

When we started the blog from Vegas I was really excited and had very high expectations of keeping you all up-to-date as the weekend went on. But really, it was New Year's Eve, and like my long list of resolutions, this fell to the side when I realized how many Red Bull and vodkas I had consumed in the Red Bull Energy Center. I could have done laps around that field on Monday night, but Tuesday morning sure was a different story! (But it sure was worth it.)

So anyway, I apologize for the delay in my reporting. But I have to tell you guys about the rest of our trip. Bill (my husband) and I went to the Strip for awhile on Monday afternoon just to check it out, and I couldn't believe how crowded it was already. I was thankful that we were going to be off the strip at the Rio and that we had very important plans for the evening!

We headed out back to pick up our VIP credentials and fill out the waivers for our media passes. In line there we saw Ben and Eric Bostrom and I started to get a little nervous about my duties as a reporter for the evening. I don't know why I get so shy and worked up about stuff, it's totally ridiculous.

We stepped into hospitality line to get our wristbands and the staff was passing out scarves and gloves! Red Bull really does think of everything. I don't know if they mentioned on TV how freaking cold it was there, but it was seriously like 30 degrees. Long underwear was not one of the things on my list to bring to Las Vegas. I actually did feel bad for the girls who dressed up for New Year's Eve instead of for a football game, because it was freezing. (And I'm from Pittsburgh, so imagine if they were from California?)

Anyway, so we get in and check in at the bar (what did you expect me to say?) and go over to the stage where Angles and Airwaves had just started to play. Bryan and Susan were already big fans so they were stoked. I had never heard of them before, but they put on a good show.

Then they introduced Mix Master Mike. I'm a pretty big Beastie Boys fan, but never got to see them in concert so I was really excited to see him. He mixed up some pretty sweet beats but after about ten minutes a marching band started that was the end of Mix Master Mike. Yep, one of the greatest DJs got put on hold for the marching band! The band was a pretty cool addition to the show, though, with the whole football theme and all. They even had Red Bull cheerleaders running Maddison 300+ jerseys!

Check out Mix Master Mike's dressing room. I think his tour bus must have been at Pep Boy's.

We went inside to warm up for a bit and check out the Energy Center and ended up upstairs where there was a DJ spinning. He reminded me of Davey Castillo for some reason. Maybe it was just the jacket.

The Energy Center was the place to be!

I got to see my old friend Andy Donahue from Ogio and snagged a quick photo of him and some other VIPs. Left to right: FMXer Tommy Clowers, Aaron Chapman from Ogio, Pro Wakeboarder Cathy Williams, Donahue, and FMXer Jeff Tilton.

We headed back outside to catch a good spot for the upcoming jump, and we ended up right on the 30 yard line. Here's Bill, Bryan and Susan trying to stay warm and prepare themselves to see some pretty cool stuff. I think they are a little blurry because I was shivering, not because I was bouncing off the ground. But at that point I can't say for sure.

Next thing I know there are people talking of skydivers, and you can see these little red glowing things in the sky. Those dudes are sick! Watching them land one after another was so freaking awesome. I know you probably can't see it in this photo, but there are little red blobs floating up above us here.

I also got to meet trials master Geoff Aaron and his wife Kerry, and they let me take their photo. I am kind of embarrassed because I know I was blubbering about how much I enjoyed his show at Loretta Lynn's, but I did. Oh well.

Everyone was kind of looking around at each other waiting for something to happen. People in the stands starting chanting, Jump, Jump, Jump!

And then Robbie came flying from the parking lot of the Rio and ... He totally killed it! The place went absolutely insane. It was one of those "no way!" moments and everyone was jumping and cheering and it was such a cool feeling. Then he said he was going to do it again and the place went really crazy! Can you see him on the TV with his hand in the air? And how stoked is the chick with the tongue ring?

I was nervous enough the first time, but to see him start to come towards us the second time and then turn around, we were all just like, what is going on? But then he came back and cleared it for the second time. Unbelievable! Not only did he break the world record, but he did it twice!

We hung out at the Energy Center for awhile after the jump, all huddled around one of the heat lamps, and then headed back to the Rio to thaw out. We ended up watching the fireworks on the strip from Bryan and Susan's room. We're Rosie fans now, because we're convinced that Trump threw off the whole fireworks display by not shooting them from his casino. But it was a great show, and neat to watch them coming off of different buildings at the same time. It was a cool end to a really amazing night.

We spent all day Tuesday (when I should've been blogging) nursing off hangovers and watching college football. We made an attempt to win back the money we'd lost, but my roulette numbers were unlucky that night. We were in bed early and for once I didn't get on a plane leaving Las Vegas with a hangover.

I might have lost some money on the tables but my luck was definitely good. I got to take a trip to Las Vegas with my husband, my closest friend from work and his very cool wife, meet some new friends (thanks for everything, Jordan!) and watch a record breaking motorcycle jump. Not bad for a work gig.