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...