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....

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