Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Day at the Races

I had a fabulous weekend with my friend at the Road America motorcycle races, in spite of the fact that the buff hunky racers were being kept under wraps. This trio of umbrella girls, though, were strutting around the grounds giving the guys quite an eyeful, putting up with their hooting and whistling and graciously posing for the cameras. I didn't realize I'd cut off their feet - those boots had 3" or higher stiletto heels! They were the antithesis of everything else going on there that day.

Road America is a beautiful facility - acres of rolling hills, grass and trees amidst which a 4 mile road racing track winds. It's spectacular for the riders and spectacular for the spectators. I wish I knew the attendance on that day - looking out over the infield we could see hundreds of bikes parked - every conceivable type of bike along with every conceivable type of rider was represented. Fans enjoyed seats in bleachers and along grassy slopes alike.

One of the draws of Road America is its policy of allowing all spectators access to the paddock - you can get within feet of the bikes and the riders. So we walked back and forth, up and down, looking for those hunky racers. But we arrived during the lunch break and it took sharp eyes to spot the racers returning on scooters from their motorhomes to the pit area. And I wasn't fast enough with the camera to catch them - barely fast enough to point them out to my friend. Pit crews though were in abundance.

And of course, the bikes were being readied in full view. Here is the defending champion's bike, but where is he?

Eventually, the riders had to come out, but then they either sat with their backs to us, put on their helmets, or were so surrounded by crew that it was hard to get a shot. I spotted a former race champion chatting with a young up and comer and got my first hunky racer shot. That's Dave Sadowski, and trust me, he's better looking in person than he is on TV. Don't know the rider he's talking to, but I'm sure he was giving him much encouragement and a bit of advice.

Then my friend pointed out this racer and said, He's good looking - take a picture of him. Yes, he is. That's Geof May, who after a stellar year as a privateer, finally got picked up by a factory team. Very young though for this old gal.

Finally, I spot the defending champion - Mat Mladin. He's from Australia, like many of the racers in this series. Also like many of the racers, he's married with children, very serious about his job and an all around nice guy. Sigh... And very hard to catch on camera. Luckily I set my camera for a huge picture and could crop out the junk and lighten up the image. I was able to point out other racers to my friend, but if you want to check out their good looks, you'll have to follow the links: Ben Spies, Ben Bostrom, Aaron Yates, Neil Hodgson are all right up their in the looks department. Neil is from the Isle of Man, and the series has also drawn racers from Venezuela, Ireland, England and Italy.

Well, enough looking - time to get racing! Here's the three riders for Jordan Motorsports Team. Yes, that's THE Jordan, as in Michael Jordon. He took an interest in a young black rider from Chicago and before he knew it, he was hooked on the motorcycle racing scene. He now has his own team which is finishing just outside the top 10 in most races. I heard that the same team that designed his sneakers are now designing the paint job and leathers for his team. No one else is running these kinds of colors.

The roar when these bikes take off is really something and they reach speeds near 200 mph. There's poetry in the way they swoop and dance around the track and each other. Racing is clean today and no one gets hurt, the weather is perfect and the venue inspiring. But eventually, we must join the rest of the crowd making their way out after the last race and head back to our motel room. While we weren't planning this to be a quilting weekend, apparently the motel saw us coming. Once settled in, I plopped on the bed and saw this. Just can't escape!!!

Ok, you can all stop laughing now. I'll get back to the "creative journey" soon. In fact, when I pulled up this picture of my friend and I in the paddock, I noticed the reflection in the sunglasses and thought, "I should be able to do something with that..." Well, maybe there is a quilt in this weekend.

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