Not sure if you have been watching or not, but this year's racing is spectacular. Watching AMA, WSB, and MotoGP, you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the outcome. Both series are in the midst of riders jousting for position on the points ladder, and it's been pretty close so far with some stiff competition throwing down fast lap after fast lap.
Of course, there's no good without the bad, and this year DMG-owned AMA racing is taking the hit. I've said it before and I will say it again: DMG is trying to dumb down motorcycle racing for the masses, much like NASCAR.
With many new rules in place, AMA racing looks to be in a real tight spot this year. Most recently, there was an incident at Laguna Speedway, where the riders were in the midst of turning their first lap of the race only to crest the start/finish-line hill to find a pace car parked on the track. Thankfully these guys don't flinch under pressure, and even under the scrutiny of the media in the after-race interviews, the riders kept their composure when talking about the situation. After being bombarded with baited questions trying to lead the riders into saying something negative towards DMG, Matt Mladin finally stated that they would be idiots to say anything against DMG and their practices in fear of repercussions.
Fair enough Matt, and thanks for the candor. Thanks as well for helping us read between the lines. Wayne Rainey was there for the spectacle, and it had him up in arms. When asking questions of Colin Fraser of DMG, Wayne appeared quite perturbed and after his second question to Colin Rainey, turned his back and all but walked away. All in all, I feel bad for the riders and the spectators as AMA is now not what it used to be and DMG can be thanked for that. Last I heard, they were looking at a pace bike instead of a pace car, but I think purists are still wondering why there's a pace anything on the track.
World Super Bike is heating up fantastically. Watching first-year WSB rider Ben Spies of Texas competing, you would think he's been running some of the current circuits half his life, but in reality Ben just gets dropped into a new situation and usually comes out on top. He has made pole position almost every race this year, and tends to lead if not be in the top five for a majority of the race. I'm not sure how most of the other riders feel about it, but I think there's some animosity towards Ben first and foremost because he's naturally talented, but more so because he's American, or at least that's my impression. To have a new guy come out and show them all how it's done, is not only embarrassing but it's intimidating as well.
It has made for some great racing, though, including the Donnington race which had Spies and Fabrizio jousting for first, and included Fabrizio passing Spies with an over-the-shoulder wave, and then the pass-back by Spies which included a knee and a friendly elbow on the brakes setting up for a left-hander. Either way, WSB is more exciting than ever before, and Ben Spies is the catalyst. Looking at the point spread, you would be hard-pressed to think that anyone other than Spies will take the championship. With some issues to be worked out by the rider and his pit crew, I do think you will see Ben taking the trophy with ease.
Last, but most importantly, there is a great points race brewing in MotoGP. Half-way through the season we've seen the top three share first place, and fight to the very end to keep as many points possible. As I type, Rossi holds the front line with a nine-point lead over his Yamaha team mate,
Jorge Lorenzo followed closely behind with 16 points off the leader, last year's World Champion Casey Stoner on the Ducati. Casey has had some unexplained health issues that keep him from completely running away from the field as he typically does when in top form. Of course, Rossi refuses to be outdone, and it shows with some of his antics and passing, but the real story in my opinion is Jorge Lorenzo. While Lorenzo does not seem anywhere near as personable as some of the other characters in this event, ultimately that is not what wins you races. Putting your head down and giving 110 percent is what it calls for and so far Jorge is giving the best show.
Then there's Dani Pedrosa and his teammate Andrea Devizioso on Repsol Hondas, as well as my favorite underdog Niccolo Canepa on the Pramac team—all are equally trying to bring their game to the field. Though Niccolo isn't actually up to snuff at this time, he has been an accomplished GP test rider for Ducati for a few years now, and currently the Ducati seems to be the bike to beat. But you can't forget the American contingency of Colin Edwards (currently 5th in points) and the now legendary Nicky Hayden (currently 12th in points) trying to do the red/white/blue proud; you have great makings for "edge of your seat" racing. I don't think there has been a single race this year that didn't leave us wanting more and it looks as if it will continue.
There are many hang-outs that you can go to watch some of this spectacular racing happening. While it's great to sit in the privacy of your own home and watch, I can promise you it's much more exciting to be with 20 or so fellow race fans watching all this go down. Thankfully, there are still some places that this happens like Time Warp Tea Room or the Deals Gap Resort and races are typically shown on SpeedTV Sundays, so make a plan to check it out sometime. You won't soon forget it.
Ben Steinberg hails from Canada and is an experienced racer, with many years racing everything from two-strokes to superbikes and even F-1 sidecars. Currently, Ben is employed as the general manager of the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, just over the state line in North Carolina.