September 17, 2002

(This post is “pre” formatted, ’cause I copied it from my socalsvriders.com post)

(OK, no it isn’t, ’cause no word wrap sucks!)

I spent my day at Willow Springs watching the Toyota 200, a 200 mile race on the big track. It was a hell of a show.

We got there around noon, and caught the end of a novice class race, which was ended on a red flag. Someone’s bike went end over end and sprayed parts all over turn 9. Rider was fine, though.

They had a “Fastest Wheelie” competition, with the winner turning in a 128mph wheelie. There was a ‘busa out there that just couldn’t, ahem, get it up…

The main event, though, made it totally worth going (even if it was $30, instead of the usual $10 for club races). Lee’s Cycles had a lot of bikes in, and I heard there was a guy in from hypercycles (he was one of the top qualifiers, I believe), but the race was really between two men; Jason Pridmore and Chuck Graves.

Those of you who know Willow, know that Chuck Graves dominates on this track. My friends also like to point out that he’s the only guy they know who gets his knee to the ground, while its still against his tank… some nice lean there.

Jason took an early lead, which he stretched out for the next 56 laps until he had 22 seconds on Graves by our count. Jason and Graves were going so fast, they had lapped Tommy Haden; the fourth place rider.

On the 56th lap, just after we watched a pair of really fast pittings by Graves and Pridmore, a rider lost his bike coming out of the Omega, and they had to red flag it and restart the race. Kiss your 22 second lead goodbye, Jason.

The restart went badly for Jason, he looked like he was in about 5th or 6th going into turn one… Now, he mostly fixed that problem by the time they came back around, but now he found himself trailing Graves in the #2 position. Ouch.

Well, the next 20+ laps were wild. The pair once again started lapping everyone else on the field, while Jason chewed away at Graves’ 6 second lead. He finally passed him on the straights after turn 9. Graves was going into turn 1 so hot, I was sure he was going to clip Jason’s rear tire with his own front, but he dropped back and went wide in the turn.

Next time through turn one Jason lapped a rider just as they dropped into the turn, planting an obstacle right in front of Graves… This was where Jason started to stretch his lead back out.

In the end, Jason took first place (and the $50k prize) with a 9 second lead over Graves (who had to settle for a mere $30k). I think they were averaging about 1:23 lap times, with Jason making a couple 1:20 laps as he was trying to take back the lead… Not bad for a 2.5 mile course!