Round 5 is in the books after this past weekend at Blue Diamond MX Park in New Castle, Delaware. This event had one of the coolest backdrops of any track I've been to. The pits were set in what seemed to be an abandoned amusement park with guys pitting in between rundown rides and a mini golf course that looked like it hadnt seen any mini golfers in years. It was a very cool place to hold a SM race.The FIM National Supermoto crew (formerly Supermoto East Coast) put on a fantastic event with different activities for spectators and kids. I will also say that this past weekend demonstrated perhaps some of the best racing the series has seen so fat, this year.
Unfortunately I missed most of the qualifying on Saturday as I had to drop my bike off for repairs. After the tranny grenaded during the FIMNASM race at Loudon, New Hampshire, my bike was clearly telling me it no longer wants to be raced. This was going to be my first time attending an event that I wasn’t actually racing in, and although it definitely was a weird feeling, spectating still turned out to be a ton of fun. Once I got to the track, I spent most of Saturday catching up with racing buddies I had not seen in a while, unpacking all of my stuff (which surprisingly, was a ton of for someone who wasn’t even racing) and began to cook for the masses. Afterthe VIR trip, I kept getting requests to put my culinary skills to use. Since I wasn’t up to anything the rest of the afternoon; I obliged. Even without a kitchen, somehow I can put together some interesting stuff at the track with access to minimal tools. But I digress...
Sunday held the heats and finals after a quick morning practice. FIMNASM setup a bunch of interesting events in-between the practice, the heats and the finals. During these events, the track workers a chance to re-groom the dirt so that no one had to race on a nasty, rutted-up track. One very cool addition for the spectators that showed up on street bikes to this weekend's race, was the ability to put in a couple of laps on the track everyone was racing on. Quite a few riders showed up to take advantage of this opportunity, and at least one spectator was able to borrow a racers bike to do a couple laps on a properly setup SM (to see what all the fuss was about.) I talked to him after and he said that he was hooked, and was going home to order an SM setup online. Hopefully, we will see him at the next event! This very simple gesture that really helped to bring new riders into the sport and I truly hope that the ability for spectators to get on the track sticks around. Getting new faces into the sport is obviously much needed in order to grow, and gaining participants is as easy as letting someone experience a supermoto for just a lap or two in order to get them hooked. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I have ever met someone that has gotten off of a SM bike and not ended up liking it. I really have to give FIMNASM a hand for putting that great opportunity together.
Johnny Lewis also helped put together a Strider "Race" for the kids this past weekend too. BDMX had a large, cool RC car track that the kids used to race each other around on the striders. Johnny really does a fantastic job at helping to bring awareness and especially, more family participation to the sport. The kids absolutely love taking part and watching those kids race around the track was absolutely hilarious, undeniably adorable and totally awesome. I really wish I had those things as a kid, and you could tell that these were going to be the future fast kids of the sport.
FIMNASM invited Rage Motorsports to come out to the event and show off their buggies. They were also giving rides to anyone that asked. Of course, I asked (and yes they are awesome.) These buggies are built using motorcycle engines, one of the two they had brought to the track boasted 200hp and the other, 140hp; a manual and CVT transmission, respectively. I personally got a ride in the 140 HP buggy with the CVT and that thing could not help but put a huge smile on my face. You have to slither your way into the seat and then strap into a 5 point harness (which is actually very awesome.) It almost had me wishing it would roll over because of how secure I felt in it. Alas, it did not fail anywhere and surprisingly even took the corners very well (to my disadvantage) for being a buggy on simply dirt tires with a suspension made for railing a mx course. It really shined when taking corners in the dirt and getting as completely sideways as one would imagine. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to get in the 200hp version. That buggy was setup with street tires and suspension, a manual transmission and a drift brake. I could only imagine how much fun that would have been to whip around the track. The owners of Rage Motorsports say they are in the talks to try and get a spec series started and I could really foresee that taking off. The buggies are relatively affordable ($40k), especially compared to other racing cars or off road trucks. With so many different ways to race them, it really seems like this could be a great and affordable way to get into racing cars or trucks. Only time will tell, but color me impressed.
Racing started with the Motard Cup. Keith Michaud walked away with the win after also claiming first in both the heat and qualifying. There was a great battle for second place with Alvise Magaton and John McGinnis fighting the whole race. Michaud had the hole shot with Alvise starting the final in third place but managed to pass McGinnis for second place by the end of the race. In the back of the pack Lindsay Brower, Tamara Franco and Darrell Prantera were all putting on a great show fighting for fourth place. Prantera was leading Brower and Franco early on, but by lap 5 Brower was able to make a pass, stick and pull away while Franco and Prantera fought for fifth.
SMEC 3 is the FIMNASM novice class, the riders all somewhat new to supermoto. These guys were killing it. None were clearing the step down but that didnt stop them from trying. They had some good close battles in the final and these guys are definitely well on their way to making the jump to SMEC 2. Anthony Merlino Jr. took the win this weekend with Matthew Lombardi and Nick Fantanarosa right behind him.
SMEC 2 had a big showing this weekend with 15 riders all actively looking to win. This class saw the most crashes during the weekend (mostly due to the large step down in the dirt section.) That jump claimed quite a few riders over the weekend as everyone was looking to make time and hit it as hard as possible. The leaders didn’t really pull away from the pack at all with all of the riders staying relatively close on top of one other. This made for some pretty spectacular battles. The whole race was full of passing, making every time someone came through the dirt, an amazing set-up for some fabulous racing photos. Benjiman Kelly took the win this weekend with Dieter Willenbrook in second, they both had extremely impressive laptimes, putting down times on par with some of the SMEC 1 guys. In third place was Karsten Tribus on a bone stock KX100 absolutely killing it. He was nailing the step down harder than anyone, and quite possible got the most air time.
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The pro class was great to see this weekend, also. More times than not, this class is extremely predictable. Johnny Lewis usually just hangs out way up in front wondering where everyone is with Eric Stump, Anthony Franco and the couple other pros all separated (but still chasing Johnny down.) This weekend was surprisingly different. Eric Stump qualified first with AMA Supercross Pro Blake Wharton in second with Johnny Lewis in third. Everyone knew the final was going to be interesting after that. Johnny took the hole shot and held it the entire race but actually didn’t check out like he usually does. Stump and Wharton were right on his tail the first couple laps with Boyd Brower chasing them down after a rough start. By lap three, Brower made the pass on Wharton and started putting serious pressure on Stump. Behind them Anthony Franco, Gary Carter, and Ty Woz all had one hell of a battle going on. They all kept making multiple passes on one another during every lap and fought a long, hard battle. It was great to see that kind of tight racing in the pro class since we don’t get it all of the time. These guys are insanely fast and work hard to maintain that. It was fantastic to see them all pushing and riding as fast as they were.
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Overall, I'd have to say this was one of the best weekends that FIMNASM has put on. I can’t wait to get to their next event in NY at OVRP on September 13, 2014. These guys put on a top notch event and it is without a doubt worth making the trip even just to spectate if you are close.
For Full Results: FIMNASM R5 Results