2011 Atlantic Beach Bike Week – A Look in the Life of a Couple Stunt Gypsies…

by Nick Hill

Even as a kid I had always dreamt of being a rock star, touring the country, playing gigs and just living life in the fast lane.  Unfortunately I was never dealt the cards of a rock star but recently I was given the opportunity to live like one while on the road with a couple of the hardest working Sportbike Freestyle Riders on the map.  Although Nick Apex and Ernie Vigil aren’t talented musically, both have successfully been able to live their lives touring the country, harmonizing to the tune of 16,000 rpm’s.

Monday, May 23

I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I agreed to ride down to Atlantic Beach, SC with Team Empire but none the less I was incredible excited and couldn’t wait to be on my way.

I left my house in Orange County to meet up with Nick Apex at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway to watch a drift session on his famous ZX10. He had made arrangements with Chuckwalla to visit the facility to test for a future project with Triumph. Even though it was a little out of the way I jumped at the opportunity to witness the action.

On my way to the raceway I stopped at Parts 411 to say hello to Charlie Hon. Charlie is a good friend of mine and hooked me up with a couple of things before I headed out. Thanks Charlie!

A few hours later I made it to Chuckwalla for the first time.  The track is in the middle of the desert secluded from almost everything.  A true desert Oasis ran by some great people who are diehard racing enthusiasts.  I spent some time meeting with everyone then headed to the infield for a couple of pictures of Nick Apex and friend Alex Dunstan.

We loaded up and headed to Nicks house in Vegas for an early night before setting off to grab Ernie Vigil in Albuquerque, New Mexico the following morning. It always feels weird being in Vegas and not checking out the strip to drink and gamble.

Tuesday, May 24

We woke early to run some errands before heading out.   Read more

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Not-So-Sweet Home Alabama: Tough Day for LTD Racing at Barber

(Birmingham, AL) June 19, 2011 – LTD RACING Y.E.S. Yamaha has seen many good days racing in 2011 — including three victories — but Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park round wasn’t one of the team’s banner days. Huntley Nash had machine difficulties early in the Daytona SportBike and was forced to retire despite his most promising race in the class to that point. David Gaviria crashed out of the SuperSport race while fighting for the lead. Tomas Puerta was forced to take a calculated ride to eighth place after soreness from a Saturday crash made it tough to push. Sam Nash earned eleventh place in SuperSport.

“The bike felt the best it has yet before it broke,” said Huntley, who had finished ninth on Saturday. “It was unfortunate because I thought the way the race was developing, we could fight for eighth place. That’s the positive from it and we’re leaving here more competitive than when we got here.”

Once again, West points leader David Gaviria was a contender for the SuperSport race, but unfortunately, he crashed out while contesting the lead. “I lost the front,” said Gaviria. “I should have waited, as I had plenty of laps to make a move.”

With Gaviria out, Tomy Puerta was unable to earn a fourth 2011 SuperSport win for the team as he faced a tough race due to soreness from a previous crash. “I did my best today, but I did not have the strength after yesterday’s crash,” said Puerta of the injuries he incurred on Saturday. “I tried to stay with the leaders in the first two laps, but I soon knew it was impossible. My race was more of a Sunday ride, but I was still able to get in the top ten and earn some points for the championship.”

For Sam Nash, however, the weekend was a positive one. He finished 9th and then 11th on Sunday in tough, hot conditions. “I finished higher yesterday, but I enjoyed this race more,” said Sam. “I raced with some quality guys today, and it was a lot of fun. That’s the point of this to me — to go out and try to beat some good racers.”


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Red Bull Rookies Cup – The Series of Future Champions

By Stephen W. Clark

The US has always been a breeding ground for road racers; since GP race began in 1949 the US has produced more World Champion GP riders than any other country in the world. Currently Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards and Ben Spies are the American riders competing at the top level of roadracing in the MotoGP championship. But what is really exciting is the number of young up and coming American riders who are making their way up the ranks. We can thank the Austrian Energy Drink Company Red Bull for this great pool of talent, as many of these fast young riders are Alumni of the Red Bull Rookies Cup Program.

The Red Bull Rookie Cup program ran in the US for just one season in 2008 but the program continues in Europe with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The program is open to riders between the ages of 12 and 18, after a rigorous screening and selection process the selected riders race against each for a whole season on identical KTM RC 125 GP bikes. In 2008 the US Red Bull Rookies Cup was ran by former World Champion Kevin Schwantz and raced as an exhibition class to the AMA Pro Road Racing Series. Unfortunately due to the economy Red Bull cancelled the US program after just one season but the program continues at MotoGP events in Europe and was led by Alberto Puig and now led by former GP team manager Peter Clifford.

While the Rookies Cup was short lived in this country the effects of the program can be seen with a slew of young fast racers battling in the AMA championship. While their buddies were living typical teenage lives this group of teenagers traveled the world learning the art of road racing with other talented kids from other countries around the world. American riders have had a big part of the Rookies Cup program; JD Beach won the MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2008 the same year current Galfer rider Benny Solis won the AMA Rookies Cup. Benny went onto race the MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2009 with fellow American Jacob Gagne, Jacob went onto win the MotoGP Rookies Cup Championship in 2010. This season Joe Roberts is racing the MotoGP Rookies Cup with the stars and stripes on his sleeves.

The experience these kids received in the Rookies Cup has kick-started their professional racing careers. During the program they learned a lot about racing motorcycles and the whole business and lifestyle of professional racing. This year Benny Solis is winning in AMA Supersport, PJ Jacobsen and Cameron Beaubier are on the podium in Daytona Sportbike and JD Beach is running well in American Superbike. Clearly the Rookies Cup program has developed these riders and the program continues to be one of the top sources of new racing talent. If these young riders keep developing at the pace they have been it wont be long until they are competing at the top levels of World Championship Roadracing and hopefully adding to America’s tally of World Championship victories.

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Chris “Teach” McNeil – Summer Update

After a month or two on the East coast, the big yellow bus headed West for the month full of BMW Dealership shows culminating in a spectacular World SuperBike Weekend at Miller Raceway in SLC, Utah.

Teach started in St. Louis, Mo at Gateway BMW where he had a chance to ride BMW’s new K1600. Says teach “This bike is sick, and combined with the 800GS and S1000 is going to make my show all that much more impressive! The crowd was really into it and a great weekend full of sunshine and homemade food was had by all.”

Despite rig troubles costing some serious money (into the 5 digit range), Teach & the crew managed to get the bikes all the way to Iowa for a repeat performance at Gina’s BMW for Gina’s birthday. The rain didn’t stop a stellar crowd and despite the cold and wet conditions, the event was a great success.

With the rig finally fixed and on the road, it took a straight drive of 45 hours from NH to UT so that Teach could make Friday night’s show on time. Teach said “With a larger riding area and a crowd getting amped up for WSBK, the show was fantastic and the BBQ party afterwards went off without a hitch. Thanks again to the guys and gals at BMW of Utah for the continued support.”

Here’s a YouTube video of part of my show:

The final weekend of the month offered no rest as Teach performed 4 straight days for the WSBK races. The bikes held up fantastically and the crowd was unbelievably supportive with loud cheers and long autograph lines. “This is one of my favorite events of the year and it did not disappoint. Lots of interest in the bikes and products as well as the general sport of freestyle – we continue to grow!”, said Teach.

Teach is still on the move and says “There is no rest in sight but that doesn’t phase me a bit and I’m excited and prepared for my upcoming events. We travel down to TN for a show in Chattanooga and then round 3 of the XDL Championship (where I’m anxious to redeem myself after my last performance), followed by another BMW Dealership show in NC and then north to Canada for a big holiday event.”

Find out more about Chris “Teach” McNeil at:
www.TeachTrix.com / http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1050183180 / http://twitter.com/teachmcneil
Booking, appearances, media: Josh Berman – 866-390-3453; JBerman@EEandE.com

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Staggered Journeys – A guide to getting along with other motorcyclists – PART 1

by Nick Hill

Have you ever thought of attending an organized ride? If you’re anything like me you certainly enjoy riding with others more than riding by yourself. Maybe you have considered joining a motorcycle club or attending a charity ride or maybe even an active web forum that gets together for regular group rides. If you haven’t there are a few things you should consider before you do since riding in close proximity of other motorcyclists can be fun but also have serious consequences if not done properly.

Group rides are a great way to meet new people and make new friends.  It can also take the enjoyment of riding to a new level.  As a first time or inexperienced group rider you should be comfortable and confident controlling your motorcycle.  If you are still developing basic operating skills, then a group ride is not the best place to work on those skills.  You should look into formal a training course or someone to ride with you one on one.

When looking to join a group ride you should realistically access your own riding skill level. Determine if the route is within your abilities, whether a canyon or long distance ride.  You will also want to check your motorcycles mechanical condition before hand and whether the gear you select is appropriate for the ride.  Showing up for a canyon ride in a hoodie sweatshirt and running shoes would most likely earn you some less than welcoming words from the rest of the riders wearing full leathers and boots.

Once you have selected a ride and determined your motorcycle and gear is sufficient for the ride, you should follow these important etiquette rules.

Be on Time
Show up to the meet location on time (i.e.: early).  Most group rides will list a meet up time and then a kick stands up (KSU) time.  Kick stands up means everyone is geared up and ready to roll out. You should typically plan to be at the meet location a half hour before the KSU time. This will allow you time to meet many of the other riders, and them to meet you.  Also, being there early will ensure you do not miss the group leader’s pre-ride brief.  I will go into more detail on what the brief entails later.

Show up with a full tank of gas
Make sure you show up to the meet location with a full tank of gas. Often times group rides will meet at a gas station just for this purpose.   Trust me when I tell you, you don’t want to be the one rider that shows up to a group ride needing gas.  Good news though; if you followed the first rule you may have time to run and get gas before the ride begins.

Pay attention during the rider’s meeting
Now that you have had a chance to meet some of the other riders and you have a full tank of gas, it’s time for the lead rider’s brief.  The ride leader will go over the route; this is usually posted up online before the ride, so you should familiarize yourself with the route before the day of the ride. The ride leader should also go over some simple hand signs, formation strategies and other safety measures. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you feel uncertain about something.

The group leader will explain the tone of the ride and try to determine the experienced riders from the non and will possibly organize two spate groups to ensure everyone is riding in their own comfort zones. Its important to be humble and smart while deciding which group you belong in. Don’t put others at risk just because you don’t want to be in the slower paced group.

Know who the sweepers are
The group leader will identify a sweeper for the group.  The sweeper is usually a veteran rider that will remain at the rear of the group to ensure the group stays together and no one gets left behind. Try to be aware of the sweeper(s) at all times. On many occasions things can change during the ride and the sweepers are responsible for informing the group of these changes.

Ride in formation
If you have made it this far you are well on your way to a successful group ride. By now the group is out on the road and enjoying the ride.  This is where it gets easy.  Once you have found a comfortable position within the group all you need to do now is maintain your proper staggered spacing.  This means keeping a two second gap between the rider directly ahead of you and a one second gap behind the rider on the opposing side.

A single-file formation is also preferred on a curvy road or when the visibility might be less than ideal. The signal for this should also be noted during the rider meeting. The important thing when riding in a group is to be smooth and predictable.  Excessive or sudden movements will likely aggravate riders around you if not end up causing an accident.

Avoid riding side-by-side. If you suddenly need to swerve to avoid a road hazard you would not have room to do so.

Pay attention to the riders around you
Periodically check your mirrors and take note of who is around you. If you notice someone acting aggressive or invading your space you might want to give yourself a little distance from them in case of an incident. If you notice a rider falling back you may want to slightly adjust your speed to allow that rider to catch up without the need to race back to the group.

If you get separated from the group
What if the group gets split up? It is not unusual for groups to get split up by traffic lights, other vehicles or just personal speed preference.  Whenever on a group ride it is customary to stop and regroup at any intersection.  This way no rider is left wondering “Which way did they go?” Don’t break the law or ride above your head to catch up. The last thing you need is to bring unwanted attention to the others in the group.

Johnny Law
What do you do when another rider gets pulled over?  Standard procedure for most group rides is once the officer has identified which rider to pull over, only that rider pulls over.  The rest of the group should continue on until the next exit/intersection.  Once you stop even if the officer did not order you too, he has the right to ticket you for any illegal modifications he spots on your motorcycle so make sure it’s definitely you who he wants to stop.

Your blinkers
Make sure you turn your blinkers off after using them. Although we are ALL guilty of this from time to it’s horribly annoying to the people around you.

Loud Pipes
If you have a loud exhaust system like I do, it might be a good idea to ride near the back of the pack. Riding next to someone for an extended period of time who has a deafening pipe is a form of torture. Personally my pipe is louder than most so I make sure I don’t care for the person I’m riding next to.

Don’t do it… Don’t be “that guy.” You’ll figure out real fast that stunt riding is NOT accepted on most group rides and will likely get you banned from future gatherings. Nobody cares how far you can wheelie and if you think they do make a video, post it on Youtube, and share the link.

Keep off the brakes
Try not to ride or tap your brakes without purpose while others are around you. I know it should be common sense however I always seem to be behind someone who has this problem. By doing so it causes others to be on high alert and slows down the riders behind you. By giving yourself enough space from the rider ahead should eliminate you from becoming an issue to those around you.

Stay sober
Many times lunch breakfast or dinner will be part of the ride. It’s important to the safety of you and everyone else to keep a clear mind. Nobody wants to ride next to someone who is under the influence. If you intake something that could affect your judgment or motor skills you won’t be invited back for future rides and you’ll be back to riding by yourself again.

If you follow these few and simple tips chances are you will thoroughly enjoy riding on a whole new level while making plenty of new friends. I have also listed a few active social sites that regularly get together and ride. Take a moment and sign up for a ride that suits you and prepare yourself for accordingly.


Special thanks to Don Martin and www.OCMoto.com for helping me with this article.

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Gaviria Wins Elkhart Lake Supersport for LTD Racing Y.E.S. Yamaha

Elkhart Lake, WI (June 4, 2011) – David Gaviria and LTD Racing Y.E.S. Yamaha won the Saturday AMA Pro SuperSport race from Road America. Huntley Nash improved his starting position by four spots and earned 13th place in the Daytona SportBike race. Misfortune befell the other two LTD Racing competitors on Saturday as polesitter Tomas Puerta suffered a mechanical issue while leading the SuperSport race and Sam Nash had a late crash that dashed a top ten finish in the same event.

For Gaviria’s second win of the year, the Colombian staked a slight but significant gap on the field and stretched the lead out to over three seconds by the halfway point. Unlike his Daytona victory earlier this year when he snatched the triumph on the last lap, Gaviria and his Yamaha R6 officially led all ten laps of the race held in sunny weather at the 4.0 mile track.

“Being in the lead of a race is pretty difficult because you don’t know if you’re fast or slow, so I tried to do my best out there, and it worked. I tried to push as I always do, to try very hard. At the end of the race I was just taking care of myself,” said Gaviria, “to relax and ride smooth but quick. I think tomorrow is going to be different with these guys, so I have to be prepared but for sure I am looking to win again. It feels great.”

Gaviria now has a 26-point lead in West division SuperSport points.

Huntley Nash got a good start to his race in the competitive Daytona SportBike class.

“It was alright. 13th is better than last weekend so all we can do is keep moving forward,” said Nash. “The beginning was kinda fun but in the second half of the race I really didn’t have anyone to battle with. We are still working on our front-end setup and hoping for some more improvement tomorrow.”

Puerta won the pole but then had bike issues on the first lap. “I’m disappointed for the team and me but we get another chance tomorrow,” said Puerta.

Sam Nash felt his top ten finish drift away as the law student crashed in the final laps. “I lost the front on the next to last lap,” said Nash. “It was an easy crash but then it hit the gravel and did some damage.”

LTD Racing’s Director of Competition Gary Medley said: “It’s good to win and David did well. It was an excellent job as usual from him. He could be a champion this year. We had a huge step with Huntley. He keeps improving and it shows his maturity. We’ll keep working on it in this direction. It was a tough break for Tomy after winning pole and being so fast this weekend but he has another chance tomorrow.”

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Daytona Sportbike – The Class to Watch This Year

By Stephen W. Clark

The AMA Daytona Sportbike class this season marks some of the best AMA racing we’ve seen in a long time. It all started in Daytona with a drama-filled Daytona 200 race where tire problems stopped the race and in the closing laps five riders battled for the lead. A big crash right before the finish led to Dane Westby and Taylor Knapp sliding across the Daytona asphalt at 160 + mph. Jason DiSalvo took the win with West, Zemke, Beach and Herrin all less than four tenths of a second behind.

DiSalvo, Westby and Jacobsen are all running Galfer brakes and are right in the thick of the lead pack at every race so far this season. Riding a Latus Motors Ducati 848 Jason DiSalvo followed up his Daytona win with a pair of wins at Infineon. Youngster PJ Jacobsen also on a Ducati 848 is running very well on his Celtic Racing bike and Westby is coming up to speed on his M4 Suzuki. The field of riders in the Daytona Sportbike class this year is fantastic with AMA veterans like DiSalvo, West and Holden joined by a young riders with a few of them recently moving up from GP bikes. Adding to the competition is the classic struggle to balance the competiveness between the twin cylinder Ducatis and the four cylinder 600 Japanese bikes. DiSalvo won the first race on a twin but clearly that win didn’t come easily, however at the Miller AMA test the Ducatis were a bit faster than the four cylinders and DiSalvo won both races at Infineon. In an effort to even up the difference the AMA announced a rule change that added 5 lbs to the minimum weight of the twins and allowed the three and four cylinder bikes to drop 5 lbs.

The third stop on the AMA schedule was at Miller Motorsports Park as part of the World Superbike race weekend and once again the Daytona Sportbike riders came out swinging, thrilling the crowd with an incredibly close race in wet conditions. The rain lightened at the start of the race but the track was still very wet and all the riders went out on full wet tires. DiSalvo qualified on pole but PJ Jacobsen got the best start and led the first few laps of the race with West, Westby, Herrin and Beaubier hot on his tail. Through the course of the sixteen lap race this group battled hard with position changes every lap. Several times there were bikes three wide coming into turns with every one of these riders pushing it to the limit. Towards the end of the race West and Westby fell back slightly due to their tires wearing out, leaving PJ and Herrin to battle at the front in the closing laps. On the last lap Herrin took the lead from PJ on the brakes coming into the Blackrock Hairpin and led the race to the checkered flag with PJ just over a tenth of second behind. Beaubier finished third with West and Westby fourth and fifth. For Jacobsen and Beaubier, Miller was their first podium finish in AMA Sportbike and they proved they have to the speed to run at the front of this competitive class.

After four rounds of the series DiSalvo has won three races and has a 35 point lead in the championship. DiSalvo’s 7th place finish at Miller lost him some points but a few of the top riders have had worse races so far this year. Jacobsen and Eslick both scored no points at Daytona and Miller winner Herrin got no points at one of the Infineon races due to a single race ban by the AMA for his part in the Daytona last lap incident. With at least fifteen more races there is still a long way to go in the championship and these guys have put on a great show several times already this season. This great racing will likely continue in the remaining rounds of the AMA series.

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