Rispoli: The Hills are ALIVE; Sturgis a motorcycle Mecca
NEWS August 10, 2009
So far what a trip its been. Yep I left Attica NY with my left coast buddy Chad Cose to travel to Sturgis, the Mecca for motorcycles the first week of August each year. This was to be my first time heading there and I was going to chase several races leading up to both the AMA Hot Shoe and AMA GNC half mile in Rapid City South Dakota to earn a little money and test out a few new things on my bike. It also was my first road trip as a 18 year old and both Chad and I intended to be on the road for two weeks until we made it back to Ohio for the AMA GNC mile event August 16th. The initial trip had us traveling around 1,100 miles to the Black Hills but on the way we were stopping off for a short track and TT just over the boarder in South Dakota to earn a little cha-ching. I was able to enter three classes, for the short track and TT running my Weirbach Racing/Bettencourt Suzuki. I manage a 2nd, 5th and 8th place finish on a slick one line groove track. I lost to some locals but still managed to make some cash to support my two week road trip as well as gain additional track time on the slick groove tracks that make up the South Dakota dirt track market in preparation for the AMA Pro races coming on the following Monday and Tuesday.
After our racing there we loaded up and headed out to make it to Sturgis for the AMA Hot Shoe event and stopped to sleep in the back of a Burger King parking lot. We arrived at the track at around 11 AM, unloaded and started to work on the bike changing tires, prepping some gearing and making sure we were ready to rock when practice came out. The track was a cool track and in the first practice I was like 5th fastest.. We made an adjustment to the gearing, wire brushed the tire to deglaze it a little and changed the air pressure and went out for the next timed qualifying runs. In the heat race I had both Carver and Texter and I got a great start. Carver and I did a little bump and grind in the first corner but I came out in front and led the entire heat race. There were two heats with identical overall times of 1:24.008 so in the final I was given first choice on the front row. In the main event I got a smoking start and led pulling away while running the bottom groove. Unfortunately the groove down there was drying out and was getting really slippery. I was moving around to find some traction when Baker caught up to me. I made a huge mistake coming out of turn two and drove it way too hard into turn three and four to make up time and ran it wide on the tenth lap slipping the groove . It was a drag race to the line but Baker got me going into turn two when the red flag came out and ended the race. I was given the race win when the reverted back the one lap and that was awesome. This was my first AMA National race in Sturgis and my first Hot Shoe this year and to take a win here was really special. It was special because my good friend and fellow Coolskunk rider national #64 Aaron Creamer was killed in Sturgis at a race 5 years ago. I thought of Aaron while I was out here and I know he rode on my shoulders taking in the great view from the front of the pack. I dedicated that race win to him.
With the hot shoe under my belt I was hyped to race the AMA GNC half mile the following night. I was going to change bikes and ride our Weirbach Racing Honda and I was pretty confident we would run up front again. I met Dick Weirbach at the track the next day and we checked over the bike and had a spare bike with my number plates ready as a back up. The track looked like it was going to be good and in practice I was like second fastest. The gearing we choose was good but my rear tire was spinning really bad. I discussed the situation with Dick, and even called my dad to see what he thought. We made the adjustment and went out for the final qualifying where I was clearly in the hunt. We got ready for our heats but we were questioning our tire pressure the whole time. I had dropped it significantly and while I was able to hole shot and run up front, we were a little afraid the rear tire would heat up too much and start the loose traction. That's what happened. I had the lead but was caught by Chebultz. He went by me really hooked up late in the race when my tires were starting to fail me. I learned a huge lesson in that race and was going to be much better prepared for the final. But then the rain came! It poured and the race was called. We ended up qualifying but all of received (1) point so no one gained any advantage from this race. It was too bad because I really felt we could have won that race too it it went the distance.
So we headed out of there with half our purse winnings and saddled up the next day with another half mile race that Del Shelsted was promoting. I only had my Suzuki and I knew it was going to be a challenge since the yellow bike is set up only for short track racing. The engine is in the 50 HP range and that plus its lightning fast handling make it ideal for slippery or cushioned short tracks. I knew on the half mile I would be giving up a lot of straight away speed. And, that's exactly what happened. I qualified 2nd but on the straights was getting pulled (2) bike lengths. I made up all my time in the corners driving it in realllllllllllly deeeeeeep and was squeeeezzzzing the rear brake a lot to hold it on the groove. It was working but I was really pissed how easy riders were going around me down the front and back straight. After the race national #4 Chris Carr called my bike a "turd" like I needed to be reminded. I was just glad this wasn't a national. In the final 15 lap race I worked every angle on the track that I could and I ran it in as hard as I could as well. On the last lap I came in really hot and got under like three riders and managed to jump off the corner to take the last podium position which was mad cool. The position paid better a lot better than getting paid third at the national so it was a sweeeeeet race to play at. I also remember why we never race the "yellow-one" on anything bigger than 16 second lap time!
With the Sturgis races gone it was time to make our way back home. But we had a little twist. Chad wanted to head to Lodi California because there was a race this weekend August 8th. I was OK with going along since my bike and gear was already packed in his truck. I called dad, let him know the change of plans and next thing I knew we were on our way. We arrived at Chad's house on late Wednesday and on Friday we took a ride to see some sponsors, Motion Pro and A&A racing. It was really cool to head over to the Motion Pro guys since they have been great sponsors for me for years. I got to sign a life size poster I sent them of me on the Aprilia Twin on the Springfield Mile as a thank you gift at the end of last season that they have hanging up in their warehouse and that was so cool. The Motion Pro folks are so cool and it is awesome to finally see their facility and they were so pumped I stopped in while I was making a pit stop on the West Coast. It was equally cool to stop in to see Ray and Rochelle at A&A since they are now distributing the TOP ONE OIL we have been sponsored on for a couple of years.
Anyway, my trip is only half way over and Saturday night August 8th I race the famous Lodi Cycle bowl again. From there Chad and I head back across the country where we will stop at my motor builder in Michigan and then off to the mile race in Ohio.
Till next time...do what I like to do GO FASTER...
James"the Rocket" Rispoli
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