Brad Baker Race Report - May Edition
NEWS June 5, 2013
Photo by Dave Hoenig
June 5, 2013 - Hey guys, hope everything is going well for you! Things on this end are coming along pretty well. While the month of April was very uneventful with not a single race to attend other than the San Jose indoor, the month of May was a very busy month! It started off on May 5th in California at Willow Springs Raceway for the season opener of Eddie Mulders West Coast Dirt Track Series. Eddie and his sponsors, along with Digger Helm and Mark and Randy Zimmerman from Specialty Fabrications Incorporation do a great job at raising a big purse for this race .It’s always nice to make the trip out to make a pay check and have a good time. The 3/8 cushion track just happens to be one of my favorites so that makes it nice too. I ended up pulling off two second place finishes behind the Grand National champ, Jared Mees, in both the dash for cash and the main event. I definitely got the hard charger award for the weekend though since Jared was on a GNC illegal Harley Davidson XR 750 and I was just on a very strong 450 dirt track framer. Willow is a track where you can use your horse power so I felt good about finishing just a couple bike lengths off of him in both races being way underpowered.
The next race would follow just the week after in Stockton California for round 3 of the AMA Pro Racing Grand National Flat Track Series. This would mark the first Expert Twins round of the season so I was really excited to get back on my Harley and keep the momentum going I had been carrying on my 450’s. Carrying on the momentum is exactly what I did! I started out the day by qualifying 3rd, so I had the pole starting position in the 3rd heat race. I ended up getting second behind Henry Wiles in the heat. The bike wasn’t working as well as it was in qualifying so we made several slight adjustments for the dash for cash. I got a pretty good start in the dash behind Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert.. The bike was working a lot better entering the corners and through the middle but this time I was struggling getting off the corner. I would get a great run on both of them through the center but then they would gap me a bike or two down the straightaway. Then Henry Wiles went blasting past me down the back stretch on the last lap, I knew something was wrong but I still managed to finish 4th. Luckily for us it was just a simple fix. I guess I had broken the grip glue loose and the grip was slipping on the throttle tube. I was literally “twisting the grip” lol.. The bike felt great though and the moisture was coming up on the race track so it was go time for the main event! I made up my mind before the race even started that I was going to commit to trying out the high line for the first couple of laps because I could see that it looked pretty tacky. I didn’t get off the line the greatest but I was definitely right about the high line being tacky! In three laps I had passed from 5th to the lead all on the outside. Sammy Halbert wasn’t going down without a fight though! We swapped the lead several times until about lap 7 or 8 until I finally broke free of him and pulled a couple bike length lead. It wasn’t until about lap 20 when I really started to feel the pressure again. My line I had been running was starting to go away and I was struggling to pick the pace back up. Then on lap 22 Sammy slid underneath me going into turn one. He had figured out a line between 3 and 4 that was just a little faster than mine. It was unfortunate that I fell short of my first win once again but I couldn’t feel bad because it was such a good race! Even better, I had moved myself up to second place in Grand National points, just several points out of the lead behind Brandan Robinson.
From California we packed up and hit the road for Little Rock Arkansas. Every year Paul Covert promotes a really strong race that is part of the Steve Nace All Star Series. The race usually brings in a near sold out crowd at the small facility and a lot of the top riders show up to try and take home the $12000 purse. Unfortunately, this year Mother Nature had ideas of its own for the race. Some of the after math from terrible weather going on in Oklahoma and Texas blew into Arkansas and pretty much wiped out the track. Since the track has a lot of banking it pretty much turned the infield of the track into a pond and there was no way it was going to dry out before the weekend, especially with more rain on the forecast. I was in Texas when I heard the bad news. I immediately changed my destination from Little Rock to Macomb Illinois where I knew a sweet little short track was going on Saturday night. I knew there wasn’t much money up for grabs but at least I was going to get seat time. Local Grand National Expert rider #27 Rob Pearson showed up as the competition. I was a good race between him and I all night long. We swapped the lead in the main event pretty much every lap of the 20 lap main event. He ended up getting the best of me though only beating me by a couple inches, if that at our drag race to the finish line!
Next on the schedule was Springfield Illinois for the next round on the Steve Nace All Star Series on the Springfield TT and the 4th round of the AMA Pro Racing Grand National Series held on the legendary Springfield Mile! It wasn’t a surprise when Mother Nature decided to ruin another great weekend of racing. Pretty much from the time I woke up on Saturday to Monday morning it did nothing but rain! Another All-star Race was canceled completely and the Springfield Mile was re-scheduled to the Labor day weekend race where there will be a double header mile on Saturday and Sunday with an All Star Series short track on Friday night. It was bad enough with the AMA Pro Racing weekend being canceled but the American Motorcycle Association Dirt Track Amateur Nationals was scheduled to start the week after. Mother Nature still didn’t feel like going away and the AMA was forced to cancel the week of racing completely! I feel really bad for the Amateur riders and Families. Most Families save all year for that one event and some riders even came from England and Australia! They rescheduled the week of racing for June 24th-27th but it will be interesting to see how many racing families can make it back again.
The last weekend of racing on the schedule for the month of May was held in Plymouth Wisconsin for the 29th annual Dairy land Classic. This is always a fun race because it has a big crowd, a big purse and it happens on the Friday night before the Road America weekend. The only bad thing about the race is that it is always dry slick and hard to pass on. For some reason I had something for the #4 that night! I qualified 4th, Started the main event 4th, and end up 4th overall. I guess it’s a good thing to stay consistent!
Well that was it for the month of May. Summer is fast approaching and I couldn’t be more excited! Unfortunately there is only one Grand National at the end of June but there are plenty of All Star Races and other races in between! I cannot thank all of my amazing sponsors for making my racing program possible. Without you I wouldn’t be able to do this! Thanks again and stay tuned for an update coming soon for the month of June!