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A Mid-Ohio Photo Album

by Shawn Downey

Everything you read and hear about Mid-Ohio is true to the tenth power. The swap meet is a sea of second mortgages just waiting to happen, the suffocating heat will give you malaria or jock itch, and the racing is second to none.

Being a huge fan of the Superbike circuit, I was not prepared for the AHRMA code of ethics…i.e., there are none. Cruising the professional Superbike pits one is often accosted by verbal warnings such as, “Hey, keep behind the barrier! Back off ! I don’t have time for that crap right now, MTV Road Rules is on the monitor. Is that a McDonald’s straw? Where’s my hair bleach ?!”

Trained by countless hours of attending Superbike racing, I tepidly approach the pits of Mid-Ohio. Peering around the corner of a garage, I brace myself for the verbal attack by some Superbike monkey as I spy a very rare Vincent Gray Flash in racing trim, a Vincent HRD, two real Norton Manxes, and a tasty BSA. My eyes meet those of the Pit Manager and I begin to shudder as his mouth moves. But hark, what are those foreign sentiments streaming forth? Are those invitations to venture into this haven of historic beauty? Why yes!

Among the many amazing things you will witness at Mid-Ohio, the one thing that will surely stand out in your photo album is the endless enthusiasm coupled with genuine hospitality.

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A new class enlisted this year is the Production heavyweights. These guys are slapping number plates on their immaculate restorations and throwing them down the race track with an unbelievable irreverence. Mention the term “trailer queen” and you risk becoming a chain lube.
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Is that Minneapolis’ own Rob Petzel?
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Canadian Ducatisti Henry Hogben and his immaculate single. His personal inventory of Ducatis surpasses the 150 mark but he still prefers to hand fabricate the majority of components found on this single. His disdain? Somebody else painted the fenders and did not color-match them perfectly.
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Man of men. Racer extraordinaire Dick Klamforth. Never been busted for underage women, snorting crystal meth, smoking pot, overindulgence, getting punched in the face, or wearing big pants, this guy is what legends are made of. Winner of daytona in ’49, ’51, ’52, he rode the Mid Ohio track woth his first ever broken limb…his shifting foot. When asked what he thought of today’s Superbike racers he replied with a smile, “A bunch of pansies. Always whining about too many laps.” After comparing my conversations with him to those conversations with Superbike racers, I can add a lot more to that comment…and it ain’t good.
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G50 Matchless assembled and prepped by George Beal from the infamous Barbers Motorcycle Museum in Alabama. Steve Matthews, onetime factory rider for fast by Ferraci and overall nice guy, pilots this awesome machine assembled entirely from reproduction parts. Not one component dates back to the date of manufacture, which explains the reliability, and all are readily available to you Mr. Consumer. Well, Mr. Consumer with $30,000 that is. Steve rules. he gave me an iced tea.
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Big D’s Keith Martin stands with a nasty Triumph that was piloted to a first place finish by Minneapolis local Rob Tuluie. Watching this machine fly down the straights and pound in the corners gives one an appreciation for the breathed on motor and meticulous frame manipulations. Don’t like the rake? Get a torch…
Dale Keeseker from Kansas City pulled onto my hotel parking lot with a red Terry Prince framed Vincent, an Egli framed Vincent, and a Norvin. He has been known to scout the English countryside poling about in garden sheds in search of a rusty relic awaiting restoration by his skilled hand. Never wanting to disappoint an enthusiast, he fired this bad boy up for me in the parking lot. I cried. And then he told me he was a pig farmer. I cried again.
Dale Keeseker from Kansas City pulled onto my hotel parking lot with a red Terry Prince framed Vincent, an Egli framed Vincent, and a Norvin. He has been known to scout the English countryside poling about in garden sheds in search of a rusty relic awaiting restoration by his skilled hand. Never wanting to disappoint an enthusiast, he fired this bad boy up for me in the parking lot. I cried. And then he told me he was a pig farmer. I cried again.
He races, he rides, he organizes rallies for his patrons, he gives out free stickers, and he is one aggressive caffeine junkie on the race track. Scott Johnson, number 132 and owner of the Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee, is about to motor around another Honda in the Sportsman 350 Class. Everybody go to Milwaukee, buy some coffee and a t-shirt at the Fuel Cafe and then get the hell out of there.
He races, he rides, he organizes rallies for his patrons, he gives out free stickers, and he is one aggressive caffeine junkie on the race track. Scott Johnson, number 132 and owner of the Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee, is about to motor around another Honda in the Sportsman 350 Class. Everybody go to Milwaukee, buy some coffee and a t-shirt at the Fuel Cafe and then get the hell out of there.
Is that a Moto-Guzzi? Yes...
Is that a Moto-Guzzi? Yes…
Ducati 1965 Monza with a sticker on the fender that reads, "I'm so far behind, I think I'm first." Owned by a husband and wife team...the husband wrenches and the wife races.
Ducati 1965 Monza with a sticker on the fender that reads, “I’m so far behind, I think I’m first.” Owned by a husband and wife team…the husband wrenches and the wife races.
 See this? So did I...Norton Commando side panels converted into copper glittered alarm clocks. I was torn between crying and laughing.

See this? So did I…Norton Commando side panels converted into copper glittered alarm clocks. I was torn between crying and laughing.
 Henry Wheaton, now 66 years old, made a deal with his wife. She would serve as his pit crew until he reached 70 if he avoided bodily harm. Last season the transmission on this 1940 suicide hand shift froze at 100 mph and tossed him into retirement. After suffering from a concussion, broken bones, and a lot of time in the garage with a 20 ton press wrenching apart the welded tranny, Henry still attends the meets in racing form awaiting a change of heart from the wife. I recommended he get her drunk.

Henry Wheaton, now 66 years old, made a deal with his wife. She would serve as his pit crew until he reached 70 if he avoided bodily harm. Last season the transmission on this 1940 suicide hand shift froze at 100 mph and tossed him into retirement. After suffering from a concussion, broken bones, and a lot of time in the garage with a 20 ton press wrenching apart the welded tranny, Henry still attends the meets in racing form awaiting a change of heart from the wife. I recommended he get her drunk.

 

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