by Jeremy Wilkers
Make mention of scooter racing and you may well end up with a reaction such as the following: “What? You actually RACE those little things?!” Which is then followed by uncontrolled guffaws and knee slapping of the sort you haven’t seen since Aunt Betty lost her skirt doing a drunken Chicken Dance at your cousin Marjorie’s wedding back in ’86.
Once the laughing is done and the tears are wiped from the eyes, the next reaction is something along the lines of the look a person gives when realization sets in that the crazy man talking right in their face really is quite certifiably crazy.
Don’t think this is some belated April Fools’ joke however. Scooter racing exists and is growing around the country with several different groups organizing events. Probably the most visible group is ASRA (American Scooter Racing Association) based out of California. Here in the Midwest we have the rather new MASS (Mid American Scooter Sport) which is growing fast and hosting more races around the area.
MASS has three classes which riders can race: Stock, Small Frame and Specials. Stock consists of the larger scooters, usually between 152 and 250cc, that have had only limited modifications. Small Frames are those scooters that are, well, smaller – under 136cc. The Specials class contains scooters which have been too heavily modified to fit into the other two classes – usually the frames have been cut down and the whole scooter exists only for racing purposes.
Even though a racer might be in the Stock class, he’d still have to remove the following items to race: license plate and mounting bracket, center and side stands, mirrors, non-flush turn signals, luggage racks, crash bars, and kickstarter. No fuel additives are allowed and they don’t allow nitrous oxide (dang it).
I recently talked with local scooter club member Matt DeVries (firstname.lastname@example.org) about his scooter racing experiences. Here is the interview:
Q: Tell us a bit about MASS.
A: Mid American Scooter Sport got its start in July of 2000 with its first race at Blackhawk Farms in Rockton Illinois. Founded by Joe Kokesh of St. Louis who knew there were scooterists looking for something more than what street riding could provide. California has had a racing league for a long time so why not here? Joe hooked up with CCS (Champion Cup Series) Racing and shared some race dates. We currently race at Gateway in St. Louis, Blackhawk Farms in Rockton IL, and at Circleville in Columbus Ohio. And if you think these are silly old little machines keep in mind that the first place rider in the Specials Class was running a 1.95 mile track in 1:50 minutes, at Blackhawk now that’s on par with the 600cc novice class! Each race is averaging about 15 racers and growing.
Q: How long have you been racing?
A: This is my first season, and the first complete season for MASS. Last year was the debut of MASS but they only ran a half-season.
Q: Why did you get into racing?
A: It looked like fun, and I needed something else to throw money at.
Q: What basics are needed for racing?
A: You must have full leathers, gloves, boots, and a SNELL-approved full-face helmet. Your scooter needs some safety preparation — safety wiring, some nuts, ny-loc, some others, nothing too difficult. Oh, and a well running scooter is probably the most important thing.
Q: What is the minimum cost of the above items?
A: Leathers are probably the most expensive item, used from $200+ to new $400 and up. All the rest is fairly cheap, just takes time.
Q: Do you have a special racing scooter or a stock bike?
A: I run stock. My daily rider is my stock racer too. This is the cheapest way to get into racing, no need to spend thousands to make your scoot go fast. There is a Specials Class with some amazing bikes — cut down/custom made frames, water-cooled engines, you name it. Speeds of 80-90+, not bad for a 25-year-old 200cc 2-stroke motor.
Q: What is the most exciting part of racing?
A: Getting ready for the flag to drop, with everyone revving their engines. And making sure you don’t drop the clutch too fast and do a wheelie out of the gate, not that I would know or anything…
Q: What is the least exciting part of racing?
A: Waiting around for the next round.
Q: How do you convince people that you do actually race scooters?
A: Actual photographic evidence!
Q: Are there big cash prizes and fame?
A: Umm no, you get a nice shiny trophy if you finish in the top 3 of your class.
Q: Do the chicks dig it?
A: Men in leathers — how could they not?
Q: Does your wife dig it?
A: Yes she does. She may be out there next season. There is already one husband and wife race team.
TOY RUN 2001
Help us help the kids! Some scooter clubs do their toy run around Christmas but here in Minnesota that isn’t a feasible option. Why not spring? Bring your scooter and $25.00 down to the Bryant Lake Bowl in Uptown on May 19th at 10:00 AM. We’ll have breakfast, ride to Target to purchase toys and gifts, and then take a scenic ride to the Children’s Hospital in beautiful downtown Saint Paul. Participants receive a tee-shirt (compliments of Tee Squared Screenprinting and Design) and a specially made leg shield banner for your scooter. The real reward, of course, is that you will make a child very happy! Contact Chris Payne at 612-676-0488 for more info or email him at email@example.com
Until next time: Ride safe – Ride often.
The Twin Cities’ Vintage Scooter Club, The Regulars, meets on the first and third Sundays of each month at Pizza Luce in Uptown Minneapolis (32nd and Lyndale Ave) at 2:00 pm for socializing and riding — as long as weather permits. Join us! The website is located at http://www.minnescoota.com or send me a message – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com