by Thomas Day
A 13-year-old is Indy’s First Death Since 2003
Indy’s last fatal incident was in 2003, when Tony Renna died in an IndyCar crash. That was until 13-year-old Peter Lenz died in a 125GP warm-up lap after he crashed and was hit by 12-year-old Xavier Zayat. Zayat was uninjured in the crash but Lenz was taken from the field in a neck brace and on a stretcher. Lenz was pronounced dead three hours later. He is the youngest competitor to die in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 101-year history. Lenz had been racing for six years, had won four Can-Am international titles and five national championships, and was one of the 12-to-18 125GP series’ stars. When he was 11, Lenz was the youngest licensed Expert racer in AFM history. In 2009, Lenz crashed into a wall at Portland International Raceway and broke a leg (in three places) broke an arm and severed a radial nerve, ending his season as he led the USGPRU West Coast 125GP and 250GP series. Peter Lenz is survived by his parents and two sisters.
Cycle News Gone
The long-running motorcycle newspaper, Cycle News, closed its doors and laid off employees in late August. The venerable newspaper had a near 50-year history, but print journalism is experiencing a serious challenge from electronic media. The paper’s website, CycleNews.com, is still operational and hopes to be a valued source of racing news.
Harley Continues in Wisconsin
Thanks to three new seven-year employee labor agreements from the United Steelworkers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the USW, Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) announced that it would keep production operations in Wisconsin. Harley-Davidson produces engines and transmissions in Menomonee Falls and motorcycle components in Tomahawk, WI. The new contract allows H-D the use of “casual” employees who “work as required, depending on seasonal needs and to provide coverage for vacations and other absences.” The contract included some improvements in benefits and pension contributions and reduction in employees at both facilities. The company expects substantial savings from the contract changes after taking some losses in the near term.
Bikers Ganging up in New Jersey
The infamous Pagans are trying to increase their territory in New Jersey. The Pagans are actively recruiting members and attracting police attention. Recently, the Hells Angels opened a small chapter in New Jersey that renewed their long-term feud with the Pagans in the area. The huge New York Angels’ chapter is used for reinforcements for the smaller NJ branch, which increased tensions between the two gangs. While there has been some violence between the two gangs in neighboring Pennsylvania, no overt fighting has occurred in New Jersey. “A lot of the criminal activity they do is really well-hidden, whether it’s drugs or weapons,” said Thomas Garrity, chief of investigators for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. “The main thing with biker groups is usually the problems they have among themselves. They don’t usually go out and mess with what we’d call civilians.”
Fast Times at Canterbury Park
On 9/11/2010, the oldest form of motorcycle racing returned to Canterbury Park for the first time in 13 years. In the Grand National Twins main event, Kenny Coolbeth rode his Harley-Davidson XR-750 to a solid win. Canterbury Park provided Coolbeth with his first win of the season, putting him 34 points behind series leader, Jake Johnson, with four races remaining in the 17-round series. Trailing Coolbeth was Jake Johnson in second on a Harley-Davidson, and Jared Mees in third, all on the classic HD XR-750. Joe Kopp, Ducati’s standard-bearer, came in 16th and lost his series lead dropping 10 points behind Johnson.
Coolbeth started poorly, in 7th place, with Johnson, Jared Mees, Matt Weidman, and Chris Car in the lead. Coolbeth worked his way past Carr on the 4th lap, passed Mees four laps later and Weidman on the 11th lap. Three laps later, Coolbeth found a line past Johnson and opened up a 3.375 second lead over Johnson by the end of the race.
“This track was more like racing on a half-mile than a mile,” said Coolbeth. “The draft did not really matter so much. So after Mees dropped back I just had to put my head down and ride through the bumps to catch Johnson and Weidman. When I caught them, they were sort of messing each other up, getting in each other’s line. Weidman went high in turn two and hit the berm and I went by, and then I tangled with Jake for a few laps before I got away.”
Chris Carr won the four-lap Dash for Cash bonus sprint. Jeffery Carver (Yamaha) won the AMA Pro Singles main, followed by Mike Martin and Brad Baker (Honda). That puts Carver 27 points ahead of (278 pts/5 wins) Brad Baker and 90 points ahead of Mike Avila in the AMA Pro Singles Championship race.
Fewer Bikers Died in 2009
NHTSA officials reported that motorcycling deaths dropped 16% in 2009 (4,462) compared to 2008 (5,312). The AMA says this statistic can “only be considered good news for motorcyclists.” Other observers suspect that the number of active motorcyclists and motorcycle miles dropped substantially as the economy took its toll on vacationers and recreational riding. It’s worth noting that deaths from auto crashes dropped 9.7% in the same period.
Drinking, Driving, and Wearing a Badge in Indianapolis
In August, an on-duty Indiana cop, David Bisard, rear-ended two stopped motorcycles, killing one rider and critically injuring two others. The officer was initially charged with seven felony charges, including driving under the influence and reckless homicide. The police didn’t draw blood from Bisard for two hours after the crash and he still managed to test a .19 blood alcohol level, more than twice the state’s .08 legal limit. Bisard has five other on-duty crashes on his record and a reputation among his neighbors of being a menace to mailboxes. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has demoted three “high ranking officers,” including Lt. George Crooks, the commander of the department’s hit-and-run unit and coordinator of the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team.
A local judge dropped the alcohol related charges claiming, “the proper procedures weren’t followed.” Bisard’s lawyer is trying to get the trial moved out of Indianapolis, claiming his client can’t get a fair trial in the city. During a review of internal policies, additional incidents involving police officers surfaced which has pulled the FBI into the inquiry. The Director of Public Safety has called for mandatory breathalyzers for all Indianapolis Metro police officers involved in crashes.
BMW R-90S Raffle
How would you like to win a classic 1974 BMW R-90S? Eddie’s Road, a non-profit that benefits at-risk youth, is raffling the Daytona Orange beauty, professionally restored by BMW of Atlanta. Tickets are $25 and limited to 800. Drawing Oct 30. To buy your tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
2010 NHTSA Motorcycle Recalls
Yamaha Double “T” fat handlebars accessory: Made for the 2002-2009 XV1700PC Warrior, 1999-2003 VX1600, and XV1700 Road Star, the handlebar tubing is thinner than specified and breaks between the switch housings and grips causing loss of control. Yamaha will replace the handlebars free of charge.