Early evening, the day before The Springfield Mile. This historic track was prepped for a sunny Sunday. Ready to soak up the evening dew . . . fast racing awaits !
Here's what happened:
#42 Bryan Smith was so fast, all day. His Kawasaki was the fastest motorcycle on the track. The fastest in practice. The fastest in qualifying. The fastest heat. Smith won the Dash-For-Cash by jumpin' to an early lead and pulling away a full (1)second/lap. Chris Carr (announcer) noted that "At this pace . . . Smith potentially could win by a full 25 seconds in the main event." That would be what we call "checking out" or "a run-away" . . . This is a huge margin, since many Springfield Mile finishes are within .0001/sec.
In almost a full field of Kawasaki's . . . Jared Mees' team bikes seemed well prepared and ready.
One of the most popular riders, Mees signed autographs between bites of broccoli and rice.
H-D factory rider Davis Fisher's 750 lacked power to make the main . . . but,. it looked cool !
I caught 9-Time Champ Scott Parker's interview on the big screen. He mostly talked about his bar in Michigan, and how he wants to sell it. Parker is one-of-kind. Love ya Scotty !
As the afternoon sun went down, the grandstands cast a big shadow on the starting line-up. I had my fingers crossed that somebody could at least stay with Smith . . . and not let him get away and break the draft. I think the whole crowd felt the same way - WE ALL WANTED TO SEE A RACE ! . . . and we sure did.
In all my years of Springfield's . . . I never saw anything quite like it. As expected, after warming the tires with laps one and two . . . Smith tried the break-away in the early laps. It didn't work this time as #2 Kenny Coolbeth hung to Smith's pipes. Breathing in massive amounts of race fumes - lap after lap. You could see Smith subtly trying some different lines - but Kenny stuck to him . . . like on a string. The tension in the crowd built - lap after lap. That's a lot of tension and nerves after 20 laps I'll tell ya ! Smith and Coolbeth holding a 5 sec. gap on the next group, with Cory Texter trying to catch up.
Lap after lap - One wrong slip could allow Smith's Kawasaki to the break the draft - and he'd get away - but the crafty #2 held on his tail . . . The crowd was edgy - veteran fans knew the way this race can go . . . holy shit - the tension was high when the White Flag came out - still, Coolbeth did not pass . . .
As the pair shot the back straight, Coolbeth finally broke loose with a bold draft pass to Smith's outside - taking the lead, and gaining 3 bike lengths in the process. Expecting Smith to counter, the crowd came alive - on their feet ! Screamin' to the finish, Smith went for it - and came up .009 tenths too short. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. wins The Springfield Mile ! It went from one of the most (I hate to say "boring" main events), but - to one of the best ever. Coolbeth announced with pride: "Harley-Davidson Wins Springfield" . . . possibly the most fitting ending which could be the final hurrah for the greatest motorcycle racing engine ever manufactured . . . The XR750. Congratulation Kenny - You made my weekend !
I would like to add that Bryan Smith was most gracious in his 2nd Place speech about the race. Smith is a true champion racer in his own right, and a senior member of the dirt track fraternity. I'd sure like to see Bryan get that #1 plate (it ain't for lack of trying) and congrats to Cory Texter for his on-the-box finish. Texter just gets better on the miles every year, and will see the top spot soon.
Kenny & Hux earlier in the day . . .
Picture perfect - See ya'll soon ! . . -Ricky