Doing 140 mph on the back of a bike
INDEX-TRIBUNE EDITOR David Bolling found himself on the back of a motorcycle at speeds approaching 140 miles an hour.
Courtesy Infineon Raceway
Putting on the Dainese one-piece leather suit, with the padded spine protector, the wrist-length leather gloves, the steel-toed racing boots and the AGV full-face helmet took considerably longer than two laps around Infineon Raceway's 12-turn, 2.32 mile AMA road course.
Riding behind pro-racer Chris Ulrich - at speeds up to 140 mph - on a 190-horsepower 1,000-cc, Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike, I experienced each lap in well under 2 minutes. Which is about how long it took me to remember to start breathing again.
If you cover Infineon long enough, and you are afflicted with permanent adolescent auto-moto-fixation, you eventually get to put in some track time in a variety of cars. I've been chauffeured around Infineon by great drivers in astounding cars, I've driven it myself in a variety of high performance machines, but no four-wheeled experience even remotely approaches the level of visceral impact, G-generating stop-and-go forces and raw speed as an AMA Superbike, and Suzuki virtually owns Infineon, with almost twice as many wins as the nearest competitors.
The whole idea was to give ordinary journalists a taste of what it's like at speed on a two-wheeled race machine that has been clocked at 195 on the course at Daytona, and that is arguably more exhausting to drive, by a factor of two, than any other form of motor racing.
The hot laps were part of the buildup to this weekend's West Coast Moto Jam, an orgy of motorcycle racing embracing AMA Superbikes, AMA Pro Daytona SportBikes, and AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport classes.
New for 2011, there will also be an AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series, with big-twin Harley-Davidson XR1200s running a one-race battle over the weekend. There will also be a return of the TTXGP North American Championship electric, zero carbon motorcycles.
Mission Motors, in San Francisco, will make the racing debut of its new electric factory bike, the Mission R, which features an advanced MissionEVT electric powertrain that packs 14KwH and 141 horsepower, and can reach a top speed of 160 mph in a single gear.
The weekend will also feature a motorcycle art show, motorcycle demo rides, AMA rider autograph sessions, a track-talk Q&A session, and a bustling Motor Sports Midway jammed with food, drinks, entertainment and after-market products.
Tickets are $15 to $35 for a single day, or $60 for the weekend, with kids 12-and-under are free. Parking is free as well. And military discounts are available. For more information, call 800-870-RACE (7223), or go to infineonraceway.com/ama.ticketmaster.com.
And following the West Coast Moto Jam will be the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival and Celebrate Sonoma Day, the weekend of June 4-5.
Featured marque for the Historic Motorsports Festival will be McLaren, one of the most successful names in motor racing. During the festival, the new McLaren MP4-12C supercar will be on display and numerous McLarens will be entered in the weekend's races.
The weekend will also feature the Wine Country Pavilion with food and wine samples from the Sonoma and Napa valleys, headlined by notable Bay Area chef Victor Scarglea.