Pro Superbike racer Chris Ulrich got a TV reporter and a
lucky fan excited about motorcycle road racing with 120-mph rides on his GEICO
Honda CBR1000RR two-seat Superbike at Sonoma Raceway Thursday, ahead of the Arai
Pacific Nationals, Round Two of the GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout
Presented by Yamaha series.
Andrea Nakano, a sports anchor for Comcast Sports Net and KPIX,
the CBS TV affiliate in San Francisco, had never ridden on a motorcycle before
and isn’t exactly a big fan of thrill rides like roller coasters, but after
riding two laps with Ulrich on the undulating 2.3-mile, 12-turn road course at
Sonoma Raceway she said she gained a new appreciation for motorcycle road racing.
“It’s amazing for someone to be able to do that with someone
on the back,” of a motorcycle, said Nakano, “I can’t imagine what it’s like
actually in a race when there’s other motorcycles out there.
“As a reporter, it’s always interesting to watch sports,
especially if you played some sports. You kind of get a feel for what it’s like
to be out there on the field doing different things. But for most people they’ve
never been able to enjoy sports like motorcycle racing, so to actually get a
feel for what it’s like it just gives you new appreciation for the athletes and
Ulrich also gave a ride to the lucky winner of a contest put
on by motorcycle accessory retailer Cycle Gear. In addition to a set of riding
gear to cover him head to toe, Josh Bracht won a ride with Ulrich, which was better
than the hardcore motorcycle road racing fan imagined.
“I’m speechless. It’s just unbelievable,” said Bracht. “It
was a lot more than I thought it would be! Unbelievable!”
Bracht is built like a football player, standing over six
feet tall and weighing around 275 pounds, he said, but there was no problem for
Cycle Gear to outfit him in gear and no problem for Ulrich or his Dunlop-shod Honda
CBR1000RR to give him the thrill of a lifetime.
“I got with Cycle Gear and said, ‘Look! I’m a bigger guy.’ I
know sometimes these are factors because the bikes aren’t built for that. They’re
built for single racers. Even streetbikes have a limit. I was worried about
that, but they checked with [Ulrich’s] team and it was all good. I was still a little
hesitant today. I was thinking I might get out here and suited up and [they
might say] ‘Hey, maybe not.’ But the things he can do with me on the back of
that bike were just blew me away. I never expected that much.”
Ulrich's ride opportunity was made possible by AHRMA (www.ahrma.org), which is racing its historic motorcycles again Friday at Sonoma Raceway.
For over a decade, Ulrich and his team have
offered rides on two-seat racebikes to reporters, celebrities and fans to help
promote road racing events and motorcycling in general. Ulrich has given more
than 700 two-seat race bike rides since 2003.
“It was another great day,” said Ulrich. “Our guest from the
media was very new to this and a little bit apprehensive, but at the end of the
day I think we created a new fan. And of course we had the guest from Cycle
Gear. He’s a true enthusiast, and he’s going to come back out this weekend for
the races. That was a pleasure to give a one-off experience to a fan and give
him some time at the two-seater at Sonoma Raceway. Hopefully they will both
share their experiences with others and it will help grow the sport of
motorcycle road racing in America.”