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Sep 15, 2001

Dale Quarterley Talks About His Return To Motorcycle Racing At Loudon

Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>New England Performance's Scott Greenwood, Brett Guyer and Jeff Wood (Wood making his first ride on a four-cylinder bike) won an LRRS-sanctioned 3-hour race at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire on Labor Day, riding a Suzuki GSX-R600. But while the LRRS endurance race drew 35 team entries and was popular with racers, the highlight of the event was a special guest ride by Dale Quarterley, the last man to win an AMA Superbike race as a privateer.<BR><BR>"One of my buddies, David White, asked me this winter if I'd come up and do that endurance race with him," said Quarterley in a phone interview from his Westfield, Massachusetts home. "So at that point I was, ‘Yeah, yeah, I'll do it.' So anyway, he's been bugging me the last couple of weeks, ‘Are you gonna come? You gonna come?' I finally went up and went for a ride. The first time since '96."<BR><BR>Getting back on a bicycle is one thing, but how was it to jump back on a road racer? "First I went out on…they have the Penguin school up there run by Jerry Wood. He let me take his Ducati (900 SS) out to kind of get acclimated again. He says he goes like 1:17s on it, and I was out there going 1:30s on it. I go out in an Expert practice, and I get it down to…I start the practice doing 1:25s and I get it down to 1:21s. Then I come and I'm kind of getting going at that point, but the bike should go 1:17s. I know what I'm doing wrong: I don't want to go faster than I'm going. <BR><BR>"Endurance practice rolls around and I go out on a different bike. It was an SV650, one of those Suzuki things. Someone had just done the suspension over, and I didn't like the thing at all. The thing was terrible to ride. So I stopped. We worked on it some. I sent the kid that owned it back out, adjusted it, got him going, and I got back on it and did a few laps. I started the race, and what I did was I basically found a group of guys that I felt comfortable with and ran with them for a little while. And they just kind of got me going again, and then I got by those guys and got with the next group of guys. Then I ride with them for a little while and they got me going a little better. By the time I got off, I was doing high-1:19s/low-1:20s kind of consistently. But it got me going just enough that when I got back on for my second stint, I drove out of the pits and my first lap was like a 1:18.8. Within a few laps, I had it going 1:18.5s, then 1:18.2s, and I tittered between low-1:18s and low-1:19s my whole stint. At that point, I was going pretty decent. I think the track record on one of those bikes is a 1:16.5. So I was like a-second-and-a-half off the pace, but I don't think the bike would do a 1:16.5. Not the way it was set up anyways.<BR><BR>"We finished fourth overall on a GT Light bike. The first GTO bike was Team Pepsi in sixth, then the next one finished 10th. There was only a couple of GTO bikes anyway. I think there was three. The top three were all on GTU bikes, 600s."<BR><BR>Talking about the SV650, Quarterley said "The thing was great. You know what it was? It was a fast EX500. That's exactly what it was except they took the hinge in the middle out. But if that thing hits the ground, it's because you made it hit the ground. It does nothing wrong on its own. It handles well. It turns in well. The frame's nice and stiff. It's not all flexed up when you're on the brakes. It had a killer powerband. It was a joy to ride. It was a really nice bike to ride."<BR><BR>Will Dale Quarterley race some more at? "I doubt it," said Quarterley, who drives in the NASCAR Busch North series. "Who knows? But I have been trying to stay focused on my car stuff and not do anything else. Like I said, I told them that I would do it, and I did it."<BR><BR>Asked why he thinks he has succeeded in stock car racing when other established motorcycle road racers haven't, Quarterley said "The biggest difference--and it hinders me as well as helps me--is that I'm into the mechanical end of what's going on more than they are. I don't think Mike Hale's a mechanic. He's a rider. And Jamie James struggles with the mechanical end although he's a decent mechanic. Because I can do the mechanical end, we can run the team, build the cars, repair the cars, do everything here, then when I'm at the track I have a better idea of what's going on. I think that's what's hurting those guys that they're having to come up with the money and have some team run the deal. But when things aren't going right, they can't step in and help."<BR><BR>Asked what it would take for him to make the jump to Winston Cup cars, Quarterley said "At this point, just getting a break. I'm just getting to the point where I could actually do that, take that step. It's just getting a break and having someone giving me a chance to go do it. If I'm going to do it on my own, then I need someone to sign that sponsorship deal and put me there. Yeah, if someone gave me three million bucks, I could be there tomorrow.<BR><BR>"It's not a very big jump from where I am to the Winston Cup cars. There is one more step between me and there, though. There's the Busch South. There's two series: Busch North, which is what I run; and there's Busch South. It's generally the same car. They run on radials and we run on bias-ply tires. Everything else is the same. Running bias-ply tires is cheaper. It's $1400 a round for radials and $600 a round for bias-ply tires."<BR><BR>Asked his view on the controversy surrounding the AMA National at Loudon earlier this season, Quarterley said "It's a double-sided sword, first of all. The question is, should you be going 160 mph in the rain in the first place? That's the big question. Forget safety. You know, track-to-track-to-track, should you be going 160 mph in the rain to begin with? The back side of it is, if it's good enough for one racetrack, it's good enough for all of them. Daytona's the only place you shouldn't run in the rain, guaranteed, no question about it, because there's nothing you can do about hitting those white stripes up on the banking. Everyone of them is a mini ice slick. Nevermind the chicane has 500 gallons of oil coming up out of it when it rains. That first year that they made us ride, that I can remember, in the endurance race they had the pace car and I wouldn't ride, and they spun the pace car going into the inner-loop. What was that, '86 or something? I was riding for Dutchman. They spun the pace car out in front of the whole group going into the inner-loop. <BR><BR>"Loudon itself is no worse than Mid-Ohio or than Sears used to be. The general layout is…except when you have a freak deal like Duhamel in turn one…there's nothing to hit in turn one. Turn 1A, there's a ton of runoff before you hit the wall. Turn three, you know they have that tire barricade 20 yards back. You know up over the hillside, down the hill there's a ton of runoff. I'd like to see them change the crest of the hill when you come back up over the hill. I'd like to see that part of the course change. You go down, the bowl goes downhill then it starts coming back uphill, goes left, then goes left again and comes up over the hill. At the crest of the hill, the second time you crest the hill, I'd like to see that part of the course changed. Before you get there, the track should go right where the trees are. Mow a couple of trees down to go right and actually back up to the right and do a big sweeping left to go downhill. So if you fall, the one place I could see you getting hurt at Loudon is coming back down the hill, coming back into the Speedway. You know if you pitch it there, you're going above the back end of that wall. We should come onto that straight, which would be an easy thing to do. I mean it would only take a couple of pieces of pavement. <BR><BR>"And we're back to the same thing, if you're gonna run at any of them (in the rain), you need to run at all of them in the rain. Either you're gonna run ‘em or you're not. You can't pick and choose racetracks."<BR><BR>Asked if he would race in the rain, if he was back on the AMA Pro Series as a rider, Quarterley said "If we were racing, yes, I would race in the rain.<BR><BR>"The other side of the coin is, are they (the AMA Pro riders) not riding because of their money contracts? We used to make a living on minuscule base pay and what you made at the races (purse and performance bonuses). Now these guys are making whatever, a million bucks a year, and they don't want to get hurt. Is that the reason that they're not riding in the rain, because they don't need the $2,000 that Loudon pays to win? You know what I mean? If that's the case, then they're lying about what the real problem is. And that's, I think that's more of what's going on than racing in the rain. I think it has to do with those guys getting hurt and losing money."<BR>