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May 9, 2001

Erion Honda In Secret Test To Judge Feasibility Of Racing At California Speedway

Copyright 2001 Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>In a secret test held late Tuesday afternoon, May 8, Erion Honda joined AMA Superbike Operations Manager Ron Barrick at California Speedway to determine if it is feasible to hold an AMA race at the Fontana, California track.<BR><BR>After being tipped to the test by a mole deep inside AMA Pro Racing, Roadracing World assigned David Swarts to visit the Speedway and see what was going on.<BR><BR>But Swarts' visit to the Speedway was cut short when Barrick asked him to leave the facility.<BR><BR>"The track wants to keep this real low key. They don't want any publicity of this," Barrick told Swarts.<BR><BR>Before leaving, Swarts was able to learn that the Speedway, best known for its 2.0-mile D-shaped banked oval, also has an existing 1.3-mile road course in the infield, although little if any of the existing track would be used for AMA Superbike racing if the track signs on as a promoter.<BR><BR>Barrick confirmed that there are plans in the blueprint stage to build a completely new infield road course to accommodate motorcycles and other road racing vehicles. "What they have now is just for testing purposes," said Barrick, who added that a new road course could be ready in time to put it on the 2002 AMA schedule.<BR><BR>Erion Honda's semi-truck transporter was casually parked in the huge paddock area, where two CBR600F4i and one 2000-spec CBR929RR Hondas were unloaded for Jake Zemke and Mark Miller to ride. <BR><BR>One of the 600s had Miller's #24 on the plates even though he does not race 600s for Erion in the AMA series. The bikes did not appear to be equipped with data acquisition systems but were fitted with Daytona gearing, according to Erion Crew Chief Rick Hobbs. The initial plan was for the riders to ride the oval as it went "green" at 5:00 p.m. PDT, then to move on to the road course.<BR><BR>Miller asked Hobbs what he should do when he ran out of gearing and Hobbs replied, "Just roll out of it."<BR><BR>Along with Barrick, Miller, Zemke and Hobbs, the test was attended by Erion Honda owner Kevin Erion, several members of the Erion crew, a large number of California Speedway safety crewmen, and many men in shirt and ties believed to be executives with the track or its parent company, International Speedway Corporation.<BR><BR>Orange traffic cones were arranged throughout the infield course, blocking crossroads and serving as braking markers. Cones were also placed on the front straight and entering turn one. Braking reference point boards, labeled 3, 2, 1, were attached to the oval track's outside catch fencing approaching turn one.<BR><BR>The infield of the California Speedway is relatively flat and free from any major obstructions. This will allow some freedom of creativity in the design of the new road course.<BR><BR>The Speedway's infrastructure is well developed, and the track recently hosted a sell-out crowd of 120,000 for a NASCAR event. There are permanent garage spaces for what looked to be close to 100 cars, water fountains and bathrooms on the end of every paddock building, a dedicated parking area for 18-wheelers with power hook-ups, 71 corporate hospitality suites above the garages on pit lane with rooftop viewing areas, and Sky Boxes on top of the 86,000-seat grandstand.<BR><BR>Built in just 18 months prior to its 1997 opening, California Speedway features 14 degrees of banking in the turns, 11 degrees of banking on the front straight, and four degrees of banking on the back straight. According to the California Speedway website, Mauricio Gugelmin used the track to set a record for the fastest lap around a closed course at 240.942 mph in 1997. The speedway racing surface is 75 feet wide with a 15-foot apron road around the bottom edge of the entire track. The facility offers extremely easy access for the Southern California area as it is located at the intersection of the I-10 and I-15 freeways, approximately 50 miles west of Los Angeles, 60 miles east of Palm Springs, 90 miles north of San Diego, and 250 miles southwest of Las Vegas. The track has paved parking for up to 32,000 vehicles and even features its own Metrolink train stop. The $133 million facility has been used in the making of several feature films, including "Charlies Angels" and "Driven".<BR><BR>International Speedway Corporation bought the track from Penske in 1999. International Speedway Corporation owns several major racing facilities in the United States, including Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Raceway, Phoenix International Raceway, Virginia International Raceway, North Carolina Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Nazareth Raceway, and Watkins Glen. <BR><BR>William France is the Chairman and CEO of International Speedway Corporation, which is based in Daytona Beach, Florida. Roger Penkse is the Vice Chairman of the Corporation.<BR><BR>International Speedway Corporation trades on the NASDAQ as ISCA and reached a 52-week high price of $48.00 per share on May 2, 2001.<BR><BR>Before Swarts left the track, Barrick asked how Roadracing World found out about the test.<BR><BR>"This is what we do," Swarts told Barrick.
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