Talladega, AL The weather could not have been more perfect in Central Alabama for a weekend of motorcycles screaming around track for the inaugural Marietta Motorsport Four Hour EX250 Endurance race.
In a field consisting entirely of EX250 racebikes, Team S.S.P. took the overall win at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway aboard their Bridgestone shod 2008 Ninja. S.S.P's margin of victory, after four hours of back and forth battling, was only 31 seconds over Kat Duke owned, Team KAT. Red Fox Racing salvaged a respectable third, just a few laps back, after missing the previous day's practice due to a motor swap. Since the overall podium finishers for the endurance race were all on newer model EX250s, the finishing order was the same for the Woodcraft Technologies sponsored 2008+ Class.
The gap in finishing positions of the Vortex Racing sponsored Pre-2008 class was greater due to some teams taking advantage of a rule allowing an upgrade to the newer model's 17" wheels onto the older bikes. This upgrade allows for a greater selection of tires more suited to racing than what is available with the stock 16" rims. The comically named "3 Ninjas and a Mexican" not only used the 17" wheels on their 2003 EX250 but with creative pit board signals and well planned pit stops were able to beat endurance veterans BEI Racing owned by Billy Ethridge. "I had more fun in this race than I have in a long time on a motorcycle," said Ethridge after a rider change. "Next time we'll upgrade those wheels or we'll bring one of the newer models but we will be coming back for a win!"
Aztec8.com Racing rounded out the Vortex Racing Pre-2008 Class podium with their third place finish after picking up their 1995 EX from Marietta Motorsports. "We bought the bike based on a cell phone picture from someone who had prepped it for WERA's E-Superstock class. Marietta Motorsports had done a lot of the work on it so we had the owner drop the bike off there. We picked it up on the way to Alabama from Jacksonville, got it off the trailer and put it on the box!" explained an excited team owner Travis Richard as he loaded his bike and plaque. "My teammates Al Smith and Darrell Ryals made up for my riding but I'm hooked. I'm going to start club racing it back at Jennings!"
Other than a few run-offs, the weekend's only mishap was a redflag (race stop) event near the one hour mark of the endurance race when Chuck Suarsaune of "Tally Me Bannanas" dropped a wheel off the track coming onto the front straight. "I was signaling to another rider who was entering the pits and the massive power of the EX250 just pushed me wide out of the turn," joked Suarsaune after being checked out by the on-sight medics. "As soon as the wheel touched the grass it was all over and I was tumbling down the track." The race resumed after the 15 minute redflag that allowed the corner workers to recover the bike and ensure the safety of the rider.
The weekend also saw the 17 year return to racing of Talladega Gran Prix Raceway designer, race school operator, race director, safety consultant, and legend: Ed Bargy. "Sippy Cup Monkeys" secretly recruited Bargy as a teammate for their 1997 EX team and only announced his addition as a rider the day of the race. Bargy had plenty of practice as he'd just finished instructing one of his Ed Bargy Race Schools at the track the day prior. It was difficult to tell who was more thrilled: the other riders who could now say they raced with Ed Bargy or Bargy himself when he stepped off the bike after his stint.
The checkered flag for the endurance race concluded a fun and safe weekend of an open track day, endurance practice, and an Ed Bargy Race School on Saturday and the Marietta Motorsport Four Hour EX250 Endurance race on Sunday. Photographs, race results, team sponsors, and "there I was" stories from the weekend are being posted on the www.EX250endurance.com website and the fansite at www.facebook.com/EX250Endurance.
Organizer and owner of Marietta Motorsports Craig "Huey" Stewart would like to thank everyone for making the event possible: Woodcraft Technologies, Vortex Racing, and Bridgestone Tires for offering contingency to the racers; Derrick "Stickboy" Bennett with Stickboy Racing for tire fitting; WERA; Sharon; Flagging by Fanisha for professional race control and corner work; Tony Pentacost from King Awards; the Upchurch's of Talladega Gran Prix Raceway; the announcing skills of Mr. Microphone; Anne Roberts for her support; and of course all the riders, crew, friends, family and fans that attend this event. "We will do this again!"
The Woodcraft Technologies sponsored 2008+ Class
1. Team S.S.P. #646
Riders: Chris Spencer, Jamie Spencer and Chris Parrish
Sponsors: Turner's Cycle, Bridgestone, Ghetto Customs
2. Team KAT #973
Riders: James Stroud, Blake Jones, Kris Turner
Sponsors: Stroud Racing, Dunlop, EBC, Vortex, XXX Fuel, Pit Bull, Amsoil, Elk River Powersports
3. Red Fox Racing #1
Riders: Peter Hupperich, Dillon Atkins, Keith Wilson
Sponsors: Ohlins, Bridgestone, RM Racing, Slingshotracing, Sportisimoto-USA, Vortex, Vesrah
4. Mosley Racing #662
Riders: Jimmy Mosley, J.D. Mosley
Sponsors: Mosley MFG + Machine Works, Line Boring Inc.
5. Team Yo! #334
Riders: Kurt Kesler, Morris Foor, Derrick "Stickboy" Bennett, Jason Padilla
Sponsors: Bridgestone, ST Services
6. Tallywackers #24
Riders: Jeff Hicks, Luke Drown, Jimmy Itabashi, Mike Quirin
Sponsors: JenningsGP, Bridgestone
7. Tally Ho's #55
Riders: Jim Whitehead, G Robin Davis, Regan Payne, Michael Jetter, John Moragne
8. Blue Ridge Performance #17
Riders: Gary Schilling, Lyles Sanders, Robert Sanders
Sponsors: EBC, Leo Vince, Motul, Pit Bull,Traxxion Dynnamics, Woodcraft
9. McDonald #122
Riders: Steven McDonald, William McDonald, Nathan McDonald
10. Tally Me Bananas #66
Riders: Chuck Suarsaune, Tony Read, James Walker
The Vortex Racing sponsored Pre-2008 class
1. 3 Ninjas and a Mexican #217
Riders: Jeff Juskowich, Alex Valcarcell, Dave Wysong, Justin Merletti
Sponsors: The Color Spot, Bridgestone, 720 Racing, XXX Fuel, Woodcraft
2. BEI Racing #72
Riders: Billy Ethridge, Max Norton
Sponsors: Team Xtreme, Levinge Motorsports, Thermosman, Ohlins, Pitbull, Sidi, Shoei, Motorsport Graphics, Vesrah
3. Aztec8.com Racing #13
Riders: Travis Richards, Al Smith, Darrell Ryals
4. Sippy Cup Monkeys #208
Riders: Karl Lemmer, Stephen Green, James Miller, John Wellford, Ed Bargy
Sponsors: Black Catt Racing, Cycle Gear, Woodcraft
5. Dennit Racing #334
Riders: Stephen Laffoon, Max Perethian, Oliver Baird
Sponsors: Kurt Kessler