The Motorcycle Roadracing Association (MRA) was excited to hold its fourth race round of the season this last weekend [July 16-17] at club-affiliated High Plains Raceway (HPR) located in Deer Trail, CO. The Full Course configuration was on offer for the competitors of this event and the annual 4-hour Endurance event was held. It is the one round of the year when the MRA makes the Endurance races the premier event of the day.
The weather could be described in a single word. That word is hot, with temperatures in the high 90’s at HPR for the entire weekend and the riders facing blistering heat and sun as well as the typical Colorado style storm fronts blowing through in the late afternoon. With the history of this event, the conditions were anticipated, and the MRA declares the 4-hour Endurance a “flag to flag” race from the start. The competitors not only had to contend with each other and the clock, but had to persevere through several track drenching cloud bursts as well!
Run on Saturday afternoon, the basic rules of this Endurance race were simple in their way: Complete the most laps in four hours to win. All small specific rules and fiddly protocols aside, this race can be accomplished in three ways. First by a solo rider in the ‘Titanium Butt’ class. Completed as a team of up to four riders switching out on one bike in the ‘True Endurance’ class. As well completed as a team of up to four riders and four bikes, where the transponder must be handed off like a relay baton in what is known as the ‘Pony Express’ class. All three classes share the track and battle it out for four hours straight.
Stephen Townsend, MRA Alumni and ‘Veteran Club White Plate’, who came home to Colorado to visit specifically for the event, took the honorable mention as he completed 104 laps, and won this year’s “Titanium Butt” class competition. Just as it sounds, 104 laps in four hours, all by himself. With a total of 106 laps, team ‘MotherTruckers’ won the ‘True Endurance’ class, and with a total of 109 laps team ‘Wounded Knees’ won the ‘Pony Express’ class. (Participants and times/laps listed out in detail below.)
The real draw of this event was the sportsmanship that came out of the woodwork late in the race day. There were several instances of rivals and class competitors cheering each other on, helping to do minor fixes and maintenance on each other’s bikes, and giving each other water and fuel. Even going so far as to check in on each other to make sure that ‘sway’ or ‘wobble’ wasn’t heat exhaustion. Of particular note, one full motor swap was completed on a vintage R6, right there in the paddock under a pop-up tent. The clubmen were even able to get the bike started for a short while, before the starter failed again. Fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, a little luck does tend to play its part in this event.
Lastly about the Endurance, many examples of on-track of thumbs ups and waves were noted, and the giving of a little extra space was common. The MRA endurance round is,and fully becomes toward the end of the clock what club racing is all about. People passionate about motorcycles racing and riding their hearts out for their friends, teams, clubs and hometowns! This reporter personally witnessed one of the fastest racers on track give space too and ride around the outside of one of slowest riders around Turn 8 very late in the race. Turn 8 is an extremely tight left hairpin at HPR. The faster rider slowed, made sure the other could see, and then gave a huge thumbs up for the nice clean predictable line as they rolled toward Turn 9. Nods were returned and if a helmet could smile, it did. Competitive sportsmanship at its finest.
Sunday dawned just as bright and hot as the day before. What rain came down overnight simply added humidity, with no relief for the racers. Race of the Rockies GTO & GTU (RORO & RORU) were again in the forefront of the participants mind. Despite an early red flag that saw one bike down into Turn One (as well as one ride up and OK) the race got off to its usual fast and fierce start. In the RORO class Mike Applegate continued his winning ways and pulled off another extremely strong and consistent race to see the checkered flag first. James Wilkerson saw the fastest lap of the race with a 1:48.6 but was unable to use that speed consistently enough to reel in Applegate. Joseph Resta secured the final step of the podium.
In the RORU class, Liam Grant, who started near the very back of the grid, was able to battle his way through most of the grid and was showing wheel to many of the 1000cc machines. Mr. Grant not only took first in the class, but third overall in the race. A truly impressive ride, on an ‘under powered’ machine. He was rumored to have been on one of his MotoAmerica-spec middleweight bikes, but when asked, he simply offered a friendly, if sly, smile and said, “Super happy to be here and support the MRA for this. I’m here to put in the work for my team, and I ride what they give me.” He would be coaxed no further on the topic, at least by this reporter. Congratulations Liam! Ken Yee and Jared Dear also battled through a handful of bigger bikes to take 5th and 6th overall, as well as 2nd and 3rd in their class respectively. Congratulations to all the ROR competitors!
Special thanks and nods to CAMA, the HPR facility/staff and the MRA safety team/trackside operations staff. Thanks to all of those that lent a hand in one fashion or another during the event. Thanks to all that participated in the Pot Luck and awards ceremony for the Endurance that ran late into the evening.
Dedicated to family friendly and close, competitive racing, the MRA thanks everyone involved for their support and patronage this last weekend, and hopes to see everyone again for Round Five coming August 6-7 at Pueblo Motorsports Park.