The Motorcycle Roadracing Association (MRA) was honored to hold its seventh race round of the season this last weekend, September 24 -25, at High Plains Raceway, in Deer Tail, Colorado. The ‘Full Course’ configuration was set for the competitors of this last chance for racing with the MRA in 2022. The typical grids of sprint races, endurance races, and the premier class event of the Race of the Rockies was to be the highlight of the weekend’s activities.
The weather was extremely favorable for the weekend, with sun, little breeze, and temps in the high 70’s and low 80’s for most of it. Though of note, the cool air of a Colorado fall morning did appear and temps were in the low 50’s to start the weekend. Saturday did dawn very crisp and it did see a couple of riders slipping and sliding around their practice sessions. The fall air that was but a hint at the last round, showing its brisk full face for this event.
With it being the final round and with several championships on the line, the races on Saturday were special. The entire day was punctuated with competitive and fierce racing, regardless of the class or cc’s. Battles at the front of every class. Borrowed bikes, with well-worn and beat up riders everywhere. The kinetic energy in the pits was palpable. The drive and will of the racers to finish their season were boiling over. Last-lap passes and crashes would become a common site as the weekend wore on.
At one point during the Novice GTO race, there were a total of five bikes down, with five rides up and trudging from the impact zones. There was no stoppage in play as the bikes all well cleared the racing surface and all the riders popped up and immediately headed for the safety of the local bunkers. A statistic that the track support and operations crew hopes is not challenged again any time soon.
The evening was celebrated with an event to honor that very same track support and safety crew. A judged chili competition was held as well as a raffle with prizes for the tenured safety crew. Special mention to Erik Maxwell, chili #8 and winner of the first ever “Black Plate & White Script” MRA chili award.
This reporter was thrilled not to be a judge for this event as every chili tasted was simply divine and the competition was ridiculously close. Dinner and the club’s pot-o-Luck saw a majority of the paddock, racers and guests well fed; with smiles and shared tales of the days races floating on the air. Extra thanks to all those brave cooking competitors and story tellers for making the evenings celebration event so successful.
On Sunday, Race of the Rockies GTO & GTU (RORO & RORU) was in fact the race to watch. It had a little bit of everything this last weekend. Drama, heartache, loss, and of course a winner. In the Open class, James Wilkerson and the 2022 champion Mike Applegate snuck off to an early lead together. Yet as they slowly battled back and forth over the course of half a dozen laps, it brought a third rider back into the mix. Ray Thornton was able to capitalize on some late-race pace and get in between Mike and James just before the end. It may have been Thornton’s last chance to wear the number-one plate for a while, but he wore it well on Sunday!
In the RORU class, it was the drama and heartache that came to the fore. Ken Yee had a mechanical about halfway through the race while leading the class and defending from Jared Dear. On the very last lap, Jered Dear crashed out of Turn 10 while defending the lead from Jeremiah Downing. (All riders OK)
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 the Awards Banquet in October!