Round 1 of the 2023 NorthEast Motorcycle Road Racing (NEMRR) series kicked off April 22-23 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway under clear but cool conditions, typical of an April event in New England.
The excitement during this particular off-season has been palpable, as the series has been focused on the upcoming 100th running of the Loudon Classic in June. The record-breaking $250,000 purse and $55,000 winners take has attracted a group of top-level talent and teams of a size and pedigree that the Northeast has not seen in the 20 years since AMA Pro Racing last visited the speedway.
Although this opening weekend was attended by primarily the series regulars, it was apparent that many riders had made significant extra efforts to prepare top-shelf equipment for the big event in June.
In a good sign for the series and our sport, the new rider classes that open NEMRR events every Saturday were well-attended and full of new faces. Starting with the Super Street Classes, which were introduced several years ago as a half step into racing, riders on track day-prepared machines run a combined “heat race” to get a feel for what it’s like to start a session with a green flag. These mostly-for-fun classes are broken into Unlimited and Lightweight displacement divisions, with the overall win coming from Randy Morrissette on his Ducati Panigale.
The Rookie Race, which starts each race weekend for the NEMRR Novice racers and serves as a “final exam” for those seeking a license, had the largest turnout in recent memory and was won by Nino Jordan.
NEMRR is one of the only clubs in the nation that runs a novice racer class, which creates a idea atmosphere for new riders as it completely separates this group form experienced racers as they learn our sport.
The feature race of NEMRR weekend is the Michelin/MotoRace dash for cash, a Middleweight Grand Prix contest that will form the basis for the 100th running of the Loudon Classic. Conspicuously absent was 2022 champion Scott Greenwood, who dominated the class in 2022 but was forced to sit on the sidelines due to a lingering shoulder injury sustained playing hockey this winter.
Greenwood’s absence left the field wide open, and at the start of the race, Eli Block, who was the closest challenger to Greenwood in 2022, led the way on his freshly upgraded Yamaha R6. Starting from the back row, meanwhile, was the talented Tyler Sweeney on a Yamaha R6 that was the equal of Block’s machine.
Sweeney has not been a full-time participant in the NEMRR series for several years but has made an appearance at most of the Loudon Classic events and has always been a podium contender.
The dropping temperatures led NEMRR officials to shorten the normal 12-lap event to 8 laps, and Sweeney got right to work and moved into second place by lap three. From there, the gap between the two front runners closed at a rate of just over a second per lap with Sweeney taking the lead on lap six. This move lit a fire under Block, who dropped nearly a second a lap and made a strong effort to close the gap to the leader. As the two leaders rocketed out of the final corner, Block’s R6 was visibly spinning and sliding. His effort came up half a bikelength short as Sweeney held on for the win.
Sunday’s races were held under less favorable conditions as constant rain and temperatures in the low 40’s dominated the day. Of the riders who braved the conditions, the pair of Paul Duval and Tom Hynes led the way with each rider securing two wins. Both riders were Yamaha R6 -mounted and took turns churning out the fastest lap times of the day and trading wins on the racetrack. In the end, Duval secured the fastest lap and took the final head-to-head victory in the K-Tech Suspension Middleweight Supersport Class.
Round Two of the NEMRR Series with be held May 13-14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will give fans a preview of the Loudon Classic as several of the top professionals attending the big race will be using round two as an opportunity to test. Enthusiasts looking for tickets to the historic 100th running of the Loudon Classic June 16-18 can find a link directly on the www.nemrr.com home page!