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100th Annual Loudon Classic Motorcycle Race


The Loudon Classic is touted as the oldest motorcycle race in the country and this year, for the centennial event, organizers offered the largest purse in American motorcycle history with $250,000 up for grabs. Registration filled to capacity within 20 minutes of opening and the entry list was a hodgepodge of racers, from racing legend Josh Hayes to local club racers to the likes of Blake. Blake competed on his Yamaha R6 that we built with the help of his sponsors for the Daytona 200 held in March. Only problem was: the bike was built adhering to MotoAmerica’s rules, meaning it had limited modifications. The Loudon Classic has no limits on what you can do to the motorcycle; you can make it as fast as you want. However, the plan is to race the bike again in 2024’s Daytona 200, so we chose not to invest in modifications. Blake knew that for the Loudon Classic he would have to use his race skills to compensate for being underpowered.


FRIDAY - CLUB RACES & QUALIFYING

Northeast Motorcycle Road Racing (NEMRR), a club series, hosted the event at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. Friday, Blake entered some of NEMRR’s sprint races to get some extra practice time. It helped to work on different sectors of the track, like finding good race lines, brake markers, and such while allowing him and Mike to fine tune the motorcycle. Meanwhile he collected a third and 2 second place finishes. Originally, the schedule included two practice sessions for the Loudon Classic and then a qualifying session on Friday afternoon. However, with a huge storm rolling in, they decided the practice sessions would be qualifiers. In the first session, Blake did his personal best and felt really comfortable but knew he could do better in the second session, and he did. He said he felt really fast, so was disappointed/surprised to see he only earned the 12th spot on the starting grid. Throughout the day, Blake would mention a vibration he was feeling. In all his adjustments Friday, Mike couldn’t find it. So that night, Mike decided he was just going to go over the motorcycle, doing his regular maintenance and low and behold, he found the problem. As he was replacing the clutch he discovered the outer clutch basket was broken. This was good and bad. It was good that he found the problem and bad because he didn’t have a clutch basket, and he’d need to find all the broken pieces to ensure there were none in the motor. Scott Greenwood, whose sone would be racing against Blake in the Loudon Classic the next day, heard of our dilemma and, at 11:00 at night, drove to his house, 45 minutes away, to get a spare that he had, so Blake could race! Have I said it before? There’s nothing like moto-family! Mike worked until 4:00 Saturday morning, finding each and every piece that broke off –in the oil pan! That Yoshimura exhaust sounded sweeter than ever when he started the motorcycle that morning and it ran smoothly.


SATURDAY - THE LOUDON CLASSIC

The storm came in Friday evening and the rain continued throughout Saturday. Dunlop consulted with Mike and Blake to figure the best plan and changed tires in between sessions, working to find the best tires for him. There was a steady rain for the first session Saturday, Blake finished in third. The track was still wet for the second session even though there was little to no rain and he felt good then too. Dunlop helped give him the confidence that no matter the track conditions, he’d be okay. By the time the race rolled around, the rain was pouring and Blake was smiling. There’s a lot of racers that get nervous in the rain, but it doesn’t bother Blake, so he was thankful for the advantage and happy to start racing. The racers took their spots on the grid, Blake was in 12th and the lights went out. Blake went straight to third and just as the leaders were finishing their first lap, there was a red flag; someone crashed. Red flags aren’t uncommon, no one batted an eye and the racers re-gridded, the lights went out, off they went. I can see the huge crowd of motorcycles vying for position as they go into turn one and there goes Blake around the OUTSIDE and into first position. I couldn’t believe it! On my tip-toes, I can see the racers come out of turn 3 and head up the hill and Blake was still in first- what!?!? Now, I’m waiting to see them round turn 12 and come back onto the straight towards the start/finish line. First, I hear them, then I look, waiting, and here comes Blake, the first one around turn 12, oh my word! He’s in front of some of the greatest racers, I’m clapping and cheering and then…a red flag. Oh. My. Goodness. From adrenaline rush to…nothing. Nothing, except a huge let down and maybe some anxious thoughts. Can he do it again? Can he get to the front a third time? The race restarted and he DID and then, no lie, another red flag. This happened at least 10 times. I lost track of exactly how many there were, heck, even the electronic timing and scoring couldn’t figure out what was happening. There was one stint in the race where maybe, MAYBE six laps were completed before a red flag stopped the race; it was nuts. I believe it was after that they adjusted the grid so that the racers were starting on grid where they were when the red flag came out. So, from that point on Blake was starting on the front row. From there he continued to get good starts, but the red flags continued as well.



Many times when there are crashes at a motorcycle race, the motorcycles and racers will slide off track, hop up and get out of harms way. If they can’t, then a red flag will stop the race. At the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, there isn’t a lot of “run-off” space. Several of the crashes (maybe 4 or 5) happened coming out of turn 12 onto the front straight. When a racer goes down there, there is nowhere for him or his motorcycle to go because there are concrete walls on both sides, leaving them vulnerable, right in the middle of the track. In all those cases, the officials have to stop the race. But, boy was everybody getting tired of it, racers and officials alike. After yet another red flag the officials called the race finished because 80% of the laps had been completed (albeit one at a time). Some celebrating had already started when the officials reversed their call, because according to the rules, the race cannot end under a red flag and 3 laps must be completed before the race can be called complete. Once again, the racers got on grid, ready to do a quick 3 lap shootout and, you guessed it, another red flag and then one more. It was obvious, for whatever reason, the racers could not keep their motorcycles up on two wheels. The Director, who can at anytime, has the authority to overrule the rulebook, called the race complete. As you can imagine, there were a lot of unhappy people. I don’t know what the right answer would have been, but undoubtedly, no matter what call was made there would be people negatively affected.


THE RESULT

Blake said, “I felt like I had a good pace and was able to make my way to the front every time, and the one time I didn’t was the one time that counted.”, and he was awarded second place. We were thrilled even though it wasn’t under the most exciting circumstances. Mike and I are proud of watching him use his God-given talent and joy as he does what he loves.


WHAT’S NEXT

MotoAmerica will be at The Ridge in Shelton, Washington the 24th and 25th. We’ll be catching out flights Wednesday, setting up the pit Thursday, Blake will qualify Friday, and race Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be nice to see our N2/BobbleHeadMoto Racing team again and hopefully win some races!

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