It could not have been a more gorgeous day to travel the 224 km from Victoria to Saratoga Speedway on Saturday. Except for all the debris flying out of the back of pickup trucks over the Malahat, the ride there was spectacular.
Curious as I am, I wanted to see what “grassroots racing” was all about. As it turns out, it was rather an eventful evening. I paid the 20 dollars to ride down to the pit and be amongst the action. I apparently arrived late as Jerry Sobchuk had already had a mishap with his Yamaha R6. He was busy collecting all his parts and pieces to head home and inspect the damage by the time I arrived. Seems that the practice rounds can be just as exciting as the racing itself. So, with only five racers left. The competition began.
Sharing the track with race cars that leak oil seems to add to the excitement and potential treachery of the night; it all seems to be accepted in remarkably somewhat good humor though.
Campbell River’s Bruce Moran had the lead qualifying time while Dean Thompson of Comox was a close second, followed by Courtenay racer, Jeff Deis. Finishing off the top 5 & 6 were racers Greg Warren and Chris Knight from Victoria.
The Trophy Dash was swiftly taken by Thompson. Deis, Moran, Warren and then Knight followed behind.
Heat 1 and 2 held the same results with Moran placing first with his Suzuki GSX-R600. In second was Thompson on his stealthy Honda CBR 600RR. The very determined Deis placed third on his Suzuki GSX-R1000. Fourth place was awarded to Warren on his Yamaha YZF-R6 which seemed to flirt with high siding at the end of every straightaway. Knight on his KTM 450 had no trouble staying with the group and placed fifth.
The twenty lap main event was truly action packed with Chris being ejected from his Super moto during lap 8 and then Greg Warren being discharged from his bike and sending it 20 ft into the forest in lap 18. Thompson placed first, followed by Moran and finally Deis with Warren and Knight receiving DNFs.
It was some very tight racing, as Chris Knight on his supermoto bike can attest to. “It all happened pretty quickly... I was all the way turned into the corner and about to get on the gas to exit when I caught a glimpse of a front wheel to my left (inside). Next thing I know there was contact from his (Jeff Deis) front wheel and I was down instantly, the front end washing out... After that just a simple slide along the pavement ( felt a bit of heat through the leathers ) and it was over. Thanks to Dean for not running me over as he went wide!” All is well with Chris now and on Sunday he was even back to racing.
Greg was a little sore and stiff following his high speed get-off. “You really have no time to think about anything; by the time you realize something has gone horribly wrong, you are sliding across the pavement. All I really remember was seeing sparks flying around me, sliding on my ass for some distance then getting rag-dolled as I left the pavement. It was all over before I could really even figure out what had happened. I didn't realize how far the bike had gone into the bushes until I got back in the pits and saw them carting the thing out from way back in there.”
What an incredible night where everyone managed to walk away. This is surely “grassroots racing” at its best and totally worth the gorgeous ride up there to watch.