After an early evening and a good night’s sleep, race day came and we got to Smoky Mountain Speedway for some Hooligan flat track racing. It was time for my first race of the day—the Heavy Vintage class. I had to battle it out against an XR750, a purpose-built flat-track bike nothing like my Ironhead Sportster. I was excited about this because I wanted to beat that bike out of every other bike there. The green light flashed and I got the jump. But soon the XR750 was on my inside; you could have thrown a blanket over us the entire race. As we battled back and forth the crowd was going crazy, and the entire H.O.G. rally rode in to the race to watch.
The XR750 and my Ironhead were the first two Harleys on the track. He ended up beating me by a bike length. I was pumped though, and that moment carried into my Hooligan heat race where I smoked the field and won with a huge gap on second. Rain came and things came to a stop but about a hour later we were ready to run the mains. I got second in Heavy Vintage to the XR750, but I wanted to win the Hooligan main.
We lined up, the green light flashed and everyone launched coming out of turn 2. I was in third and running fast on the high line trying to make a pass. Coming in to turn 3 I was the last one to let off and drove deep into the corner on the high line and then quickly got back into the gas. I was going to pass second place but coming out of turn 4 I hit a greasy spot on the track and my 450-pound motorcycle went full lock sideways and shot me straight towards the inside wall with the pack of Hooligans charging behind me.
How I saved it I still don’t know but I somehow kept it up and dove to the inside off the groove and settled back into the pack in eighth and that’s where I finished. I was fast all weekend all day long and I felt that was my warning: “Say hey, dude, you’re riding on the edge—better watch it because one day you might not pull out of it.”
The race was over and I felt OK, though. It was a good day, no one got hurt, there were really no bad crashes and everyone had a blast. I got a sweet trophy for second in Vintage and also a little cash.
We loaded up and headed east because this adventure wasn’t over. I wanted to visit the Wheels Through Time museum so I put the address in the GPS and away we went. Little did I know that this 60-mile trip to Wheels Through Time included a trip on Tail of the Dragon. Wow, what a road! Left turn, right turn, up this hill, down around this hill—all in this rental van with my race bike in the back. We did 318 curves in 11 miles! My arms were like Jello!
After two hours of driving we made it to Maggie Valley, North Carolina, and just grabbed a room for the night. I felt like a kid the night before Christmas. I was pumped to visit Wheels Through Time.
Finally morning came, we grabbed breakfast at a little diner and went to the museum. It’s amazing how many running motorcycles this place holds. There are bikes from all time periods and all of them run. If you’re in the area you need to visit this place.
After the museum we took our time and slowly drove home, talking about all the great times we had over the trip. It was a success for sure and the Smoky Mountain area is a place I plan on visiting again.
We unloaded the van and come Tuesday I settled back into the reality of work. But then I got a call from Darryl Baer of Baer Racing Products asking me if I wanted to race his old 883R performance series Sportster at the American Flat Race in Weedsport, New York, on July 7. He told me to come pick it up and get it ready. I was stoked and glad to be on my next adventure.