Long Strange Trip

Long Strange Trip: BAGGER ROADRACING AT LAGUNA SECA? YOU BETCHA!

The press release popped into my email inbox with a musical ping, and immediately after reading the headline I did one of those forehead-slapping Well, of course! things we all do when confronted with an obvious chunk of reality.

MotoAmerica to Bring Bagger Racing To Laguna Seca, it read. I mean, how freaking perfect! It’d be wild and wooly and wacky, roadracing’s version of fan-friendly Hooligan dirt track competition, and it’s all gonna go down at the legendary Dry Lagoon on Saturday, July 11, with the inaugural King of the Baggers event.

“Held in conjunction with round six of the 2020 MotoAmerica Series,” the release said, “the Drag Specialties King of the Baggers will be part of the MotoAmerica Speedfest at Monterey, a weekend packed full of motorcycle sport and lifestyle. Seven classes of racing will take to one of the most famous racetracks in the world, nestled in the hills of the Monterey Peninsula – with the Baggers joining the premier MotoAmerica Superbike, Supersport, Liqui Moly Junior Cup, Stock 1000, Twins Cup and Heritage Cup racing.”

MotoAmerica President and 3-time 500cc World Champ Wayne Rainey seems pumped, too. “I can’t wait to watch the Baggers come down the Corkscrew the first time,” he said. “That’ll be a sight that our fans will love. I think these guys will put on a heck of a show and it will tie in nicely with all the other things we have planned for the Superbike Speedfest at Monterey.”

Wayne’s exactly right, especially about the craziness sure to ensue at Laguna’s legendary Corkscrew. How do I know? Let’s just say I’ve had some particularly interesting experiences there on the same types of machinery. Yep, I’ve ridden V-twin cruisers and V-engined touring bikes with saddlebags at Laguna, sometimes solo and sometimes two up, but always at serious speeds – and always with floorboards and pegs glowing like branding irons.

See, back in the good ol’ days, Laguna was ground zero for OEM press introductions, and one in particular in ’87 or ’88 stands out for the absolutely insane level of entertainment it offered. Yamaha’s big news that year was 750 and Open Class FZR sportbikes, if memory serves, and we scorched plenty of sticky tires that day. But Yamaha also has its entire lineup there and encouraged us to jump on everything, from V-Maxs to Venture touring bikes to Viragos and everything in between – and boy did we. The wildness that ensued on those cruisers and tourers still brings a smile to my face.

The best example was the handful of laps I did with my Motorcyclist colleague Nick Ienatsch on a pair of Venture Royale tourers. The Venture was the sportbike of tourers back then and had quite a bit of cornering clearance, so we were able to click off some fairly rapid laps despite riding nearly side-by-side and the bikes weaving badly while cornering cranked all the way over… even while passing slower journos on sportbikes. We were even wheelying through the Corkscrew, which not only delighted the photographers there but caused one journalist from Cycle Canada to follow us pretty closely on an FZR for a few laps. Back in the pits he said that watching us from 30 feet behind was one of the funniest things he’d ever seen.

What all this means is that, with a dozen or so teams already signed up (Carey Hart, Bassani, Performance Machine and Saddlemen, just to name a few) and with a handful of ex-roadracers expected to be in the saddles, this is bound to be a thoroughly entertaining exhibition, with close racing, probably a little wallowing in the corners and maybe – just maybe – some big, nasty Bagger wheelies in the Corkscrew. 

We’ll be there for sure, and we may feature some of the participating teams and motorcycles in the coming months. So stay tuned. Get more info at www.motoamerica.com.

If you dare to go toe-to-toe with Boehm find him at longstrangetrip@thunderpress.net. May your wounds quickly heal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *