Alex Podlogar

Thinking outside the pressbox

Fear of the “Big One” doesn’t slow dirt bike riders

Published in The Sanford Herald on Sept. 18, 2009

By ALEX PODLOGAR
Feature

SANFORD — Their ages range from 16 to 61. Their hometowns from Charlotte to Rocky Mount. Their racing suits from monogrammed full jumpsuits to a simple thick gray coat.
But one thing seemed to be at the forefront of all of their minds, one word that was right there on the tip of all of their tongues.
Wreckin’.
From practice at 7 p.m. to heats of qualifying races to the 30-lap sprint to determine this year’s winner, about 15 riders showed up at the Lee Regional Fair on Thursday night to race motorcycles on a makeshift short flat-track that looked nothing like the baseball infield that it is the other 51 weeks out of the year.
“This track is a lot smaller than the one I practice on,” says 36-year-old Jamie Holcomb, of Sanford. “It’s slower, but it’s great racing. Everybody’s tighter together and racing close.”
And that means at least one thing.
“Hopefully there won’t be a lot of wrecks,” Holcomb says, a smile creasing his face as he looks out over the track from the bed of his truck.
The threat is always there, no doubt about it. Ask any one of the riders the worst thing about their sport, one they are doing not for fame or a chance at a big purse or even an opportunity to stand on any sort of podium, and they will answer one way.
“Wreckin’s the worst,” says 61-year-old Salisbury native Butch Cauble. “My worst thought? Falling down at 61 years old.”
Yet here he is. Cauble was gone from racing for a while, shutting it down for nearly 20 years. But in the last year, getting together with the extended family that is the group of many of these riders, guys who race every two weeks at Coleridge, the fire is back.
“I just do it for the fun of it,” says Cauble, who says he began racing in 1969. “I used to race bigger bikes a long time ago, back when we had to sell the trophies back to the tracks to have enough money to get back home.”
It is the third time the fair has featured motorcycle racing, and was brought to the event by Lynn Barker, who owns Honda-Suzuki of Sanford. Barker, 52, and a racer himself, organized much of the race, from lining the starting line to enticing some of the riders to come down by providing the smaller 100cc bikes.
One of those bikes was built for 16-year-old Southern Lee student Jarrett Laverack. Laverack has been riding since he was 8, and after moving to Sanford two years ago and getting a taste of the motocross racing at Devil’s Ridge, got the itch to compete.
Of course, he gets the urge honestly.
“We’re a racing family,” Laverack says. “Everybody in my family races.”
“One day he wanted to start racing, and we all grew up with motorcycles,” says Laverack’s father, Gordon. “I got him a little bike and he’s been moving up ever since. I did it when I was young and I had my moments.”
Can’t blame the kid for taking to it. Once the motor is running, it’s hard to ever slow down.
“Sometimes you dread it. You get to thinking about it before a race. You just want to get it over with,” says Holcomb. “But once the bike fires up, the adrenaline takes off and you want to get out there. Once you’re out there, you’re in the zone.”
Unless something goes wrong.
Taking the tight turns on the soft clay, every rider puts his left foot down to anchor his slide through the corners. But sometimes the rear tire slips out from under the rider, spraying dirt toward the bank of temporary bleachers full of spectactors lining the track. Sometimes, though, the rider goes spraying along with the dirt.
“Wrecking or doing poorly, that’s what you worry about,” Holcomb says. “But you have to take the good with the bad.”
“Doing poorly is better than wrecking,” says Holcomb’s wife Jerri, who admits she can watch her husband race without her hands over her eyes anymore. “Doing poorly doesn’t have hospital bills.”
Laverack knows all about that already. He suffered a concussion in April at a race in Raeford.
But he’s back on this night. As he says, he likes to go fast.
“I’ve been fortunate,” the kid says, “I’ve only had one back wreck.
“And I don’t remember it.”

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February 3, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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