I would like to take a moment and say congratulations to #43 Caroline Olsen for a great Supersport race (two actually) this past weekend at Barber Motosports Park during the final round of MotoAmerica. The last race, on Sunday, was particularly satisfying as she moved from starting in 19th place to finishing 11th! The previous day’s race was nothing to sneeze at either as she started in 22nd position and moved up to a 17th place finish.
It’s been heart-warming to watch her get back in the groove and it hasn’t been an easy journey. For those who aren’t aware, Caroline had a pretty nasty crash due to brake failure last year at NJMP that landed her in the hospital for a couple of days. Her injuries were rather serious as she described in a press release last year;
“I escaped without serious long-term injuries and I got released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon. Bruised lungs, a broken collarbone, two broken vertebrae and an overall beat up body were the verdict. Since I’ve got back to Norway, I’ve had an operation on my collarbone and it was discovered that I had a broken fibula just below my right knee.”
During Sunday morning’s warm up for the 600cc machines we had another bike on fire incident, this time involving Michael Gilbert (55). Gilbert had a low-side get off that of course wasn’t great for him, but not anything that likely would have prevented him from taking the track later in the day. However shortly after the bike was moved a fuel tank leak resulted in the motorcycle catching on fire.
This was the third motorcycle to catch on fire during this weekend races here at Barber during the final round of MotoAmerica’s season. David Anthony and Josh Hayes also ended up with their own machines in flames the previous day. Needless to say it has been a rather dramatic weekend so far.
Michael appeared uninjured when I spoke with him a but later on after the crash but I know this was a big disappointment for him. It was for me too as I’ve been following his progress this year and was hoping to see him on the podium in person this weekend instead of reading about it later. With any luck I’ll get to see Michael on the podium next year as he told me he will be coming back. Looking forward to seeing you there again soon, Michael.
The sad aftermath of Gilbert’s (55) bike after catching fire.
Saturday’s 600 and 1000cc races resulted in some unfortunate crashes. In the 600 class Shane Richardson (26) and Max Fernandez (128) collided in turn 5 resulting in both riders going off the track. Max comes off his bike pretty early on while Shane seems somehow to come out of and then land (nearly) back in his seat during the slide off the track. Both riders escaped receiving major injuries. The somewhat blurry sequence of images below gives you an idea.
In the second lap of the 1000cc race for the afternoon, Sylvain Barrier (28) had highside going into turn 5. You can see below where his rear tire is heavily loaded up and the front looks very light. The next frame shows the bike tossing Barrier into the air to eventually land just ahead of his machine in the grass and gravel. Sylvain stayed down after coming to a stop in the gravel trap and was taken away on a backboard in the ambulance. We understand this morning that he is already back here at the track and he might have a fracture in the foot. Hopefully that is the extent of his injuries as from my angle it looked like it could have been a lot worse.
The above crash brought the race to a stop but the drama didn’t stop there. The second start of the race had David Anthony (25) and Josh Hayes (4) both having crashes with Anthony’s bike reaching the airwall after the first turn and promptly catching on fire. I understand that the fuel pump may have kept pumping and sprayed fuel spreading the fire in the space including onto the airwall catching it on fire as well. Bother riders escaped any serious injury but the stopped the race again and set us up for a third start.
From the third start the race proceeded to the end with Roger Hayden (95) taking the win followed by Matthew Scholtz (11) and Josh Herrin (2) in second and third respectively. Toni Elias (24) managed a fourth place finish despite an off in Turn 5. Looking at the sequence of images below you can see his left foot hanging off free from the peg. His foot can be seen nearly dragging the ground and then he goes into a low-side carrying him into the gravel trap. Elias is quickly back up on his bike and is soon back on the track to make his fourth place finish.
While I continue to flesh out the MotorcycleWords blog, I have been posting photos from this past weekend on Facebook. I do have more images to share and I will be creating an album here on the blog from the MotoAmerica races this past weekend. If you are one racers that I captured images of at Barber and would like copies of them please email me or reach out to me over Facebook and I’ll be glad to send what I have to you.
Racing got underway here at Barber Motorsports Park today with the first of two rounds of MotoAmerica racing here in Birmingham. It was a hot day here in Alabama and the racing was even hotter. Really sounds like a pun but it’s an accurate description. Competition just seemed a bit more intense here this year versus past years and the new KTM series again was the most fun to watch, and shoot, today. Below are photos from the track today. Enjoy!
It’s going to be a hot weekend here in Birmingham with the second season of MotoAmerica kicking it up into high gear. I arrived this afternoon as the days practices were winding down. Still one can feel the electricity in the air as final preparations for the following weekend are wrapped up. There are several riders I plan on catching in paddock to say hi and grab some photos of them in between being trackside to grab images of them in action.
There’s a special appreciation I have for these riders. They have a spirit of competition and comradery they all share along with the courage to get out on the track trusting two tiny contact patches of rubber to keep them from crashing. It’s balancing that knife edge of rolling versus sliding and knowing how much of the latter one can get away with that I have serious respect for. Anyone can get on a bike and twist the “go handle” to go fast in a straight line. Pushing traction to the limit (and even beyond) while surrounded by a bunch of your fellow riders takes special mix of skill and mindset.
It’s also loads of fun to watch no matter what your own skill level riding may be. This weekend I’ll have a front row seat to this showing of talent and courage and as it progresses I’ll post up photos of the action to share with you. May sound like work but I’m certain there will be a big grin on my face behind my camera as the racers roll by. Until tomorrow then, here are some photos from late this afternoon at Barber.
Prepping right now to head down to Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds Alabama. This will be the 6th year I’ve gone down there from Nashville to cover the races. This year is the second year of the newly minted MotoAmerica series which has taken over from the AMA ProRacing flag. Many of the same riders one has watched over the years as AMA racers are still around and now we have the new “kids” running in the KTM RC390 series. This is for me one of the most exciting things to happen in America road racing for a long time. With riders age 14 to 22, this new series will be the incubator for fresh talent to move into serious road racing.
Having all the same base machines a a wide variety of experience makes for some fantastic racing and exciting action. While the skill levels may vary, the desire and passion to win is equally high among all the riders I’ve seen. I’ll be posting photos from these and the other races this weekend here on motorcycleWords. Keep an eye on this space and watch our MotorcycleWords on Instagram and MotorcycleWords on Facebook feeds for all the action.
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