“Airborne” Al Wilcox was the official starter at the mid-Atlantic-based Motorcycle Xcitement track day and race school organization before passing away in 2011.
He’s quite possibly the oldest person that you’ve ever seen waving a starter flag. The be-spectacled man in the white cap at the start/finish line is none other than 92-year-old “Airborne” Al Wilcox, a former Factory Harley racer, AMA official, Speedway Hall of Fame inductee and a man who is described by others as “a living piece of motorcycle history.”
Wilcox, the official starter of the mid-Atlantic-based Motorcycle Xcitement, a track day and race school organization, is typical of the characters you’ll find when they come to a track near you.
I met Roger Lyle, the man behind the organization, the previous night. He shook my hand while decked out in a car racing suit that he wore as he sped around Summit Point Motorsports Park’s go-cart track. Lyle started racing in the late 1970s before turning his attention to organizing track events. He spent 19 years as president of the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Club (MARRC) before moving on to found Motorcycle Xcitement six years ago.
I recently sampled Motorcycle Xcitement’s road racing school at their final track day of the year. It was a cool mid-October day at West Virginia’s Summit Point Motorsports Park, but the chilly weather didn’t dampen the crowds, the track’s infield was packed and a line started to form at the tech inspection station in the early morning hours.
Motorcycle Xcitement runs about 15 track days and schools per season, using the main and Shenandoah Circuits at Summit Point, along with holding events at the Thunderbolt Raceway at the New Jersey Motorsports Park. Their track days divide riders into four groups, from beginners to racers. For casual track day riders, no safety wiring is required.
Glass and mirrors can be taped off and antifreeze can be left in bikes. There’s even a leathers rental program for those who don’t have any. It doesn’t get any easier than this to get your motorcycle on the race track.
The track school is staffed by veteran racers with an emphasis on the practical aspects of road racing. Between track sessions students are briefed on track etiquette, race flags and what to expect on their first race weekend. On track, instructors take turns leading and following students, taking breaks to give feedback.
The school day ends with the traditional ‘mock’ race where students mix it up with the instructors to practice starting procedures and flag commands. Motorcycle Xcitement graduates are presented with a diploma that qualifies them for a racing license with the CCS, WERA and AHMRA organizations.
Ready to go at the riders meeting. Motorcycle Xcitement holds 15 track days and schools per year at tracks around the mid-Atlantic.
The Motorcycle Xcitement track day is run as efficiently and professionally as their school. Vendors are on hand offering everything from gear, to hard parts and tires. This was my first time at Summit Point and I can’t think of a better introduction. A Motorcycle Xcitement track day is about as laid-back and fun as track riding can get.
That’s the philosophy for Lyle, who wants to introduce all motorcycle riders to the experience that can be had on a race track.
“My favorite part [about running Motorcycle Xcitement] is seeing street riders come to a track day and say ‘this is the way to ride motorcycles,’” he said.
There are other track day organizers and race schools in the mid-Atlantic, but it would be hard to find one that has more character(s).
Al Wilcox passed away on Feb. 3, 2011, right before the start of the current race season, at age 92. On March 9 a plaque in honor of his motorcycle racing legacy was dedicated at the Daytona 200 monument at Daytona Beach
For more information about MotorcycleXcitement Race School and Track Days see: www.motorcyclexcitement.com.