Daytona Day 5 - The Best Laid Plans
The AMI Brute Horsepower Shootout was a race of sorts. The bikes don't go anywhere but they compete in dialing up outrageous triple digit hp numbers.
In this screwed up world where the 200 is on Saturday, Superbikes aren't in it, and other nontraditional scheduling, some things are bound to fall through the cracks. Today, at the speedway was a huge new custom bike show on the Nextel Fan Zone, as well as the Superstock and Supersport races.
Instead, today I went out to AMI's Brute Horsepower Shootout. It was a pretty small crowd on the second to last day of the event, but there were some cool American and metric custom bikes. Obviously, there was a pretty good assortment of turbo and nitrous-equipped machines lining up to strut their stuff on the big wheel. Dyno shootouts are like drag races, but with less action. There's a lot of waiting around, followed by a few seconds of noisy fury.
After the AMI shootout, I went back out to the track to check out the sportbike/metric side of the fanwalk. The North side of the speedway is far more spread out than the East, so lots more walking is in order. I wouldn't complain, except my camera bag weighs about 50 pounds. There's also less cool stuff to look at, far more corporate displays including Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, Chevy, Makita, and all the Japanese manufacturers.
Ducati Superbike riders Neil Hodgson and Ben Bostrom hobnobbing with the press after a tough day of qualifying.
After spending a half hour or so wandering around the area, I heard the start of a race. At this point a smart man would have dashed inside to watch the waning laps, and I would have been rewarded with catching the end of Superstock and the whole Supersport race. But I figured at near 4 pm, there was no way that there was still another race to run. Oops.
After the racing was done, Ducati had a little get together with their race team at their transporter. I hadn't spoken to Ben Bostrom for a couple years so we did some catching up. Asked what he thought of Bike Week, he expressed shock at how many brands (and builders) of choppers there were now, specifically pointing out Big Bear Choppers:
"Big Bear Lake is this little town, but they've got their own chopper factory!" he noted. I should point out that Bostrom is no stranger to cruisers, he owns a 2000 Fat Boy.
Daytona Day 6 - All Over The Map
Metric, SAE, or whatever else, a bike show always starts with a ritual washing. Billy spent the first part of Day 6 checking out a bike show at Daytona Lagoon.
Much like my Sturgis story, as the week goes on, the crazier it gets for me. I have to prioritize things and be willing to blow stuff off if need be. Things I would have liked to have done today and didn't: Check out the Boardwalk Bike Show (I have actually never gone, but always mean to), go to the Victory Owners Group's get-together at the speedway (sorry for the erroneous RSVP guys!), shower, eat breakfast, etc.
Today, I shot a bunch of bike features, and I hit a cool bike show at the Daytona Lagoon. It was an all-metric show put on by Road Bike Magazine. I was frankly shocked at the number and intensity of the customs that showed up for this event. Regardless of the amount of trickness to a given bike, I respect these guys a ton, because in most cases they had to make most of their own parts (or at least some). Far from the pre-packaged combinations that frequently would win the day over at the Ride-In Show on Wednesday.
A piece of advice for those who might be thinking of visiting the Tomoka State Park: Do not leave the road (or designated parking areas). They get really irate about that. Especially if you park a custom bike in the bottom of a dry fountain. Yeah, for that they think about throwing you in jail. I included a pic of the result of our trespassing, to see if you think it was worth it.
A report on Daytona Bike Week would be lacking without mention of BBW - Black Bike Week. Bikes of all styles parade through a traditionally black neighborhood in the Florida town during the laid-back week-long event.
On that way back to the base after that shoot, I inadvertently stumbled onto BBW, Black Bike Week. No, that's not a racist statement, welcome to the Segregated South. Or at least it was when it started years ago. Now it's an excuse to have bikes parade through what is still a predominantly black neighborhood. Funny enough for an event that started with segregation, you'll find very little of it here, at least between the different types of bikes. Sport bike guys, cruiserphiles, chopper-ish biker types, doesn't matter around here. It's just cool if you ride (or not). If you want to check out a very cool unpretentious event and week-long party, check out Bethune Ave between US-1 and MLK Blvd., just a couple miles from Main.
Last on the day's menu was a little trip back to the speedway to take in the Daytona Supercross by Honda. Good racing, bad security. My civilian all-access pass is obviously not as cool at the press pass I'm used to, but the security guys weren't real consistent in enforcing the rules. Access progressively tightened, and as all the good spots where I was actually supposed to be filled up, I got bounced around the infield. Oh well, at least there was fun stuff happening out on the track. And I did get close enough for a little bit to get some good photos of the heat races.
Day 7 - Seven Bike Days Make a Bike Week
My final day in Daytona was the most rushed and the least sleep. After burning the midnight oil to bring you Day 6, I awoke very early to catch the sign-in line for the Rat's Hole Show. If you're tired of the same 'ol choppers, check out the 'Hole. Located at the Peabody Auditorium, just off A1-A and Main, the bikes line up outside in the back for judging, then get paraded across the stage when the winners are announced. The most bizarre, innovative and original customs always seem to find their way to this show. Bikes with double rear wheels, double motors, and two full-on custom Honda Rebels! And, really, that was just the tip of the iceberg.
How can an epic event like Daytona be summed up, what with all the bikes, the racing... The babes in bikinis strolling down the street.
After checking out the opening of the show I dashed over to the Speedway for the final day of racing. Just scooting through the gates in time for the start of the Superbike race, I settled in to watch as Mat Mladin schooled his young teammate in the art of racecraft.
As I kicked back between races I took in the scene. I had never watched from the west end before, and now it's easier than ever. With a new motorhome-sized tunnel under the west banking, there is a laid-back party atmosphere over on the other side that I'd never experienced. And now, with the tunnel, there's a quick escape route when the races are done.
Unfortunately, I couldn't even wait that long, as I needed to head for Orlando and my flight home about the time of the Daytona 200's first pit stop. I think I caught all of the action up front, as Jake Zemke had just taken the lead about the time I left. It seems the big, bad threat from the Buell RR was just a bunch of hot air, but it remains to see how they do on a shorter, tighter track.
That was pretty much the end of my Bike Week. I'll be wrapping up in a couple days with all those pesky facts that I've been skipping lightly over for the last few days.
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