AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson podium with Tyler O'Hara (center) in first, Kyle Wyman (left) in second and Bobby Fong (right) in third.
Daytona Bike Week 2013 had a little something for everyone. Though the epicenter of the action is, without question, the few blocks cordoned off on Main Street in downtown Daytona Beach, there were plenty of ancillary events in the surrounding area to satisfy the tastes of nearly any motorcyclist. For race fans and speed-junkies, Daytona International Speedway provided fare which varied from the low-key, family-centered Amateur Supercross presented by Ricky Carmichael to the historic Daytona 200 road race. Just a few miles out of town, fans could also catch drag racing at the NHRA Gatornationals
in Gainesville, or head a bit further north to Georgia for the second round of GNCC action at the Maxxis General
. Nearly every form of professional American motorcycle racing was represented in the region during the week, and we took in as much possible.
I hit the ground running, arriving in town the Friday prior to Monster Energy AMA Pro Supercross. On the morning of the event, having never been to Daytona International Speedway before, I took some time to wander, taking in the sheer scale of the place, which is immense. The grounds were bustling with activity and it was clear that Bike Week had officially started thanks to the ceaseless roar of V-Twins coursing up and down International Speedway Boulevard. The DIS Midway was packed with vendors like J&P Cycles
, Mustang Seats
, Arlen Ness, Motorcycle Superstore
, Dunlop, Kuryakyn
, Vance & Hines
, Indian Motorcycles
and Big Bear Choppers
(just to name a few) giving eager attendees the chance to ogle over some amazing customs and enjoy access to an almost unlimited supply of accessories and gear. Out near the Turn 1 entrance, the Big-Four were represented in full-force: Yamaha
each had sprawling campuses with new rides, demo opportunities and plenty of information and hoop-la for interested customers.
I lost some time meandering from tent to tent, dreaming of all the gear I’d never be able to fit in my woefully undersized checked bag, but the deep grumble coming from inside DIS called me back to the task at hand, and I headed in to catch the final afternoon SX qualifying sessions.
designed the Daytona Supercross track for the sixth consecutive year, and his design in 2013 resembled, in nearly every way, the track that got washed out in a rain storm in 2012. The GOAT explained in the lead-up to the night’s main events that since riders had to fight just to stay up in the mud-pit of 2012, the track deserved another chance since it was one he felt would provide some memorable battles in better conditions. The weather this year cooperated perfectly, and temperatures hovered within the 70-degree mark for the better part of the day with hardly a cloud in sight.
Opening ceremonies celebrated Carmichael and his continued presence in Supercross and gave the top 450 riders a chance to pump up the crowd with plenty of whips, wheelies and high-fives. Heat races in both the 250SX and 450SX classes were intense from my vantage on the asphalt of DIS, hardly a stone’s throw from the roost kicked up by the warring riders. In 450 LCQ action, a knock-down, drag-out battle for the final qualifying spot ensued between Weston Peick and Bobby Kiniry, with the final decision made only after an official review. Needless to say the fans were on their feet as the two riders bumped and brawled through the final turns and were left with little time to regain their breath before the 250 Main
Marvin Musquin taking his first SX win in the States.
The loose dirt and tricky obstacles proved to be a boon to Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, who ran out front early and looked as smooth as butter through all 15 laps. The French rider heel-clicked his way across the finish, celebrating his first career SX win in the United States. In the 450 Main
, Rockstar Suzuki’s Davi Millsaps was looking to protect his overall points lead, but within the opening laps hit the ground after getting caught in the deep, rutted dirt. Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart suffered a similar fall in the same place soon after, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey overcame a hard landing early on and one-time 450 class race entry, Ken Roczen, leader of the 250SX West championship, set the pace out front through the opening laps. It was one of the craziest contests of the season so far until defending Supercross champion, Ryan Villopoto, found his way to the front. He was uncatchable once in the lead, and thanks to his win, gained the overall points lead. Daytona proved to be a turning point in the 2013 Supercross series and was a remarkable start to the race week.
A substantial number of those in attendance at Pro Supercross were gearing up for their own crack at the SX track the following day, which marked the start of Monster Energy Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross. Families and teams came from near and far to take part in the largest two-day amateur supercross event around, with riders aged from as young as four to Masters well over 50. Now in its fourth year, RC Amateur Supercross gives riders the chance to compete on a professional caliber track, gain valuable experience racing in an SX environment and, above all else, have a fantastic time.
Monster Energy Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross 2013 gave up and coming riders an unforgettable experience on the infield of Daytona International Speedway.
The vibe behind the scenes was low-key, with families camped throughout the infield of DIS. Young racers, siblings and friends zipped around on little 50cc mini-bikes and scooters and Ricky Carmichael himself lingered near the podium the entire second day, signing autographs and snapping photos with the lucky winners. Thanks to Motorcycle-Superstore.com, which provided $3200 in Holeshot Awards, a number of riders got the chance to feel like they’d scored a win even though they hadn’t come in first.
RC Amateur Supercross held sway inside the Speedway through Monday, March 11th and the following days were quiet on the racing front. I took advantage of the lull to explore some of the other events in the area, the first of which included a trip to Destination Daytona. Home to the world’s largest Harley-Davidson dealership and the mega J&P Cycles retail store, it’s already a standard stop for bikers on the road in Central Florida, but during Bike Week it explodes with even more vendors, great food and rockin’ bands. I got to see plenty of wrenching in action at the Kuryakyn and Performance Machine
tents, catch a glimpse of the new Indian Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin engine
, meet artist and helmet pinstriper Skratch
, and see the Budweiser Clydesdales live and in person.
Up-and-coming racer Devon McDonough signs posters for fans before the Motorcycle Superstore-sponsored AMA SuperSport race.
AMA Pro Flat Track Presented by J&P Cycles saw two full days of bar-banging action at Daytona's Flat Track.
The next day, I tagged along with Motorcycle USA Cruiser Editor, Bryan Harley, and he showed me some of the iconic stops for any biker in Daytona. We spent time at the Iron Horse Saloon, the Cabbage Patch and ended the day on Main Street amidst the thronging crowds of cruisers from across the globe. That night we caught up with Andy and Shawn from Darkside Scientific LLC, where we got a glimpse of their incredible Cleveland CycleWerks Heist bike, complete with the newly developed electroluminescent coating system they’ve dubbed LumiLor
By Thursday, racing was in full-swing once again with practice and qualifying taking place for the season openers of AMA Pro Road Racing
as well as the AMA Pro Flat Track
On the road racing side, Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes
came out with the fastest lap time in AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, while Yamaha Extended Services’ Cameron Beaubier did the same in Daytona SportBike practice. In the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport, RoadRace Factory’s Tomas Puerta set the pace and in the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series it was Travis Wyman at the top of the list. Since it was somewhat cold that Thursday, many riders complained about a lack of grip and a number went down in the chicane. GEICO Honda’s Dane Westby suffered a fall that kept him from gaining medical clearance to compete in the 200. Veteran rider, Steve Rapp, took over for Westby through the remaining days of competition.
AMA Pro Flat Track welcomed new presenting sponsor, J&P Cycles, at Daytona. The company was also named Title Sponsor of the Pro Singles class and has contributed $25,000 to the year-end points fund for riders in the class. The first races of the 2013 season went off Thursday night and the stands were packed to capacity. In GNC Expert Singles, Mikey Rush earned a hard-fought win, made all the more special since the race was one of Rush’s first since he broke his back in 2012. In AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles, rookie rider Kyle Johnson astounded the crowd by passing for the win in the final laps.
The following day saw AMA Pro Racing officially start with the first contests of 2013 in AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson
classes. Racing was close throughout, with Josh Hayes falling out of SuperBike
competition early with mechanical troubles, giving his teammate, Josh Herrin, a clear path for his first win of the season. In SuperSport
, Motosport.com’s Stefano Mesa earned the win ahead of David Sadowski Jr. and Hayden Gillim. The 10-lap battle saw positions change hands numerous times and there was no way to determine who’d come out in front until just before the finish. Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson action was similarly intense, with eco Fuel Saver’s Tyler O’Hara taking the win with a final lap pass.
On Saturday, Hayes ran into trouble again in SuperBike Race 2
, with an engine malfunction that took him out of competition mid-race. Hayes’ misfortune opened the door for new Yoshimura Suzuki rider and 2012 Daytona SportBike champion, Martin Cardenas, to earn his first race win of the season. In Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
, Tomas Puerta grabbed the top spot followed by Napa Auto’s Charles Weaver, a young rider who fought from outside the top-10 to earn his first career trip to the podium.
Then the capstone race of the week, the Daytona 200
, started and through the opening laps it looked to be a close one. Beaubier had dominated through practice and qualifying, but was challenged by a full roster of riders before the first pit-stop. Thanks to the quickness of his team in the pits and the multitude of mechanical failures that hit other riders, Beaubier was able to stretch out his lead early in the 57-lap contest and eventually took the win 22 seconds over his teammate, Garrett Gerloff.
It was a non-stop week of all things motorcycle, and though it was jam-packed with events of all kinds, the high-pitched scream of the road bikes as they rounded the high-bank at Daytona still rings in my ears.