Motorcycles take center stage Saturday
By NICK SCHWIEN
A packed grandstand is what Paul Covert is hoping to see.
At times, Covert is guaranteeing those in the stands won't be watching, though.
That's what the director of the I-70 Flat Track Motorcycle Series is expecting Saturday at RPM Speedway in Hays.
It is the finale of the five-race series that showcased the motorcycles and their daring riders in Goodland, Colby and Stockton earlier this summer.
While there are a lot of regular drivers in the series expected to compete, Covert also is counting on many professional drivers to take to the 3âÑ8-mile dirt oval as well.
"Those guys at Stockton do it for fun," he said. "These guys show up, and it's a whole different level of seriousness. These guys, I'm telling you, get it on. Every lap, people will be covering their eyes because they're afraid there's going to be a wreck. That's just how we do it."
It will be the first large motorcycle show at RPM, and a generous business owner in Hays is putting up the $10,000 for the special race purse that pays $2,000 to the winner of the 450-cc class.
Covert said the business owner wants to remain anonymous as he tries to help promote the sport in northwest Kansas.
"He's just a real good guy that loves flat-track racing," Covert said.
"His goal is to get it in front of the race-car crowd, and he wants them to see what they're missing when they go to a car race," Covert said. "When they see what everyone saw at Stockton, they'll see a whole other brand of dirt racing. They'll realize watching cars is like watching paint dry."
More than 12 different classes will take to the track in order for series champs to be crowned Saturday. Practice is set to begin at approximately 1:45 p.m., with heat races at 3 p.m. Features will start after heat races in the many divisions.
The city of Hays will have a full day to take in the motorcycles and their riders.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Doerfler's Harley-Davidson will host festivities at its business, 1100 E. 43rd. There will be live music, and Smokin' Co. BBQ will be on site. Fans will have a chance to meet some of the riders during that time, as well as after the races in the pits.
"They're not motorcycles we sell every day here," said Deanna Doerfler, co-owner of the business that has been helping with the series all summer. "But it's a great way to introduce dirt-tracking to northwest Kansas."
Covert was on his way to Hays on Thursday afternoon, and he wasn't concerned about the rain. In fact, he was welcoming it.
"Most of the times, the best race track is the one on the verge of being rained out for us," he said. "I'm glad it's raining in Hays now. Now there will be moisture in the track. We'll pack it in nice and hard, and it will be a good track."
The talent of drivers from throughout the country will be showcased Saturday, Covert said.
With that, he also knows comes the possibility of an accident or two as drivers jockey for position on the track.
That happened at Stockton earlier this summer, when a rider had a nasty spill and was unconscious for a period of time, according to Covert.
"These guys literally put their life on the line," he said. "Car racers can wreck and not even mess their hair up. You fall off one of these at those speeds, and it's going to be painful. You just hope the pain is where they can't take a deep breath for a few weeks instead of something more serious."