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Murto: 'Mega' event coming to Richmond

2012_07_Murto_Craig.jpg
Craig Murto (Buy photo)


Perhaps the most unique and exciting motorsport event to be held all year in the Commonwealth of Virginia will take place Saturday at Colonial Downs.

The 1.25-mile harness racing tack in New Kent County, just east of Richmond off I-64 exit 214, will host the AMA Grand National flat track motorcycle racers for what is known as the Virginia Mega-Mile. It is the fastest and longest course on which the flat track riders compete all season.

Gates open at noon, with timed practice beginning between 1:30 p.m. and 2. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 3:30, with the first race slated to get the green flag at 4.

These are perhaps the bravest racers in the country, partaking in a form of racing that really hasn't changed in 100 years, except that it's gotten faster. It's breathtaking to watch two motorcycles race side by side at 140 mph, and observe the rider on the outside reach out and tap the inside rider as they enter the corner, to let the rider know that somebody's on their outside.

All of the top riders will be in action, including Triumph rider Shayna Texter, a rookie in the Expert division but a popular racer nonetheless. Texter is the big secret of flat track racing, a female racer with looks and a winning record to put Danica Patrick to shame. Her rookie season on the Twin hasn't been the best, but few doubt that she'll get the hang of the heavier motorcycle and contend for wins soon.

Nine heat races and two features are on the bill, with both the Pro Singles and the Expert Twin classes in competition. Call 804-966-7223 for advance tickets, or visit www.colonialdowns.com and follow the links for information about the race. You'll save money ordering tickets in advance, so you still have a couple of days. Get grandstand seats instead of general admission if at all possible. If you don't go to any race but one all year, make it the Virginia Mega-Mile flat track race at Colonial downs.

Henry Wiles, national No. 17, will be one of the riders at Colonial Downs. Wiles scored his 26th career win Sunday at the Peoria (Illinois) TT, one of the toughest dirt tack races on the circuit, by out-racing former champion Jared Mees, current point leader and national No. 9.

Wiles' win was most outstanding because he seems to be the only person who can win at Peoria; the victory was his 10th in a row. Nobody in AMA Grand National history has so dominated a track.

The Pro Singles class also competed in Peoria. Jacob Lehmann scored the win after point leader Kyle Johnson crashed out of the lead.

In other two-wheeled action, Dani Pedrosa broke Marc Marquez' 10-race winning streak by taking the Czech Grand Prix.

Will Power's IndyCar victory over Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Kanaan at the Milwaukee Mile was witnessed by a sparse crowd, maybe one-third of the grandstand seats. As sad as it is, it wouldn't surprise me if IndyCars at the track are finished.

Jeff Gordon's 91st victory on Sunday at Michigan should be enough to convince anybody that he's far from finished. The same holds true for Camping World Truck Series competitor Johnny Sauter, who also won at Michigan.

Chris Buescher is just beginning. The NASCAR Nationwide Series driver for Roush-Fenway scored his first win at the Mid-Ohio Road Course. Expect much more from the young driver.

It used to be that we expected much more from race fans; that is, that we were different than, say, the soccer hooligans overseas who vandalize sports complexes and riot.

Unfortunately, even in the best of groups there are some unwanted elements. Apparently a person or persons vandalized the men's restroom at Winchester Speedway at least two weeks in a row.

According to the Winchester Speedway website, a $500 reward is offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the lowlifes involved. Maybe we can get the mindless slime put in jail where they belong. It costs a lot of money to maintain a racetrack; unexpected expenses such as the destruction of the restrooms sometimes is enough to shut tracks down. Racing's a family sport; let's clean up the trash.

See you at Colonial Downs.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.



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