Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2005 08 10

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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By SCOOTERMANIA SCOTT ROUSSEAU Supermoto's Field of Dreams much of my family hails from a little town north of Shawano, Wisconsin, I have been traveling much of the oute to USA International Raceway since long before it was built. Coming up state route I I7 out of Bonduel, you Simply can't avoid Shawano Lake, which is smack-dab in front of you as you approach the Highway 22 T-connector. At that point, you can go right, as I and my family have been doing for generations, head through Cecil and then through a series of smaller towns until reaching Wabeno, or you can go left into Shawano. In my 36 years, July 31, 200S was the first time that I ever turned left onto 22, and I can honestly say it won't be the last. Right is the way home, but left is the way to Supermoto heaven. Now, it's nothing new for us Cycle News editors to stand trackside or maybe in a comfy chair in the pressroom at Anyrace USA, observe the proceedings and inwardly wish that we could have a go at the track. Happens all the time. What self-respecting motojournalist wouldn't marvel at Rossi ducking inside Hayden in a hairpin curve or Carmichael and Reed duking it out over a double or Carr and Springsteen backing it on the Mile and wonder what it would be like from the other side? But after witnessing rounds three and four of the AMA Supermoto Championship at USA International Raceway, not only was I inwardly wishing that I had brought leathers and a helmet, I was telling anybody who would listen how incredibly bitchin' I thought the place was and how badly I would love to take a spin around the serpentine track. Heck, I even got on the cell phone and called a few friends just to tell 'em! So what's the big deal, you wonder? You'd have to see the place to believe it. Set smack-dab in the middle of a hayfield in northern Wisconsin, USA International Raceway is the Supermoto equivalent to the setting in the film Field of Dreams, in which Iowa farmer and baseball fan Ray Kinsella sticks a perfectly groomed ball diamond right in the middle of his Iowa cornfield - you know: Build it, and they will come. The USA International Raceway crew did just that, and although the track has been a work in progress ever since, oh what progress they've made. DeSigned primarily for kart racing, the track itself is a twisty, turny (30 of 'em, to be exact), up-and-down Supermoto paradise. Except for a IODD-foot straightaway, very little time is spent on top of the tire. The toothy, ripple-free pavement is fast A and flOWing and over one mile in length, far from the stop-and-go of many of the street or parking-lot specials usually used for Supermoto racing. Passing is difficult, primarily because it seems like the riders are always turning. That's one issue that some of the veteran racers at the AMA round squawked about, and yet the faster riders still made passes with no trouble at all. Hey, the place is 30 feet wide. If you need more room than that, perhaps you find the freeway to be a little constricting as well? And USA International Raceway is no asphalt ribbon in the middle of nowhere, with middle-of-nowhere facilities to match. Look around and you can see firstclass food stands and plenty of bathrooms. They even have a swimming pool in the middle of the place. At the time the AMA Paape enthusiastically told me. That's a lot of logistics, but don't count USA International Raceway out. A lot of people have tried already. Paape told me that the local government has not been the most receptive to the track, and I also learned that because the track actually stood up for itself in the face of a bogus TV news media report and denied that same station access again, the entire local media banded together to boycott the AMA race. And yet the race went on, people did show up, and those who did saw a show that ranks among the best Supermoto racing that AMA has served up yet. Equal credit goes to AMA Supermoto manager Todd Eagan and his crew and to Paape and his crew for working together to produce a first-class event at a first-class venue. In Hey, if a World round isn't in the cards, maybe a Supermoto of Nations at Shawano? Just a thought. All in all, I just couldn't escape the beauty of USA International Raceway. It's like a crossroads where rip-roaring Supermoto meets rural America. It may not have been designed just for Supermoto, but USA International Raceway gets my vote as the unofficial hub of the sport, a distinction I had previously reserved for its neighbor to the west, Road America in Elkhart Lake. I may not be alone in this. There just has to be something special about a track that Doug Henry would say is unlike any Supermoto track he has ever ridden - and mean it in a good way - or one that contains a banked turn that Eric Bostrom Supermoto Championship visited the track, the scoring tower/media center and what appeared to be a rather large hospitality building were yet to be completed, but when they are, they will rival such structures at some of the larger and better-known tracks on the AMA schedule. One other thing I noticed was that, for a little raceway in a little town, USA International Raceway didn't give you the sense that it was a hole in the wall being run by a bunch of hicks. General manager Scott Paape was a gracious host, and although I am sure he was under a lot of pressure, his professionalism and enthusiasm for Supermoto are the two things, more than any other, that made a lasting impression on me. Paape was very excited about the fact that big-time AMA Supermoto racing had come to his track, and although the crowd certainly could have been bigger, he is confident that, just like the raceway itself, that's a building process. Next year, he says, there will be more people, and the year after that, and the year after that, until... "Our goal is to have a World Championship round here someday," fact, you could argue that it was already world-class, as several Italian aces showed up to challenge the Americans and the several AMA-based German, French, British (Hi, Kurt Nicoll) and Australian riders. Don't believe me? Consider this: American Doug Henry beat Troy Herfoss of Australia and Wisconsinite Benny Carlson in the first Supermoto race, and then Henry came back in race two and defeated former World Supermoto contender Jurgen Kunzel of Germany and current World Supermoto contender Massimo "Max" Verderosa of Italy. How's that for international flavor? wishes could be included on every road course that he rides. I just can't wait for the next time that I can attend a Supermoto event, any Supermoto event, at USA International Raceway in Shawano, Wisconsin. I already have my leathers and helmet packed and ready to go. But don't take my word for it. Check out the track at on the Internet. Or, if you should ever find yourself at the crossroads of Route I 17 and Highway 22 in northern Wisconsin, go west, young man, go west. eN CYCLE NEWS • AUGUST 10, 2005 87

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