The Heart Of Racing: The 2010 Indy Mile

There is something beautiful to be found in a form of racing that's less about technology and TV rights than it is about simply trying to beat the other fellah with whatever you can afford to bring to the track. Sometimes the other fellah isn't a fellah at all, and sometimes he or she has better gear than you. But you do the best you can with what you brought and even if it takes a quick wrap of duct tape or a tie of bailing wire, you do your damnedest to make it to the next heat.

You don't lounge in a fancy RV between races, and your bike doesn't arrive in a shiny tractor-trailer and it doesn't plug into a computer. You drive yourself, or your dad or your cousin takes a turn, with your bike in the back of the van or on a flat bed trailer, and you sleep in a well-used sleeping bag that smells of solvent and dust.

If your bike gets stuck in third gear on the far side of the track, you may very well watch the next heat from that spot before anyone comes to help you out of the way.  And if you come around Turn 2 at full stick and there's Jimmy pulled over off the racing line, you pretty much just get on with it.

You wonder how they old guys managed without tear offs, which fly around the track like ghosts of the legends of American motorcycle racing, men who tamed unholy machines that aren't really all that different from what you're riding when you get right down to it. And just like they did, you ignore the aches and pains born from the last time the machine got the upper hand and tossed you off and you bring the best you got at that moment.

Do you do it because it might lead to fame and fortune? Some of those legends rode a metal shoe right off the dirt and onto the world stage. Is that going to be you? Probably not. But you keep on loading up the van and heading out, season after season, not to state of the art facilities in exotic locations with spacious run off areas and umbrella girls, but to fairgrounds, where people just like you can back their own trucks up to the fence and watch you go round.

You keep on racing flat track because it's thrilling, it's fun, and there's no traction control or engine limits or testing bans. There's no place for the racing to get lost among the demands of profit. As the sun sets, there's just you, you bike and the other fellahs. Even if they aren't all fellahs, they sure as hell are all there for a race, and that's exactly what you give 'em. 


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I like it - good stuff.

Makes me wanna pick up an old CR500, do a restoration project and then go play in the dirt when it's all done...

Wow, that is one great article. "There is something beautiful to be found in a form of racing that's less about technology and TV rights than it is about simply trying to beat the other fellah with whatever you can afford to bring to the track" should get a prize for being the best line in motorsports journalism this year.

I was lucky enought to see the 2008 Indy Mile. I was there for the MotoGP but did not like the silly track and the American Way with all the traditions, anthems and military. Especially since you have to stand up every 5 minutes for someone singing very off key and nobody got up for the Spanish one when a Spanish kid won the Rookies. But then we went to the Mile, which changed my view on American lifestile immediately. Candlelit stadium, dark track, great atmosphere, BBQ on the back of the truck in the infield, no laminated passes, no BS, just amazing racing. That night is one of my best memories in motorracing ever. For a taste of the atmosphere see the brilliant video they made one year later with KR (

"it is about simply trying to beat the other fellah with whatever you can afford to bring to the track"

but isn't that what motogp had in the 990 era? it's just that some of the fellas (honda and yamaha) had more than the others (suzuki, ducati, kawasaki) :D

fantastic piece, scott!

Sweet photos and commentary Scott.
Is the number 69 in blue helmet (photo 2) our Nicky who in a later
photo comes in red? Would be nice to see him in a corner
like that in his red Ducati leathers...

GNC dirttrack racing is the real deal! #69 is Halbert .Jay Springsteen,Ricky Graham,Bubba Shobert could ride anything , anywhere. Rossi would be up to speed in no time at a mile . Nicky needs a mile win to complete a grand slam .

Awesome post! I've been to the Springfield Mile a few times, and you've really captured the spirit. It's really cool to see these racers getting some credit. Great job.

Outstanding job Scott!
You really captured the feel of this amazingly pure form of racing in both the pictures and the text. Any chance we could see a second calendar in 2011 made up of some of your incredible Indy Mile shots from the last few years? Of course the King Kenny shot from last year would have to be the center spread.

I don't think many people in the world (or even in the US) really understood dirttrack before they got to see and hear about it at the Indy Mile. These pictures and the write up help to understand it better.

Hopefully some of the people reading this will get out to a race near them.

--------------------------------------------- - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Very glad you folks enjoyed the photos and observations. I hope you all get to see the Mile some day, or at least flat track racing. It's something quite special in our world.

Reply to 'miklhailway':

The second shot with #69 is Jethro Halbert on his Kings Kustoms XR750. He made the main and then blew up right towards the end.

Of course, the 'other' 69 is just after Nicky announced his re-signing with Ducati and then went out on a special Lloyd Bros 1098 and spun up some laps. It wasn't quite as special as The King last year on the TZ, but it was pretty darn close. He had a smile on as wide as the Mississippi River when he was done and said 'I'll be back someday.'

Great shots and story David and Scott. Thanks for telling it like it is!

I'll have my review of the race up before night's end here in Indy. It was a long weekend........but not long enough as I reflect now!

Mike 'Stu' Stuhler
Stuman714 in Indy