TOOELE "When you're riding, you're living. You are really alive. It makes everything else you do feel like waiting time until you're back on the bike. When you climb off the bike there is a little sadness, like something is missing."
This was what Ben Bostrom gave as his reason for risking life and limb taking corners at over 100 mph and throttling down straightaways at close to 200 mph.
The fact that he has broken roughly 30 bones in his body, he jokingly admitted, is no deterrent. "It's all part of riding."
Bostrom is the returning champion in the AMA Supersport class and will be one of the featured riders in this weekend's superbike championships at Miller Motorsports Park.
The American Motorcycle Association's superbike class and the HANNspree World Superbike Championships, which is the worldwide tour, are slated to race. This will be the first time in four years the world event has raced on American soil.
They were drawn here, in part, for the opportunity to run on Miller's track, which Bostrom called "the very best track in the United States and comparable to the best tracks in Europe."
Bostrom, in fact, raced for four years on the world tour before becoming a permanent resident in the American superbike series.
The main difference between the two series, he feels, isn't so much that there are better riders on the world tour, "just more of them."
"There are 25 riders who fly around the world, and their jobs are to win or get fired. So, these 25 riders are within two seconds of each other, fighting for position," he said.
"On the American circuit there are maybe 10 riders who are fast and 30 who are coming up. Things will be different next year. They want more NASCAR-type racing, where more of the bikes are equal, which means races will be closer."
Superbikes are, as the name implies, super-fast and high-performance motorcycles. Riders will hit close to 200 mph on the long straightaway at the Miller track. They will then hit a series of turns that are at the very heart of superbike track racing.
Bostrom said racing will be even more exciting on the Miller track because it is fast, "and we don't have a lot of fast tracks here in the U.S. On most tracks we ride at 100 percent because you know if we go harder we could crash and run into a wall.
"The Miller track is fast, but it's also safe. There are runoffs and safety features, so when we ride there we don't feel our life is threatened, so we ride at 110 percent. We'll draft on the straights, and going into the turns you'll see five guys side-by-side going into the corner. It's spectacular. And you'll see it in their body language. Drivers in a car can't express themselves. You'll see riders out there who are more aggressive, pushing themselves and their bikes, sliding all over the place, and you know that guy is aggressive and angry."
The one turn Bostrom will be paying particular attention to is a left turn near the midway point. Two years ago, while in contention for the lead, the rider in front slowed and caused Bostrom to crash. Last year, his brother crashed on the same turn.
Bostrom said he began motorcycle racing against his brothers at age five. He raced dirt track for a time, then got the opportunity to ride for the Yamaha factory team.
"Which is pretty great. They give you a half-million dollar bike to ride, and you go out and ride as hard as you can, and if you crash they fix it, and you're back racing," he said.
It will be difficult for fans to compare riders since the two series will be racing on separate track configurations, which also will make it difficult to compare motorcycles.
Riders will be testing and tuning machines today, with one race, the AMA Formula Xtreme, scheduled for 4:55 p.m. There will be several AMA races on Saturday, including a championship race starting at 12:30 p.m. On Sunday, the first of the two one-hour world events will start at noon and the second at 3:30 p.m.
The Superbike World Championship races will be broadcast live on 95 television networks to 173 countries and an estimated television audience of 120 million.For information visit www.millermotorsportspark.com.
What: Hannspree Superbike World Championship and AMA Superbike Championship
When: Today through Sunday
Where: At Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele
Tickets: Call 435-277-RACE or visit www.millermotorsportspark.com
Today: AMA Formula Extreme, 60K, 4:55 p.m.
Saturday: AMA Superbike, 100K, 12:45 p.m.; AMA Superstock, 60K, 1:55 p.m.; Superpole, World Superbike, 4 p.m.
E-mail: [email protected]