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Totally amazing: Veteran, cancer survivor reunited with stolen motorcycle

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Procopio describes the moment of seeing his motorcycle again as “totally amazing.” That same night he went down to the speedway and raced it.

‘Totally amazing’: Vietnam veteran, cancer survivor reunited with stolen motorcycle after 3 years
from https://www.cincinnati.com by Quinlan Bentley

On Friday nights, the Lawrenceburg Motorcycle Speedway comes alive. The smell of exhaust fills the air and bleachers vibrate from the deafening roar of motors revving, as motorcyclists of all ages line up to compete in a high-adrenaline, high-risk race around a smooth dirt track.

These are the nights that James Procopio lives for. The 74-year-old Vietnam War veteran started racing motorcycles in his 20s, but had to give it up after family and life got in the way.

Procopio says he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011 and needed surgery to remove his intestines. He returned to the race track about four years ago after receiving his final chemotherapy treatment.

“I came down here one night, said, ‘Man, I sure miss that,’ and from that night on I put a bike together and started racing,” Procopio told The Enquirer, sitting in the back of a pickup truck on a cold, dark November night, the orange glow of a portable heater at his feet, while waiting for his turn to race.

Procopio worked for two years fixing up a red, white and blue 1980 Honda XR 500 to get it in racing form. But he was only able to race the bike once before it was stolen, along with his pickup truck, from his apartment in Mount Healthy.

The truck was recovered not long after it was stolen but the bike was gone.

“Every spare dime went into that bike,” he said.

Working out of his garage on old and vintage motorbikes, Procopio is somewhat of a local legend. He got his first job when he was 13 working on bicycles and motorbikes at Bishop’s Bicycle Shop in Silverton, where he stayed until he was drafted into the Army at age 19.

It was through his part-time mechanic work that Procopio met Ben Groh, who’s since become a good friend and racing partner. In the past three years since Procopio’s bike was stolen, Groh said he had been working to track down the missing bike on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

“It’s popped up here and there for the past three years,” Groh said. “I’ve seen it come and go and I’ve been close to getting it and it slipped through the cracks.”

Groh’s brother spotted the bike at a local body shop, and he along with Rick Brun, another close friend of Procopio’s and fellow racer, were able to set up an undercover buy with Cincinnati police and retrieve the bike. It was returned to Procopio early last month.

Procopio describes the moment of seeing his motorcycle again as “totally amazing.” That same night he went down to the speedway and raced it.

Those who compete in flat track racing, in which racers drive on a dirt track with only rear brakes and must slide into each turn, describe it as more of a way of life than a sport.

“A lot of people don’t really understand it fully until you try it,” Groh told The Enquirer.

“It’s kind of like surfing: One good wave will call you back the rest of your life,” Brun said.

For Procopio, after surviving two heart attacks, two strokes and cancer, it’s become a source of relief.

“I’m in pain probably 24/7,” he said. “When I’m out there, I don’t feel a thing. Just everything goes away.”

The last race of the season in Lawrenceburg was held Nov. 5.

But Procopio says he’s going to keep racing “as long as I can.”

Six Ways to Sunday Racing

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One Rider’s Unique Racing Project
by Kyle Smith from Hagerty.com

I dreamt up the idea of racing six different disciplines on one machine about a year ago. Registered for all events in the Novice category, participating in events will encompass six racing disciplines in motorsports.

The final push: Six Ways to Sunday racing begins this week.

Click Here to Read this Fascinating Photo Feature on Race Preparation on Bikernet.

Join the Cantina for more – Subscribe Today.

https://www.bikernet.com/pages/custom/subscription.aspx

Fritchie Classic motorcycle race to return to fairgrounds July 4

By General Posts

by Mary Grace Keller from https://www.fredericknewspost.com

The 100th Anniversary of Barbara Fritchie Classic

There’s a short list of factors that can prevent the country’s oldest continuous dirt track motorcycle race — the Great Depression, World War II, rain and most recently, COVID-19.

But not this year.

The Barbara Fritchie Classic will return to the Frederick Fairgrounds July 4 after the pandemic led to its cancellation in 2020. This year will mark 100 years of tradition at the location since the series started in 1922, according to race organizer Richard Riley.

“The race is on,” he said.

The event will look a little different from years past. The plan is to limit the grandstands to 1,500 spectators (half capacity), COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, visitors will notice extra cleaning throughout the event, and hand sanitizer will abound.

Riley isn’t worried about reducing the capacity in the grandstands, since they usually see 1,500 to 1,800 spectators, and many of them stand around the racetrack’s fence.

“It’s just good dusty fun,” Riley said.

New this year, the event will offer a STACYC exhibition for youngsters competing on electric bikes. More details are to come, but Riley said the event will probably be geared toward kids ages 4 to 6.

“The kids got to get out,” he said. “They can’t stay in the house all day.”

He also hopes to display restored vintage racing bikes from the era of the first race.

Riley’s been involved in the race in some way since 1977 and first attended in 1968. For decades of his life, the Fritchie Classic has been synonymous with celebrating Independence Day.

Last Fourth of July, Riley found himself staring at the empty fairgrounds. He nearly cried when he had to cancel the event.

“I just looked in there. Everything was locked down,” he recalled. “It would have been strange for me not to go to the Frederick Fairgrounds on the Fourth of July.”

The decision did not come easily.

“I was forced to make a decision that I don’t regret,” Riley told the News-Post in June 2020. “But it’s not something I wanted to make. It was nothing that I would have told you I would have done six months or longer ago.”

One of the competitors looking forward to kicking the dust up at the fairgrounds is 2018 winner Cory Texter of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

“[I’m] looking forward to going back,” Texter said.

He won the main event Expert/Pro Twins race at the 97th running of the Barbara Fritchie Classic. His sister, Shayna, is also a past winner but in the 450cc Pro Sport race in 2008.

“Because it’s so technical, I seem to do really well there,” Cory Texter said. “It’s one of the biggest non-national races we do.”

The history of the half-mile track itself is a draw to competitors. Riley said they’ve had racers from all over the U.S. as well as other countries.

“There’s a tremendous amount of tradition,” Riley said. “I promised I’d get it to 100.”

Richard Riley invites those interested in attending the Fritchie Classic to visit barbarafritchieclassic.com for more information and to buy tickets in the future.

Tickets will also be available at Fredericktown Yamaha, which can be reached at 301-663-8333.