Alan Lane was riding high and full of himself as he blasted back into the pits at Summit Point, W. Va., hunkered down over the long, slim gas tank on his 250 Yamaha road racer.
Life looks sweet when you're 22, you have long blond hair and a quick easy smile and pretty girls are running at you saying they've got a whole roll of film of nothing but you kicking the pants off everybody else at the track.
Lane slipped of the white full-face helmet and rolled his green leathers down on his waist. He plunked himself down on the tailgate of his mobile garage, a tire and parts-strewn step van with Maryland tags.
"I need some competion. You can't learn anything running out front. It got so bad with the 250s I slowed down and let one guy pass me so I could do some racing."
It was Sunday and Lane had just run away with two straight races. First he made mincemeat out of the other 250cc grand prix riders. He acturally did throttle down one to let a water-cooled Harley roadracer by, then came back and whipped him again.
Then he moved up a class, taking the same 250cc bike out against 350cc screamers. The straightaway at Summit Point is about three-quarters of a mile long. by the final lap Lane was braking for the turn at the end of the straight before his nearest 350cc rival rolled into view at the top of the stretch.
What makes Rockville's Alan Lance a winner? "Most of these bikes are about the same. It's just a matter of who's willing to hang it out," he exculted.
Alan Lane was hanging it out all right, but he had one more race to go and there just wasn't enough to go against Big Grizzly, John Fuchs' 1100cc cross between a Honda and an angry water buffalo, or TMB Racing's 1000cc kawasaki.
It was the final race of a brilliant, crisp day; like a good floor show the best was saved for last.
Fuchs and Canadian John Sorensen aboard the TMB on Kawasaki battled nose-to-taillight, with Lane hanging on gamely despite a clear power disadvantage in the straights.
Lane stayed in by blasting carelessly through the turns on the light Yamaha. On the fifth lap he remained two bike lengths back and just on his tail was Burns Moore of Kutztown, Pa. on a Yamaha 350.
They thrashed through the esses, Sorensen up by inches over Fuchs, their enginess growling and whining as they cracked through the gears. Then came Lane, cutting the inside so sharply his back wheel fishtailed widly.
And then came Moore, hard on Lane's tail, following the youngster's dangerous line and fishtailing, too. The slick rear tire slid out to the right as Moore turned on the juice. He cut back the throttle to bring the bike back, but he overcompensated and the tire swung through the line and back out to the left.
It's the worst crash in motorcycle racing: the highside. Moore leaped off the slender machine as it bounced off the pavement and flipped over. He slid unhurt to track's edge as other bikes scrambled around him. Moore then climbed to his feet, grinning.
The grin was a good sign, but the crash ended Moore's racing for the day and spelled doom for Lane's chances. Enough gas and oil spilled to slick down the track in the turn and Lane could barrel through no more. Sorensen and Fuchs pulled away.
At the end the two superbikes were nose to nose, as they had all the way through the 160 m.p.h. straights and the terrifying esses. At the final turn Fuchs passed Sorensen, but the Canadian came back and retook the lead coming out. The Big Grizzly growled angrily and Fuchs cranked it up beyond red line. Chins slammed against fuel tanks, the two riders had it out. The Grizzly had the edge by a halflength at the wire.
It was a whale of a race, and as unlikes the ones that preceded it as it could be.
The Western/Eastern Road Racers Association races at Summit Point are for the most part idyllic summer camping session with the bonus of twice-hourly dashes across the asphalt. Just anybody with a bike can ride, and most of the racers are Walter Mittys from Washington, Pennsvlvania, the Carolinas and elsewhere around the Mid-Atlantic states.
"There's really no excuse not to ride if you've got a bike here," said Michael Parrotte of Rockville. "They've got a class for anybody."
Parrotte's partner, Bruce Gulling, was busy proving that. He brought his 750 Suzuki street bike along and had a ball in the practice sessions until he flipped in the esses. The damage; a scraped arm, bent handlebars, a cracked brake fluid reservoir and no more racing for awhile.
"We get a lot of wrists, collar bones, legs, but nobody ever gets killed," said Peter Frank, an orthodpedist from Philadelphia, who gave up his practice 18 months ago to devote full time to pumping WERRA. He believes the organization's 88 yearly races provide a relaxed alternative to the American Motorcycle Association's four big money road racing events.
The next motorcycle road racing weekend at Summit Point is July 30-31. The tariff for spectators is $7, including camping, pit passes and the right to wander around the grassy farmland that is the infield and watch from just about any safe vantage point.
A little braver? You can join the competition for $21 to race in your class and $9 each for any higher classes you'd like to race among.
Novices on their first runs can take a free rider school class at 8 a.m. the first day, when instructors show them the lay of the track and take them through once.
After that they're on their own, with a big "X" taped across their leathers to let the old pros know who's who.