My editors at the BDN graciously (thanks John) allowed me to leave the confines of the Pine Tree State Monday. I rode my bike to the neighboring Granite State to see some local riders compete on vintage motorcycles. If all goes well, they’ll print some of my pictures in the paper Friday as a MaineFrame feature. You can see them all HERE.
Steve Baker and Scott Vile of Freeport, as well as Kerry Smith of Portland were kind enough to let me in on a slice of their lives. I’m very grateful.
At first it sounds like a swarm of angry bees in the distance, then the buzz turns to a roar as one, then two, then three bikes streak by at 90 mph. The racers ride hunched over, elbows to their knees, eyes straight ahead, focused on the turn at the end of the front stretch at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Throttles are twisted to their ends until the last moment, when the riders downshift into the first of 12 turns, sending their engines into high-pitched screams. On the other side the racers roll back on their throttles, upshifting down the next straight stretch of pavement on the speedway’s 1.6-mile road course. Everybody want to finish first, but there can be only one.
Monday, the United States Classic Racing Association Grand Prix was held in Loudon, N.H., just a few miles from Laconia where the 89th annual Motorcycle Week festivities were taking place. The USCRA is the oldest vintage motorcycle racing organization in the country. Members meet several times a year, mostly in the Northeast, to compete for glory on older bikes that were built from the 1940s to the 1980s.
Scott Vile, 52, a book designer and printer from Freeport, got into racing vintage bikes 10 years ago to test his own limits.
“I do it because I need to defeat certain fears,” he said at the close of the racing day. “This is an escape from real life.”
In my next post, I’ll upload a video chat with Steve Baker of Freeport, along with a few more photos.