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ABA Volunteer Nationals
January 22-24, 1999 -- Memphis, Tennessee
I wasn't greeted by Elvis, Jerry Lawler, or the ghost of Andy Kaufman at the Delta terminal. But the Memphis airport did smell like my grandparents' basement and mullets donned the head of many of Graceland's finest. As I waited by the lone baggage claim I feared that the track at this year's indoor Volunteer Nationals would be wet and sloppy, due mostly to the tornadoes and recent rains that plagued Tennessee's landscape.
Much to my surprise, it wasn't that bad. Bad, yes, but not like I feared. The track was soft, very soft. And if you stopped pedaling you'd come to a halt within 20 feet because your tires couldn't escape from the taffy-like dirt. What's worse was the starting hill, er, I mean, lack thereof... there was no starting hill! Basically there was the incline from the gate, two feed of decline, and then you were on flat ground with very little momentum helping you a long. The layout itself was pretty basic and not too challenging for better riders. Many of the pros are getting discouraged with the ABA's track construction and feel like they race for business now, not for fun. The ABA better step it up and listen to the pros if they want 100 percent efforts from them.
Well, anyway...on to race action. Purse, Purse, and more Purse! He's continuing his 1998 win tally and doubled with class wins on both Saturday and Sunday. The Jackal was focused and got the job done. Matt Pohlkamp ran away with the Monster X victory making him very happy since he didn't make the main in Reno a few weeks ago. Others who looked strong were Robert MacPherson (check out my interview with him), who demolished his competition in qualifiers, and Greg Romero was pulling hard, and had a great pimp move on Allier in turn two. Speaking of the Frenchmen, Allier and Leveque had lackluster performances. In fact, Leveque actually shut down in a couple of his mains!! What's up with that? I guess the tight and soft conditions didn't agree with our #1 rider.
During one of the AA qualifiers, Jason Richardson lost his front wheel and went down hard, taking Chris Breen with him. Breen got up slow with bloody knuckles and a hurt body. Props go out to Greg Romero, who not only helped Breen and his bike off the track, but assisted Chris to the bathroom to bandage his hand. Romero also had a killer comment during the playing of the National Anthem. Since this was a GT sponsored race, Allier was given the flag for the parade lap. As he rode by Romero, Greg yelled, "Alright! Yeah! Represent America!"
The host arena was not a good place to hold a national race. Aside from the track being tight and little room for movement in the arena, there was no vendor's row! There was a barn where four vendors set up shop around the Get-A-Gate. If I had paid for space I would have been very upset. No factory tents, no environment.
Overall the Volunteer Nationals was a decent outing. Gathering nearly 200 motos and a host of top pros, there was a lot of action going on. This was a televised event for Monster X, so stay tuned to Crank on Fox Sports for the coverage.
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.