LIMA — Motorcycle racing fans are getting geared up for what appears to be another strong racing field when the American Motorcycle Association Ohio National Championships visits the Allen County Fairgrounds’ half-mile dirt track at 7:30 p.m. on June 29.
The annual Lima half-mile race is one that stands out for competitors on the AMA Flat Track schedule because of the high level of competition, the pea-gravel and limestone half-mile track and the county fairgrounds location.
On Sunday, AMA riders got to test and tune their bikes on the Lima track as preparation for the July race. Dean Gallup, owner and operator of the Lima half-mile track, explained the nuances and different techniques riders can use to be successful on this track.
“These guys need to be able to get their bikes set up for this kind of track,” Gallup said. “This is a cushion track and there aren’t a lot of them left on the circuit and it’s a wide and fast race track but it has this cushion.”
Gallup also stressed the importance of having the competitors get used to this track now before they get out there with the rest of the field on June 29.
“They have to throw it (bikes) sideways to control that slide through the corners,” Gallup said. “They need some time on this track to get their setup right and to check their gears out. It helps the riders and it’s good for us so we need to try to do this thing. We had a good rider field out here today.”
One big-named rider who tested the track and will be back on June 29 is 2012 Grand National Champion Jared Mees.
“We’re here getting the bikes ready to go and it’s always great to do a little test and tune,” Mees said. “We race here in a few weeks. Today we get everything kind of scratched over and scratch the surface on basically what you’re going to be racing on in a few weeks.”
Another person who attended Sunday’s test and tune was somebody who fans will not see on the race track, but is just as important as the riders competing in the event.
Bill Werner from Milwaukee, Wisc. has been involved in flat-track motorcycle racing since he was hired by Harley-Davidson in 1966. During his tenure, his teams managed to win 13 championships and more than 150 wins. Gallup considers Werner to be one of the best motorcycle tuners in the nation and just a few years ago he jumped over to the Kawasaki brand of motorcycles.
“After I retired, the AMA called me and wanted to see if I was interesting in introducing another brand of flat-track racing,” Werner said. “Harley had always been the dominant brand and all the events were dominated by them. We understood that it would be better if there were some other brands involved. I agreed to work with Kawasaki and it’s really neat to see the fan rivalry going on (with Harley and Kawasaki).”
Nichole Cheza was another rider excited to come to the fairgrounds and get ready for the June 29 race.
“Lima is one of the coolest races out there because of the cushion and we’re three or four wide (in the corners),” Cheza said. “I’m really excited to get out there and see how the bikes are working.”
Cheza had to battle back last season from an early season setback.
“Last year I broke my back at the beginning of the season,” Cheza said. “We got off to a rocky start. This year we hope to finish up there and to make some podiums.”