"Those dead Riverside International Raceway
photos nudged my lachrymals,as did Tip's memories. I always knew there
was a hierarchy of risk-seeking in racers and their cohort. Two-wheelers
were (are) right up there near the top.
I worked flags at a number of courses
when bikes ran as support for sports cars. At Riverside I was up on Turn
Four when a small-displacement race started, dozens of the buzzers trying
to stay on the pavement through the esses. A fellow running sixth or so
got a little wiggle when he hit some sand, the seventh-place guy wiggled
a little more, eighth a little more than that.
By the time the wave worked its way down
to twentieth or thereabouts, it was out of control, and the field took
to the dirt, wheeling, tumbling, or sliding. They were all back up and
running very quickly, but next time around there was a large gap between
the sixth and seventh riders and increasingly large gaps down through the
The whole thing was Keystone-Koppish
when it was happening, and it seemed no one was seriously hurt. I still
wonder if the sixth guy had applied a racing tactic to create space between
him and the rest of the field.
In another race a few minutes later one
of the bigger-bore bikes hit one of the tires at the Four apex, got out
of shape and caught it just in time to hit another tire. This second one
flipped him up off the seat but he didn't change directions or lose his
grip on the handlebars as he crossed the track.
He re-seated just in time to hit another
tire, and was now in perfect phase so that each tire in the row sent him
a little higher until he eventually was doing a full hand-stand on the
bars, before he crashed and rolled to a stop in the middle of the racing
line. The bike's throttle was stuck wide open, and the bike was spinning
around on a peg, screaming and slithering along the edge of the track.
A lap earlier another rider's bike had
stopped near the crash site. He was closer than any flag man, and ran toward
the mess. He passed the rider, who was twisting in apparent agony, and
threw himself on the errant bike, spending what seemed like a long time
wrestling it to a stop and turning it off. Then he strolled over and looked
down at the injured rider and shook his head.
Motorcycle racers. You gotta wonder.
A few months ago I was approached via
email by a man who was co-ordinating construction of a Riverside International
Raceway track for use in the Grand Prix Legends racing simulation computer
program. He had found my RIR pages and asked for help making the track
authentic and true to the 1960 Formula One configuration. I became moderately
obsessed, and compiled a lot of information.
The simulation is great. The fellow who
did the actual programming tuned it a bit for sim-racer tastes (covered
grandstand at Six, dogleg and wide Nine are there), but much of it is spot-on.
The GPL program can be had for cheap on eBay, and the simulated tracks
can be downloaded from sim-racer sites on the Internet. I'll try to find
some of the frames they sent for critique, and put up a Riverside Pictures
I enjoyed racing wherever I found it,
but Riverside was home."
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