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Speedway makes VROOM for bikers

July 30, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - For Saturday's AMA Flat Track Championship at Hagerstown Speedway, Donna Ardinger had a prime seat near the track.

Her grandson, Desean, 5, had the same view - from his grandmother's lap.

Although Desean said he prefers dirt bikes because of their "wheelies," this wasn't the night for that.

Rather, this was racing, pure and powerful, at speeds that would attract immediate police attention on the outside roads.

The race brought about 10 bikers from Williamsport, Pa., who have been making the men-only - and Harley-Davidson-only - trips for five years or so.

The group included mechanic and excavator Jon Jordan; Mike Sullivan, who owns Hughesville, Pa.'s only full-service gas station; and Brian Minier, who has a logging business.

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Minutes after backing their bikes into a row, they were into a round of beers. The order has to be driving, then drinking, one man in the group joked.

The parking lot outside the speedway, west of Hagerstown, was filled with both the serious, such as a booth set up by an American Bikers Aimed Towards Education chapter, and the raunchy, such as messages on several helmets next to motorcycles.

The Hagerstown chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association offered free ice water and a chance to have motorcycles blessed.

Chapter member Sam Bowers of Clear Spring said one woman asked for the blessing - but her bike was in Mount Airy, Md. No problem, he explained later. Blessings can be taken home.

Home was a good distance away for many bikers who showed up Saturday, based on the license plates. The parking lot had a Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle from New York, a Honda Gold Wing from Ohio and another from Florida, a Suzuki GS 1100E from Virginia and a Yamaha Radian from North Carolina.

Dave Bower of the Williamsport, Pa., group said Hagerstown Speedway is the closest stop on the AMA Flat Track tour for him and his friends. Syracuse, N.Y., would come next.

After a few hours of warming up and getting loose on Saturday, racers took to the track about 8:30 p.m. for the first of several heats.

In the second heat, seven-time AMA Grand National champion Chris Carr started second, but zipped past Paul Lynch of Jarrettsville, Md., early on and held on to win.

The noise also meant little to Sparky the Pomeranian, calmly perched in Shelli Beavers' arms as she waited near a concession stand.

Beavers, of Manassas, Va., said she couldn't leave Sparky behind.

"She's so old, she probably doesn't hear anything," Beavers said. "She's 16."

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