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Flat track, flat out

Fans, riders wait out weather for annual Hub City Classic

Fans, riders wait out weather for annual Hub City Classic

July 27, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The noise that severe weather brought to the area Saturday didn't hold a candle to the racket caused by the American Motorcycle Association at Hagerstown Speedway later in the evening.

Fans camped by the hundreds Friday night, and thousands more poured into the half-mile dirt speedway Saturday to see the 27th annual Hub City Classic, part of the AMA Grand National Flat Track Championship.

"Cars or motorcycles, they're more on edge on dirt than on asphalt," said Ray Miller, 44, of Mount Airy, Md. "I go to a lot of races - I've been following it since 1979. I just like dirt tracks more."

Miller wasn't the only veteran racing fan at the speedway, and he didn't have to travel far compared to some of the other spectators.

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Andy Raudensky, 58, of Thompsontown, Pa. - about 30 miles east of State College - has been watching flat-track racing since he was 12 years old in 1962. He drove about two hours Saturday to see the race.

"It's exciting," he said. "I try to get to as many races as I can. The most I've gone is about four hours."

Andrew Maher, 30, of Frederick, Md., might be considered a local by some, considering his trip across U.S. 40 to the speedway. He estimated that it was his eighth trip to see the flat-track bikes.

"It's more like the tradition of racing was. How it used to be," Maher said. "They still use a lot of American bikes. You don't see Motocross using any."

Most of the riders saddled Harley-Davidsons after anxiously waiting more than a half-hour for the track to be ready after the storm that brought rain and heavy wind through the area.

Amber Baer, 15, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., waited in the pit area while her brothers - Shawn and Evan - prepared for practice. She rarely misses a race.

"We love it. The noise they make and watching my brothers win," Amber Baer said. "I just hate it when one person gets out to a big lead. I like it when it's close."

Bill and Carline Gabel of Mount Holly Springs, Pa., just were happy to be back at the racetrack.

"I'm kind of an old fan, but I haven't been to a race in awhile," said Bill Gabel, 48. "It's just an exciting place to be. The people are amazing, the fans, everything is great."

Racing was scheduled to wrap up with the 25-lap main event late Saturday. The next stop is at Castle Rock (Wash.) Race Park.

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