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2002 Race Season
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Buttonwillow Raceway 07-21-02

Click on any photo for a bigger image
Black Sunday.

This was the most traumatic race weekend we ALL have had, and for that matter any weekend of my life. There were so many highs and lows.

Things started to go wrong on Friday during the open track day. Matt Sheffield was having a ball riding his DR400, and going faster than on his 250 Ninjette. He was flaming. Then the word came rider down at Lost Hills.

It was Matt and he was NOT moving!! It seemed to take forever to get him in the ambulance. Steve went with Tina to the Hospital in Bakersfield, everyone chipped in to watch the kids and then we waited. It was the longest Friday we have ever had. Then word came back, he had a broken bone in his neck and a broken bone in his back among other cuts and bruises. NOT GOOD. The up side we were told even though he was in a lot of pain he still had his sense of humor and was smiling. There are so many sides to this story I could write a book. The bottom line here is Tina was the toughest lady in the world trying to figure out what to do and where to go. Andy gave up his room in Buttonwillow for Tina and the kids, and that's just starters. WHAT A GROUP!! This incident as just made a tight group tighter!! Everybody helped and gave so much it was unbelievable!

(This report is being done in Oct, I am catching up on all my reports from this race on, I just could not get my heart into them until now. Mattie is riding his motorcycles now, still on a full body custom made brace, but ALL LOOKS GOOD NOW!!)

The weekend got worse from there. Lisa crashed HARD in turn one Saturday, I was just going into turn one and she was down and rolling, did not look good. Lisa road back in the ambulance and we thought the worst. She came out with a big smile on her face and a big mouth full of dirt. There was dirt in her ears in her nose she was a mess but ok with a little problem with her leg. I thought she was out for sure. Her Ninjette look TOTALED to me!! She rested and then put her motorcycle back together and raced BOTH 250P and 250SB what a gal!!! She was way off her pace and finished way back, but she did it. I am sure she was in a lot of pain, and really sore!!

I sat out 250SB because of what happened next in the 250P race.

On the first lap of the first race of the season in March, we had a pretty bad crash in the bus stop
(click here), but what was about to happen today pails anything else I have ever been involved in.

I was on the inside of row 5 with Raghu right next to me. The flag dropped and Raghu and I both got great starts jumping up into row 3!! As we started to set up for turn one, one of the front riders fell!! And all hell broke loose!! There were over 40 bikes bearing down on turn one. The rider that fell was directly in front of me so he slides away toward the outside. While trying to find a way out of trouble I looked to my right and saw Dale Olstinkse's bike do a tremendous stoppie and FLIP completely over, I could see this number on the front of his bike UPSIDE DOWN! It is so implanted in my mind! I saw bikes and bodies sliding all over the place, I looked forward again and saw it was totally CLEAR in front of me!! I was safe!! I glanced over again and Raghu was gone!! He had disappeared into the Abyss!! As we went into turn two I could see off to my right the whole war zone, It looked awful, There were bikes on top of riders a large plum of dirt and dust was ascending from the crash site and the lights on ALL THREE Ambulances were already rolling toward the scene with their red and blue lights flashing through the dust plum!

As we headed toward the red flag at the bus stop I kept looking back for Raghu, Sue and Gerri Grindle were there somehow they got through. But no Raghu. It seemd like forever before they let us go back to the pits, once back there I found Raghu with a ice pack on his back all wrapped up in an ace bandage by the paramedics. He was going to be ok but really sore. Again I could write a book about this but Dale Olstinkse got the worst of it breaking his pelvis. He is also ok now walking with a crutch but able to ride his street bike now.

On the restart I got off to a great start and wound up 16th equaling my best ever finish. It was a hollow victory since a number of the best riders were out. But still a great finish and race for me.

After reading all the bad stuff here is a little lighter stuff. These are photos taken in the same place over four laps, Gary Rather Photography took these and you can see the sequence of passes that happen in these four laps. Pretty cool.

Here are some of there others race reports and comments.

Gerri Grindle 618

Raghu 922

Jack Walshe 88

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