Four sidecar motorcycles took to the dirt track and slowly made their way to the starting line, staggered in lineup. Introductions were made of driver and passenger along with a short summary of how the race would be run.
As the starting gate ribbon flew up overhead, the jaws of nearly every spectator in the ample audience dropped then quickly drew into a smile as awe, disbelief and excitement flooded facial expressions.
In the first of two scheduled appearances, sidecars were the hot commodity at Carson City Raceway at Fuji Park Saturday night. The sidecars are constructed to accommodate a "passenger" not in a sidecar, per se, but instead are given an 8-inch platform for their lower right leg to be cradled in.
There are grip bars for the passenger to hold on to, the majority of the body hanging over the right, inside of the bike for balance, the left leg thrown over the rear of the bike. The passenger is hanging on for dear life. As driver Joe Jones put it, "It gets a little crazy at times."
Jones, along with fiancee, Brandi McElroy, both from Ontario, Calif., won the main event. But crazy it was. Jones, heading into the last lap of the 4-lap feature, dove a little tight into turn 1 at the end of the race, riding the inside curb. McElroy, who showed the rear of her leather suit at the beginning of the evening (with several holes from being drug on the dirt), hit the curb with her right buttock and hip and barely held on at the end of the race.
After being checked by medical personnel, McElroy walked, albeit slowly, to the pit area where she sat in a chair and waited for Jones to pick up their trophy.
"She's doing OK," Jones said. "She's ready to go play at the casino."
Other teams participating in sidecar action were, Jeff Medberry and Chris Levitt; Bryan Motis and Chris Conigilio, and Neil Facchini and Jimmy Olsen, all from Southern California.
For the AMA Pro Speedway racers, the scratch main event came down to the winners of the first and second races at Fuji Park arena -- Tommy Hedden and Bart Bast, respectively. The two riders never were further than two feet apart, in distance from side to side or front to rear. Also competing were Bobby Hedden and Chris Kerr.
Bast and Tommy Hedden got a good start off the line with Hedden having a small advantage in turn 1. Bast pulled even down the back stretch and tried to go inside of Hedden for the lead. Side by side the riders went for nearly the distance of the race. On the last lap, it looked as it Bast would take the win after edging Hedden into turn 3, but Hedden had the grip on the outside of turn 4 and defeated Bast by inches at the line.
"It was too close for this driver," Hedden said of the race. "Closer than I want to be.
"I thought I had a good shot, but Bart had a better start. So I figured I'd go outside because I like a bit rougher track. Bart likes it smooth on the inside. But we've been racing together more than 20 years, I know his riding style and I feel comfortable riding on his outside. We're good friends."
Bast and Hedden gave each other a "high-5" on the back stretch on the cool down lap after the race.
Prior to the speedway scratch main event, the pro quads were on the track, trying for their third attempt at a green start. After a faulty gate start, riders were returning to the line for another try. Ryan Stoffer of Gardnerville, slowed his quad down, while Rob Menzer, also of Gardnerville, was right behind him and didn't slow. Menzer's quad rolled right over the top of Stoffer, putting both bikes on their side and riders down on the track.
Menzer appeared OK, as did Stoffer, who was walking a bit slowly and rubbing his neck. After a minute, Stoffer sat on the ground and was cared to by emergency personnel who transported him to Carson-Tahoe Hospital after complaining of headache, neck pain and nausea.
Stoffer gave the crowd a thumbs up as he was placed in the ambulance.
Nearly 20 Pee Wee racers, the largest number yet, strutted their stuff on the dirt oval on both 50cc and 80cc cycles. For full results, see The Skinny on page B5.
Carson City Raceway at Fuji Park will be active again July 30 with AMA Pro, Youth and Pee Wee Speedway, Pro and Youth Quads.
For information, call 882-2460.