San Francisco's Cow Palace to host unique AMA Grand National PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 14, 2004) -- San Francisco will play host to round two of the AMA Progressive Insurance Flat Track Championship on Saturday, May 1. The event is named the...
San Francisco's Cow Palace to host unique AMA Grand National
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 14, 2004) -- San Francisco will play host to round two of the AMA Progressive Insurance Flat Track Championship on Saturday, May 1. The event is named the Ricky Graham Memorial Indoor Short Track Race & Motorcycle Show in honor of the three-time AMA Grand National Champion who was from Salinas, California. Graham died in a house fire in 1998.
The Cow Palace race will mark several firsts in the 50-year history of the AMA Grand National Championship. It is the first time an AMA national will be held on a concrete indoor surface and it marks the first ever AMA Grand National in the city of San Francisco. This race is also significant in that it brings the historic AMA Grand National Championship back to the West Coast for the first time in five years. Additionally, it's been over a decade since the Bay Area last hosted an AMA Grand National.
A Northern California native, Chris Carr, is fifth in the championship standings coming into the San Francisco round. The series is led by Daytona winner J.R. Schnabel of West Bend, Wis. Carr, 36, now lives with his family in Fleetwood, Pa., but the Stockton native grew up racing on dusty ovals across Northern California. In fact, Carr is one of the few racers coming in from all across the country, who has actually raced in the Cow Palace.
"I raced there in 1988 when we had a 600cc National Short Track and TT on dirt," Carr said. "And in 1984 I raced a regional short track race there on concrete. Back in those days we were on 250s, so times have changed. We're going to be on bigger motorcycles and I don't think my past experience there is going to help me much. After all, it was 20 years ago."
Indoor stadium short track races became popular in the 1970s. One of the more notable regional AMA events was held in Madison Square Garden in the early 1970s. Indoor short track went out of vogue by the 1980s, though some Eastern racing series continued hosting indoor concrete short track racing during winter months.
"There will be some guys from the East Coast that will come in here with some experience in this type of racing. I think it should lend to pretty good racing. It's going to be full-contact racing. I've been sharpening my elbows," joked Carr. "It's great to have an AMA Grand National like this because indoor racing is part of motorcycle racing's historical landscape. I remember racing an indoor race on concrete back in 1973 as a Pee Wee rider, so I've come full circle."
According to AMA Progressive Insurance Flat Track Championship Series Manager Bruce Bober, the Cow Palace circuit will be about half the length of a football field and be set up in a diamond shape. "It's as big as the track we had in Tunica (Miss.) last year and that worked out well," Bober said. "We think there's a good chance we'll have some exciting races there."
Laying rubber down the night before with four-wheel ATVs will prep the concrete racing surface of the Cow Palace. The 63-year-old stadium has a rich tradition of hosting motorcycle events. In the 1970s famous stuntman Evel Knievel took an ill-fated jump in the Cow Palace and more recently the stadium hosted the AMA National Championship Indoor Trials.
The May 1-2 weekend will be a feast for AMA Pro Racing fans. The Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown will be happening a short hour up the road in Sonoma. Fans can watch the AMA Superbikes during the day on Saturday and Sunday and check out the short track national on Saturday evening.
For ticket information on the Ricky Graham Memorial Indoor Short Track Race & Motorcycle Show call (415) 421-8497 or visit www.supermotoproductions.com.