Denver: Kenny Van Buren preview

Van Buren anxious to get back in his Suzuki saddle in Denver DENVER (July 8, 2009) - After his debut in Pro Stock Motorcycle earlier this season, Kenny Van Buren will again be wearing his leathers in this weekend's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at...

Van Buren anxious to get back in his Suzuki saddle in Denver

DENVER (July 8, 2009) - After his debut in Pro Stock Motorcycle earlier this season, Kenny Van Buren will again be wearing his leathers in this weekend's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, piloting a Mitchel Lippen-tuned, Vance and Hines-powered Suzuki. The two-time NHRA Division 7 Summit Racing ET Motorcycle Champion is backed by AGP Turbo and will be promoting "Committed to Freedom" - an organization that provides abuse survivors with spiritual tools to help them move beyond their circumstances.

The 57-year-old Van Buren said he is ready to get back on the track after his initial outing at the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston in March.

"Being a professional racer has been a dream of mine since I was 16, so getting to do this is really a dream come true," Van Buren said. "I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead as our team strives to become successful in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class."

A resident of New River, Ariz., Van Buren is a service manager at a metro Phoenix-area Lincoln-Mercury dealership. He began racing turbocharged drag bikes in the early '90s at NHRA Division 7 and Summit ET events, where he attained a shelf-full of Sportsman Wallys. He took some time off racing after 2006 to focus on his other hobby, competitive power lifting, where he currently holds two U.S. records.

Mid-2008, Van Buren received a phone call from team owner Ben Kriegsfeld who said he wanted to put together a Pro Stock Motorcycle program and was looking for a seasoned driver. Van Buren accepted the riding opportunity and completed the necessary licensing upgrades in December, and has tested frequently at local Arizona tracks.

"This AGP Turbo Suzuki is much different from what I've been used to. The 60-foot and 330 marks come a lot quicker, and I'm learning every time I go down the track. I've raced against a number of the Full Throttle Series competitors years ago when they were running Sportsman, and I can't wait to race them again," he said.

Crew chief Mitchel Lippen is calling the shots for the fledgling Suzuki team, after having earned his Pro stripes working with Funny Car driver Gary Densham. Lippen has raced motorcycles for 25 years, the past 14 of which have been in the NHRA Division 7 ET Motorcycle class.

Lippen said, "Our program is truly a group effort, and from the owner to the rider it's the perfect mix of great people with innovative ideas, all sharing a common passion. Putting that together into one team will allow us to sneak up on the competition before they figure out what we are capable of."

Van Buren added, "I appreciate this opportunity to ride for AGP Turbo, and the privilege of promoting 'Committed to Freedom' allows me the chance to reach out to those whose lives have been affected by abuse -- whether physical or sexual. No one likes to talk about those types of abuse, but someone needs to, and we're here to help."

AGP Motorsports team owner Ben Kriegsfeld, an avid racer himself, said, "Kenny has so many laps under his belt over the past 19 years, he's really a veteran. With two Sportsman championships, it was a great fit to select him as the rider for this team. The dedication and commitment he has shown to get to this level of competition is unsurpassed, and has been more than I could ever ask for in a rider.

"We went to Houston earlier this season to see where we stacked up against this competitive class, and we really learned a lot from our first race and found where we needed to improve our game. Kenny has been getting laps in almost every weekend since, and we've made some changes to the bike that will help us progress," Kriegsfeld said.

Along with this weekend's event in Denver, Van Buren plans to race at select Full Throttle NHRA events in the remaining 2009 season.

ABOUT COMMITTED TO FREEDOM
Abuse survivors have difficult questions, and the damage is physical, emotional, relational, and Spiritual. Committed to Freedom offers Spiritual tools to help survivors of childhood or adolescent abuse - especially sexual abuse - move beyond their abuse experiences through various programs, including retreats, seminars, self-help curriculum, support group studies, and other sources of information and encouragement. For more information, visit their website: www.committedtofreedom.org.

-credit: v&h

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Densham