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FT: Jay Springsteen Springfield preview

SPRINGSTEEN TO RACE ONE LAST TIME ON THE HISTORIC SPRINGFIELD MILE AMA Season Opener Will Be Springsteen's Last Ride MILWAUKEE (May 22, 2007) -- Jay Springsteen has spent too many days tearing up the track on the AMA racing tour to let anyone...

SPRINGSTEEN TO RACE ONE LAST TIME ON THE HISTORIC SPRINGFIELD MILE
AMA Season Opener Will Be Springsteen's Last Ride

MILWAUKEE (May 22, 2007) -- Jay Springsteen has spent too many days tearing up the track on the AMA racing tour to let anyone tell him when it's time to quit. So when the three-time AMA Grand National champion was involved in a racing accident that left him with a broken back in July last year, he was not pleased.

The thought that someone else dictated his final racing appearance was unacceptable. Then, to make matters worst, the doctors told him he would never race again.

Yeah, right.

Every day since that accident Springsteen has spent his time rehabilitating his back. When he told the doctors he was busy chopping and loading several trucks full of wood, they cleared him to race again. The 43-time winner knows he has enough in him for one last ride and the doctors knew it too. They saw the results of his determination come through in his recovery.

His last chance at a trophy will come Sunday at the AMA GNC Twins Flat Track season opener at the Springfield Mile in Springfield, Ill. The legend will join the Screamin' Eagle Wrecking Crew for his final professional AMA race and he couldn't be happier.

"I broke my back because of an accident at a race last year and I didn't want to end my career like that," the 50-year-old Michigan resident said. "The doctors said I could never race again and I proved them wrong. I want to retire on my own terms and I'm ready for this race.

"I think it's great to have the opportunity to not only race one last time, but to race one last time at the Springfield Mile and to do it wearing Harley-Davidson colors. I love racing on the mile and this is going to be the last time I race this event. It's going to be great."

Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said it was an easy decision to ask Springsteen to wear the H-D bar stripe one last time.

"Jay is such a big part of flat track racing history and we're excited to be part of his last race," Paluso said. "We're going to help him celebrate more than 30 years of racing. It's fitting that someone that did so much for the sport will be with the Wrecking Crew for his last professional start. We're honored to have him on the Harley-Davidson team again."

Wrecking Crew rider Bryan Smith grew up in the same area of Michigan as Springsteen and still aspires to be mentioned in the same conversations about Michigan's great flat track racers -- the conversations, Smith said, that were started because of Springsteen and Scott Parker.

"It's cool that we're going to be teammates for his final race but I would be just as happy just to be racing at that event with him," Smith said. "He has been racing for so long, this is a big deal for flat track racing and it's going to be a lot of fun. He was 'the man' when I was a kid and he still is.

"Springsteen and Parker set a good standard by which all other racers compare themselves. You have to beat Springsteen and Parker to be the best in Michigan and so far no one has done that yet."

Springsteen will be wearing new leathers but he will be on equipment that he knows well. Not only will his long-time sponsor Bill Bartels be on hand to support him like he has for the past 19 years, but his tuner, Bill Werner, will have the bike ready to race for the final event as well.

"Bill Werner is going to have the bikes running in tip-top shape and as long as I can do my job, we're going to be in good shape," Springsteen said. "All of my sponsors and supporters who have helped me throughout the years are coming out for this final race and that makes it even more special."

Bartels said this weekend comes as no surprise to him. The owner of Bartels' Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey, Calif., knew Springsteen would make it out to Springfield one last time.

"I'm a racer too and I knew he would not let that injury keep him down for long," Bartels said. "I think it's wonderful that he's racing at Springfield this weekend, but I expected that. I think it's really exciting he will be racing with the Harley-Davidson family."

Bartels first became Springsteen's sponsor in 1988.

"Jay is an unbelievable talent," Bartels said. "If it wasn't for his age, he could go on. His talent has never wavered. He's more cautious today, but he can ride a motorcycle as fast as anyone out there and he's 50 years old. I don't know anyone else who can say that. This is our 19th season together and I've enjoyed every bit of it."

Springsteen has been racing longer than any other AMA competitor. He has raced since 1975, the same year he won Rookie of the Year honors. In 1982 he became the first AMA rider to reach the 30-win mark and the long-time Harley-Davidson factory rider has been a fan favorite throughout his lengthy career.

From the very first day, Springsteen has been one of the most competitive and successful riders in AMA history. Even with 12 screws and two steel rods in his back, Springsteen will be a contender for the win this weekend, said Wrecking Crew rider Jared Mees.

"All of the Wrecking Crew guys are runners and you not only have to beat the rest of the field, but your own teammates, to get on the box," Mees said. "Jay can still send it into the corner better than anyone else and it's going to be great to be his teammate for this big race. This is something I will remember fore the rest of my life. Being a teammate with the 'Gunslinger' during his final race is going to be great."

Once the checkered flag drops at Springfield, the veteran racer will officially be retired.

"I've done all my rehab exercises and I feel pretty good," Springsteen said. "My back hurts sometimes, but I would say I'm at 99 percent. I may be a little slower than I used to be, but I'm feeling great and happy that I get to battle for one last trophy and leave this sport on my own terms. I wouldn't have it any other way."

-credit: screamin' eagle

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