FT: Saluda preview

VIRGINIA MOTOR SPEEDWAY SET TO HOST SECOND JOE WEATHERLY MEMORIAL PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 10, 2007) -- The AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship returns to Bill Sawyer's Virginia Motor Speedway in Saluda, Va., on Saturday, July 14,...


PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 10, 2007) -- The AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship returns to Bill Sawyer's Virginia Motor Speedway in Saluda, Va., on Saturday, July 14, for the second annual Joe Weatherly Memorial presented by Thurston Spring Service. It will mark the second visit of the AMA Grand National Championship to VMS, which hosted a successful inaugural motorcycle event last year.

AMA Grand National Twins Championship leader Jared Mees is the defending Virginia Motor Speedway winner and he comes into Saluda on a roll. The Pennsylvania native, who now calls Clio, Mich., home, has won three straight races coming into this weekend's event. His victory last weekend in Joliet, Ill., marked the first time since 2001 that a rider has won three straight in the championship.

Mees, who rides for Blue Springs Screamin' Eagle/Saddlemen Harley-Davidson, has surprised even himself with the success he's had so far this year.

"I'm taking it one race at a time," Mees said. "I can't say enough about my mechanic Johnny Goad and my team. I'm working hard with my training and riding, but I can't believe how well we're doing. I mean I know the team's capable of winning, but this is Grand National flat track racing; so many teams and riders are capable of winning. This is tough to do. I just feel fortunate to have things going so well right now."

In spite of winning three of the four Grand National Twins events, Mees has only a narrow 13-point lead over defending series champ Ken Coolbeth of the factory Harley-Davidson team.

Mees said a fast start last year led to his victory at Virginia Motor Speedway.

"I got a really great start in last year's race and put in some good laps early," he said. "Joe Kopp was actually running me down later in the race. He found some good lines late in the race, but I was able to hold on. This track is a little tighter than your typical Half-mile, so it's somewhat unique.

Mees said the race was one of his favorites in 2006.

"Besides winning, it's great we're going back to the track. It's a great facility and the fans were really enthusiastic. Hopefully we can build the fan base there and this event will continue to be a success."

Aside from speedway officials deciding to bring this show back to the area after a successful inaugural visit in 2006, there is more local interest than just the facility creating a buzz for this motorcycle race.

Mike Hacker and Tim Eades are salivating over the chance to get back to VMS and race in their own backyard to show motorcycle fans once again just how exciting their brand of racing can be.

"You've got a great track," said Hacker, who finished fifth at last year's VMS race. "I mean, you couldn't ask for a better track for what we do. The enthusiasm in wanting to make this thing go is so great. I'm really excited about being able to race in my hometown again, but also race at a place where they want to make this deal a regular stop on the tour and they're doing everything they can to ensure that."

Tim Eades of Colonial Heights, Va., rides the Reggie Amos Custom Homes Harley and is a long-time fellow competitor with, and friend of Mike Hacker. He's pumped about his competitive chances for this year, and it couldn't come at a better time as he looks to another VMS homecoming.

For Eades the Joe Weatherly Memorial is on the top of his list. "I'm really, really looking forward to it. Up until last year, Hagerstown, Md., was my home race and that's four hours away. I get phone calls at least four or five times a week saying, 'Hey, did you hear about that race at Saluda, are you going to be there?' Everybody's way pumped up on it," he stated.

The race is named after Joe Weatherly. Most will remember Weatherly as a two time NASCAR Grand National Champion (now Nextel cup), but before racing on four wheels Joe was an accomplished motorcycle racer. Weatherly was a leading AMA racer of the late 1940s and early 1950s. During his brief, five-year professional motorcycle racing career Weatherly won three AMA nationals, including the prestigious Laconia Classic 100-Mile road race in 1948 and 1949. Weatherly was from Norfolk, Va.

Admission tickets are currently on sale between the hours of 9am and 4pm. Tickets will be $26 in advance and $30 day of event. All seats are general admission. Mastercard and Visa will be accepted. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (804) 758-1867 or by coming by the speedway's office.

The track will host vintage and amateur motorcycle races on Friday night prior to the national.

Bill Sawyer's Virginia Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track affiliate, is a 1/2-mile, dirt oval. The track is located on U.S. Route 17, eight miles north of Saluda, Va., and 25 miles south of Tappahannock, Va. The speedway is just a short drive from Richmond, Fredericksburg, Southern Maryland and the Hampton Roads area.

The race will be broadcast on MavTV. Visit for additional information.

For more information fans may call the Speedway office at (804) 758-1867 or visit the track online at

-credit: ama

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series AMA