Daytona Friday Bike Week report

Halsmer hoping to follow uncle's four-wheel success at Daytona on two wheels. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 28, 2003) -- The Halsmer name is well known in sports car racing circles. Pete Halsmer was a three-time class winner in the Rolex 24 At ...

Halsmer hoping to follow uncle's four-wheel success at Daytona on two wheels.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 28, 2003) -- The Halsmer name is well known in sports car racing circles. Pete Halsmer was a three-time class winner in the Rolex 24 At Daytona during the 1980s at Daytona International Speedway.

Pete Halsmer's nephew Thad Halsmer hopes to carry on the Halsmer legacy at Daytona, but this time on two wheels.

Halsmer, 23, an Indiana native who recently moved to Southern California, is racing in the Pro Honda Oils Supersport event next Friday at the Speedway and is hoping to get some seat time during this weekend's Championship Cup Series and Formula USA events.

"(Uncle) Pete did well here and I've had some success as well, but I'm still moving up," said Halsmer, who is racing for the newly formed Dream Team Racing. "I'm looking forward to improving and getting the same type of results here in motorcycle racing."

Dream Team Racing comes to Daytona with a strong squad headed up by Larry Pegram, who'll ride a Ducati-backed Superbike. Halsmer was slated to race a new Honda in Supersport, but at the last minute the team had to switch to Yamaha R6 Supersport machines when Honda told the squad that it wouldn't be able to get the new Honda to them until after Daytona.

"We had the choice of missing Daytona and running the Honda later this season or getting the Yamaha and making Daytona," Halsmer said. "The Yamahas are good bikes and have been setting some of the fastest times in testing so I don't think it's going to be a disadvantage. It would have been nice to run the Honda, but that's OK. We'll go on with the development of the Yamaha."

Halsmer only got two days to shake down the new bikes in pre-season testing and was hoping to get some racing in this weekend in preparation for next week's AMA season opener. But rain on Friday kept him off the Speedway's 3.56-mile road course.

"I've come close to throwing on some rain tires and going out to ride," an antsy Halsmer admits. "But my logical side says don't do it. At this point we go out in the rain and risk tearing something up and this weekend is about testing."

Halsmer, who raced in MBNA 250 Grand Prix last season, is moving into the most competitive class in AMA Pro Racing in the Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship. There are over 20 factory-backed riders in the class making it tough for a new rider like Halsmer to get noticed.

"The team has discussed that," Halsmer said of setting expectations for this season. "I don't want to come off being cocky or anything, but the goal is certainly to be the top privateer (non-factory) rider in the series. Beyond that we'll just have to see. We're going to do the best we can with what we've got and by the end of the year if we can start coming inside the top five that would be awesome."

The racing bug bit Halsmer while watching his uncle, who was a top sports car driver as well as open-wheel ace.

"I got to hang out with him at a race out at Pikes Peak back when I was a teenager and I thought it was awesome. I figured I'd give it a try on bikes."

So what does the Halsmer family think of young Thad racing motorcycles?

"Mom keeps promoting other career options, but they're supportive," Halsmer laughs.

He attended Purdue University for a semester before deciding on concentrating on his racing career.

Tickets for any of the motorcycle events at Daytona are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

-dis-

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About this article
Series Other bike
Drivers Larry Pegram , Pete Halsmer