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WMRRA

Spend A Day At The Races

Since Speed Channel made it's debut on cable television , a lot more people are watching motorcycle races.  The cable channel carries races from all over the world and devotes the entire Tuesday night broadcast to the sport.  Watching motorcycle racing on television is about as exciting as watching golf.  I prefer the Indy 500 type broadcasts that feature profiles on the drivers and get behind the scenes to show you the machinations about what makes the sport.

Another missing ingredient in the Speed Channel broadcasts is that we rarely see a local rider on television. But, they do exist. And better yet you can watch hundreds of local riders race motorcycles in person at Pacific Raceways a number of weekends each year.

Since 1974, the Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association (better known as WMRRA or affectionately called "Wimra") has been putting on races at Pacific Raceways, over specified weekends, from April to September of each year. For the price of going to a movie you can drive, or ride to Pacific Raceways and watch races from the grandstands, as well as other prime locations along the track.  You can also stroll the pits and meet the riders, who make up our racing collective, first-hand.

So what kind of people race motorcycles in Puget Sound? The WMRRA membership is made up of racers from all walks of life, ranging from mechanics who wrench at local dealerships to Microsoft millionaires, who enjoy riding at high speed on the track, rather than on public roadways. And it's not just men racing, but a percentage of the roster is made up of women riders.

Above left: Steve Smith who rides for Post Falls Idaho's Beaudry Motorsports

The weekend begins with practice runs on Saturday, from mid morning until the late afternoon.  The track is closed down and utilized for auto races in the evening. Sunday morning the track re-opens to motorcyclists for a full day of racing that includes Supersport, Grand Prix, Vintage, Classic and Sidecars classes.

There is no assigned seating; so you can bounce from the grandstands to other locations along the track at your leisure.  Some of the best racing occurs on the backside of the track that winds through a series of 9 turns amongst the forested and hilly terrain.  If your legs can make the mile long walk each way it's worth grabbing your camera and walking to the west end to watch riders pass through turns #2 and #3 which is a twisty set of "S" curves. 

The Supersport and Superbike classes are some of the most popular and have varied heats throughout the day of 11 laps each. This is where you'll find the top dogs who have been riding on this circuit for many years.

Then there are the Vintage and Classics categories.  What's the difference? "Disc Brakes" suggests Classic rider Tom Wicken.  These categories are made up of bikes that are 25 years or older in most cases and run on the technological envelops for motors, frames and suspension of days gone by. 

One of the most exciting races of the day is the Sidecar class. Unlike typical motorcycle sidecar rigs, these specially designed carriages look more like that of a three-wheeled go-kart and utilize the entire back area for the second rider, sometimes called the "monkey." While the driver controls the rig, the monkey throws their weight from side to side continually changing the center of gravity on the rig. This allows it the ability to enter and leave a turn at higher speeds, while maintaining it's stability. 

Because of the limited time available for racing, certain classes are lumped together into the same race with staggered start times of a few seconds. Each bike carries a radio transponder, which is used to time each individual rider's start and finish time.

The number on each bike usually says something about how long and how well a racer has been riding.  New numbers are issued each year and those who have done well and been with the organization move up to lower numbers. 1-50 typically includes riders who have been racing for five years or longer. 800 through 999 suggest these are one to two year novice riders. Novices have their own races separate from the seasoned riders, so that they may hone their craft with other riders comparable to their own skills.

Above left: Eastside Harley-Davidson/Buell's Scott Moon has been a WMRRA Racer for more than 10 years.

Strolling the pits is another thing to do while you're at the track. It's your chance to meet the racers first hand, chat with their pit crew, or admire that Classic, Supersport or Sidecar rig that just won the last race.  There are no additional passes needed and you'll find a friendly, relaxed atmosphere as you wander from row to row.  It's also your chance to get a glimpse of what goes into preparing a bike for a race and learn all the intricacies that go along with that.  

If you plan on spending the day at the track, no doubt at some point you'll want lunch. Pacific provides concession stands that provide the usual burger and dog fare, but you can pack a picnic lunch yourself and enjoy it anywhere on the grounds.  We also recommend you bring a set of earplugs.

In addition to Seattle, WMRRA races take place in Spokane and Portland, a few times each year. If you're up for a road trip, the same experience can be had in either of the other two cities.

For a full schedule of WMRRA events visit their website at or pick up a schedule at a local dealer.  This is also a good place to begin if you think you might like to get into racing yourself. 

Pacific Raceways events are listed on the Sound RIDER! Calendar page.

PT/Summer 01 (updated Spring 05)


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