Scott Vile of Freeport rests after his second vintage motorbike race of the day in New Hampshire Monday June 11, 2012, behind friend Steve Baker, whose leathers bear the scars of many a tumble on the track.
Kerry Smith, 31, of Portland leads a group of racers through one of 12 turns on the 1.6-mile road course at the New Hampshire Speedway during the United States Classic Racing Association Vintage Grand Prix Monday, June 11, 2012.
Steve Baker, 60, of Freeport checks his brakes before a race Monday, June 11, 2012, at the United States Classic Racing Association Grand Prix at the New Hampshire Speedway. Baker races a nearly original 1972 Honda CB350 running on regular unleaded gas. Other competitors employ almost completely redesigned vintage bikes running racing fuel.
Kerry Smith, 31, puts on her helmet before a race Monday, June 11, 2012, in New Hampshire. Smith, who raises funds for United Way in Portland during the week, grew up watching her father race motorcycles on the weekends.
Portland's Kerry Smith laughs while getting final instructions from team Giannini Racing owner, bike designer and mentor Frank Giannini before a race Monday, June 11, 2012, at the United States Classic Racing Association Grand Prix in New Hampshire.
Kerry Smith's vintage racing bike was designed around a 40-year-old Honda CB350 by Frank Giannini in South Orange, N.J. Only parts of the cylinder heads and engine casings are original. The rest was build at Giannini's machine shop in his basement.
Mechanical troubles — maybe a seized engine — kept Kerry Smith of Portland from finishing her final race of the day Monday, June 11, 2012, at the United States Classic Racing Association Grand Prix in New Hampshire.
Steve Baker, a carpenter from Freeport, speeds around a corner between two other riders at the United States Classic Racing Association Grand Prix in New Hampshire Monday, June 11, 2012. Baker finished 5th.
Kerry Smith's father, a retired motorcycle racer, pushes her bike toward the trailer at the end of a day of racing Monday, June 11, 2012, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
At first it sounds like a swarm of angry bees in the distance, then the buzz turns to a roar as one, then two, then three bikes streak by at 90 mph. The racers ride hunched over, elbows to their knees, eyes straight ahead, focused on the turn at the end of the front stretch at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Throttles are twisted to their ends until the last moment, when the riders downshift into the first of 12 turns, sending their engines into high-pitched screams. On the other side the racers roll back on their throttles, upshifting down the next straight stretch of pavement on the speedway’s 1.6-mile road course. Everybody want to finish first, but there can be only one.
Monday, the United States Classic Racing Association Grand Prix was held in Loudon, N.H., just a few miles from Laconia where the 89th annual Motorcycle Week festivities were taking place. The USCRA is the oldest vintage motorcycle racing organization in the country. Members meet several times a year, mostly in the Northeast, to compete for glory on older bikes that were built from the 1940s to the 1980s.
Scott Vile, 52, a book designer and printer from Freeport, got into racing vintage bikes 10 years ago to test his own limits.
“I do it because I need to defeat certain fears,” he said at the close of the racing day. “This is an escape from real life.”
To read more about vintage motorcycle racing at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and to watch a video, visit Troy Bennett’s blog, Bennett There Done That.