The View From the Cheap Seat

Motorcycle racing for the masses, with AHRMA.

| November/December 2013

  • Motorcycle racing
    Anders T. Carlson at Wisconsin's Road America raceway.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Rider push starting a motorcycle
    Learning the art of push-starting in the pits at Grattan.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Rider on his bike
    Learning the art of butt placement lap-by-lap at Michigan’s Grattan Raceway.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Rider preparing for first day of racing
    Anders T. Carlson slightly nervous on the first day at Michigan’s Grattan Raceway.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Riders talking in the pits at Road America
    Competitive eating with Jason Koschnitzke, Jonas Lumayag and Kristen Baustert in the pits at Road America.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Rider shows off his personalized race jacket
    Matt “Matte Black” Joy.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Rider Jason and his bike
    Jason and "Goldie" at Road America
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Vintage Harley-Davidson
    The pits are full of Japanese road bikes turned racers, along with vintage Harley-Davidsons like this handshift beast.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Group of Japanese race bikes sitting in the pits at Road America
    The pits are full of Japanese road bikes turned racers.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Rider leaning into a fast corner on the track
    Airhead get low. Johnny Scheff aboard his BMW R75/5.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Joe Haupt and Anders on the track
    Joe Haupt in hot pursuit of Anders at Blackhawk.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Burger and onion rings at Road America
    The View from the Cheap Seat: Motorcycle racing for the masses, with AHRMA
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Tricycle in the pits
    A different sort of trike makes a great pit bike.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Rider sitting on his bike in the pits at Blackhawk
    Cheating death, drinking beer at Blackhawk.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart
  • Racer duct tapes his shoes for a DIY toe-slider replacement
    Instant toe-slider replacement; race-sponsored by duct tape.
    Photo By Craig Chawla; Jen Hill and Nicole Everhart

  • Motorcycle racing
  • Rider push starting a motorcycle
  • Rider on his bike
  • Rider preparing for first day of racing
  • Riders talking in the pits at Road America
  • Rider shows off his personalized race jacket
  • Rider Jason and his bike
  • Vintage Harley-Davidson
  • Group of Japanese race bikes sitting in the pits at Road America
  • Rider leaning into a fast corner on the track
  • Joe Haupt and Anders on the track
  • Burger and onion rings at Road America
  • Tricycle in the pits
  • Rider sitting on his bike in the pits at Blackhawk
  • Racer duct tapes his shoes for a DIY toe-slider replacement

I always thought of racing as one of the most entertaining ways you could threaten your existence. Or so I imagined, never having set tread on a track as a competitor.

As amazing as it is absurd, the idea of throwing life and limb around a track in order to be “first” is probably something you either get or don’t. Childhood thoughts of racing Formula 1 and Group B rally cars are comfortably just that, childish thoughts. The cost and time commitment to even the most basic levels of professional racing make it an impossibility for all but the most dedicated and delusional. I’d never given much thought to any sort of racing, much less motorcycle racing.

But then the subject came up at a party over a few too many beers. I said “no” a lot at first, but every time I said it, I meant “yes.” And then I finally said what I meant. Yes, let’s do this. I’ll spend a few hundred dollars to sort of do what I’d dreamt about as a kid. How could I not? The person guiding me in this mission was Jason Koschnitzke, proprietor of Motto Motorcycles in Chicago. Having built quite a few race bikes and helped a number of novices onto the track, he‘s a good ambassador for the sport.

“You’ll have an amazing time. It’s easy, and you can use one of the old Hondas,” Jason says. “I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to mess up your bike,” I reply. “Nonsense,” he retorts, “the bike’s already been crashed many times.”



Pulling in favors from the greater Chicago Vintage Motorcycling community (known as ChiVinMoto), I buy race leathers that smell like the bunker they’ve been stored in for the last two years. I score cheap boots, use my old winter gloves and finally buy a new helmet. I register for track day at Michigan’s Grattan Raceway, and sign up for Team Chicago’s race school. Though moderately pricey, I soon find out why this track day is cheaper than most — Michigan is cold in April.

Three days before we pile into a van and head to Michigan, I head to Motto Motorcycle’s garage to actually ride the bike. It’s a 1972 Honda CL175 with scrambler pipes. It was built about 10 years ago, specifically to compete in the CB160 and GP200 class. The stator’s been removed and the bike has half a Dyna ignition instead of points. Per AHRMA rules, there’s no kickstarter. It must be push-started. It’s a pure race machine in an educational sense. I’m the third guy who’s ridden it. This bike’s gotten around.






November December Vintage Motorcycle Events

Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet and Vintage Ride


Make plans for the 28th Annual Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, followed by the Blue Moon Cycle Vintage Ride on Sunday, Oct. 28!

LEARN MORE