On track for Bike Week

Richard Chamberlain of Hollywood, Calif., points to a photo of himself racing a Superbike. He’s the grand marshal for this weekend’s FIM North American Vintage Road Racing Championships at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

LOUDON – The whine of motorcycles will replace the roar of stock cars at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week when the green flag drops on a newly completed quarter-mile oval dirt track.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new flat track was held last week as part of the kickstart of Laconia Motorcycle Week. The racing will take place on Saturday.

“I’m excited to come here. It’s going to be some really good racing. It’s a small track with a lot of 450 cc riders. It will be a great show for the fans,” said Cameron Smith.

The 19-year-old from Coatesville, Pa., who pilots the No. 44 Honda CRF450R in the AFT Singles class for Richie Morris Racing, took a lap around the track for the assembled guests, many who got their start on the property when it was known as Bryar Motorsport Park.

Richard Chambers of Hollywood, Calif., was among the motorcycle racing greats who attended Thursday’s ribbon cutting.

“I loved the Yamaha. They built a factory production racer that a privateer could buy from a dealer and be competitive,” said Chamberlain who started racing in 1967 and earned his AMA Novice license two years later. He clinched third place in the Novice 50-Miler at the Nationals and steadily moved up through the ranks to earn an expert classification.

“It’s motorized ballet using the laws of physics not only on the motorcycle but your physical input into it,” he said of the skill set required to race a Superbike.

Newton’s law applies, he said, pulling up the left sleeve of his jacket to reveal a large surgical scar.

“I tried to catch myself at 130 miles an hour. That didn’t work,” he said. “I broke everything but my mouth.”

After he hung up his helmet and leathers in 1986, he began working as a motorsports announcer. He has been the voice of the Daytona International Speedway 200 since 1987.

On track for Bike Week

Veteran motorcycle racers Richard Chamberlain, right, and Doc Batsleer, posed with a 1917 Indian motorcycle and sidecar that was on display at the North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon. Chamberlain recounted that during his racing career that started in 1967 he crashed more than once, typically followed by a trip to the hospital. "I never broke my collarbone," he said.

Doc Batsleer of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., has also raced for years but now devotes himself to restoring vintage racing bikes.

“I’m trying to keep history alive. It is really sad that people don’t remember Jay Springsteen, David Aldana, Gary Nixon, Dick Mann, or Kenny Roberts. They were all racing legends,” he said.

Events all week

Bob Coy of Richmond, an AMA racer who was responsible for bringing the hill climb back to Tower Street in Weirs Beach, said fans will have the chance to see a stable of vintage bikes — some dating to the earliest days of motorcycling — on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Bike Week: A roarin' good time for 96 years

A racer speeds up Tower Hill in Weirs Beach in 2018 during the return of the hill climb race that was first held in 1916. This year’s event takes place on Tuesday from 11 a..m. to 1 p.m .

“We’ve got a 1916 Excelsior coming,” Coy said. The rare bike was made the same year the first Tower Street Hill Climb was held.

“It’s really thrilling to be able to do it and I don’t think there is any other place in the country that is doing anything like it,” he said.

Gregg Goddard, general manager at Gunstock Mountain Resort, announced they have inked a deal with Ridge Runner Productions that will keep the Gunstock Hill Climb in Gilford for at least the next five years.

The event pits man and motor against the 70-meter ski jump hill, with both amateur and AMA pro-style racing with the professionals competing for a $20,000 cash prize on Wednesday. Gates open at 10 a.m.

Other Bike Week events include:

Wednesday:

Motorcycle Week’s 96th anniversary will be marked with a celebration at the Naswa Resort at 5:30 p.m., followed by a tattoo contest at the Broken Spoke Saloon at 8 p.m.

Thursday:

A custom motorcycle show will be held at the downtown Laconia train station in Veterans Square from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bikers will gather at the Lowe’s parking lot in Gilford at 5:45 p.m. for a 6 p.m. departure to join the annual Freedom Ride to Hesky Park in Meredith. Retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc will be the keynote speaker at the park.

Friday:

A swap meet will take place at Opechee Park from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday:

Bikers will head north to ride up the Mountain Washington Auto Road to the top of the highest peak in the Northeast.

The inaugural Laconia Short Track race will be held at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on a newly completed quarter-mile flat track. The gates open at noon at NHMS.

Sunday:

Organized events for the week wrap up with the the 96th annual Loudon Classic motorcycle race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

For more information, go to laconiamcweek.com.