When the racing community last heard from Mica’s Joe Kopp, he had plans to retire from competitive AMA motorcycle racing and start a new chapter in his life.
“I guess I thought I could quit cold turkey, but I guessed wrong,” Kopp said last week fresh off a third-place run during Daytona International Speedway’s Bike Week, which features Supercross racing, Kopp’s former class of competition – flat-track racing – and his new class, the XR1200 Road Race Nationals.
Kopp pulled double duty as he competed in the dirt short-track national event and the 1,200cc road race. Road racing is a new experience for Kopp and something that will take extended preparation each time he takes to the track.
“I did not feel very prepared for the road race,” he said. “I had only been on a road race track five days prior to the Daytona race (for the first time) and I knew I had to learn a lot in those five days. It was not natural at all for me to try and crawl off the side of a bike and drag my knee (the usual stance for a road race motorcycle rider). They kind of frowned on the foot-out-the-side style (Kopp’s more natural riding stance) in this sport, I guessed.”
Racing can throw a person curveballs at times and Kopp experienced this first hand during Bike Week. Qualifying for the dirt short-track events went off without a hitch, but it was the road race part that caught Kopp by surprise. With rain falling, all road race practice was canceled and riders got their first laps on the track in qualifying. For someone like Kopp who needed seat time to get accustomed to a new style of racing, this was not a good way to start the week.
“I take off and right way I noticed that the gear shifter is way too low for me and it made it hard to downshift while entering the corners,” he said.
Through it all, Kopp was able to get the kinks worked out of the road race bike. When the smoked cleared, he finished third place in his first event on asphalt swinging the bike left and right.
Fans can follow all of Joe Kopp’s exploits at www.joekoppracing.com
Activity begins at Stateline
Racing in the Inland Northwest takes the green flag this weekend as Stateline Speedway hosts the Northwest Early Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Baby Grands on Saturday. This event marks the first competitive laps to be run in the area for the 2011 season.
Stateline offers a variety of racing divisions, including Hobby Stocks, Fever 4s, Road Runners, Bump-to-Pass, Street Stocks, ICAR Late Models, Early Stocks, Northwest Modifieds, Inland Northwest Sprint Cars and Inland Northwest Super Stocks. New this season will be events for the Stateline Baby Grands, a scaled-down version of late-model-type race cars, and the return of a four-cylinder modified division after nearly a decade away from the track.
Returning to Stateline this season will be the popular Northwest Pro 4 Trucks, The Northwest Pro 4 Alliance, the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series, the West Coast Promoters Street Stock Series, the Northwest Outlaw Compact Series and the ASA Northwest Sprint Car Association touring groups.
Wednesday Night Fever returns Wednesday with a full schedule of events in the Fever 4, Road Runner and Bump-to-Pass divisions. For more information, go to www.raceidaho.com or call the racer’s hotline at 208-773-5019.
To reach The Spokesman-Review’s motor sports columnist, Doug Pace, email him at racingnotes@ comcast.net. Also see his online column at spokesmanreview. com/blogs/keepingpace
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