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The InSlide Line: Week 43

By Tyler Porter

Hello, and welcome to the InSlide Line Presented by Boughner Racing Suspension and Pro Plates. Even though this is technically the second column of the off season, for us, it's the first. The first column with no national wrap up, no upcoming races, and to be honest, no major news. Don't let that deter you from reading on though, because we do have a really big announcement. Let's get this party started.

There isn't a whole lot of news right now because honestly, a lot of riders and teams are just catching their breath from an exhausting summer. While Jared Mees and Kenny Tolbert are probably enjoying their time off a lot, I know there are a lot of teams who are really digging in for the next season, trying to find that little edge that will propel them to the top. Speaking of Jared, he and Brad Baker were in Perris California this week testing XR750's on the Perris short track. This should strike us all as very odd; twins on a short track, but just from pure speculation, I'm wondering if they aren't doing a little X-Games testing. The rumor is strong that dirt track may be included in the summer X-Games, and Harley has a HUGE part in it. They don't want to invest all of that money into making that happen for our riders to be on singles equipment! If this ISN'T what is going on, well then Jared, Brad and the Harley crew are probably having a really good laugh at my guess, but it sure will be interesting to see. The main thing that tips me off here is not the fact that they are short tracking XR's, it's the fact that there is a picture of it, and both riders are in full leathers and road race helmets. This is a PR move. If these guys were ACTUALLY testing, I can bet you they would be in their moto gear with moto helmets on. Moto gear is just more comfortable and easier to move around in. Also, there PROBABLY wouldn't be pictures. HD WANTED these pictures to get out, and they WANTED them to look good. They have something up their sleeve I believe and that is a good thing for us.


There are rumors swirling that there will only be ONE Springfield Mile for the 2015 season and that will be on Labor Day, not Memorial Day. From what I'm hearing, there isn't enough funding to do two races, and since the Memorial Day round is plagued by weather a lot, they are choosing to use the later date in the year. Not only is this going to sadden a lot of racers and fans, but what the heck are we going to do with the down time from Daytona which is in the first part of March until June when most of the other nationals take place? I'm guessing AMA Pro Racing has a plan, but I sure hope it doesn't involve ANOTHER West Coast swing which costs racers and teams a boat load of money to do. I don't imagine I'm the only one thinking about what the heck "normal" people do on Memorial Day weekend, for the last 10 years I've been in Springfield!

With that being said, let's see where you can check out some races this weekend.



Indianapolis, IN Short Track (Halloween Race, RACE IN COSTUME!)
Perris, CA Short Track
Lodi, CA TT (Rough Scrambles)


Next weekend, well, I don't have any races on the schedule page for next weekend. There are several for the week after next, the weekend of November 8th, so check those out!

Did you tune in to Pit Pass Radio on Tuesday night to hear me have a comical adventure with Tony and Scott on the airwaves? I really enjoy working with those guys and after they got my race report from Pomona where I stated that it was my last ever Professional race, they wanted to have me on to talk about my "retirement". First things first, like I said on the show, I didn't retire, I quit. Retiring would imply that I made money at the race track. Nothing could be further from the truth. I made more money at the race track during my amateur days working my tail off for Steve Nace than I ever did at a national. In fact, the most money I ever made at a national was when the generous folks at the Peoria Motorcycle Club gave every non-qualifier $100 in 2011. I was able to do a lot of cool stuff, ride a lot of cool bikes, ride the best tracks and hang out with my heroes. I never got hurt too badly, I made a lot of life long friends, and most of the time, though I know a lot of you knew about my inner frustrations, I did have a good time.

I hinted on the radio show as I was signing off, or as they were playing the shut up music, that this column was the most important one to read, the one you needed to tune in for more than any other in my 6 year run. Pro Racing is not the only thing I am quitting. InSLIDE Line 43 will be the last column I will write on this website. I know loyal reader Darren Carter, who may have made more "Best Of" photos than anyone else over the years may think it's a tribute to him, or maybe Hollywood Scottie Duebler thinks I chose his old national number, heck I think even Smokin' Joe Kopp still remembers his own 43 days, or maybe Sammy Halbert, though he swore long enough that he doesn't read my "garbage". I picked this time because I wanted to wrap up the season. I feel like I owed that to every one. I admit, it's hard to shut it down. I received more support from readers this year than I ever have. Many people came by at race tracks and just handed me cash. That was overwhelming for me, and I do appreciate the gas that put in my tank and the food that put in my belly. It's not the money, it's the fact that you cared enough about the website to help me out. I do appreciate that.

Things have been slowing down here for a while. This season I quit doing post race interviews. With my busy travel schedule with Memphis Shades, it became harder and harder to get in contact with racers, let alone all the time it took to transcribe interviews. It got to the point where the racers weren't giving me any good info, well, besides Jake Johnson. That guy does some of the best interviews on Earth! I quit doing that, and it didn't hurt the site. FansChoice.tv came along and gave you all access to the REAL post race interviews anyway. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to AMA Pro Racing for bringing them into our sport. That has been amazing for all of us. I have come to a point where I have a career, and a career that I love and one that I want to focus on. When I was in the engineering world, sure, I liked what I did, especially in the last stages of it where I was getting to design things, but I still went to work so that I had the money to go racing. I changed tires in the shop on my lunch break, I did interviews for the site from my office, I even posted the column from my desk on a few Friday mornings when I was running late. However, with my current job at Memphis Shades, this is the first job I've ever had that I enjoyed it enough and wanted to progress in it more than I wanted to go racing. It's an opportunity I fell into thanks to Johnny Murphree and it's something that I want to put all of my energy into. If I'm not racing "professionally", I will not require the level of support that I have needed the past few seasons. If I do not need that much support, I won't require the sponsorship that I have enjoyed, sponsorship that you see on the site as advertisers. With no advertisers to please, this site and it's weekly ritual becomes too much for me to spend this much time and money on.

I will not quit writing. I'm sure the guys at Side Burn Magazine will continue to have a piece from me here and there, at least I hope they will. I am working with a couple of other magazines, trying to get on board with them, and most importantly, just this week I inked a deal to join a very grass roots website where I will be a featured contributor. It's a wonderful place called motofeed.com. If you have ever heard of BuzzFeed, it is much like that. It's a mashup of links, clips, and stories from all around the motorcycling world. Think of it like a blender for your motorcycling lifestyle, all in one place. It's cruisers, sport bikes, racing, all rolled into one. I won't have a weekly column there, but I was told I will have my own part on the website and that I can write any time I want and about anything that I want. We haven't settled on a name for the area, though I do plan on penning something next week as a sort of kick off of the next chapter. You'll get a little dirt track, you'll get a lot of cruiser industry, you'll get a lot of travel things. I will keep things very light, this is something I want to have fun with. I hope you all will follow me there, because the site is one of a kind and could lead to a bigger mainstream shift in our industry.

I have a lot of people to thank for the success of this site. It all starts with a very unknown player in this whole deal, a guy I honestly haven't been in contact with for probably 5 years, Jake Petway. Jake set me up with a copy of the web editing program that I use and taught me the basics on how to use it. He also got the first store up and running and man did we have some laughs when I "modeled" the first line of Fight For Dirt Track gear. Rhiannon Gilland was also a big player in the early days, she was the one behind the early versions of my logo. Next came my current web guy, and the person who made this site look professional enough to pull in main stream help, Eldred Bristol. A bunch of you guys will know him as "Dred" the instructor from American Supercamp. For the last 4 years he has kept the site updated, changed the layout and most of the time had a much bigger vision of things than I did. Dred never got a pay check from me, it was free product from advertisers and to be honest, there wasn't a lot of that. Dred worked constantly though he was balancing his own life, family and career at the same time. Dred never let me down and I owe him most of the credit for this site being a success.

Those are the people who were behind the scenes. Then there are the people out front. I think the two people who encouraged me to do the news instead of sell t-shirts was Nicalee Sowders and Steve Murray. Both of them are very well connected in our sport and helped me get my "in" with all of the major players. Murray and I met up in 2008 for a 2 week cross country road trip where many of the ideas for this site were hatched, and it was a trip that we still laugh about today. I know he's going to read this and all I have to say is, "I bet I could throw a football over those mountains..." While those two helped me get the idea for the site going, I can't forget the man who put me on a motorcycle and started this madness. That was my grandfather, Dave Conyer. Pa, as I called him, put me on a 1995 Yamaha RT100 and nothing was ever the same. Long time readers probably recall the column I wrote on the week of his passing in 2010 that had to be the most emotionally tough column I ever had to write. While he did play a major part, well the most major part, of my involvement in this sport and motorcyling in general, there were also other family members behind the scenes. My Mom, though she never really enjoyed my racing, allowed me to do it. I think she knew me well enough to know that if I wasn't obsessed about my dirt bikes I would be obsessed with something else. Until I could drive, it was her or one of my cousins taking me to my races. Lots of nights sitting in stands, hoping more than anything that I didn't get hurt. I haven't forgotten those days, though my family for the most part is completely out of my racing life now.

The one man who had a big part in the racing side of things is Steve Nace. Steve really took me under his wing as soon as I had my driver's license. I couldn't have raced without him letting me work the races to afford my entry fees. I bought my first flattracker from him. Heck, for many years, we traveled together so much a lot of people thought I was his son! Steve's been a heck of a "race dad" to me and is the reason I know so much about the back side of the sport. I know what it takes to build a track, put all the details together and have a good race. I also know what it's like to wade out in waist deep mud to retrieve banners when there is a rain out. I remember skipping school to go check out race tracks and have meetings with fair boards with him. Steve begged me not to leave the area to go to college because he was working on "a big project" and needed my help. Of course I went to Indianapolis anyway, but I'm pretty sure that big project was his successful All-Star Series. Steve also taught me the valuable lesson of NEVER taking the last drink in a fridge. I still laugh to this day about how mad he got when I drank his last Dr. Pepper on the way home from the Neoga TT. Oh, Steve, if you are reading this, I can still whip you on a half-mile....(this debate has been going on for 10 years)

Then there are the friends who kept me going. Oh man, I know I'm going to forget a few names here, but it starts with Chris Boone and I hope a lot of you guys are laughing at that. Chris called me one night and asked me to go to the national at I-96 in Michigan. That is where I met Steve Murray, and got the wheels rolling in this crazy circus. Local guys like Aaron Ladd and Billy Gruwell still continue to be a big help to this day. Aaron taught me a lot on the race track, but even more off of it. Aaron rebuilt my motors on more than on occasion in a couple of days time so I could get to the next race. He helped me with tuning questions, and really was one of my first "big" brothers. Billy Gruwell, from painting me the coolest helmet ever to teaching me life on the road, he's still a guy I talk to once a week. We've got some funny stories between us, but between these three "former" pro racers, I would have never met anybody in the sport. This site would have never been the place to get your news and the opinions that you probably didn't care to hear.

There are so many people currently to thank and I'm not even talking about advertisers yet. George Mack comes to mind first. George ALWAYS had a bike for me to ride. My bike has been down A LOT for one reason or another, and I never had to worry about a thing. George always had my back. I always had a place to stay in Chicago, and if he wasn't sitting in a warm van eating powdered donuts, I always had a teammate for the Steel Shoe Fund 3 Hour Ice Race. My secret weapon for the last couple of years has been my west coast informant, Wayne Karcich. He's a mostly behind the scenes guy at Zanotti Racing, but he's plugged into a lot of good channels and got me more intel to use on the site than anyone would ever know. Wayne and I pick on each other to no end, but he's extremely media savvy and has helped out with this site more than you can imagine. Speaking of Zanotti Racing, Dave Zanotti is another guy at the top of the sport who has been a major help. From letting me into the shop to take "spy" photos of his projects to loaning me equipment for several nationals, Dave is one heck of an individual. Because of him, I had credibility with people like Chris Carr, Chris being one of the most fascinating people I have ever interviewed. Dan Johnsen and the AMA Pro Racing crew sure have been good to me and I've always had a direct line with Dan. We make fun of each other back and forth on text messages from time to time, but the entire AMA Pro Racing crew is working hard to make our sport better and in my opinion, they are doing a heck of a job for what they have to work with. I also can't forget my original source for all of my information: Dave Hoenig. Owner of flattrakfotos.com, Dave always has all of the race information posted on his site. This was before the nice AMA Pro Racing app on my phone. I could get on Dave's site and see who qualified where, who finished where in each heat and get all of the rider's sponsors. Dave helped me form entire columns and I'm sure he never even realized it. Dave and his wife Kathy have been to over 350 consecutive nationals. That is one heck of a record and he's truly a legend in our sport.

When I get into advertisers, though you don't see them on the site, I won't ever forget who my first advertiser was. TNT Harley Davidson and Honda in Quincy Illinois. They have been fans, friends, or most importantly family to me for over 5 years. I hear from one of the Smith Brothers on a daily basis still, and any time I am in town, they treat me as one of their own. In fact, Andrew called me yesterday to tell me about a new in the box set of XR750 cases he had for sale at his shop. You may want to call TNT Harley if you want a good deal on them! I've been treated incredibly well by my advertisers. I know I never did a lot of business for any of them, but they appreciated what I did and have a deep love for the sport I'm covering. Most of them have been on the site for years, Bell Helmets, Silkolene Oil, Boughner Suspension, Works Connection, Light Shoe, DP Brakes, K&N Filters, Pro Plates and EVS Sports. Some are a little newer like RK Chain, or the headliner on the site, Motion Pro. These folks made it happen. Sure, I was writing the column "for the sport" but really, I was putting this together every week to pay these people back for all of the help they have given me. You will continue to see most of them on the new page at MotoFeed.com as nearly all of them have said they would back me no matter where my next turn took me. That means a lot!

Many of my friends worked hard to promote my cause. From Ion Stear who I believe will wear his Fight For Dirt Track beanie until it's just a single piece of thread to JD Beach who went on a twitter explosion last week to promote the site, I really have the best friends in the world. It's more than just my friends from the track too. It's my friends that I work with, my friends at home. The ones that know that I'm not available on Thursday nights because I have a column to write. The ones who put up with a light on in the hotel room until 4am because I needed to finish things up or the people who would drive the first leg of the trip on Friday morning so I could type while they drove to get things done. Man, it's been a lot of long Thursday nights!

Though I am starting a new chapter, and you won't see me at a lot of nationals any longer, I will still loosely keep up with the sport and try to get caught up before I write about it too deeply. I respect the sport too much to write about something I'm not up to date on like I see many other "mainstream" guys do. Right now we are going into an off season where Jake Johnson doesn't have a ride. I suspect that Jake either saddles up on a Triumph or hangs it up to be the funniest and fastest machinist in the world. The Superprestigio Race in Spain is adding Jared Mees to the roster this year, so we will have a little more action over there. That race may not be huge to us, but in the media and in the global scope, it is massive! I saw the Lloyd Brothers crew working a lot with Jarod Vanderkooi as the season went on. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see something happen there in the future. I think the Lloyd Brothers team is wanting to get a young person on the Ducati's to make them work before they get "spoiled" by how an XR works. It's going to be a cool off season and though I won't be checking in weekly, if anything major happens, you can bet I'll write about it.

To close up the column, I know I forgot a lot of people, but if I didn't mention your name and you feel like you helped me and the website, rest assured, you did. Even my boss, Allen Mueller kept things going for the last 2 years when I said I was going to quit to focus more on working for him. He told me, "No, that's how I get my news. If it means you're late on a Friday morning, well, it's not a big deal, I think you need to keep writing." I just couldn't justify it any longer if I wasn't doing a lot of racing and being involved "hands on" at the track and at the pro racing level. There is one person I can't forget though. He's going to read this on a Saturday afternoon before he goes to bed at 5pm. That's my cousin, Dennis Porter. Known to a lot of you as the mysterious "Fab Master D" on my sponsor list. Dennis is my number one fan and has done more for me than anyone. He's been my Dad when I needed one, my sponsor when I had none, my employer when I wanted to learn the ropes. Dennis is the first person who ever taught me patience. I don't think I've quite mastered it yet, but he has seen his share of "Tyler Fits." Countless nights he drove me home from races across West Kentucky. Two or 3am, he'd be driving his gray van with me sleeping in the passenger seat. He'd pick up and deliver bikes, anything I needed. He put me on bikes when I sold everything and "quit." He watched me walk away from the sport and his bike was the last bike I ever won a main event on. These days he's helping me build the Memphis Shades project bike in his garage and I'm still learning from him. Dennis, I know you're going to miss the website every week, but don't worry buddy, I'll keep you informed!

Thanks to all of you for reading week in and week out. Thank you for all of the emails and messages. I know I mess up from time to time, and I know you may not always agree with my opinion, but I believe that I was the first to put an opinion out there on a weekly basis without being a forum kook. Heck, I stated last week that Cody Johncox made his first Expert main in Pomona...OOPS! I guess I forgot about the other nationals he made this year. Sorry Cody! For the most part, I think Dred and I did a pretty decent job with the site for being two full time employed guys just doing it for the love of the sport. Thanks to you all, and I hope you check in on my new adventure with MotoFeed.com. It's been an awesome ride.

Best Of's


Cutest Scooter Couple: Bryan Smith and Doug Lawrence (Photo: dirttrackfotos.com)


Guess Who Rider of the Year: ?? (Clue: He Probably Sponsors You)


Best Ride Into The Sunset: Tyler Porter