2010 AMA Grand National Championship, Ride of the Year.
This past year turned out to be one of the best in years for America's most exciting Motor Sport, the AMA Flat Track Series. The competition was intense amongst a large group of determined front runners,made up of multi-time Champs, single time Champs and Champions in the making. Milestones were achieved with first a stunning victory by Joe Kopp on the Lloyd Bros Ducati and then followed up with TWO incredible wins by Bryan Smith on the Werner Springsteen Kawasaki 650. But I think the Ride of the Year goes to The Salinas Sensation, Stevie Bonsey and his victory at the Calistoga 1/2 Mile. The whole Sideways Circus showed up at a perfectly prepared clay half-mile that was brand new to the entire field. If ever there was a level playing field this was it. 21 year old Bonsey came out flying and attacked the Wine Country Fairground track with a spectacular display of determination and style. This kid ,who happens to be a Kenny Roberts Sr protege, only earned his National Number in June of 2009, so he has very limited experience in running against the Big Dogs. But it certainly didn't hinder him at all at Calistoga. Almost from the drop of the Flag in the Main, Bonsey was a contender, relentlessly chasing Carr and Sammy Halbert at the front of the pack In a thrilling lap after lap battle with Chris Carr he finally got the better of the Champ and set sail in reeling in Sammy . He managed to do this quickly but Halbert was on his game and a high low, criss cross battle transpired that was Flat Track magic. Bonsey got out in front on his Tony Dodge, Johnny Goad powered Harley and showed what an incredible racer he is by gaining a nice gap on the field. It was a beautiful sight to witness and given the level playing field and Stevie's limited experience racing in the Big Leagues, this first Grand National Victory for Bonsey gives him ,my Ride of the Year 2010.
Stevie Bonsey confidently sits on his Dodge Bros. Harley after Time Trials, knowing he has probably the fastest XR in the field. All he has to do is whip the most competitive and seasoned group of Riders in recent history.
The banked clay of Calistoga suited his wide open,let it all hang out style.
Kenny Coolbeth and Bonsey rail around Yavapai Downs Turn One. After the Calistoga win Stevie suffered some racing incidents and crashed out when he inadvertently tangled with other competitors or suffered from unfortunate mechanical woes like here in Arizona when a shock broke while battling up front in the Main.
I am hopeful that Stevie's 2011 Flat Track program comes together after his very promising 2010 on the Dodge/Goad XR 750. The Dodge Bros. put together a fast and beautiful bike and with Goad power and some racing luck, Bonsey could possibly be looking at a National Championship. Johnny Goad knows how to do it, as we all remember his glory days with the original Salinas Sensation, Ricky Graham.
Bonsey is one hell of a Road Racer and after some really bad luck with Team finances due to the Global Economic Calamity, his MOTOGP aspirations were squelched. Dark Cloud ,Silver Lining for us here Stateside who have the pleasure of his company at Road Races and Dirt Tracks in America.