American invasion again.
“The Three Amigos” (or “The Three Stooges” depending on your point of view). As with Australia, the continental USA can play tricks on you. Consequently, the USA team for the Island Classic was made up of 15 riders from all over America, from New Jersey on the east coast to California on the west. And, as a result of that, though they were a team, most of them didn’t know each other either well or at all. Some of them had never been outside of the US and one of them had never flown on an aeroplane before coming to Australia. Weird, huh? And so they tended to group in the pits on a roughly geographical basis with the east coast riders clubbing together and so forth.
These three guys, however, sort of bucked the trend. Ottis Lance, in the middle of the picture, is from Texas, as related yesterday while Erv Kolleck (l) and Deano Swims (r) are east coasters, from Chatanooga in Tennessee. Best of friends on and off the track, their presence in the pits brought a degree of hilarity and good ole boy charisma that I will never forget. Ottis, brash, loud and ever-smiling, Erv, an ex-pat Englishman with impeccable manners and charm and Deano, a huge, loveable southerner who, with a white suit and stetson would look perfectly at home on the front verandah of an ante-bellum southern mansion.
Deano brought two bikes, the 1981 CB1100F that he has owned and raced since it was new (and it still LOOKS new) and his GSX-R1100 Suzuki that he used when campaigning in the AMA Pro Series back in the day. Both Deano and Ottis competed in P5, the most keenly contested category, while Erv’s later model Suzuki put him in P6.
When not out on the track stirring up the locals and screaming with delight inside their helmets, they kept us entertained in the pits with stories, yarns and wide-eyed innocence. Their excitement at being here and having the chance to be the first to race on the newly-resurfaced Phillip Island layout was infectious. Erv is quietly-spoken and takes somewhat of a back seat to his two, louder and more “out there” mates, but he is the nicest guy and I felt really sorry for him when he had an “off” in T12 in the last race of the day and injured his hand. He, of course, was more concerned about binning Deano’s bike, but plans are already afoot to majorly update it for 2014 so most of the damaged parts were going to be replaced anyway. Deano’s CB is immaculate, as you can see from the picture below. Way too pretty to be a race bike, it looks and, with the Bassani pipe, sounds the goods.
It was a rare treat to hang out with these three larrikans, both on and off the track. Socialising with them is something else again! I have made three friends for life from three guys who I’d never seen before last Thursday. Amazing how motorcycling brings us together.
Erv on the grid.
Tomorrow, a man who mixes up his motorcycling, and it is a fascinating story.
Oh, and for users who browse this site with Firefox, the “glitch” that was preventing you from submitting comments has been fixed, thanks again to Chris Mundy.