May 28, 2005

I've been going to the Springfield Mile for twenty-one years; often twice each year (Memorial Day and Labor Day). So, it's perhaps surprising that I haven't flooded this site with Springfield pictures.

If any trip could be considered as typical, I suppose this one is. Early on, I would try to take a different route each trip--a worthy thing. But, having exhausted most every possibility that was within reason, I am left with just taking the most efficient route, which is what is shown below. On any other weekend than Memorial Day and Labor Day, I'd be riding through the Ozarks of Missouri. But, I've long learned to avoid that region during these times.


Anyway, the part through the Flint Hills of Kansas is always nice as is the section between Kingdom City and I-72 in Illinois. The rest is a great deal of freeway riding: Sometimes pleasant enough, and other times not.  This trip was rather nice the whole distance.

Note: I am aware that much of the racing part (including the names) will mean next to nothing to most readers...

While riding around Kansas City (on the bypass) the engine died and then sputtered and then ran just fine. Odd. Actually, when it sputtered and restarted it let out a boom like a cannon shot. I imagine I startled the people in the cars around me. I spent the next several miles wondering what that was all about, but as it was running just fine, I soon put it behind.

Then I hit some very rough pavement (not hard to find on I-70) and the engine again quit, and then ran only roughly and without much power. This time it didn't fix itself, so I moved to the right shoulder and rode along at a slower pace until I could pull off on an exit.


What was it? It turned out to be a crimped wire that had come loose from the spade connection at the coil. The coils were not getting power, so that was that. Using a screwdriver and pliers I spread open the offending connection and then re-crimped the wire best I could. That took care of it, and all was well for the rest of the trip. From the time I stopped and the time I was on my way again took only fifteen minutes, so I didn't lose anything. And, it gave me a chance to take my first picture.

There are a number of Amish communities through central Missouri. This man was selling baskets along the roadside. I've no idea where he kept his horse.

Curryville, Missouri. At one time the most notorious speed trap in the state. They got me once. Never again. I always creep through this town at 15 mph, and make a point to nod my head at one of the two police cruisers that are generally hiding somewhere along the route through the small town. Note: they don't care about paperwork, they just want your money. Cash preferred. So, at least you needn't worry about points on your drivers record.


US-54 crosses the Mississippi River at Louisiana. This is a fairly narrow bridge and it's always interesting to see two semi-trucks pass each other. They do it rather slowly.

This sign in Atlas, Illinois is a little too obvious to be anything but intentional. What would you suppose "Amish Crazy Stuff" is?

Pittsfield, Illinois. I like the idea of a new car dealership on main street. You don't see that too often.

A classic town square arrangement. The county courthouse in the middle square, and the businesses along each of the four streets that surround the courthouse. Now, about that flagpole...

I arrived at Springfield well in time to see the qualifying heats for the TT races. There are more riders than can fit in the normal schedule of heat races, so the qualifying heats sort out the fastest riders; the others pack up. Incidentally, a TT race (as defined here) differs from a short track in that the racers will have a few right turns to go along with the left turns and there is a jump somewhere along the way. A TT (tourist trophy) is not motocross (and has nothing to do with the TT's of Europe), and the skills to go fast are not the same. As it happens, most of the motorcycles used, did start out as motocross bikes, but they have been modified for use here.

A shot of some of the activity outside the grandstands.

Chris Carr is the reigning Grand National Champion and has always been tireless supporting the sport. Here it looks like he's getting ready to start signing T-shirts.


Nichole Cheza has not yet earned a national number, but she is a very fast rider. In time, she may do well here. We will see. It seems that for many years there has always been one or two females in the ranks.

Jake Johnson and Kevin Varnes. Jake (in yellow) won the Daytona short track and is clearly a rising star in the series.


Johnny Murphree has been riding at the top level for several years, now.

Terry Poovey was one of the best short track racers, ever. He has always been one of the favorite riders. He is now retired and is helping out Chris Carr.

The early view of the TT course. You can see the lone jump and a few of the turns.

By now the sun has gone down, and the final race is about to begin.

I always wait about an hour for the crowd to thin out before starting my bike and riding to the hotel.

I was lucky to find a room in Springfield. In other years I've had to stay 60 miles out as all the rooms were taken.

This Harley-Davidson XR-1000 was seen in the parking lot. It happens to be one of the more desirable motorcycles they've made. This was taken early the next morning at the site of the Mile races. Both the Mile and the TT are on the fairgrounds, but they're at different locations.

Ford is the series sponsor this year.

Gary Nixon was a factory rider for Triumph. One of the great American motorcycle racers of all time.

The early morning practice sessions. At this time there are very few people in the stands. Only the crazy people come to the races this early...

Jay Springsteen doing what he does more than any other rider: sign autographs.

As seems to happen half the time; it rained--off and on for a couple of hours. It then took that much time to dry things off. At least this time the races were not postponed for the next day.

The Springfield state fair is the birthplace of the corn dog. Well, you knew it had to have been invented someplace. Why not here? I had a couple. They are good.

Waiting out the rain...

Still waiting out the rain. At this point it's dry enough that they can run trucks around the track to help squeeze out the water.

The factory Suzuki team. They're making great progress. They weren't quite up to it this time, but it won't be long.


This is Rich King's Harley-Davidson XR750. This is by far the most successful engine in all of motorcycle racing. This also happens to be the winning motorcycle.

Back to Jay Springsteen and wife and dog. Cute hat (I mean the dog's).

Still waiting for things to dry. And waiting and waiting.

The Lloyds have been working a few years, now, on a flattrack Aprilia.  They get closer each time.

I don't know the background story, but one of the best riders available rides the Aprilia. Larry Pegram is generally the top privateer in Superbike racing (and was once on the Factory Ducati team), and is something of a part-time gun for this race. He seems to be seriously meditating over the bike (visualizing the course?)...

Something interesting. A V-twin Yamaha that was once an old Yamaha Vision. This engine has been taken out to 750cc's, and could be competitive in the future. Just not yet.

Terry Poovey, again, and Chris Carr (in the leathers).

The heats have all been run, and these are the top twenty riders.  There is no sound in all of motorcycle racing like this sound. It shakes the grandstands. You feel it in your chest.

The winner? Rich King. Typically, the crowd was on its feet for the last lap. I would imagine that the noise of the crowd as heard from the track would be pretty impressive. I don't know if the riders can hear it, but then, they've got other things to concentrate on.

Not a great picture, but that's Rich on the top and Chris Carr at number two.

I waited until all the races were done (a second class was run after the main event). That works out fine, as the parking lot is much easier to get out of. I didn't ride over 500 miles just to leave early.

The races were so delayed that I ended up staying the night in Springfield, again. There was no problem finding a room this time.

I returned by the same route.

This is a nice round barn in Illinois that I've passed many times without ever stopping. This time I stopped.

Illinois countryside.

Summerville, Illinois. This is Memorial Day.

Hey hound. What you barking at? You're not too fierce.


Louisiana, Missouri. Home of Stark Trees. Stark Trees bear fruit, you know.

Climbing out of the Mississippi River valley (you can see a motorcycle down the road).

Someplace in Missouri along US-54.

There's nothing open on main street in Laddonia.

This was an interesting support post. Seems to be made from iron.  The rest of the building is not so sturdy.

Not far south of Mexico, Missouri I turned west onto a county road and made my way to the house of Fritz and Dottie Feutz. Fritz was an experimental test pilot for Cessna in the 1950's and flew the 172 (and the 182) on its maiden flight. That was 50 years ago--nearly to the day.

Their house is beautiful.

I really enjoyed hearing of those days at Cessna. It was an amazing time and those were truly remarkable people; they did a great deal: 172, 180, 182, 310, T-37, 620, CH-1, etc., etc. That's a list to be very proud of.


The first production model 172. It went on to be the most-produced aircraft ever. Nice job, guys.

Fritz's own Great Lakes biplane. It is immaculate.

Riding along the back roads towards the main highway.

Along the way through Missouri.

It seems that I-70 is always under construction. You learn to be patient.


At the entrance to the Kansas Turnpike.

I generally do not like interstate highways, but I've always been fond of this route through the Flint Hills. Makes you want to park at the side and just walk for miles towards the horizon. And, you could do it, too.

Not a bad trip at all. The races were great (they always are), and the trip back to Wichita was easy. Just under 1,100 miles.


last edit: 6/2/2005