Daytona Musings From Our Roving Reporter

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Our good friend and super-connected do-it-all race reporter, Larry Lawrence, is once again in Florida, sending in perodic updates from the Daytona paddock.

Here, in his first report, he fills us in on who the big winners have been so far, as well as who may have fared better staying home. Larry also clues us in on the usual rumors circulating the paddock, leading up to the Big Event later in the week...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Greetings from Bike Week. For all of you who areenvious of all of us who made the annual motorcycling pilgrimage, you'll behappy to know that today (Monday the fourth) it's cloudy with temperaturse inthe 40s with a stiff breeze.

Higbee Hits a High Note
The big winner of the Formula USA weekend was defending champ Shawn Higbee.Higbee broke away on his KWS Suzuki GSXR750 to win the first leg of theLockhart-Phillips Unlimited Superbike after an early six-way Daytonadraft-fest.

The unlucky rider of the weekend was Floridian Michael Barnes. Barnes jumpedthe gun on his Hooters Suzuki and was forced to make a stop-and-go penaltyand finished seventh in the first leg. Barnes came back and won therain-soaked second leg, but in a compromise with the riders and F-USAofficials, it was agreed that any rider who raced in the rainy second legwould be awarded eight points. As a result, Barney didn't gain anything (butpurse money) by winning the second leg. Higbee leaves Daytona with asix-point lead over Arclight Suzuki's Lee Acree. Eric Wood is third in theseries. The New Englander rode a GSXR750 with sponsorship by 14K the Movie.

The Next Great Motorcycle Movie?
What the hell is "14K the Movie" you ask? Well if you believe the talk comingout of the racing team it's going to be the next "On Any Sunday", but with asole focus on road racing. The movie is in the development stage right now.You can check out the website:

Pegram Perplexed
One rider who has to be scratching his head after Daytona is Larry Pegram. He arrives fresh off the AMA Superbike tour and some said he had anattitude coming into the F-USA Series that the championship was his to lose.Pegram got special treatment from his team, getting special tires forqualifying, something Hooters teammate Barnes did not get. Pegram leftDaytona complaining of a lack of horsepower, but that argument seems a bitsuspect in a series that is horsepower (or dyno) controlled. Stay posted.

Old Dudes, Old Bikes
Monday and Tuesday are the historic races at Daytona. A decade ago thevintage portion of Bike Week looked like it might rival the Daytona 200itself, but for some reason the event has leveled off in terms of spectatorattendance in recent years. I think it has something to do with the samebikes being raced here year after year. You can only watch Team Obsoleteracing their BSA Gold Stars so many times.

Regardless of the attendance, there are some really cool old bikes out hereand some great racing champions from the past. Gary Nixon, 1967 Daytona 200winner, is slated to ride in a couple of events today.

200 Buzz
Most of the pundits are calling Honda's Nick Hayden the odds-on favorite towin the 61st Daytona 200. No doubt the 20 year-old Kentuckian will be afactor, but it's hard to bet against Mat Mladin. The Yoshimura Suzuki riderfrom Down Under has won the race two-straight years and is shooting to becomethe first rider in history to win the 200 three-straight times. Of courseMladin doesn't make it easy to root for him. He downplays Daytona everychance he gets, calling it just another race. While the 200 certainly is notwhat it once was in terms of international importance, it's still a very bigand important event to Americans. Miguel Duhamel always seems to find alittle magic in the 200 and then there's Kurtis Roberts, who made the podiumin his first 200 last year and is hoping to become only the second father/soncombo to win Daytona following the Emdes, Floyd and Don.

The 600 Supersport race should be awesome as usual. There are two dozenfactory or factory-supported riders slated to race in the event. Picking awinner for this race is nearly impossible. Many are leaning towards Yamaha'sAnthony Gobert, even though he's never had great success at the track.

More to come as time permits...

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