Sonoma County Fair's rush on dirt

  • AMA Pro Flat Track racers compete in a 12 lap Pro Singles race at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 30, 2012 in Santa Rosa, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Leo Perry is a 74-year-old motorcycle dirt racer who calls himself "lucky" for only suffering one major injury in the 50-plus years he's raced motorcycles.

"That was serious," he said. "I broke my arm; tore my arm almost off."

He's not letting age or another potential injury stop him from being one of the many riders who will experience the thrill of short track dirt motorcycle racing inside the Chris Beck Arena at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Friday.

Give the man credit. One blemish in more than a half-century wouldn't stop most people from living their lives to the fullest. He'll be riding a 1968 Bridgestone 100 in the Vintage class — featuring bikes manufactured before 1972 — and a Suzuki RM 250 with a Champion frame in the modified division.

"It's a high that you can't explain," Perry said. "It's a natural high that you just cannot explain."

Racing around a one-eighth mile "bull ring" dirt track in an indoor arena at speeds ranging from 25-50 miles per hour will give just about any competitor an incomparable rush.

The event at the fair Friday will feature riders in six different engine classes, four age classes and one vintage class battling for points and cash. The top three engine classes — 251cc-open, 201cc-250cc and 86cc-200cc — each have A, B and C divisions. The two lower engine classes are for children. Kids ages 7-15 are open to competing in the 85cc class, 7- to 11-year-olds can race in the 65cc class, and 4-to 8-year-olds battle in the 50cc pee wee DTX class.

Bob Bellino's Circle Bell Motorsports is coordinating the races. The event is sanctioned by the Scott Sports Championship Dirt Track Series and the American Motorcycle Association's District 36. Racers wishing to participate must sign up for membership with both the district and the AMA.

Bellino said that entrants essentially walk up on race day. Similar grass-root events, he said, have drawn 75 riders, both experienced and amateurs.

"I would say it's a good 50-50 mix between the veteran riders and the new riders who've been racing for a year or two," Bellino said.

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