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January 22nd 1998

 

 

 

ThE WiLd RiDe oF StEwarT GoDdaRd
March 22 1998

July 21st 1998 Update at the bottom of the page

My name is Stewart Goddard. I'm a T-3 paraplegic (14yr old-motorcycle-injury). I didn't ride for 12 years, and a friend asked me if I could walk again would I ride. My response was that I intend on riding again, but I don't have the money to buy a bike. He went out and bought me the best bike on the market ('96 CBR 900 RR). It was up to me to design and fabricate my concept. I worked with a machinist and it took us two months to figure and fabricate what I call Landing Gear. The system is very reliable (although it could use some fine tuning). I have logged 5K miles on my street bike...and am looking to get my WSMC (Willow Springs Motorcycle Club) license this month. I am sponsored by Moto Liberty Honda located in Texas. I will/should be racing a RS 125 this year! I am a complete injury...no feeling or movement...I am an independent film maker, who is about half way through filming my first full length feature film 'FLAT OUT' about a road racer who becomes paralyzed and designs a motorcycle, and goes racing again. Sound familiar-funny thing is that after I wrote it and made the contacts to shoot it...it then came true...kinda backwards huh?

I raced for the first time in Feb. The WSMC (Willow Springs Motorcycle Club) new riders school only had the classroom instruction, due to the rain. In order to get your license, you have to go through both instruction, class and track. Fortunatly I was there the day before and rode with the teacher, Danny Farnsworth. I have been riding Willow on Fastrack days for a little over a year, and feel very comfortable riding it. Danny and I took acouple of laps,so he could evaluate my riding. After class, I waited for everyone to leave,because I knew that my request to get my lic. wouldn't go over too well infront of all the others that wanted to race on Sunday. Especially with the fact that in March, F-USA (Formula USA) brings so many races, there isn't anyroom to have new riders school. So those who got rained out, still had to wait another month! Well Danny felt that my riding capability was enough to give me my lic. and I was able to race on Sunday!

The big day...Novice races are held at the end of the day...(they make us wait till everyone else is done). My lap times had slipped from 1:38's to 1:40's,which doesn't seem like much, but when you're going 100 mph...that time is a great distance. Six racers entered (inc. myself). And since I don't have any "landing gear" (mechanisim to hold me up to start/stop) I have to have two crew guys start me. Which boils down to the fact that I have to start in the very back of the pack. Well after the start I managed to get into second place by turn 4! And on the second lap, turn 2 I passed the leader and led the rest of the race!!! I couldn't believe it! I won by almost a 1/4 mile. It was one of the best days of my life! I had friends and family that had come out, and to top it off I won first place! It's a "high" that I don't think will ever go.

Well this month, March, I entered to race again. This time there were 10 racers and to top that, four of them were TZ 250 (I ride a 125). Well at the start, right before the flag dropped I exhaled my deep relaxing breath...and it fogged my helmet up so bad, I wouldn't have ever known when to start. Luckily the guys that push start me could see, so when they started pushing I knew that was the time to "GO"! I got a terrible start (again I was last). But I passed one rider in the second turn and was pouring the pressure on! Three and 9, but he would blast past me in the straights. On the last lap, I had both of them behind me, with a comfortable lead that would have held both off till the finish (**4th place was mine!!!). Or so I thought. Going up into the techical part of the track (turns 3-5) my bike got stuck in neutral! I couldn't get second, no matter what I did, and those two went past me with the greatest of ease. I'd have to settle for 6th place. I was angy at the fact that due to a mechanical failure I lost the two positions...but the race was so competitive (between the TZ and the Suzuki and me) it was still a total blast! Then after that bitter pill, I found out that if I had Michelin stickers on my bike last month...I would have won $300 bucks contingincy money! AHHhhhhhh! Sheer frustration!

Well this weekend I have been invited to race in Texas! My sponsor, Moto Liberty, is located near Dallas, and has told me that they are going to put me on a new Honda RS 125! So this weekend I'm driving 18 hours there, racing a 1 hour endurance on Sat. and then a 8 lap race on Sunday, piling back into the car and driving 18 hours back, just to make it on time for work! I think I might be instatutionalized after this weekend! CYA, Stew


From: StewGod StewGod@aol.com
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 1998 09:19:05 EST
To: garyis@paralinks.net
Subject: Re: wild ride

April 28th Update at bottom of page.

April 28th. 1998 Well the weekend was going great till I crashed on the second lap/turn 1. I was interviewed by Larry Meyers for Bike Week. Road Racing World interviewed me...

The Heat race; They threw the flag before I was ready to start. So I got a horrible start. But there werent as many racers/the grid cut off was i think 40 and there were only 30 of us. I was doing great during the heat race...I passed three riders. After I passed the third...My shifter got caught on the hole (we had to cut a hole in the fairing to accomodate the throw of the shift lever) Well the bold got caught on the edge of the fairing cause it wasnt cut large enough. So I reached down with my hand and was hammering it..trying to shift; I thought that it was the switch on the handle bar that went out...After torquing on it...i must have broken it loose because it was working again...but that third racer had a huge lead on me. I picked up the pace and managed to pass on the last stretch of straightaway. It was a rush catching up!

On the start I jammed... I passed probably 5-6 riders and was launched into the mid pack. I passed acouple more up around turn 3-4. Coming down the hill I had this one rider that I was going to pass on the inside of 8, but I didnt have enough front wheel up on him to take the position so I tucked in for the draft and figured that Id take him down the front straight. Well going down the front straight he had just as much horse power as I did. SO I figured Ill just out brake him going into turn 1. And after I did that I went in too hot and didnt make the turn. I was cranked over so hard that I could hear the peg dragging.  And even though I was looking where I wanted to go...the edge of the track was approaching fast. I low sided and shot off into the infield. I hear that the bike was 8-12 feet in the air. I slid and flopped to an abrupt halt. My face shield was ripped off and somehow I received a rather mean looking shiner. Other than that...im just sore from doing my 100 mph face drag through the infield.

And that...my friend...has caught you up on what went on!
Schtoo...

Update as of July 21st 1998

From: StewGod@aol.com
Received: from StewGod@aol.com
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 15:06:30 EDT
To: garyis@paralinks.net
Subject: RACER UPDATE

Hey Gary!!  Well...alot has happened since the 100mph crash at the AMA Willow Springs Weekend. After getting my Moto Liberty Honda RS 125 back together (and straightened), I geared up for my first race since the crash. Oceanside Honda offered to put the bike back together, so I took it down there and waited for them to give me a parts list. They called me and I supplied them with what they asked for. It was getting down to the wire (race weekend). I told them that I would pick up the bike on the Thurs. before race weekend, which was fine. When I arrived to pick up the bike, they had done nothing (except take it apart). So I picked up Oh and they handed me a nice long list of parts I needed. Well it looked like  ANOTHER month out of commission. I called Audrey Menarik (my sponsor at Moto Liberty) and told her of my dilemma. Well she said, "Not to worry", and said she would call me back. When she did, she had a mechanic lined up, and all I had to do was deliver the bike. I brought it to Ben Solis (a fellow racer, who has his own shop). Ben said I could pick it up at 6pm (now Fri. I was elated that it was going to be put back together). Ben was a professional, the bike was torn apart and gone over. I picked it up and went directly to the track. Ben told me that he had jetted it for Willow, and I shouldn't have any problem!


Getting back on the track was great! But for some reason, I wasn't up to speed. My times were way off from what I was capable of doing. I thought it  might be "back from a crash" jitters. Well I slowly worked off some of the lag, but still wasn't 100% back to speed. I figured that I was still just working back up to the pace. In the race I left all the jitters behind. I was engaged, locked and loaded. Ready for action. But STILL wasn't ripping it up.  In fact I was getting left in the dust of EVERYBODY! I mean the slowest of the slow were kickin' my ass! This was really baffling, as well as really frustrating. I couldn't figure it out. Well as it turns out, Ben jetted my bike 4 main jet sizes off (therefore; Bogggg). Bottom line...I was stoked to be out there. I really didn't want to sit out another month (and get more stale). This was a good primer for Buttonwillow.


Buttonwillow is another track 2 hours North of Los Angeles. It can't be compared to Willow Springs. Buttonwillow has 18 turns and is about 3 miles long, while Willow Springs has 9 turns and is 2.5 miles in length. 18 turns...imagine trying to memorize 18 turns in a weekend! Doesn't sound like alot? Well concider that the track has more pavement (more pavement so that different track configurations can be made). So you're ripping down a straight and you're coming up on a line of cones...which don't have arrows on them...so you really aren't sure of which way too turn! The track is a blast! It has these humps that are great for lofting the front wheel! I was getting the front tire a good foot off the ground! The track has a little bit of it all, straights, tight and sweeper corners and some very interesting humps!

I arrived and got some practice in and realized that my gearing wasn't what it  should be...so I had to pimp a rear sprocket. The CRAZY thing was that when we went to change it, my chain tensioner was bent beyond belief! After we got the rear wheel off, the wheel bearing had discintegrated, and the cush drives (little rubber O rings that go in the rim, were trashed! The wheel (has three circles, where the cush drives go) and they were all ovalled out! I don't know how I raced Willow and practiced with the rear wheel like that! SHEESH! Well I borrowed a wheel and proceeded to practice. After I realized that I still needed more teeth on the rear sprocket. I managed to borrow a 39 tooth from a guy named, Michael Potts. Mike was really cool. We were talking and he was asking all of the usual questions (how do you ride? How do you shift? etc) and I asked him how he did in the qualifier? Turned out that I had finished just in front of him!? Here I am borrowing gears that will make me faster from a guy that I was in front of...Ooops. I asked him if he wanted to try the sprocket, and he said he was happy with the 37 that he was running. That was music to my ears, cause I had riders telling me that I should try and run a 41 tooth (but no one had one for me to try). So Mikes 39 tooth was the best I could get!


The race! We lined up and the flag was thrown. I got a pretty good start (even  in the qualifier) I was passing people so fast that I had to go off into the dirt (edge of the track) to pass. The pack was making its way through turn 2 (which is a nasty hair pin right hander, and as we came through turn 4 there was a crash. Michael Hannas bike was on the track, along with LaVaughan Montgomery. (I didn't find out till later, but Hannas bike was T-Boned and broke the frame in half! Along with his frame, Michael Hanna broke his wrist in 3 places). I managed to get through the carnage and pull into 10th place (out of 18 racers)! I was really happy with that cause the purse paid back to 10th (something like $175 bucks)! I was holding off Mike Potts and Mark Sotiriou (Marks team is Cyborg Racing; named because he is missing his left arm from just above the elbow down). I wound up missing a shift and Mark went whizzing past me. (In the qualifier Mark and I battled for a bit. I held him off for a while but he managed to get by me). After Mark went by, it was Mike and I. Mike was putting on the pressure, but I was staying ahead of him till I botched turn 10. Turn 10 is awesome! Entering it its a steep right hander uphill. Right at the apex it instantly drops just as fast as it rises. Well I went wide and at the bottom is a left (turn 11) and I went motocrossing up over the FIA curbing. Mike had me! I pulled in behind him. I was now putting on the pressure! We would blast out of turn 18 out onto the front straight and Mike would turn around and there I'd be stuck to his tail (grabbing the draft). We were like that for 3 laps! I would try and put a wheel up on him going into turn 1, but I didn't want to take both of us out (concidering we were 11th and 12th) plus he was cool enough to loan me the sprocket, and edging him out of the race would have been way uncool. So I just had fun. Then on the next to last lap my shifter broke (yes again-Ive been plagued with shifter problems). And off went Mike. I was so pissed. I tried to get the thing to work, but I wasn't having any luck. I refused to give up...so I reached down with my hand and decided that I wasn't going to give up with out a fight. I shifted the last two laps with my hand (which was scary as hell going throught the 100+ mph sweeper-I'd reach down and it would upset the bike, and go into a death wobble). I managed to hold my position (how i don't know). I finished the race 12th! Rolando Quintero finished first, followed by Vicki Jackson Bell (Vicki and husband Tony were one of the ones that loaned me a sprocket too-Thanks you two!) and then Rodney Fee.

It was a great weekend altogether. I made some more friends, got comfortable with a new (and fantastically fun) track. I'm hoping to get back there a couple of more times before the end of the year (I think there are races in Aug and Dec). Try to make it out if you can!  And that is that!