Hall of Fame rider sees rebirth in amateur, pro flat-tracks

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Chris Carr, 7-time national grand champion, attends Crusaders Motorcycle Club annual banquet

Photos by Tom Rivers – Chris Carr, a famed motorcycle racer, addresses about 200 people on Saturday during the annual meeting for the Crusaders Motorcycle Club.

Chris Carr addresses the motorcycle group at the Elks’ Club in Albion. After his presentation, trophies were handed out to the top riders for the 2015 season.

Chris Carr shares life lessons and highlights from his career. He was given a standing ovation by the Crusaders Motorcycle Club.

Jeremy Higgins accepts the award for rider of the year for 2015.

Evan Van Ameron is congratulated by Chris Carr for being the top driver in the 125cc class.

Kyle Tambe won the 250 Amateur division and also was awarded the Chris Miller Award for the driver that shows the most potential to go pro.

ALBION – Before he was a seven-time grand national champion, Chris Carr developed his skills on amateur flat tracks in Northern California.

Carr, 48, was a dominant rider in the American Motorcycle Association, and was inducted in the AMA Hall of Fame. He attracted major corporate sponsorship and set the record for fastest speed on a motorcycle at 350.884 miles per hour.

But it started at tracks similar to the one on Culvert Road in Medina. The Crusaders Motorcycle Club runs that track, and has raced there every year since 1957.

“That is to be admired for you guys keeping it going for so long,” Carr told about 200 people at the annual meeting for the club on Saturday night.

Carr remains a star among dirt track riders. The Crusaders handed out trophies and awards on Saturday for kids and adult riders. They all had their picture taken with Carr.

The Hall of Fame rider was invited to the banquet on Saturday by Dave and Rhonda Waters, long-time members of the Crusaders. Carr, who now works as commentator, said there has been a “rebirth” in flat track racing at the amateur and pro level. (The Crusaders have about 150 riders during their Sunday races.)

Carr first started racing as a 6-year-old. He lost more than he won as an amateur and as a professional.

“It’s OK to fall and crash,” Carr told the group. “But get yourself back up and finish the race.”

The drive to complete the course may be the most important quality a rider can have, which will benefit the racers in other facets of their lives, Carr said.

Riders need to show respect for other competitors and not put others at unnecessary risk, he said. Carr has been in 28 races in his career where another rider died, including the first time when he was 8 and as 12-year-old was killed in the same race.

“Have respect for each other,” Carr said. “That is someone’s son or daughter.”

Carr said he enjoyed the thrill of competition in racing more than he did playing baseball and basketball as a kid. He is grateful he made a career out of racing, with sponsors and many victories.

He said it is a difficult career to race as a professional and win enough to make money, and have corporate support.

“You’re not a pro unless you are making money at it,” Carr said. “A pro is a guy with more money in his banking account at the end of the year than when he started.”

Some of the youth riders are pictured with their trophies.

The Crusaders recognize the top riders at the local track for 2015, including Jeremy Higgins of Bergen, who was the track champion.

The top three riders in each division include:

50cc shaft: Brody Hazel, first; Braydon Blair, second; and Madison Davis, third.

50cc chain: Spencer Burley, first; Justin Ball, second; Alexis Van Ameron, third.

65cc: Jacob Peacock, first; Theo Storrs, second; Nick Klaes, third.

80cc: Brandon Newman, first; Owen Flower, second; Jacob Delamarter, third.

125 4-stroke: Zachary Van Ameron, first; Ryan D. Scavuzzo, second; Kyle Lonnen, third.

125cc: Evan Van Ameron, first; Rodney Davis, second; Damien Gamble and Colby Petrie, third (tie).

250 Amateur: Kyle Tambe, first; Justin Parker, second; Evan Van Ameron, third.

Senior: John Parker, first; Ken Shaffer, second; and John Kehoe, third.

Open Amateur: Timmy Wells, first; Brian Wass, second; Kyle Tambe, third.

Open Expert: Jeremy Higgins, first; Bradley Hazel, second; Justin Jones, third.

Expert Premiere: Jeremy Higgins, first; Jon Welles, second; Bradley Hazel, third.

Retired Young: Justin Carpenter, first; Brandon Grimes, second; and Jeremy Thompson, third.

Retired Middle: Les Washbon, first; Tom Palmeri, second; Roy Standish, third.

Retired Old: John Langfelder, first; Guy Hughson, second; and Arnie Mahnke, third.

Track Worker Awards: (Men’s) Andy Morrison, first; Eric Vick, second; Tim Lonnen, third. Women’s: Jodi Zacher, first; Joann Coyle, second; Dawn Hazel, third.

Bradley Hazel, one of the top riders last year, thanks his family for their support.