Goshen News, Goshen, IN


July 30, 2011

Day of thunder

Motorcycles’ roar helps close out Elkhart County Fair

GOSHEN — Having no brakes didn’t seem to slow Ron Williams down any Saturday during the motorcycle races at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.

The Elkhart resident finished first in the Seniors age 40-and-over category and second in the Veteran age 30-and-over section.

“In my first heat, the brake broke off,” Williams said. “Between my first and second race we yanked the brake off. I went two races with no brakes. It’s natural not to use the brakes. You just tap them to set the bike up for the curves, but I was free wheeling it with no brakes. None of the bikes out here have front brakes, only rear brakes.”

Saturday was the 48th consecutive year motorcycle races have been held at the fair. The races began in 1963 and the Elkhart County Fair is the only flat track in the state that has continuous streak that long.

“These are some of the higher paying amateur races,” said Goshen Iron Horseman Treasurer Jeff Cole. “We had a total of $2,800 in purses.”

The races are sponsored by the Goshen Iron Horseman. There were races in 18 differnt classes on Saturday.

Williams enjoys racing at the Fair.

“I started here in 1976 when I was 13 years old,” he said. “I believe that was the first year the current track was used for races.

“Since I’m from Elkhart it’s fun to race here in front of people that I know. I raced professionally for 10 to 12 years. The stakes were higher at the pro level, but this is just as satisfying. There is a certain smell or feel for racing here that brings back childhood memories. I’m 49 years old and the Lord has been good to me. It has certainly been enjoyable for me to race over the years.”

There were some tense moments in the Vintage 0-400 CC class when Steve Packard of Grand Haven, Michigan, crashed going into the first turn.

“Something locked up coming into the corner. I took a couple of tumbles,” he said while walking away from the accident after being checked out by the paramedics. “I’m a little sore but otherwise okay. The bike seems to be okay now so we’re not sure what happened.

“The thing is I just got back into racing. I raced as a kid and then had a short-lived three year pro career before having a bad crash. I went to see the Nationals last year and couldn’t stand not racing anymore. I knew I had to get back into it. I’m 53 years old now and wish I would have never quit the sport.”

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Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

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