The Central Roadracing Association was at Brainerd International Raceway last weekend for it’s fourth Superbike racing weekend of the season, and one that turned out to feature some of the best racing and biggest surprises of the season.
Jake Schmotter had a dream weekend in the Unlimited Expert class, celebrating his one-year wedding anniversary to his wife KT in style by bringing home four wins for her. Generally, roadracers are good at getting on one knee but in Sunday’s Unlimited Supersport race, Schmotter must have been trying to recreate his marriage proposal move in Turn 5, which resulted in him and his beautiful Yamaha R1 going for a roll in the hay. This opened the door for one of the many shocking results of the weekend when Fisk Brother’s Racing/Dryject, Inc. rider Brian Hebeisen pulled off the move of his career on his Yamaha R6 by passing BMW S1000RR-mounted Kyle Ohnsorg going into Turn 6 and carrying the momentum to pass Scott Stall and his Kawasaki ZX-10R around the outside of the same corner. After that move, Hebeisen carried on to win the Unlimited Supersport race in dominating fashion.
The Middleweight & Heavyweight Expert classes showcased some amazing racing and multiple winners. Kris “Skellbow” Skellenger competed in both classes on his John Anderson Racing Yamaha R6. Skellenger brought home wins in Saturday’s Heavyweight Superbike and Middleweight Grand Prix races.
The Middleweight & Heavyweight Expert classes featured some of the closest racing of the season and saw multiple first-time winners as well as a victory by CRA veteran-amongst-veterans, Mark Dargis. Unsurprisingly, Ohnsorg was consistently at the front of the field, bringing home five wins between the two classes but debut wins for Josh Harein and Jake Hennen, plus two wins for Skellenger came as a surprise to some.
In the Middleweight & Heavyweight Novice ranks, Eric Hjelter continued his great run of form and taking home multiple wins with Sam Burke and Dillon Baumeister occasionally taking the spoils from Hjelter. The biggest shock of the Middleweight & Heavyweight Novice races came in Saturday’s Middleweight GP race when Jesse VanderWeide took victory on his Lightweight spec Power Brokers, Inc. Suzuki SV650. With VanderWeide essentially guaranteed of bumping to Expert for 2018, CRA fans are anxiously awaiting the showdown between him, Chris “Chimp” Mattson and Jan Chomp.
Speaking of Lightweights, an unofficial Ironman award was presented to Adam Harrison well after racing had ended for the weekend. Unfortunately, Adam had already left the premises so the award was thrown away, but either way he had to have set some sort of record by entering 24 races over the weekend on one motorcycle – the much-maligned Honda CBR600F2, also known as the Race Couch. Harrison captured multiple wins on the Race Couch and a round of applause from Champ’s mother, Julie, as a sign of respect for his achievement. Speaking of the Champ, a truly unfortunate food allergy knocked the Champ out of commission for Saturday’s races and while he poked his head out of his shell and came back on Sunday, it was more with a whimper instead of a vengeance. That being said, Champ is so dominant in the Lightweight class that even a whimpering Champ can beat the rest of the Lightweight field.
On the Novice side of the Lightweight Grid, Super Rookie Brian Rogers notched up three victories over the rest of the field in another great showing. Rogers even had the audacity to finish a close second to winner Eric Hjelter in the Middleweight Supersport Novice race on his Suzuki SV650. One can only wonder if Rogers will bump to Expert a year early. There is some great talent spread between the Lightweight Expert and Novice classes currently and once a few more riders have attained Expert status we could see a resurgence in the Lightweight class competition, possibly even back to the heyday when four-wide racing was the norm between Champ, Cole Naymark, Jake Northrup and Alex Zelenski.
Ultralight Expert was essentially the Jack Barton Show, with the Krämer HKR-Evo2 rider taking victory in every race but one. Barton even captured a coveted Brad Kreller Victory Tour (as did Eric Hjelter) when he won a race in which he was the only starter, therefore finishing both first and last.
Featherweight Expert was essentially dominated by Ohnsorg who made a guest appearance on Ewa Kalinsky’s Cheap Thrills Moto Yamaha R3 with the reigning CRA champion taking every victory but one over Hebeisen and the rest of the field. In the Novice class, a few new faces adorned the top step of the podium with Justin Miest winning multiple races compared to one each for Tom Conroy and Lawrence Lin.
The CRA’s season finale takes place Sept. 22-24 on BIR’s 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course and will feature sprint races on Saturday and the historic 5-Hour Endurance Race on Sunday. The International Watercross Association will be on Lake BIR that same weekend for two days of snowmobiles racing on open water. It’s Wet & Wild Weekend 2.0.