‘I’ve been to enough American Flat Track races at the Daytona International Speedway to know my way around the place pretty well, but I’ve never felt comfortable there. It’s NASCAR’s premiere venue. A billionaire’s four-wheel thunder palace that just got a $400m makeover to increase spectator capacity to 110,000. The last Daytona 500 purse was $19m. They don’t give two shits about two wheels. When you have that kind of money, what’s to give a shit about? Probably getting more money. No wonder they hate motorcycles. Maybe it’s just in my head, but for some reason every time I’m there I feel like I’m wearing dirty work boots inside a place with a giant NO BOOTS sign above the entrance. I don’t want to be comfortable there, though. Comfort is the cousin of dead fish and if you go with the flow long enough you’ll eventually run down the river of bounced cheques.’
Preston Burroughs first appeared on the Sideburn radar at the inaugural Dirt Quake USA back in 2015. He arrived with a crew of Southern Californian hooligans, the original crew that the whole phenomenon grew out of: the Suicide Machine brothers, The Speed Merchants, the Rusty Butcher crew, Wiggins...
Preston had a tough, battered Sportster, all you needed back then to be competitive. He raced it, entered the jump contest on it, inbetween taking photos that captured the essence of the unhinged Castle Rock events.
We kept in touch. I often bump into him at American events and he’s travelled to a couple of Dirt Quakes in the UK. He turns up with the clothes on his back and sees what happens. Want to go to Amsterdam with a rich divorcee next week? Why the hell not? He’s like something out of an early Bret Easton Ellis novel or one of the Beats born half-a-century too late.
He wrote about the hooligans being included in the X Games for SB34, and the story was brilliant. Insightful, scurrilous, very personal and quite brave.
A couple of days before the 2019 American Flat Track season opener at Daytona news broke that Travis Pastrana was going to race a Roland Sands Designs Suzuki GT750 two-stroke in the Superhooligans round that was on the undercard as a support race. I asked Preston if he could cover the spectacle. He was going to be there filming the event for Roland Sands Designs. He landed in Florida with a Hitler/Chaplin moustache, a floral bucket hat and the address of the best/worst strip club in town.
The story Preston delivered was so interesting, but not necessarily Sideburn’s view of flat track so I felt I should include one of those mealy-mouthed disclaimers in the front of the magazine, the kind that says the view of the contributors is not necessarily that of the editor or publisher (me and, er… me). Nothing we’d printed in the previous 36 issues made me think that way. I didn’t agree with all Preston wrote, but I did want to share it.
It’s in Sideburn 37. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should. You can buy the print magazine or the SB37 digital version for just £2.50 (and it’s yours forever, or until your laptop hard drive dies of old age). The intro to the piece is above. The rest of the piece is littered with tortured analogies and strong opinions. I can’t wait for his next story. We also featured a portfolio of Preston’s photos and a brief history of how he’d got in Sideburn 25 (and we have a limited number of back issues left).