A 100mph Chess Match?

March 12, 2018

Some people refer to Mile flat track racing as a 100mph chess match, because it involves some strategy. This is both over- and underestimating the sport. 

 

The Case for Overestimating

Ok, there's a five rider freight train crossing the startline on to the final and some strategising of where you want to be coming out of turn 2 and turn 4 on that final lap, but any fool knows that if the bikes are nose-to-tail on the last lap, you don't want to be in the lead coming off turn 4 because you'll get drafted. So, it's not really in the same ballpark of strategising as a grandmaster's chess match. 

 

The Case for Underestimating

If you make a wrong move in a chess match you are not going to be hurled across the school gym at 95mph and hit a barely padded wall while wondering if 150kg of burning hot metal and race gas is going to follow you into the aforementioned wall. 

 

Why am I bringing this up now? Because we posted Wiles and Baker's Insta-Ding-Dong a couple of weeks ago (read it if you haven't). A reader, Frank, left this comment...

 

'I don't know either fella, so I have no dog in this fight, but this is the bullethead who took out Steve Bonsey and cost him a year off the track, right?'

 

Now, I'm going to apologise to Henry 'Hammerin' Hank' Wiles in advance, because I thought Frank was referring to Wiles as the 'bullethead' [incindentally, if I even dream of calling Henry a bullethead I apologise to him when I wake up]. I assumed Henry was being referred to because he was initially more antagonistic in the insta-ding-dong. I didn't remember the incident, so I asked Sideburn contributor, Randy K of Western Flat Track, someone who knows Bonsey well. He replied very quickly...

 

'At the May 2016 Springfield Mile, Brad made a very questionable move coming into turn one, taking Stevie out. Stevie went head first into the hay bales (missed the air fence by a couple of feet... don't get me started). He broke (some? one?) vertebrae in his neck and he's only now recovered.'​ 

I went hunting references to the incident and found this video on the very excellent FlatTrackLive facebook page (apologies for the sizing, I couldn't format the facebook video properly for this site. If you hover over the video you should get icons to turn on the sound and increase the screen size).

 

I've watched it numerous times and the touch looks so slight, Baker seemingly taking Bonsey's left foot just as the California rider commits to the corner, that it is incredible it doesn't happen more often. It just shows these guys are racing with a lot of respect for each other, most of the time. 

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