Tue, 5 Dec 2006, 09:55 AM
Slow Down, Don't Speed Up
By Bob Frey
Photo copyright 2006 Auto Imagery, Inc.
Nash and crew celebrate win.
Most people think that the key to success in drag racing is to go fast, but that's not the
philosophy of Michael Nash, the 2006 Summit Racing E/T Series Motorcycle champion. "Whenever I find
myself getting a little flustered or on edge, I just tell myself to slow down and relax. Don't
speed up." Apparently that philosophy works well for Michael since he went six rounds to win the
Division 4 motorcycle crown and then he went three more in Pomona to be crowned the national champ.
"I've found out that if I settle down, relax and think I can work out most of my problems." Sounds
like a bumper sticker to me, but it sure works for Michael who is one of the best and most
accomplished motorcycle racers in the country.
There's another old adage that goes something like this, "You can't win at the track if you don't
get to the track." That saying that played a big part in Michael's Pomona experience. "Romona and I
were planning on leaving home around five in the morning and when we headed out we got about thirty
minutes from home and I remembered that I had left my event invitation at the house and I needed
that so we headed back. Once we got on the road again we got about a hundred miles from home and I
realized that I had left my laptop at home, and since I tune with it, we needed to go back again."
After that second return trip Michael and Romona finally headed west about noon, a few hours later
than scheduled, but this time they had everything they needed. The rest of the trip was uneventful
and when they got to the track they settled in for what turned out to be a very successful weekend.
"It tuned out all right and we had a great time," Michael said. "The way we were treated by NHRA
and everyone at Summit Racing was really special. They treated us like real racers and made us feel
like we were a big part of the activities for the weekend."
Michael Nash is one of many racers who started with and stayed with motorcycles. "Oh, I have raced
a car," he said. "One night about four years ago at Red River Raceway I raced my bike in the
motorcycle class and my Jeep in the no electronics class and won with both of them. I also raced my
bike in the Top Super Pro class at Red Line Raceway in Caddo Mills, Texas against the dragsters and
I won that night. But I've never owned a race car and I love motorcycles and that's where I plan on
staying." Good thing, too, since Michael is part of a very good and successful program at his home
track, Red River Raceway. "Ken and Molly Hall are very supportive of the motorcycles," he said.
"They run a good program and we're as much a part of their track as any of the cars." To illustrate
that point, Michael points out that when Red River hosted the popular National Dragster Challenge
at their track, they made sure the motorcycles were part of it. "They bough a 'Wally' for the bikes
and we all wanted to win it. The bike racers are very close and very supportive of each other, but
when it comes to racing, we all want to win." As fate would have it, Michael was the one who won
the race and the 'Wally' trophy. Michael's trophy shelf is getting pretty crowded with a national
championship trophy from Pomona to go along with his five track championship trophies from Red
Michael began riding motorcycles almost two decades ago. "I had a nice little 750 Honda that I did
some work on and it was a pretty good motorcycle." His current ride features a chassis by famed
motorcycle builder Sam Wills. It has a 750 frame that Sam re-worked before adding a swing arm and
then fitting a fiberglass body to it. The engine has the bottom end of a 750 motor with bigger
heads and pistons, but make no mistake about it, it is all Honda. In addition to his race bike,
Michael also has a couple of street bikes, both Hondas. "One is a little 250 Rebel that Honda
makes. I take it with me to the races so that if I need to go off the grounds and get something,
it's legal and I just take it." The other bike is a little quicker than the Rebel. It's a
shaft-drive, 1000 c.c Honda that Michael rides for fun. "I have some nice older bikes," he said,
"but I don't have any of those new fangled bikes." With his riding ability and his easy going
philosophy about racing, Michael has everything he needs to be a winner.
Nash vs. Jeff Lanoue in the final.
Once he and Romona got to Pomona, Michael took in all of the sights and sounds of the event. "My
two sisters, Audry and Alice, my brother, Curtis, and my first cousin, Michael Holmes, were all
with us at the track, so it would have been a good weekend no matter how it turned out. Romona and
I, along with Audry and Alice, went to the Summit dinner and that was really nice. I got to talk to
Craig Treble and he was very encouraging. I have actually raced Craig before at some of the bracket
races." Craig even gave him some advice that Michael says paid off later in the weekend. "He told
me that, when it comes to big races like this, you can't play it safe, you have to go for it."
That's exactly what Michael did en route to his win. Among the times when he went for it was the
semi-final round when he put up a perfect reaction time. "I can live with a red light," he said.
"But I don't want to lose with a '60' or '70' light. That would hurt." A quick look at Michael's
history will show that he had the better reaction time in each round at the Division 4 finals and,
with his perfect light in round two in Pomona, he was almost flawless all weekend long. "In the
final round I was looking into the sun and I knew that would slow my reaction down a bit, plus I
was still having some issues with the clutch and I knew that would affect my reaction time, too. So
I just relaxed, slowed down, thought it out and I guess it all worked out OK." I guess it did.
Running in front of the big crowd in Pomona didn't bother Michael and he adjusted to the changing
weather conditions, too. "It was a lot different as far as the altitude on race day than it was
during our practice runs. I thought I could run about 9.26 or 27 in the first round, but with the
clutch situation I was having, I dialed a 9.28." He then went out and ran a 9.298 to beat Phil
Nasca in that round, and then came the perfect reaction time in the semis. For the finals, he
dialed a 9.27 and ran 9.279 to beat Jeff Lanoue and a new national champion was crowned. "I knew my
lights were pretty good, and when I do my job on the line the bike will always take care of itself.
As long as I have been running motorcycles, this is by far the biggest win I have ever had. The
only thing that could be better would be to do it again." With his bike, his consistency and his
philosophy, winning it again is a real possibility.
Michael attributes a lot of his success to the encouragement and competitiveness of his fellow
motorcycle racers, and all of the racers in both Division 4 & 5. "We're all competitive but we're
also good friends and we bring out the best in each other. Guys like Terry Blakely, J.J. Hughes,
Maurie Spratt, Bruce Calhoun, Don Gross and Len Baker always bring out the best in you. And Wayne
Braswell, who has no delay box on his bike, he's the one who put an "00" light on me in the finals
at our track and he taught me that anyone can beat you any time so you can never let down." As he
learned, you can't let down, all you have to do is slow down and everything else will take care of
itself. If you don't believe me, just ask Michael Nash, the 2006 Summit Racing Equipment Series
Motorcycle national champion for 2006. Oh, by the way, on the way home Michael remembered to bring
everything with him, including his latest 'Wally.'
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