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Road racers’ good-natured rivalries, competitive spirit liven pit row

July 13, 2014

By Jim Witters
Photos by Jeff Guciardo

Don Drake has been bringing his racing team to AMA Vintage Motorcycle days since shortly after he opened his Decatur, Ind., motorcycle shop.

“We ran the AMA circuit for a long time,” Drake says during a short break in his road-racing garage. “We had the first 750 Ducati in the country. We took that one and raced at Daytona.”

Drake, owner of Drake Cycle Shop, says the track, the people and the facilities make AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, a must-attend event.

“We really love the track,” says Drake team member Jodie Hance. “The whole thing has been a treat.”

Racing Drake motorcycles are Linda Mihalec and Chris Langford, a wife-and-husband crew from Lexington, Ky.

Chris Langford (left) and Linda Mihalec are competing in the road-racing program at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.

Mihalec is racing in the GP 125 and GP 250 on Sunday, riding a Mike Wells Racing Honda 175 and Drake’s Ducati 200.

Langford is racing in the Novice GP lightweight class.

The couple attended AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days for three or four years before they started racing.

Two years ago at the event, Mihalec met Kevin Sexton of Elyria, Ohio, got to talking and wound up as the fulltime monkey on Sexton’s sidecar bike.

A few spots down pit row, the four racing buddies share a garage.

Roy Chapman, from Adairsville, Ga., Dave Rutherford, of Talking Rock, Ga., Stu Carter, from Detroit, and Frances Ganache, from Cincinnati, Ohio, get together every year at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.

For Roy Chapman, from Adairsville, Ga., AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is a chance to hang out with friends.

This year, Chapman brought his 1949 Harley Davidson WR.

“I just finished this bike last year, so it hasn’t been raced in many events,” Chapman says. “But when I heard Indian was the featured marque this year, I knew those Indian riders would be out here. So, I thought I should at least make it a Harley-Indian war.”

Drake says that type of rivalry and the shared passion for building and racing vintage bikes is what AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is all about.

“I just like it here,” he says.

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