AMA: Bostrom Best Sliding Sideways
14 April 1998LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY-- More than at any other time during a Formula Xtreme Championship race, Eric Bostrom performs awesomely during the final few laps. Thats why the series leader is favored to win the Xtreme race here this weekend, the Saturday feature race of the Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca that includes, in all, races for six AMA national championship titles.
Bostroms Formula Xtreme Honda CBR900RR has an engine that produces over 170 horsepower. Thats more than any other motorcycle race engine except, perhaps, other Xtreme engines. His bike weighs in at little more than 375 lbs. To have the same power-to-weight ratio, the car you drive every day would have to have an engine putting out 1300 or more horsepower.
An Xtreme races last laps are Bostroms favorite. By then, even the best tires made have lost almost all their grip after a dozen or so Xtreme race laps. They are safe, but racing on them is like riding through oil on ice. Bostrom loves it when the going gets slippery because hes the best when sliding slideways.
Formula Xtreme bikes are, says 21-year-old Bostrom, "really cool to ride. The bike wants to go and you just kinda hold on. Its a struggle to use all the power. At 160mph, you hit the smallest bump and the rear wheel starts spinning. You come out of Turn 4 at Laguna Seca all leaned over; your knee pad is almost rubbing on the track; you crank on the power and right away the front wheel is in the air. "
Last year, Bostrom was the Twin Sports National Champion racing a 100hp bike. "Those bikes were fast, but you had time to think between turns," he recalls. "Riding Xtreme bikes, youre either braking, turning or hanging on. Theres no time for your mind to do anything. When the bike gets away from you, youve caught it or crashed before you even know it got away from you. Youve got to stay sharp or you overshoot corners. I dont mind riding off the road. Its fun, but its not the way to win and I race to win."
Bostrom started riding motorcycles on dirt, when he was 5-years-old. Its a family tradition. His father, mother, uncle and brother Ben, whos fifth in the Superbike championship riding a Honda CBR RC45, all ride dirt bikes for fun. Eric started racing when he was seven and turned pro as soon as he could, in 1992, when he was 16. Four seasons later, he was a national champion racing on flat dirt tracks.
"Im still young," says Bostrom, who has raced only one year on pavement. "Im not refined yet. That comes with time. I make up for it by charging hard. Im fastest when Im having fun, when Im comfortable. Ill go out and start sliding around. When Im sliding, I always have a big smile. Im comfortable. My times will be good. Then Ill get serious and concentrate. My laps will be slower.
"Laguna Seca is my favorite track. The infield is flat. Im real comfortable there," he says. "Im pretty good at passing under hard braking. You do that coming into Turn 2, Turn 5 and Turn 11. The Corkscrew is the key. You have to get into it right and get out of it so you come sweeping out of Turn 10 with speed." Riders who have trailed Bostrom into the Corkscrew say his way of getting it right is to slide his bike up to the entrance with its back hung out, stop the slide and shoot downhill with the power full on.
"With an Xtreme bikes power, theres no way anyone can run up front at Laguna Seca and save their tires so the grips good for a strong finish," Bostrom explains. "In the last five or six laps, the bikes will all get looser and looser. Itll be just like riding on dirt. Thats my moment to shine."
Bostroms closest competition is likely to come from Erion Racing team mate Tripp Nobles who also races a Honda CBR900RR. The two have gone head-to-head many times before. Now that they are team mates, the rivalry is hotter than ever. Nobles, however, isnt the only rider gunning for Bostrom. Yamahas Mark Miller, Suzuki rider Tray Batey and Mike Taylor, wholl be on a Kawasaki, should all be close behind Bostrom from start to finish trying to force him into making an uncharacteristic mistake they can take advantage of.
Racing for: AMA Formula Xtreme Championship on an Erion Racing Team Honda CBR900RR
Record: 1997 - AMA Twin Sports Champion; 1996 - AMA 883 Dirttrack National Champion
Born: November 19, 1976 in San Francisco Resides: Granada Hills, California
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