AMA: Bostrom hopes to get back to winning ways at Brainerd
25 July 2000
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Two years ago Eric Bostrom found himself racing an American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Superbike for the first time. Honda factory ace Miguel Duhamel was out for the season after suffering a devastating crash at Loudon, N.H., and Bostrom was called in from the Erion Honda Racing squad to fill in for the injured Canadian. Bostrom raised a few eyebrows when he took fifth in his very first Superbike race at Mid-Ohio that year, but no one could have predicted what happened two weeks later. Bostrom, in just his second AMA Superbike appearance, won the AMA Superbike National at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway. It was one of the most surprising victories in the history of the series. This weekend (July 28-30) Bostrom, who now rides for Kawasaki, hopes to find that spark once again when he comes to BIR for round 10 of the 12-round AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championships. A lot of things have happened to the 23-year-old Bostrom since winning his first Superbike race. He went on to win another round of the series in 1998 (beating his older brother Ben to the top of an AMA Superbike podium by a year) and instantly was hailed as the next great rider of Superbike racing in America. Honda believed in him enough that it signed him to the factory Superbike team, taking the ride of his older brother who had won the championship for Honda in '98. Before the start of 1999, Eric was fast in pre-season testing and things never looked better for the former dirt track racing champion. Then things went a little haywire. Bostrom suffered a horrific looking crash during practice for the Daytona 200. So spectacular was the crash that a photo of the accident was featured in Sports Illustrated. Bostrom was injured in the crashed and missed the first two rounds of the series and when he came back he wasn't at 100 percent and he suffered through a miserable 1999 campaign, where he finished seventh in the standings and never found his way to the podium. Bostrom's confidence was at all-time low. Honda dropped him in favor of Nicky Hayden and then he found out his brother was hired by Ducati to race in the World Superbike Championships. Not only would the younger Bostrom have a long and rugged road to make it back to the top of his game, but now he would have to go it alone without Ben, who was not only his brother, but was also his best friend, his roommate and training partner. "Those were pretty dark days," remembers Eric. "I was definitely happy for Ben, but at the same time it looked like my career was heading in the opposite direction. I knew deep inside that I still had the ability to be a contender on a Superbike, but I had to have someone else who believed in me as well." Bostrom found an entire company of believers in Kawasaki. Team Green signed Bostrom for the 2000 season and it's proven to be a wonderful pairing. Bostrom has earned four Superbike podium finishes so far (with a second at Loudon, N.H., his best to date) and is fourth in the standings, firmly in the championship chase. The picture is even better in Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport where Bostrom won at Road Atlanta and is in a tight battle for the title just 5 points behind Kurtis Roberts. A Bostrom has won at Brainerd for the last two years -- Eric winning in 1998 and brother Ben winning in 1999 on the Vance & Hines Ducati -- and Eric hopes to keep that streak alive. Of course, in order to do that he will have to contend with the 'Big Three' ? Mat Mladin, Nicky Hayden and Aaron Yates. This trio of riders have won all nine AMA Superbike races leading up to this Sunday's race, and not surprisingly, are the top three in the series standings. Defending Superbike champ Mladin, who rides the No. 2 Yoshimura Suzuki GSXR750, has always done well at Brainerd finishing on the podium three of the four times he's raced there, but he's looking for his first win on the circuit. This is Nicky Hayden's first full year on a Superbike. Last August he took eighth at BIR in one of his 'Superbike orientation' rides. Brainerd has never been one of the better tracks for Yates - his best Superbike finish there was seventh in 1996. Honda's Miguel Duhamel joins Bostrom as the only other former Brainerd AMA Superbike winner. Doug Chandler won a World Superbike race at the circuit in 1990. One other interesting note is that John Kocinski, the former World Superbike and 250cc Grand Prix World Champion who now rides for the Vance & Hines Ducati team, won his very first national race ? an AMA 250 Grand Prix final - at Brainerd, way back in 1985. In other racing action during the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship weekend at Brainerd ? Valvoline EMGO Suzuki teammates John Hopkins and Grant Lopez continue to do battle in the Lockhart Phillips USA 750 SuperSport Series. Only 5 points separate Hopkins from Lopez, who won the race at Brainerd last year. Chuck Sorensen and Rich Oliver have each won the MBNA 250 Grand Prix at BIR three times. The rubber match will take place Sunday as Oliver continues to try to chip away at Sorensen's lead in the series. Kurtis Roberts will try to keep his perfect 2000 eSportbike.com Formula Xtreme season going. Roberts is unbeaten yet this season in Formula Xtreme and leads the Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport Series coming into this weekend. And finally, Mike Smith got a late start in the Buell Pro Thunder Series this year, but rapidly made up for missing Daytona by winning three of the four Pro Thunder races he's entered this season. The former factory Superbike star hopes to continue his winning ways at Brainerd. For tickets to the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship races at The Colonels Brainerd International Raceway, call (810) 249-5530. Sunday's Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike races will be broadcast live on Speedvision, at 4pm EST. Check local listings, as broadcast times may vary.