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Going all out, all the time

Haddock follows through on his dream of being an AMA pro racer

Posted: February 16, 2012 3:39 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2012 5:00 a.m.

When you spend your weekends racing motorcycles on road courses, you always return to the exact spot from which you started.
That beginning and end point are OK for races, but as for your career, you want it to take off and you want to keep riding your way to the top.
A little more than four years ago, Camden’s Ryan Haddock arrived at a race track, rolled his motorcycle out of its hauler and took off on his first race. A series of spills and crashes came with the territory for the newbie to the racing scene, but the hockey player in him would not let him quit.
The former goaltender, who played his junior hockey in Utah and Winnipeg, kept getting back up and into the seat and soldiered on. His goal was to become an American Motorcycle Association (AMA) professional rider. In 2007, that seemed like a pipe dream. By the end of the 2011 season, it became a reality for the 30-year-old Colorado native.
Having scored his first win in a WERA Motorcycle Roadracing event and with a series of top five finishes in the series, Haddock earned a spot as an AMA professional rider. He will make his pro debut when the circuit hits Road Atlanta for the Big Kahuna races on April 20-22.
While the time frame from Haddock’s humbling start in racing to riding against some of the top cyclists in the country might seem rather swift, he feels it was time well spent, especially in his final year in what he described as motorcycle racing’s AAA ranks.
“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Haddock said of the move into the professional series. “It’s still kind of surreal … it still hasn’t set in. I guess it will set in the first week when I’m there.
“I have my paddock passes already so, part of it is there. But it won’t fully sink in until I’m actually there for a race. Right now, I’m living the dream, so to speak.”
Haddock and his group of anywhere from two to four members which serve as pit crew and crew chief, was a privateer team that raced in WERA in 2011. That was a big change from the two-person operation of the previous year. Team Ryno Racing tied for first in 600 (cc) Superbike, was third in 600 Superstock and third in Open Superstock in the organization’s National series. This year, Haddock plans on racing all WERA National series events while racing in select AMA events during the year.
In 2011, Haddock raced in four different classes and sometimes, five. He ran in the 600 Superstock and Superbike, the 1000 (cc) Superstock and Superbike. He was a busy man. “I got a bigger bike (last) year, too, to run in a bigger class,” he said. “And, every now and then we’d run the 750 Superstock on the 600 bike. I think we ran somewhere between 84 or 85 races last year. We were on the road quite a bit.”
What made things a bit easier on the team and the driver is that most of the track in the series were located in the Southeast, stretching from West Virginia to Florida with a trip to Utah thrown in which put some additional mileage on Haddock’s truck and hauler.
Before the 2011 campaign kicked off, Haddock and his team had a list of things which they would have liked to accomplish. By year’s end, they had achieved much of what they had set out to do.
“Our goals for the season were to be championship contenders in all classes that we ran,” Haddock said. “We made an investment in a lot of new stuff for the team. We bought a new bike, bought new motors and stuff like that. We went into it full force.
“We hired a riding coach and then, we ended up getting involved with the Jason Disalvo Speed Academy. That was a huge, huge gain for the team. He is an international rider and it was a big honor to have them sponsor me because they only sponsored two riders this year and I was one of them. The other was Garrett Gerloff and he just signed a factory deal with Yamaha.
“It was pretty cool to be associated with (Disalvo) and have that caliber of technology helping out with my riding ability, and to jump behind me and take me under their wing to help try and get me to the next level.”
Racing two bikes, a 600 cc and a 1,000 cc Yamaha, Haddock ran in the top five in most all of his races in 2011 with a strong percentage of podium (top three) finishes. There was the weekend at Virginia International Raceway in which Haddock ran nine races and had a top three finish in each event. “It was crazy. That weekend stands out quite a bit,” he said in looking back on a memorable three days in which he raced in both regional and national events.
But it was not until heading to Jennings GP in Florida that Haddock put toegther the race which would put him over the top.
Riding his 600 cc Yamaha, Haddock started fifth in the field of riders who would travel 20 laps over the 14-turn, two-mile asphalt racing surface. The beginning of the race was hardly an indication of how things would end for Haddock 40 miles later.
“We got off to a horrible start in that race. I think I ended up going into turn one in 22nd place or, something like that,” he said. “It was an absolutely horrible start, but I ended up picking my way through the field and ended up winning the race by seven seconds. That was pretty awesome.”
Getting his first victory brought even more attention to Team Ryno including Disalvo, whose resume includes wins in England and France while having won the 2011 Daytona 200 for Latus Motors Racing which was the first win in the 70-year old race for renowned Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Ducati.
With Disalvo having come aboard as a sponsor, Haddock’s dream of becoming an AMA professional was starting to take shape.
“It definitely helped with Jason having picked me up at the beginning of the year. He definitely has a brighter shining light than I do,” Haddock said. “People definitely took notice. And, from the level that we jumped from; every now and then being close to the podium and then, mid-pack  the year before to this past year, in our first race out, leading by 20 bike lengths. To see somebody make that big a jump, people take notice of it.”
Riding in the big leagues of American motorcycle racing brings more pressure and, possibly, more demands on Haddock’s time. He estimates that out of the 19 weekend races he will compete in this season, nine will be AMA Pro circuit events. His wish list for his first year as a professional is to race in the Red Bull Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in Monterrey, Cal., along with racing at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The Red Bull Grand Prix is a motocross event which brings together the best racers in the world for its late July weekend of racing.
Haddock admitted that he will have to feel his way out as far as how his time at and away from the track will change now that he is a professional rider.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of it. I think it’s a little different than NASCAR,” he said when asked if his schedule of public appearances would be like those of a stock car driver.
“I know there are pit walks for the fans where, I know, that you have to be there to sign autographs and all that stuff. I’m not on a factory team so I don’t have the P.R. demand that somebody like my buddy Garrett (Gerloff) will have to on him.
“Taking it to the next level like we are, we have to focus on our team and doing a little more P.R. (public relations) and social networking … Websites and different things like that just to keep your name out there and keep it fresh in everybody’s mind.”
Racing, public appearances and getting his name out to the motorcycle-following public and attracting potential sponsors: This year will open doors to a whole new world for Ryan Haddock, who said the next step in his ultimate road trip would be to see the world from atop of motorcycle at speeds in excess of 160 miles per hour.
“I’d love to try and race internationally which is a whole other step that we’re working toward,” he said of where he, eventually, would like his career to take him. “We’ll just take it one day at a time, for now, and see where it goes.”

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