LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – While the course had mostly emptied out by the last race of the day, a good portion of the day’s drama was still unfolding out on course with the battle for the 60-64 title on the line. During the rest of the races, some trade-offs in the leading spot happened, but never had five men or women stayed together until the last lap.
And then there was this race. James Laird, Doug Long, Harold Parker, Buff Hopper and Gregory Pautsch managed to remain together for the first two laps, but it was Laird who surged to the front and took the lead heading into one to go. Long, Parker and Hopper began battling in earnest for the final two podium spots, but in the end, while Laird took the win, Long was able to secure second and Parker took third. Hopper later told us, “If I could go back … I’d make up that extra half a bike length.”
At the finish line, Laird caught his breath and when announcer Richard Fries mentioned his stomach turning inside out during the race, Laird smirked and joked, “No, that’s right now. I’m trying not to barf.”
“I couldn’t be prouder,” the Canadian said. He told us that he came to the States a lot for racing this year, even coming to the USGP in Louisville in order to prepare. “I did 16 races this season, the last was the middle of December, it was a really long layoff.”
“I fell just in that final turn,” he said, “My legs just came out from underneath me … It felt like I was out there forever.”