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MIROCK: Slowe and Vermeulen Headline Season Opener


Defending series champions Mike Slowe of Bensalem, Pa., and John Vermeulen of Clarkston, Mich., and second generation drag racer Matt Smith of King, N.C., are the headliners among the more than 250 bike riders competing this week in the Spencercycle.com/MaxV Spring Open at Steve Earwood’s Rockingham Dragway.

The first of eight events comprising the 2004 MIRock Superbike Series presented by Mickey Thompson Performance Tires and Vanson Leathers, the Spring Open features the fastest street legal motorcycles on the planet.

Slowe won last year’s Orient Express 60-Inch Sport Bike Championship despite only a mediocre showing at Rockingham where he reached the finals just once in four races and then lost to Carolina standout Chip Ellis of Columbia, S.C.  He earned the bulk of his points in winning twice at Maryland International Raceway, which hosts half of the races on the MIRock calendar.

Vermeulen prevailed in what arguably was the most popular of the MIRock categories – Heavyweight Hitters.

Limited to riders who weigh at least 240 pounds in their street clothes, Heavyweight Hitters attracted riders from across the country including Devon Perkins of Lexington, Ky., Shane Ratliff of Roseville, Mich., Anthony “Country” Porter of Landover, Md.  Carolina contenders include Ehren Litten of Louisburg, N.C., and Tyrone Smith of Charlotte.

Smith, son of five-time IHRA Pro Stock Champion Rickie Smith, won two of the four MIRock events contested last year at Rockingham (the Schnitz Summer Sizzler and the Fish’s Autumn Bike Nationals) and last November pushed his Suzuki to a world record time of 7.169 seconds before losing to Berry Green of Jacksonville, Fla., in the final round of the Lee’s Fall Bike Nationals.

Although it technically is a two-day event, the track will be open for motorcycle testing on Friday.  A special Saturday-Sunday ticket is available in advance for $25.  Purchased separately, adult tickets are $10 Friday, $20 Saturday and $20 Sunday.  Junior admission for kids six to 12 is $5 per day with children under six free with a ticket adult.  Preferred parking is available for an additional $5 daily.

Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday with eliminations at 1 p.m. Sunday.  The Nitrous Express pro brackets will be contested on both Saturday and Sunday along with the F.B.R. Shop Quick 8 and the Honda-Suzuki of Sanford 5.60 Pro Mod class.

In addition to Vermeulen in Heavyweight Hitters, defending event champions included John Flood of Oakland, N.Y., in 10.5 Sport Bike, and Greg Field of Climax in 5.60 Pro Mod.

A new feature of the 2004 MIRock Series is the “Afterdark Underground” program which begins after everything else has concluded.

The concept is to provide racers with two hours of only marginally supervised racing during which the scoreboards will be shutdown, the lights will be turned down and the time slips given to racers after each run will be cut in two so that neither rider knows the other’s quarter mile time.

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