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MOTOR RACING / VINCE KOWALICK : Motivation to Put a Track in Front Was Just the Ticket for Kiedrowski

July 31, 1993|VINCE KOWALICK

At 24, Mike Kiedrowski has soared to the pinnacle of professional motocross--largely because of his talent for soaring through the air atop a motorcycle.

Yet seldom, it seems, has Kiedrowski been able to fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

Trepidation is more like it.

Aside from the routine obstacles he encounters in dirt-track racing, Kiedrowski, a 1987 Canyon High graduate, has faced repeated run-ins with local law enforcement officers who on several occasions have forcefully persuaded him to do his training elsewhere.

Kiedrowski has been cited and even arrested for riding in "hazardous fire areas" in the hills near his home in Acton.

But nothing has prevented Kiedrowski from completing his training--all of which paid off in flying colors this season.

Kiedrowski, a member of Team Kawasaki, clinched his first American Motorcyclist Assn. 250cc national championship by posting his sixth victory in seven events last weekend at Kenworthy's Motocross Park in Troy, Ohio. The eight-race series concludes Sunday at Glen Helen OHV Park in San Bernardino.

The championship was Kiedrowski's fourth AMA title overall in his five-year career and tied him with former teammate Jeff Ward of San Juan Capistrano as the only riders to win championships in three classes. Kiedrowski won 125cc titles in 1989 and 1991, and a 500cc championship in 1992.

"I figured if I was going to win the championship, I'd have to finish among the top three in every race," said Kiedrowski, who flew to Atlanta this week to be featured on ESPN's MotoWorld. "Anything less than that is totally unsatisfactory. I thought I'd have some good races. It was tough, but not too tough."

Kiedrowski is only the fourth rider to win six 250cc events in a season. Bob Hannah of Whittier holds the record with eight victories in 1978. However, Hannah did so in a 10-race schedule.

"Six out of seven might be even more impressive," AMA spokesman Bill Amick said. "He has just been dominating this season. And he's been gutsy."

Add persistent--maybe even hard-headed--to his list of attributes.

In the past few years, Kiedrowski often has headed for the hills near his home in search of ideal training conditions. During one six-week span, Kiedrowski was stopped and ticketed four times by the same team of sheriff's deputies, culminating with an arrest on New Year's Day, 1992.

"I was riding with some friends and the helicopter came down on us," Kiedrowski said. "He wrote everybody a ticket and when he got to me he said, 'Well, this obviously isn't working for you, Mike. You're going to jail.' "

Kiedrowski was booked on a misdemeanor charge and fined. Soon, he was back to his off-track riding. However, the incident persuaded Kiedrowski to begin constructing a training track in the front yard of the home he has owned since 1990.

The track, after more than a year of construction, was recently completed. It covers about an acre. During the season, Kiedrowski trains there three days a week.

"I was planning on building the track since I was 16 years old," Kiedrowski said. "I wasn't mad about being arrested. I said, 'I'm a professional motocross rider and there is no place to ride around here.' "

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Stock cars: Points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. of Palmdale is rolling like a boulder downhill as the NASCAR Southwest Tour pulls into Bakersfield with a bang this evening for a 100-lap race on Mesa Marin Raceway's half-mile paved oval.

Hornaday, the tour's defending champion, drove to a series-high fourth victory last weekend at Eureka, Calif., after a poor qualifying heat put him eighth in the 24-car grid. The victory was Hornaday's 14th of his tour career, tying him with Dan Press for third on the all-time list.

"We'd like to start another streak and go for four in a row," Hornaday said.

Hornaday leads Doug George of Atwater, Calif., by 91 points entering the 12th race of the season. George won both tour events last season at Mesa Marin.

Tonight's program, the most extensive of Bakersfield's summer season, also will include Late Model stock cars, Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks and a giant fireworks display.

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Miscellany: Stock-car racing returns to Ventura Raceway this evening in the final scheduled event before the annual Ventura County Fair race on Aug. 20. The program includes Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, Pony Stocks and the California Dwarf Car series. IMCA Modifieds have the night off.

The fair race will feature an increased purse for Street and Mini stocks. There also will be a destruction derby.

The traditional last-Saturday-of-the-month destruction derby will close festivities this evening at Saugus Speedway. The program will include Sportsmans, Pro Stocks, Mini Stocks and Pro Four Modifieds.

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