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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Two-wheelers

Bostrom Brothers Make a Run for Big Time

July 11, 1998|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GRANADA HILLS — A high-speed chase at blistering speeds awaits brothers Ben and Eric Bostrom this weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey.

The Dunlop World Superbike championship, featuring the top speedway motorcycle racers in the world revving the throttle to speeds exceeding 150 mph, makes its annual visit to the scenic, twisting road course known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway of superbike racing.

The two-day event marks the only visit to the Western Hemisphere for the SBK Superbike series, a world circuit in which the only American participants are Colin Edwards of Texas and Scott Russell of Georgia. Two SBK races Sunday will be televised live by Speedvision beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Ben, 24, and Eric, 21, San Francisco natives who share a rented home in Granada Hills, will compete today in the American Motorcyclist Assn. National Superbike series, in which Ben ranks second in points after nine events and has emerged as a rookie sensation for American Honda.

The 1 p.m. race will be televised on tape delay by Fox Sports West beginning at 3.

On Sunday, Ben will join several AMA riders for the SBK events against the world's best riders.

The brothers' common goal? A leap to the world circuit, of course.

"When you're young, you want to conquer the world, right?" Ben said.

The Bostroms are no strangers to Laguna Seca and its famous corkscrew turn, having raced there as recently as August with the AMA circuit.

"Laguna Seca is the best track in the world," Ben said. "It fits my style pretty well."

Ben has yet to win a race but has soared with aggressive and consistent performances aboard his Honda RC-45.

Eric, a former AMA national dirt track champion, likewise is in his first season racing on pavement as a member of Erion Racing Team Honda.

"Basically, it's Honda's farm team," Eric said.

Yet, he has displayed a hard-charging style similar to Ben's.

"I see the corner up ahead and I just want to get there as fast as I can," Eric said. "Most of the time, the fear is not there."

Eric's rapid advance recently led to a career break when Ben's teammate, Miguel DuHamel of Canada, the national series points leader, suffered a season-ending leg injury three weeks ago at Loudon, N.H.

Eric is tentatively scheduled to replace DuHamel next weekend at Lexington, Ohio.

Ben is under contract with Honda through the rest of the season. Eric is signed through 1999.

"We would like to be teammates, eventually," Eric said.

Progress comes with perilous risk in the world of superbike racing.

Racers live by the sword, approaching 200 mph in some stretches while navigating sharp corners at half the speed with their kneecap dangling only an inch from the pavement.

"The bike wants to go and you just kind of hold on," Eric said. "It's a struggle to use all the power. At 160 miles per hour, you hit the smallest bump and the rear wheel starts spinning. You come out of turn four at Laguna Seca, all leaned over, and your kneepad is almost rubbing on the track."

Ben and Eric, who began racing professionally at 16, have avoided serious crashes, and injuries have been few and relatively minor.

Accidents, however, happen.

Two weeks ago in Atlanta, Ben drifted too far out of a turn, into the infield and onto slick grass. Bostrom tumbled and slid several hundred feet, his helmet coming to rest a few yards from a concrete barrier.

He emerged with only a few broken knuckles. The crash was Bostrom's fourth this season.

It also added to the brothers' personal highlight reel of raceway mishaps. They reviewed the footage of Ben's recent spill and pondered their career choice.

"I don't really think or worry about getting hurt," Ben said. "The only thing I think about is [colliding] with another rider. That's when something could happen."

Eric appears even less concerned.

"I'm more scared in a car," he said. "I drove a race car once. I felt all caged in and trapped. I was terrified."

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