Parker finishes post nationals season with two podiums in Ohio
October 16, 2009
Although the Canadian Nationals wrapped up at the end of August, John Parker didn't hang up his racing boots for another flat track season until October 10/11 in Richwood, Ohio. Parker headed south of the border to take part in a double-header weekend at the Richwood Fair Grounds just for the fun of it.
"I wanted to get in at least one more good race before saying goodbye to the '09 season and I had to wait until October and go to the States to do that. The rain date at Welland on September 12 proved to be a bad weekend for me, and the final Canadian event on the schedule a few weeks later in Petrolia was canceled due to rain," said Parker. "I didn't want to end the season like that, because the last race of the season has to get you through the long winter. It's the one most recent on your mind. I wanted to finish the season on a positive note."
For Parker, who has raced a number of flat track venues in Ohio over the years, the half-mile in Richwood was a first time challenge. He had heard good reports of the track and wanted to check it out for himself. Heavy rains in the area the day before the event called for quite a bit of track preparation, but everything was shipshape by mid-afternoon and the evening races ran without a hitch.
Parker entered both the 450 Pro and Open Pro, which were seeded with more than half a dozen top American national riders including Matt Weidman, Ricky Marshall, Ben Evans, Chad Rahall, and Zak Palmer.
While having a stress-free good time at Richwood was Parker's main intention he also wanted to wrap up the racing season with some memorable finishes. Although bad starts plagued him every time out, Parker put on top drawer shows reflective of his No.2 status in the '09 Canadian 450 Pro and Pro Open Nationals.
In the heat races, Parker clawed his way towards the front, where he mixed it up for podium finishes before the checkered was waved. With an impressive heat win in the Open and a second place in the 450, he was assured a front row start for the final in both classes.
Despite the good starting positions Parker still had his work cut out for him. After being slow off the line in the 450, Parker had to contend with four other riders before he could install himself in second place behind Weidman. Although he gained rapidly on Weidman once clear of traffic, Parker ran out of time before he could put on a challenge for first place.
In the Open class, Parker was dead last after one lap but he kept the throttle wide open to connect with the front-runners. Again he soldiered his way through the pack to take up residency in second place behind Weidman; again he would finish in a noteworthy runner up position.
"I had to work my way up from the back in both my heats and finals so I spent a lot of energy playing catch up. I had to really work for the finishes I got but it was worth every bit of effort," said Parker. "In a way it's more satisfying to turn a bad start into a good finish than to take a good start to a good conclusion. All in all I had a great time this weekend and finished the season with a bang. Once again my Kawasaki performed flawlessly, making for a perfect season of no mechanical failures."
With a great first half of the double-header weekend behind him, Parker was buoyed and eagerly anticipating day two. Unfortunately political issues reared their ugly head leading to the cancellation of the Sunday races so Parker was denied a chance to seek vengeance against Weidman.
"That was a bit of a disappointment, especially after riding such a long distance to get there, but at least we got one day of racing in," said Parker. "If I had of done poorly on Saturday it would have been a lot of worse not getting another kick at the can. After getting the track dialed in on Saturday, I was convinced I would have done even better on Sunday. Now it will forever be remembered as one of those ‘what if weekends'."
John would like to thank the following people for their continuing and loyal support: Len Shpeley, Jake Vanroon, Connie Vanroon, Dawn Parker; and his valued sponsors who help to make it all happen: Canadian Kawasaki, Inglis Cycle Centre, Scorpion Helmets, 26 Twenty Six Suspension, Hot Cams - Pivot Works, IM Leathers, Bickle Racing, Extreme Measures Kustom Paint, Saddlemen, Ron Wood Racing, A&A Racing.