Parker Finishes Strong Third Place in Dirt Track Nationals

October 10, 2011

Parker Finishes Strong Third Place in Dirt Track Nationals

Another CMA Dirt Track Nationals Championship season has come and gone and even though it was a roller coaster affair for Kawasaki Racing’s John Parker, the multi-time national champ proved he still has what it takes to successfully campaign the Pro 450 and Pro Open class at top level. No small feat for a fifty-year-old veteran who races against competitors that are in many cases less than half his age.

Despite ongoing problems at Niagara Raceway in Welland, ON, which cost him dearly in the title hunt, when the checkered flag was waved at the final round of the series in Wheatley, ON, on September 18, Parker found himself with enough points to collect a noteworthy third place ranking in both pro classes.

“As far as the overall picture is concerned it wasn’t pretty this year, but we got the job done. We went into the season aiming for a top-three finish in the points and we did that. I’m very happy about it because it would have been the first time in twenty years that I didn’t finish top three in at least one or both classes,” Parker said.

“It was a rough year for me, no denying that, especially at Welland. But a lot was accomplished even though the results didn’t always reflect the effort put into it or the reliability of the equipment. Any poor finishes I recorded stop with me. The bikes were top-flight, awesome! So were the aftermarket products used for modification. I’m very grateful to my sponsors for stepping up to the plate for me this year.”

During a break in the CMA schedule, before the final three national rounds of the season, Parker attended a regional race in Paris, ON to have a little fun and try out his 2012 fuel-injected Kawasaki KX 450F. Taking possession of the bike only three weeks before the event, Parker and his crew piled on the hours prepping the motocross bike for dirt track competition. This is a task that includes modification to the suspension, chassis, exhaust and motor.

“The work we would normally spread over a few months time during the winter we did in less than three weeks. We wanted to debut the 2012 bike at the Welland race on September 10, as per our arrangement with Canadian Kawasaki. Fortunately we were able to transfer some of the custom parts from the 2011 KX, including the exhaust system, for which the R&D had already been done,” Parker explained.

“Paris was just a shakedown run for us. We didn’t really have time to do test runs before that. Usually there are a few hiccups after doing a conversion. It’s an ongoing process to dial everything in. But the new KX performed beyond expectations. The only thing we needed to do was tweak the suspension a bit before Welland. This is a really sweet machine and I’m looking forward to campaigning it next season.”

When the championship tour resumed on September 10 at Niagara Raceway, Parker was in the mix qualifying fourth in the 450 and taking seventh in the final on a very rough and slippery track that saw riders crash left and right. In fact, it was so bad that officials decided to pull the last three finals, including the Pro Open. Points towards the championship were awarded according to qualifying heat finishes, in which Parker had nailed down a sixth place finish.

One week later in Leamington, on the half-mile track, Parker snared third place in his 450 qualifier and second in the Open. In the 450 final he crossed the finish line in fifth place; in the Open class he garnered fourth.

“The Leamington area had been hit with heavy rains all week and that made for another rough track. It was strictly survival out there. It took everything out of me just hanging on to the bike. Taking all that into consideration we did good enough to score the points I needed to stay in contention for a third place ranking in the championship. I had a bit of a cushion on fourth place in the 450 but in the Open it would go down to the last race,” Parker said.

At the final round of the series, the next day on September 18th in Wheatley, track conditions mirrored those of Leamington, which is just down the road from Wheatley. It proved to be another task just staying on the bike, not just for Parker but his rivals as well.

Parker put his nose to the grindstone, qualifying third in both his 450 and Open heats. In the 450 final he greeted the checkered flag in fourth position; in the open final he settled for seventh. It was mission accomplished! Parker finished where he had to in order to maintain his top-three status in the nationals.

“People often ask me why I haven’t hung up my boots yet like many of my contemporaries or just ride a more or less stress free semi-pro class. Sometimes I ask myself the same question. I guess the only answer I can give is that I still do it because I can. I’m still competitive enough to run with the top guys and attract the support of major sponsors like Canadian Kawasaki. As long as I’m able to do that you’ll find me out there on the track,” Parker said.

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 Suspension, Hot Cams, Pivot Works, Vertex Pistons, IM Leathers, Bickle Racing, Extreme Measures Kustom Paint, Saddlemen, Ron Wood Racing, A&A Racing, Garrett 64, Bull’s Eye Media Relations.

Pro Open – Final Points Standings

1. Donald Taylor 223 pts

2. Chris Evans 169

3. John Parker 143

4. Doug Beattie 134

5. Doug Lawrence 128

Pro 450 – Final Points Standings

1. Donald Taylor 236 pts

2. Chris Evans 224

3. John Parker 143

4. Doug Beattie 134

5. Doug Lawrence 99