A couple months back my pops told me that he was planning to race the Florence Grand Prix event, marking the 50th anniversary of a race he did in his early teens. While I had about a million other things I needed and wanted to be at - from my kid’s races in Nashville to a motocross camp in Wichita for work, I decided if I could sneak away long enough to watch my dad slid around in the mud, I ought to. There’s only so many chances we have in our lives to support our loved ones in the pursuit of things that bring them joy. Watching my dad relive his glory days was one of these times. Sunday afternoon I kept the Rover pinned fast enough to be under radar but made the jaunt from Maize to Florence in about 45 minutes, sliding out of work at the track to fun at another.
You see, my dad gave me a love of motorcycles. I’m not a rider, and much less a racer. Don’t get me wrong, I can rip around a pit area on a Honda 110, but I have no business on a track or trail unless under my own power. My start and stop came in roughly 1998 when I managed to wrap my little brother’s brand new KX60 around a tree in Columbia, MO. However, like many reading this, we realize we don’t have to be participant to be an enthusiast. My place is along the fencing, standing with hands wrapped tightly into the netting watching my sons, brother, my boyfriend and once again my dad as they twist throttles, slide through muck and fly between trees with barely enough breadth for a set of bark busters.
The Florence Grand Prix - the all of approximately two hours I was able to witness - will sit as a core memory and a moment of Moto that will remain cemented into my brain til my final days. As I looked down the bank of spectators as the riders entered the treacherous swamp area I was in awe. These athletes - some professional, some hobbyists, and some probably feeling like they didn’t belong - all pushed through the seeping ground and back to the other side. Later, I’d watch a GoPro video lap and see the bottlenecking and treacherous single track sections - if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes I wouldn’t believe it was a thing!
Before the shotgun start of the modern bike 100 mile event, I looked up and down the main drag - when I stood I was surrounded by the “old guys.” These vet class boys were no joke. Although I could see nerves, there were so many smiles of excitement and talks of memories. These guys know what life is about - it’s not about a 9-5, a big race rig or a golden ticket sponsor. It’s handshakes, beverages around a campfire and family surrounding. It’s not a rat race, it’s the race for life, and the slowest one wins.
Thanks for a great time, Florence Grand Prix and Flint Hills Bent Rims. I’ll be back if you’ll have me. I’ll even bring the 110.
See You Sunday,
These images are courtesy MotoMom Media. For additional event photographs - digital copies and print purchases, please visit https://stagandbirdphoto.pixieset.com/florencegrandprix/