0828mayAUDGeoff May talks about racing motorcycles
Winning at Road Atlanta means everything to Geoff May. After all, it is where he first discovered his love of motorcycle racing, and it’s where he perfected his craft throughout his career.
He’s stood on the podium before, just never on the top step, and this weekend he’s hoping that changes.
“I want to win,” said May, 28, who will be competing in this weekend’s Suzuki Superbike Showdown at Road Atlanta. “This is a real special event for me. I want to win, especially here in front of my family and friends.”
From his days as a young rider racing as a novice, to his yearly appearances at the Braselton road course as a professional, May’s fan base has grown exponentially. While he knows of 30 people that will attend the event to cheer him on, he estimates that more than 100 people in attendance will be people from his past.
One of those fans will be his wife of four years, Jodi, who despite the risk that comes with racing motorcycles — May broke his wrist, femur, and “ripped his thumb off” in an accident in Daytona Beach, Fla. — still stands by her husband’s career.
“She’s cool with it,” May said. “One of the first dates we went on was to a test date, and I said, ‘This is what I do, and I’ll never quit, so you better be OK with it, or this will never work.’
“She knew right from the get go that she had to like it, and she wants me to do it as long as I can.”
That type of support, along with his familiarity with Road Atlanta provides a much needed advantage.
“In the past, racing here has elevated my game a little bit just because of track knowledge,” said May, who races the No. 99 bike for Jordan Suzuki. “The track is very technical with the hills and elevation change that we don’t have at every track. Plus there’s the aspect of a very high speed.”
Speeds that get as high as 190 miles per hour on the back straight away.
“It’s really euphoric,” May said of the speed of the races. “It’s an adrenaline rush, and a lot of it is like your body is just reacting.”
This year, May and the rest of the riders will not only have to worry about speed and elevation. Road Atlanta has undergone course changes that, according to the track’s president Geoff Lee, should provide some added difficulties.
“We’ve spent millions over the last two years to preserve and benefit the top levels of motorcycle racing at Road Atlanta,” Lee said, referring to the new sections of Turns 12 and 4. “The new portions of the track will offer new challenges and potential passing areas for the riders, making things fresh, new, and exciting this year.”
Those new challenges, which include new sections designed specifically for safety in motorcycle racing, could provide May with an added advantage, at least in one of the racing divisions.
“Unless your name is Mat Mladin or Ben Spies and you’re riding a Yoshimura Suzuki, you’re not winning a Superbike race,” said May of the teammates that have won 43 Superbike races in a row.
“Beating them would be like someone defeating Muhammad Ali in his prime. It would be unbelievable.”
With a win in the Superbike event — which takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday — out of his reach, May is focused on the Superstock event, which begins at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“I’m planning on winning the Superstock race for sure,” said May, who compared the Superstock race to that of NASCAR’s Nationwide series. “I want to win. It will be my first big national AMA win.”
While it will be his biggest national win, it won’t be his first win as a professional. On June 1, he won the Superstock Championship presented by Parts Unlimited at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City.
“Things have been a lot easier for me since then,” said May, who won the 2003 Rookie of the Year. “It has been an up-and-down season, and it was good to finally get a win.”
Winning this weekend would trump that feeling.
“The first motorcycle race I saw was at Road Atlanta in 1998,” May said. “From then I was hooked, and that’s when I knew that’s what I had to do was race motorcycles.”
Ten years removed from that first race, May has the opportunity to bring his motorcycle racing life full circle.
A decade ago he watched Anthony Gobert stand atop the podium after winning the MBNA Superbike Showdown at Road Atlanta, and on Sunday, if he has his way, May will be the one on top of the stand.