Course: 2.54-mile, 12 turn world class road coarse in Braselton
Featured events: American Superbike, Daytona Superbike, Moto-GT two hour team race, stunt show and a fan ride
Featured drivers: Mathew Mladin, Tommy Hayden and Geoff May
Tickets: three day ticket, $70; general admission, $48; paddock access, $15.
Contact: For more information, go to www.roadatlanta.com or call 800-849-7223.
It’s perfectly understandable why Geoff May’s heart would skip a beat anytime he gets a call from the boss. Most people don’t get their paychecks from a living legend in the sports world like May, who’s in his second season driving the No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki in the AMA Pro Racing Series.
That’s right, May, of Gainesville, is part of basketball icon Michael Jordan’s racing team, under the umbrella of Michael Jordan Motorsports. Even though May isn’t exactly new to Jordan’s crew, driving for one of the all-time great professional athletes is enough to make him get a little excited.
"If I had to picture the way my racing career would go, this would be the furthest thing from my mind," the 28-year old May said.
With Jordan’s busy schedule, including role as managing member of basketball operations for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, May doesn’t have quite as much contact with the owner and namesake of Michael Jordan racing, now in it’s sixth season on the track, even though they occasionally talk about a team track day to all ride together. Still, the catalyst behind the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty in the 1990s does take time out to devote to his love for racing bikes, including an appearance at bike week earlier this season at Daytona Beach, Fla.
"Professional motorcycle racing certainly benefits from the involvement of a celebrity athlete like Michael Jordan," said Road Atlanta president Geoff Lee. "He brings mainstream credibility to the sport and as the sport grows, everyone benefits including the fans, the tracks and the sponsors."
May understands quite well that his famous team owner can’t be at the track for each and every race, but Jordan still shows his appreciation to his Gainesville driver and his teammate Aaron Yates, who drives the No. 23 Superbike for Jordan Suzuki.
"He definitely calls me and Aaron and tells us that he supports us and appreciates our hard work," May said. "What really impresses me about Michael Jordan Racing is how fast they’re grown and the competitiveness after starting with nothing.
"They’ve had some really good drivers that have led them down the right path."
May would like nothing more than a well-deserved congratulation call from Jordan, if he’s able to pull out a victory in the Suzuki Superbike Showdown this weekend at Road Atlanta in Braselton. May’s affinity for Road Atlanta is understandable since it’s the track he grew up watching his father race cars around, and grew up himself working in area bike shops. Road Atlanta was also the setting last season for May’s second career victory.
"I can’t even describe the feeling of winning at Road Atlanta," May added. "For me, it felt like winning an Olympic Gold Medal.
"There’s lots of people out there supporting me and I think it gives me a huge boost of confidence."
It’s a sign how far May’s career has come since driving street bikes at high speeds in the North Georgia Mountains. He figured out soon enough it would be best to take that need for speed to a much safer venue at an organized track.
May now is running third in the AMA American Superbike standings (50 points), behind six-time Superbike champion Mathew Mladin (94) and Tommy Hayden (72). Adding to the excitement for this weekend’s Superbike Showdown is the fact that all three of these racers will be on hand, looking to improve their standing in the newly calculated points standing.
May spotlights his own season results to show how racer-friendly the new points system has become. He finished 10th in his first race of the season at Daytona International Speedway, but a third and fourth place finish at a doubleheader event at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on March 22 was good enough to bump him up to third in points.
Another major change this season in the AMA series is that Daytona Motorsports Group acquired the rights to the season for the 2009 season. May says they’ve used their NASCAR experience to help bring more exposure to what the adrenaline junkies on the AMA circuit have to offer. Or maybe just add to the exposure that having a team owner like Michael Jordan’s name on the track can add for the riders.