AMA Pro Racing
SuperBike Showdown at Road Atlanta
Today: Practice from noon-2:50 p.m.; Qualifying from 3-5 p.m.
Saturday: Qualifying from 8:30-11:20 a.m.; Daytona SportBike race begins at 1:45 p.m.; American SuperBike race begins at 3 p.m.; SuperSport race begins at 4:15 p.m.
Sunday: SuperSport race begins at 1:45 p.m.; American SuperBike race begins at 3 p.m.; Daytona SuperBike race begins at 4:15 p.m.
BRASELTON — Upon arriving at Geoff May’s reserved spot in the paddock, you can immediately tell that he’s a little bit different than the rest of the riders at this weekend’s Suzuki Superbike Showdown at Road Atlanta.
His black RV is hidden among the rows of 18-wheelers flanked by a line of bikes that proudly display logos from sponsors and race teams like Dunlap, National Guard and Jordan.
All that sits outside May’s spacious RV is his black Toyota Tundra and two red Suzuki SXR 600s, one of which he bought on ebay for $7,000.
“I bought that bike when I realized it was the only way I could make it,” said May, who purchased the second bike from Gainesville Motorsports.
“A lot of riders were left without rides because of the economy,” he added. “It was either do nothing or start my own team.”
So that’s just what he did. A year after riding for National Guard and two years removed from riding for Jordan’s team, May recruited some helpers, bought a couple bikes, an RV and continued a career he started in 1999.
“He pretty much threw this together at the last minute,” said May’s crew chief Boyd Bruner, who worked for a team comprised of 16 and 17-year-old riders last year.
Bruner first met May while working for Aaron Yates in 2008 when Yates and May were both members of Michael Jordan Motorsports. That year, May won the Superbike Showdown on his home course at Road Atlanta, which was a main factor in Bruner’s “risky” career decision.
“It was definitely stepping off the curb a little bit,” Bruner said. “But I have a lot of confidence in Geoff and it’ll pay off in the long run.”
That level of confidence lets Bruner forget that he started working on bikes a year before the 29-year-old May was born.
“He’s got a lot of talent and it’d be a shame for him to waste it,” Bruner said.
Luckily it never came to that.
Instead of following in the footsteps of other riders without a team, May decided to continue his career on his own, even if that meant spending three to four months of the year in that RV with his wife Jodi and Bruner.
“Riding bikes is almost like ecstasy,” May said. “There’s just a pure thrill every time you get out there.
“Of course, it helps when you can pay the bills,” he added. “But I’m happy to say that I can look around and say that motorcycle racing has paid for everything I own.”
Even if it isn’t that much.
“We’re a step above a shoe-string budget,” Bruner said.That budget largely consists of funds accumulated when May was a member of a team.
“I’m unemployed,” he said. “I haven’t had a pay check since Oct. 15 and I’m still able to come out here and compete.”
He especially likes to compete at Road Atlanta, a course he first visited when he was 2 years old and a place where he has been on the podium every year since 2005.
Returning to the podium is priority No. 1 when he competes in this weekend’s Daytona SportBike events, but standing on top of the podium would be like a dream come true.
“It would be like winning the Olympics, the Super Bowl, everything,” he said. “I grew up here. I won my first national championship here and I won one of the biggest races I’ve ever won here in front of Michael Jordan in 2008.
“For me to do it on my own after I was let go last year, it’d just be the ultimate high,” he added. “I could retire. I could not race again and be happy.”