As he approaches 28, a moderately advanced age for a professional motorcycle racer, Chris Carr is learning how to turn right on two wheels of his Harley-Davidson at about 150 m.p.h.
Carr, the 1992 American Motorcyclist Assn.'s Grand National dirt track champion and five-time runner-up, has spent his professional career turning left on dirt bikes. This year, he has entered road racing, riding a Superbike on asphalt.
"I know I'm a little old for a rookie, but I have high expectations (as a road racer)," Carr said. "I think it's realistic for me to finish among the top 10 in the Superbike series. I set the same goal in my rookie Grand National season and finished seventh.
"I don't think age will be a factor because old is only in your mind unless you're banged up, and I've been fortunate to stay healthy."
Carr will make his second start in the 10-race Superbike series as part of the L.A. Motorcycle Weekend on the 2.1-mile Pomona Fairplex course.
In his opening race, the Daytona 200, Carr qualified 23rd on his VR 1000 racing bike and was running 12th in an 80-rider field after 185 miles when he dropped out because of mechanical difficulties.
"I enjoyed racing on the high banks, but I think I'll feel more at home at Pomona where there is no banking," Carr said. "There is little or no banking on the dirt ovals, so it should feel more comfortable."
One major change in Carr's technique is that on the dirt, he uses his left foot to stabilize his balance while sliding through the corners, while on asphalt, he uses his knee-pads to gauge how far over he leans--both to the right and left.
"I think at Pomona I will be able to rely more on my sliding experience," he said. "Slides on asphalt are more subtle than the sideways slides we do on dirt, but in some ways it's the same when you accelerate out of corners.
"At this point, I wouldn't say I'm ready to run full speed because I don't want to crash and lose my confidence, but I'm getting there."
When his road-racing schedule permits, Carr will compete in dirt track races. Although he won on the half-mile track at Pomona in 1993, he will not ride in the Grand National event Saturday night on the horse racing track.
"I may ride in the fall race (at Pomona), but it didn't seem feasible to try to ride this time," he said. "I'd rather put all my energy into the road race. I need all the seat time I can get on the road bike."
Carr is riding as a teammate of Doug Chandler of Salinas, the 1990 Superbike champion who is returning to the national series after four years on the world Grand Prix circuit. Carr, from the Sierra Nevada community of Valley Springs, began racing against his teammate when he was 7 and Chandler was 9.
"We used to race mini-bikes against each other around Northern California until Doug moved up to bigger bikes," Carr said. "I spent most of my time following him around, but when he moved up I started winning a lot.
"Doug has been very helpful to me with tips on what to look for and little warnings on what to avoid. I know he has speeded my learning process."
In addition to the Grand National dirt track race Saturday night and the Superbike main event Sunday, the weekend program will include races for 250cc and 125cc Grand Prix bikes, 600cc and 750cc SuperSport and Harley-Davidson SuperTwins.
Motor Racing Notes
STOCK CARS--Saugus Speedway will hold its official opening night Saturday with NASCAR late models, Grand American modifieds and pure stocks. . . . Cajon Speedway will also open its weekly season Saturday night at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
INDY CARS--Roberto Guerrero, who has been without a ride since last year's Indianapolis 500, will return to action Sunday in the Slick 50 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Guerrero, who won at Phoenix in 1987, will drive a Mercedes-powered Reynard for Pagan Racing. . . . Carlos Guerrero, no relation, has signed to drive seven races, starting with the Long Beach Grand Prix, for Dick Simon. Guerrero is a former karting champion from Mexico City.
SPRINT CARS--The Sprint Car Racing Assn. will make its first appearance of the season Saturday night at Ventura Raceway. After three races, Lealand McSpadden holds a one-point lead over J.J. Yeley, last year's rookie of the year.
MIDGETS--Wednesday night's U.S. Auto Club midget program at Ventura Raceway will be shown tonight on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. It is the first of three TV races at Ventura.
MISCELLANY--Legends cars will begin their first full season of racing Saturday night at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. The five-eighths scale Legends are modeled after cars from earlier eras and are powered by a 1200cc Yamaha engine. A 35-race series is planned for Southern California tracks. . . . The Vintage Auto Racing Assn. will hold a Chevy-Ford Challenge this weekend at Willow Springs Raceway.
OFF ROAD--The Gold Coast Spring Classic 100 is scheduled for Sunday at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino. . . . Floods in central California have caused cancellation of the Mickey Thompson Stadium Off-Road races Saturday night in San Jose.