Racing A Suzuki DR200S At The 2019 Moto Beach Classic

Super Hooligan racing on an air-cooled dual sport motorcycle.

Racing a Suzuki DR200S at the 2019 Moto Beach Classic.
Racing a Suzuki DR200S at the 2019 Moto Beach Classic.Jeff Allen

The Super Hooligan National Championship is a nine-round series that stretches across the country far and wide to dirt oval tracks as well as a few pavement tracks consisting of flat-track racing on large 800cc to 1,200cc motorcycles. These heavy monster machines were never intended to slide from corner to corner, but the brave racers who pilot them pitch it sideways, back it in, and power out.

Getting a little too close for comfort as I test the width of my machine while navigating the chicane.
Getting a little too close for comfort as I test the width of my machine while navigating the chicane.Jeff Allen

It all started just a few short years ago when local riders began showing up to the dirt oval for “Harley night” at the local flat-track race. Due to their courage, or lack of common sense, the pioneers of what is now known as “hooligan racing” sparked a movement that has continued to build and gain ground across the country. This would eventually lead to the start of the Roland Sands Design Super Hooligan National Championship.

Attempting to hype up the crowd and earn a few fans before heading to the starting line.
Attempting to hype up the crowd and earn a few fans before heading to the starting line.Jeff Allen

With a handful of rounds in my home state of California, arguably the biggest takes place in Huntington Beach at the SeaLegs at the Beach venue in the Bolsa Chica State Beach parking lot. Live music, beer stands, trophy girls, a custom bike show, and the Bell Helmets Stunt Show are just a few of the attractions other than the championship-deciding race. The whole circus takes place all day starting with a surf contest in the morning before leading into live music and racing.

Sitting deep in the lion’s den as I line up against a fleet of fast bikes and talented riders in my heat race.
Sitting deep in the lion’s den as I line up against a fleet of fast bikes and talented riders in my heat race.Jeff Allen

Being that I live just a short drive away, I was destined to attend. However, having a great deal of fun at the Perris Raceway short track round back in June where I raced a Suzuki VanVan 200, I figured I would do one better and enter my “beach cruiser” Suzuki DR200S in the run-what-ya-brung class. This small-displacement 200cc air-cooled single with a surfboard rack mounted to the back has served its purpose as a board hauler. However, it being a competitive racebike was the unknown.

Rounding corner 1 and into the chicane, I start the first lap in the same position as where I started.
Rounding corner 1 and into the chicane, I start the first lap in the same position as where I started.Jeff Allen

On Saturday, October 26, I arrived at Bolsa Chica State Park a few minutes past 11 a.m. Unfortunately, due to my lack of knowledge, I showed up after practice had concluded and just a few minutes before qualifying had started. With no time to spare, I geared up, checked tire pressures, and secured my surfboard by simply checking the tension in the bungee straps before heading out with zero knowledge of the track. My nerves were high for I had no idea how the bike would handle the sand-speckled parking lot asphalt as well as the wooden ski jump halfway down the front straight until my first lap was completed.

Airing out the ski jump and holding my second place position on the DR200S in the B main.
Airing out the ski jump and holding my second place position on the DR200S in the B main.Jeff Allen

Following the lead of the faster rider in front of me, Patrick Evans, I stayed in second throughout my qualifying session. That was until within one lap when my surfboard caught wind off the ski jump and went soaring through the air, followed by me pushing the front end in corner 3, resulting in a lowside. Quick to get up and retrieve my surfboard, I would go on to pop a wheelie in response to the crowd’s amused reaction to my disastrous lap.

From this angle, you may hardly notice the surfboard attached to the Suzuki. However, my competitors likely couldn’t say the same during the race.
From this angle, you may hardly notice the surfboard attached to the Suzuki. However, my competitors likely couldn’t say the same during the race.Jeff Allen

Through qualifying and into the heat race, I started eighth on the grid. Surrounded by large-displacement, liquid-cooled bikes, I was certain the DR200S had its work cut out for it. As the flag flew, I dumped the clutch and gave the 200 everything it had. To my surprise, I came out of the first corner in eighth, as I started. Unfortunately, due to the relatively low power of the Suzuki, I didn’t stand a chance on the straights. However, maintaining corner speed and finding time in the braking zones, I was able to keep all but one rider behind me from my original position. Finishing ninth in my heat race, I was sent to the run-what-ya-brung B main, where I would start third on the gate. Now having a handful of laps under my belt throughout qualifying and heat races, I had greater confidence going into the main event.

The story stayed the same as the DR200S lined up against giants on the grid. Lined up in the third position, I was furthest to the outside on the first row. Knowing if I could get a good jump, I would be able to saw off the other riders going into turn 1. Again, the flag flew and I gave it her all. Rounding corner 1, I secured second place and maintained the position as we maneuvered through the chicane and down the back straight. Losing lots of time coming out of the chicane due to the fact that the rider leading was on a supermoto bike, I was able to get back onto his rear wheel going into the braking zone of turn 3. Feeling held up as we rounded the corner, I felt confident I could force him into a mistake and would be able to make the pass and lock down the lead position.

Although I placed second, I celebrate it as a win. Maybe a peace sign would have been more appropriate.
Although I placed second, I celebrate it as a win. Maybe a peace sign would have been more appropriate.Jeff Allen

Unfortunately, we played a game of cat and mouse, as he would continue to gap me on the straights and I would gain time back in the braking zones. With a few laps left, I missed a shift coming out of the chicane and lost a lot of time. With very little power to work with, I lost any chance I had at winning the race. Now focused on holding down second, I tried my best to race ahead and not think about the rider behind me.

Minimizing mistakes and hitting my marks, I maintained second as the white flag flew. Now looking to bring it home, I gave a quick glance back to see the gap between myself and third place. Knowing it was now mine to lose, I backed off slightly to eliminate the chance of a mistake or crash. Rounding the final corner before the checkered flag at the ski jump, I now knew I had put the “beach cruiser” DR200S on the podium. Although it was only a second in the B main, it felt like a win.

With much excitement, I went for the crowd-pleaser by attempting a few donuts.
With much excitement, I went for the crowd-pleaser by attempting a few donuts.Jeff Allen

Excited as can be, I stopped on the outside of corner 1 in front of the large Huntington Beach crowd and went on to attempt a few tire-spinning donuts. Not realizing I was in second gear, I did a poor attempt and eventually tipped over. I was embarrassed as hell, but the crowd loved it, cheering, “Do it again.” I went on to do my second attempt and eventually dropped the bike again. Now laughing at myself, I picked the DR200S up for the third time that day—once in qualifying and twice while showing off—gave the crowd a big, long rev of the bike before popping a wheelie and doing a stand-up skid as I exited the racetrack.

Pleased with my performance, I parked the bike, cracked open a cold beer, and headed to the stands where I would now be a spectator of the Super Hooligan main event, where Joe Kopp would go on to win the 2019 Super Hooligan National Championship over two-time defending champ Andy DiBrino. The race concluded and the pits began to clear out as the sun went down over the Pacific. Bustling about as I gathered my gear, I could not help but overhear the comradery of all riders from all classes telling their stories of close calls, crashes, and glory. Most of them, working-class fathers, sons, wives, and friends making memories racing motorcycles at the 2019 Moto Beach Classic.