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Arata Wins in the Heartland
By Larry Lawrence
Topeka, KS., July 8, 1990
Heartland Park Topeka is located smack dab in the middle of the good ole’ U.S. of A, this race was held the week of Independence Day and the event is even called Formula USA, so you wouldn’t expect a guy named Tatsuro Arata to win this All-American race, but that’s exactly what happened.
Japanese rider Arata rode a Moto-Liberty sponsored Yamaha OW01 powered by a FZR 1000 motor, to his first F/USA win of the year. Arata followed Valvoline Suzuki rider Mike Smith for most of the race then pulled ahead with three laps to go. Arata went on to win by 4.39 seconds, averaging 81.896 miles per hour on the 2.5 mile course.
Marlboro Roberts rider Rich Oliver rode his Yamaha TZ 250 to a solid third place finish, moving him to second in the series behind Smith. The Marlboro Roberts crew used nitrous oxide in order to help their 250 GP bikes be more competitive with the big-bore Superbikes. The temperature was near 100 degrees which hurt the performance of the nitrous. Oliver said 500 cc GP bikes were on the way, and hopefully the team would have them by the August Road Atlanta round.
The race was ran in near 100 degree temperatures with high humidity. The heat got the best of a few riders, who either dropped out of the race or slowed considerably.
During Sunday morning practice, six riders were all lapping in the 1:50 range. Rick Kirk was clocked a wink faster than anyone else during practice. Kirk was getting his first taste of a factory Superbike and seemed to enjoy the flavor. “I feel good on the bike. I’m just getting my feet wet with it here so I can be ready for Miami.” said Kirk.
The nitrous oxide system being used on Oliver and Robbie Peterson’s Yamaha’s wasn’t quite performing up to expectations. The system which was activated by the riders pushing a button which looked like a second kill switch. “We are using it only on the straightaways. I did a 1:50 in practice without the nitrous, so we’re not sure if we’ll use it again. It’s a trade-off. We get more power out of the bike but the extra 10 pounds does affect the handling of the bike.” explained Oliver.
In the first heat race Arata and Smith swapped the lead back and forth, in the end it was Arata in a close one. Arata was fined $100 for jumping the start of the race. Britt Turkington who also jumped early, took third.
Dale Quarterley was a somewhat surprise winner of the second heat. In his only other F/USA appearance at Willow, Quarterley finished 12th. Dave Schlosser had the Dutchman Suzuki GSXR 1100 ready for Heartland. Quarterley starting from near the back, first moved by the Marlboro bikes that were running second and third. He then set his sights on leader Kirk. On the third lap the long time racing veteran, out braked the upstart Kirk going into one and held on to win. Even with the win Quarterley said he wasn’t happy with the suspension set-up. “It will be tough to ride fast the whole race. said the New England rider. Dutchman teammate Don Greene was sitting this race out with injuries.
Oliver’s bike had a stuck float in the carb, and the bike was loading up. Oliver limped home to fourth behind teammate Peterson.
Scott Gray took fifth in that heat on “Big Papa”. Gray was riding in obvious pain with two broken bones in his throttle hand. “The biggest problem is braking. It hurts like hell when I apply the brakes at all much less at racing speeds. Throttling the bike is also a problem.” said Gray who hoped to finish somewhere in the top ten so he could stay in the points chase.
As the teams readied for the final Peterson was pondering on what tire to use. the softer compound Dunlops would work for the entire race under the intense heat, so he elected to go with a hard compound.
Michigan Grand Prix Champion Fritz Kling ran strong in his heat race before his Yamaha Superbike locked into sixth gear. The problem could not be corrected before the final and Kling was forced to sit out his first F/USA race of the season.
Barry Burke was forced to ride his 1987 Yamaha FZR 1000 in the final after he couldn’t get the Ohlin forks to work on his Yamaha OW01. “The forks came with super stiff springs, it’s totally unrideable. I’m not sure why we can’t get softer springs, I guess they are unavailable.” said Burke.
Jeff Hagen’s crew was hastily swapping parts from his Suzuki GSXR 1100 F/USA bike to a production endurance machine. “We seized a valve on the F/USA bike this morning.” hagen explained.
Smith moved his red, white and blue Suzuki ahead of the 38 bike pack heading into the low speed turn one. “I can’t believe everybody made it though the first turn. I went through next to about six guys.” said Oliver on the tricky start.
Arata immediately planted his OW on the tail of Smith’s GSXR. Quarterley also moved to the front and it was a three bike fight for the lead early.
By lap 5 of 20, Quarterley was fading back from the two leaders. A bad breakfast combined with the heat was making Quarterley sick and he would continue to fade all the way back to eighth place by the end.
Kirk and Peterson were running close together in a fourth place battle, then came Oliver and Bernard. Joe Pittman was among the early leaders but was overcome by the heat and faded to 16th at the finish. Pittman laid in his pits with wet towels over him for two hours after the race.
On lap six Smith and Arata came by with a three second lead on the now third place Kirk. Oliver was getting up to speed and was now within a second of the pack that included Kirk, Quarterley and Peterson. Burke was already experiencing tire overheating and nearly crashed when he tried to stuff Wes Cooley in turn one. “I thought I would be slick and make a tough pass on Cooley, but I found out you can’t make a monkey out of Wes. He just came over and slammed the door on me.” said Burke.
Cooley was another of the front runners who later faded and eventually dropped out because of the heat.
By lap ten it was clear that the race would be between Smith and Arata. Smith held the lead every lap, but Arata seemed to be able to stay on Smith with no problems.
Oliver was now past his teammate Peterson and Kirk. Quarterley was now out of the battle for third. Gray had started slowly but was using the immense power of his Yoshimura Suzuki to move up through the field. By the half-way point he was up to seventh, good enough to keep him close in the series points chase, which was just what he wanted. Bernard was having another solid race and was running in eighth.
On lap 14 Arata made his move and pulled out in front of Smith. Now the lap times would drop into the 1:48’s. Smith tried hard to find a place to get around Arata but was thwarted when he drug his fairing and nearly crashed in the carousel. “The suspension was set up a little too low and I was dragging everything. I might have been able to get back up to him but I was thinking about my points lead and didn’t feel like taking a big risk.” Smith explained.
Arata pulled out to a four second victory in the end. Oliver had pulled close to Smith in the closing stages, but had to settle for third. Kirk brought the Yoshimura GSXR 750 Superbike home to a safe fourth, just ahead of Peterson who gave it his best shot to get by Kirk on the last lap.
Gray got by Bernard and Quarterley on the last couple of laps to finish sixth. As he took the checkered Gray was totally spent, his head was slumped down and it looked like he might not complete the cool down lap.
Defending Champion Kurt Hall was riding in his first F/USA race since breaking his wrist at Seattle. Hall looked as if he might catch the fading Quarterley in the final laps but he also felt exhausted. “I saw that I was closing on him, but my upperbody is still very weak, so I just couldn’t push it to catch him.” said Hall.
Seattle winner Mike Harth rounded out the top ten.
Up on the victory podium, the top three riders were all red in the face. Oliver who is in excellent shape said he felt dizzy. Arata needed help getting his gloves off. He had dislocated his thumb in an endurance crash the day before.
With sponsor Sam Yamashita doing the interpretation, Arata said he was happy to win against American riders. “This country is were all of the top riders come from, I wanted to race against the best.” said a tired but happy Arata.
FORMULA USA: 1. Tatsuro Arata (Yam); 2. Mike Smith (Suz); 3. Rich Oliver (Yam); 4. Rick Kirk (Suz); 5. Robbie Petersen (Yam); 6. Scott Gray (Suz); 7. Brian Bernard (Yam); 8. Dale Quarterley (Suz); 9. Kurt Hall (Suz); 10. Mike Harth (Suz); 11. Britt Turkington (Suz); 12. Jeff Hagan (Suz); 13. Jim Saben (Suz); 14. John Hopperstad (Yam); 15. Christian Gardner (Yam); 16. Joe Pittman (Suz); 17. Brad Sawyer (Yam); 18. Peter Martins (Suz); 19. Joe Brett Williams (Hon); 20. Kurt Lentz (Suz)
FORMULA USA POINT STANDINGS: 1. Mike Smith (58); 2. Rich Oliver (52); 3. Scott Gray (50); 4. Mike Harth (44); 5. Rick Kirk (30); 6. Brian Bernard (30); 7. Tatsuro Arata (28); 8. Jeff Hagan (21); 9. Robbie Petersen (20); 10. Britt Turkington (18)
A SUPERSTOCK: 1. Rick Kirk (Suz); 2. Britt Turkington (Suz); 3. Chuck Graves (Suz); 4. David Deveau (Suz); 5. Pete Martins (Suz)
B SUPERSTOCK: 1. Tommy Lynch (Suz); 2. Michael Martin (Suz); 3. Britt Turkington (Suz); 4. David Deveau (Suz); 5. Kurt Hall (Suz)
C SUPERSTOCK: 1. Steve Rodden (Yam); 2. Scott Willock (Yam); 3. Joe Prussiano (Yam); 4. James Schaefer (Suz); 5. Bruce Baldus (Suz)
A SUPERBIKE: 1. Jim Russell
B SUPERBIKE: 1. Joe Brett Williams (Hon); 2. Phil McDonald (Yam); 3. Bryan Hanson (Yam); 4. David Probst (Suz); 5. Scott Kocan (Kaw)
A PRODUCTION: 1. Kerry Sherman (Suz); 2. Robert Bates (Hon); 3. Scott Kocan (Kaw)
B PRODUCTION: 1. Joe Prussiano (Yam); 2. Kerry Sherman
(Suz); 3. Robert Bates (Hon); 4. Tim Seabold (Kaw); 5. Scott Kocan (Kaw)
C PRODUCTION: 1. Robert Bates (Hon); 2. Bruce Miller (Hon); 3. Tim Seabold (Kaw); 4. Leonard Kirschner (Yam); 5. Dan Clemens (Hon)
SBS/Kerker WERA National Endurance Results
OVERALL: 1. Team Suzuki Endurance (Suz); 2. Boulder Yamaha Racing (Yam); 3. Hall ‘N Still Racing (Suz); 4. American Spirit Racing (Yam); 5. Cycle Racer (Yam); 6. Vision Quest Racing (Suz); 7. JD Racing (Yam); 8. TBA Racing (Suz); 9. Dave Rosno Racing (Hon); 10. Deals Gap Racing (Yam); 11. Honda of Niles Racing (Hon); 12. Team Hawaii (Hon); 13. Raw Racing (Yam); 14. Team Lips (Yam); 15. Sharp/Whitt Racing (Yam); 16. T-Storm Racing 2 (Hon); 17. Romans Racing (Yam); 18. Cycle Speed Racing (Yam); 19. Team Ironman (Suz); 20. Choice Racing (Suz)
HEAVYWEIGHT SUPERBIKE: 1. Team Suzuki Endurance (Suz); 2. Boulder Yamaha Racing (Yam); 3. JD Racing (Yam); 4. Team Ironman (Suz); 5. Choice Racing (Suz)
HEAVYWEIGHT PRODUCTION: 1. Hall ‘N Still (Suz); 2. American Spirit Racing (Yam); 3. Vision Quest Racing (Suz); 4. TBA Racing (Suz); 5. Royale Racing (Suz)
MEDIUMWEIGHT SUPERBIKE: 1. Cycle Racer (Yam); 2. Dave Rosno Racing (Hon); 3. Team Lips (Yam); 4. Sharp Whitt Racing (Yam); 5. Romans Racing (Yam)
MEDIUMWEIGHT PRODUCTION: 1. Honda of Niles (Hon); 2. Team Hawaii (Hon); 3. T-Storm Racing 2 (Hon); 4. T-Storm Racing (Suz); 5. Bates Racing (Hon)
LIGHTWEIGHT: 1. Deals Gap Racing (Yam); 2. Raw Racing (Yam); 3. Cycle Speed Racing (Yam); 4. Capital City’s Racing (Yam); 5. Team A Saurus Rex (Yam)
Arranged in order of bike number.
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Larry Lawrence – RiderFiles.com
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4 thoughts on “Topeka – WERA F-USA – July 1990”
I think bike #97 is Barry Burke, but not sure. Can anyone verify?
#615 Yellow GSXR No Lower faring is Dan Probst. Must have been a WERA 6hr Endurance. First weekend for bikes at Heartland Park. Hotter than hell!
I recognize so many bikes and numbers but the names escape me.
#103 is Eric Phillipson on the Team Hawaii CBR600F1.