Everyone has a fantasy, I reckon. Playing center field for the New York Yankees, writing a best-selling novel, winning some kind of National Title, etc. Here’s mine.
When I moved to Oregon in 1987 I stopped following the racing scene. I got back into motorcycles in 1996 and was surprised to learn I was still the only racer to win a Sears Point AMA National Superbike race on a Ducati. Mat Mladin didn’t do it, nor did Bostrom, Polen, Corser, all really talented riders. This is probably what started the fantasy.
I somehow talked Ducati into giving me a factory “wild-card” ride for the Sears Point AMA National in 1997. In my fantasy I was still fast, but I didn’t want anyone to know my actual identity so I entered as “Raymond Ritter.” It’s not really a lie – Raymond is my middle name. To prevent detection I took my helmet off only inside the Ducati trailer. The press was curious, of course. Who was this guy suddenly showing up on a factory Ducati ride, going reasonably quickly? Nobody had heard of Raymond Ritter. Some wondered if Raymond Ritter was related to Paul Ritter, but that speculation never went anywhere. I was a true Man of Mystery.
To try to keep unnoticed I would work on one timed segment at a time, slowing a bit in the other segments so my overall lap times weren’t near the top the list. Then when they finally did the segment-by-segment analysis, however, “Raymond Ritter” topped all four timed sections, even though my best single lap was only 7th or 8th fastest.
Now the press was really curious, but I remained “cloaked.” The Ducati people kept the press at bay, promising that I would be available for interviews after the race only. Who is this guy?
After some dicing with Miguel DuHamel I manage to win. In the winner’s circle I finally remove my helmet to reveal my true identity. Shock. Amazement. During the interview I mention that it had been too long, 20 years, since a Ducati had won at Sears Point, and I wanted to fix that. I was asked if I was going to compete in the final round in Las Vegas. I say I’m not. Why not? I’m asked.
“After this, anything that happened would be an anti-climax, don’t you think?” was my reply.
Remember, it’s a fantasy. In actual fact I was at that race, as a spectator.The real race winner was DuHamel on a Honda, and the first Ducati was Mat Mladin in 6th place. Mladen was riding a Ducati for the Fast by Ferracci team, and as I recall he was heading for a podium finish after a poor start when he was badly balked by a backmarker in the new turn one chicane. That killed his drive toward the front.
Just for the record, I’m still the only rider to win an AMA Superbike National at Sears Point on a Ducati. That fact amazes me every time I think about it.