By Frank Rizzo
JEFFERSONVILLE July 13, 2001 If they raced motorcycles year round indoors, with the cash prizes hes used to getting, Andy Karadontes of Jeffersonville wouldnt need to work for a living.
The union electrician (and lately, flower wholesaler), a perennial champion of the 250 Pro Series at the Orange County Fairgrounds, said he always makes out well monetarily in the winter racing circuit; he only wishes it would last longer.
Theres more money, its more intense, and theres more competition than there is outdoors, Karadontes once said of indoor racing.
But after the experience he had in Indiana on Independence Day week, Karadontes might re-think his view of racing outdoors.
He and girlfriend Lori Williams set out for the American Motorcyclist Associations (AMA) Dirt Track Grand Championships, held in Lawrenceburg and Indianopolis.
Ive been wanting to do it, Karadontes said of the week-long competition, which draws over 800 amateur and semi-pro bike enthusiasts.
He only raced outdoors three times last year, and with the closing of Accord Speedway lost the nearest competitive venue.
He got to Lawrenceburg not really knowing what to expect.
I went out in my rent-a-van and motorcycles that looked like they were 25 years old. I had my Dale Earnhardt [muscle shirt] and black shorts, I looked like a hick, he related. Everybody else [seemed to have] motor homes and Winnebagos and color-coordinated [with their bikes] leather outfits.
Karadontes thinks his looks led the other drivers and officials to underestimate him.
When he got on the dirt track with his Honda 250cc for the Open 40-and-over short track heat, he was on familiar ground. It was the kind of racing he was used to, muscling the bike, throwing the rear wheels sideways.
Karadontes won the heat and got the pole for the feature, which he won as well to take over first place in his division.
The following day he raced in the TT, a faster curvier layout. he was about to pas the leader, he related, when the red flag was waved and the race stopped. He wound up taking second place.
After a day traveling to Indianopolis and enjoying the hotel, fireworks, and festivities The AMA did a top-notch job, he said Karadontes raced on longer courses, less successfully.
On Thursday he placed sixth in the half-mile race. The track had a crushed limestone surface and he noted that his wheels were not designed for it.
I was going 90 miles per hour on the straightway and it felt like I was in a sandbox, he said.
On Saturday Karadontes placed ninth in the amateur mile. With that finish, he lost tout to John McClelland of Gillette, Wyoming in the Open 40-and-over divison overall standings, 67 to 65 points.
It was a great experience, Karadontes said of the week.
Lori Williams found it funny how, when the winners were interviewed on the podium, they took out a sheet of paper thanking all their sponsors.
Karadontes had only one: Friends Pub in Smallwood.
The crowd found this funny.
Karadontes, as always, thanked his mechanic, Glenn lewis.
The bike ran top notch, he said.
The upshot was that he received invitations to race elsewhere.