The showdown between the past two MotoAmerica Superbike champions, Cameron Beaubier and Toni Elias, rightfully took center stage on Saturday and Sunday at Utah Motorsports Campus.
But while Elias’ win on Saturday and Beaubier’s victory on Sunday may have had the most lasting impact on how the rest of the 2018 season will shake itself out as the teams packed up and left Tooele County, it was the final race of the weekend that provided the most memorable finish.
In the Stock 1000 class, 21 riders took to the 3.048-mile Outer Course at UMC for 10 laps just as Superbike riders Beaubier, Garrett Gerloff and Jake Lewis were wrapping up their post-race press conference. The big event of the weekend was over, sure. But the best finish was yet to come.
Entering the final lap, Chad Lewin, Andrew Lee and Travis Wyman were battling for the top three spots – particularly Lewin and Wyman, who swapped the final spot a couple times on the final lap. Ultimately, Wyman pushed himself and his bike just a little too far, and he wound up crashing in the final few corners, giving the win to Lewin.
But it wasn’t just how Lewin won that made Sunday’s finale so special. It was all that he had been through just to walk, let alone get back on a motorcycle. Several years ago, he suffered massive injuries that nearly led to the amputation of his legs. He’s rarely gotten on a bike since, focusing primarily on his full-time job as a real-estate agent in Los Angeles. Sunday represented his return to competitive racing, and his first MotoAmerica race.
I think he made quite an impression on his competitors.
And while Lewin reaped the immediate benefit of Wyman’s last-lap mishap, there was another notable rider who found himself on the podium. Oleg Pianykh, who usually competes in the Utah Sport Bike Association’s Law Tigers Masters of the Mountains series at UMC, ended up finishing third on his home track. Not bad for a guy who only decided to sign up for the MotoAmerica event just a few weeks ago, and didn’t even have a motorcycle prepared to race at that point. Pianykh said Sunday’s race may open the door for him to compete against the professionals again later this season, and if his podium finish is any indication, he certainly showed he belongs.
MotoAmerica’s visit to UMC is always a highlight of the Tooele County sports calendar. But when you get feel-good stories like Lewin and Pianykh’s, it makes it just that much more special.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He always enjoys a weekend at the race track. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.