Schnabel Tops Rochester Half-Mile

Henny Ray Abrams | June 14, 2002
In a race against an advancing storm, and the rest of the Pro Singles field, Team WE/West Bend H-D/Fieldsheer Leathers’ J.R. Schnabel muscled his way to victory on the rough and rutted Rochester Fairgrounds half-mile, round four of the Formula USA Dirt Track Series.

With heavy rains predicted for the area, F-USA officials sped up the program and shortened the main event from 25 laps to 18. The result was less time grooming the track between races, and a constantly changing surface in the main. The bumpiness played to Schnabel’s strength, his motocross training paying off with a runaway victory on a track that offered limited visibility to most everyone.

“You had to hang on the whole race tonight,” Schnabel said. “It was a little rough.”

Schnabel chose his CCM over his Honda for the half-mile. Though it cost him dearly in contingency money-about $4000-it gave him a chance to win.

“This is only my second national win,” Schnabel said. “I’ve been doing it for six years. They’re few and far between.”

Harley-Davidson’s Rich King led for the first three laps, then ran with Schnabel for the next five before pulling off with motor problems. King said he suspected a burnt piston.

That gave second to 1stLegal/USC Racing’s Terry Poovey, the veteran Texan hanging on to the end while riding almost blind.

“I couldn’t see a thing out there,” Poovey said. “I wasn’t going to ride like J.R. (Schnabel). I like the inside, not the outside. He did a great job.” Poovey said that his faceshield was fogging up and he had to open it on the straightaways and wipe the inside with his glove.

With his runner-up finish, Poovey continued to hold onto the Pro Singles championship lead. After four of 12 races, Poovey has 142 points, 18 more than Schnabel and KTM’s Joe Kopp, fourth today, who are tied with 124.

Third went to KTM’s Kenny Coolbeth, who passed teammate Kopp late in the race, then set out for Poovey. “I just ran out of time,” Coolbeth said. “The bottom was brushed off. It was real rutted.”

Aaron Creamer, a local rider from Leominster, Mass., was fifth.

Pro Singles:

1. J.R. Schnabel (CCM)

2. Terry Poovey (ATK)

3. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM)

4. Joe Kopp (KTM)

5. Aaron Creamer (Hon)

6. Cory Mcdermitt (Rot)

7. Roger Durkee (Rot)

8. Larry Pegram (Suz)

9. Cory West (Hon)

10. Trenton Bailey (CCM)

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.