Ben Bostrom so badly wanted to race this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park that he waited until the last minute to make his decision.Bostrom broke two ribs in a crash in the second race at New Jersey Motorsports Park and was hoping they’d be healed enough to race this weekend in the AMA Pro Road Racing season finale. But on Tuesday, when he got on his personal R1 for a blast through the canyons near his home in Malibu, Bostrom knew there was no race in his future.”I’m so bummed,” he said in a phone call from his home in Malibu. “I’m sure as I’m sitting here that I could win due to the bike. At the test (in June), the bike was very good, it was consistently faster than anybody else’s. But now the bike’s actually better than it was at the test; that’s pretty cool. And Barber’s not a place where you need a big motor. It’s not like Josh (Hayes) or Tommy (Hayden) can get us on the straightaway. It’s a small track. You just need a good handling bike.”The Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha rider broke his fourth and fifth ribs in an early race high-side in New Jersey. He knew something wasn’t right from the start, but it wasn’t until he tried to sleep that he began to grasp the severity of the injurity. Each breath brought a clicking from his chest, the sound of the broken ribs clicking bone on bone. “And when I’d push on them,” he said, “they were just folding in and out ,and I said, ‘Man, that’s not good.'”The two days following the race he stayed back in New Jersey to be filmed riding for “Café Racer,” a show to be broadcast in October on HD Theatre. Instead, his brother, Eric, rode the lone cafe racer, which had a rear wheel problem and sent him to the ground, “and so Eric got stuck crashing the bike, which was probably a good thing, because I didn’t need to puncture my lung or sternum and bleed out. And I was already bleeding anyway.”The following week he tried riding the Team Zyvax Yamaha R1 in the WERA Endurance round at Barber Motorsports Park. “I couldn’t even hang onto the thing,” Bostrom said. After two laps he pulled up his shirt and showed his brother his torso. “The discoloration all came down my rib cage. Obviously, it cut into something. And so when I was with (Dr. Arthur) Ting a week later, he just confirmed it. He was worried, he was just worried about organs.”Fortunately for Bostrom, Jason DiSalvo pinch hit for Bostrom at Barber. The team won the race by five laps.Back in California Bostrom had time on his hands. He and his girlfriend, Nikki Hale, took his 1963 Vespa 150 scooter, with sidecar, for the 450 mile ride down the Pacific Coast Highway from his father’s home in northern California to his home in Malibu. “So then,” he thought, “I’m starting to feel like I’m pretty good.”That feeling would quickly disappear. Tuesday he took his Yamaha YZF-R1 for a sprint up his local canyon and realized, “Holy cow, I made about five minutes and just realized I can’t ride. I can’t hang off the right side because my ribs four and five are broken. Normally you break six through 12. I would ride through on any injury. This is the only one I realized I can’t ride safely and strong enough, because our bike’s easy to ride around Barber. I think we have the best bike, a winning bike. But I’m not in shape to ride it. And for sure if I crashed, Dr. (Arthur) Ting said, he goes, ‘If you crash, four and five are broken and a bit jagged and if you stick yourself in the lung or sternum, you’ll be sorry, man.’ So he goes, ‘Any little crash or a whip of the handlebars, you’re going to take a long time to heal.’ But I just kinda ignored and I would go out and just ride the bike, but I’m not strong enough. Super bummer.”What bothered Bostrom more than anything was that he felt he had a chance to win the final two races to end the season strongly.Because of the location of the broken ribs, they should take about six weeks to heal, Dr. Ting told Bostrom. “It’s right after the lungs, where four and five are, so every time you breathe, they come apart. And so every time I breathe they go click, click, and every time they come apart that gel, that they’re trying to build back, keeps pulling apart, pulling apart. It’s the worst place to break ribs, because it rarely breaks, because it takes a super blunt force impact to break bones. When you break ribs there, you also puncture a lung or do sternum damage. He said you’re very lucky just to have these broken ribs.”The first choice to replace him was his brother, Eric. Ben didn’t know if Eric was going to race the Cycle World Yoshimura Suzuki at Barber, “and then last week they decided, let’s do it. Otherwise I was going to put Eric on my bike. His team’s going racing, so it’s great. So we’ll have one more bike on the track.”Bostrom will be in Barber for an autograph session, a visit to a local hospital, and to help out teammate Chris Clark, “and I think (Jake) Holden’s on the bike. I think other than Laguna, Barber is Holden’s best track. He clearly smoked myself, (Aaron) Yates, and (Ben) Spies there a couple years ago on a Superstock bike at Barber.” (Editor’s note: Yates beat Holden in 2007, with Bostrom third and Spies fourth. Holden was also second to Yates in 2008.) “So it’s one of best tracks. And I think I have the best bike there. It’ll give the team a little lift. Yeah, I’ll go there for support.”
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.