Episode #151 — Flat Track Racer Ben Lowe

It’s the holiday weekend (okay, technically the long weekend) and we hope you have fun celebrating whatever is tradition with your family and friends for the 4th of July. For some, that means having a cookout and blaring the Beach Boys from your speakers. For others, that means watching a 24-hour “Independence Day” marathon on cable. And let’s not forget those who launch fireworks like it’s Katy Perry Appreciation Day at Dodger Stadium. (The neighborhood dogs will forgive you someday.)

Unsurprisingly, we like to celebrate in our own particular way. First and foremost, we emotionally prepare for Blobfest. But a close second, in the spirit of illegal fireworks, involves us considering which one of us will die first and in what fashion, along with what songs will be played at our respective funerals. We won’t be buried together, even if a tiger gets us at the same time. It’s clear Heidi would be busy making Detroit connections with all of the other ghosts in the cemetery and it would drive Luke crazy. The afterlife is supposed to be peaceful. (Cue “Let’s Go Crazy” at Heidi’s service.)

If your 4th of July involved all-American activities like pie eating contests, wearing something with the colors of the flag, or roasting s’mores over a fire, there’s a chance you’ve seen this week’s guest doing something that sounds all-American to us, too: flat track motorcycle racing. And yes, we know people race different vehicles all over the world, but where else can you race around a track packed with mud from the bottom of the Mississippi? If flat track racing were around in the 19th century, Mark Twain would have written about it.

We spoke with flat track racer Ben Lowe and got an insider’s view of what his world of racing is like. And because we’re so well-versed in every type of sport and competition, our first question definitely wasn’t, “What is flat track racing…” Okay, it was. But we only asked for our listeners’ sakes. Ben patiently and helpfully walked us through all aspect of the racing style including what he rides; how the tracks differ in material, length, and challenge level; and whether pit stops are a thing in the flat track world.

Ben also disabused us of any notion that flat track racing is just about a person jumping on a motorcycle, driving really fast, and trying to place in the top. There’s a huge time commitment, not just from the racer, but from the entire team. Plus, there are sponsorships to line up, workouts to stay in shape for racing, and a day job to juggle. Getting a glimpse into the travel, organization, and intensity of flat track racing was impressive. And it further confirmed that we’d be better off just watching the races in the stands. But we’ll be loudly cheering Ben on — when our mouths aren’t full of elephant ears from the concession booth.

Among many other interesting informational tidbits Ben shared about flat track racing is the fact that racers now have airbags in their suits. You probably already have about ten full-body-airbag-related questions right now and we did, too! Check out this week’s episode to get the complete details on this game-changer, along with how Ben got into flat track racing in the first place, how his family helps him reach his goals, what his fellow racers think about his hair, and whether they are supportive or run each other off the track, “Grease” drag-race style. To learn even more about Ben and flat track racing, check out his Facebook page or his website. We’re off to watch recent movies with racing in them so we can use more relatable pop culture references than “Grease” with the young people. Do the kids watch “Ben-Hur” these days? Nah, they’re probably all about “Stroker Ace.”

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