Racing Passion for Raleigh Resident
Carpenter: Professional Motorcycle
RALEIGH -- There is no fear in racing – just respect and knowing your limits. The focus is to control your mind and body. “We (racers) are all control freaks,” says Scott Carpenter. “When we are one with our bikes, we are in control.” Carpenter is a professional racer – a motorcycle roadracing veteran whose skills and abilities to maneuver his race bike through curves, turns and around other racers at high speeds absolutely beguile any enthusiasts. Fast doesn’t only describe a motorcycle race. Spectacular.
Carpenter started his competitive racing career when he was 16 years old. “I started with motocross racing, then tried bicycle racing for four years. I remember racing against Lance Armstrong in 1993. But I really got into (motorcycle) roadracing in 1994 after I bought my first street bike – a Suzuki GSXR 750. After taking a course in roadracing at Rockingham - it was to help me be a better street rider, I was hooked.” Carpenter’s living room showcases his illustrious lifelong passion: trophies, champagne (winner’s) bottles, plaques, and photographs. “I’m running out of room so they just get placed where I have space now – the floor, corners, bookcases.”
Carpenter has won five national championships and many individual races in his career and ranks high in the Privateer (non-factory sponsored) group. He is self-reliant for financing his racing career; his main equipment (Suzuki) sponsor is Ron Ayers Motorsports in Greenville, NC. He receives technical support from Chip Spalding and Owen Garnett at engine builder KWS Motorsports in Charleston, SC. Factory-sponsored team (Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, Michael Jordan Racing) racers typically rank the top 15 riders; their crews are dedicated to modifying equipment to higher performance standards in the Superbike series. The financial resources are there to support these teams. Roadracing has become a business and R&D platform for investors. It is a growing sport worldwide.
Being fast doesn’t always mean you’re going to win a race; you have to be the fastest. But first you have to qualify. Then, you have to finish the race. Preparation is the key to racing; set up for a race starts almost immediately after finishing the current race. “You’re constantly thinking – the track conditions, the race lines, your strategy, the weather, the set up of your bike, and your tires. There’s nothing like having the right tires and the proper tire pressure. Daytona is the fastest track in the American Motorcycle Association’s (AMA) race circuit. You fly down the straightaway at 188 miles per hour; your tires better hold up.” And what does that feel like? Carpenter says you don’t feel it until you get back into your regular vehicle to drive home at 60 miles per hour – that’s slow motion. Now you can blink.
Carpenter is already making preparations to start racing in March; he’s ordering parts for his bikes, talking to his sponsors, and keeping himself in shape (workouts, cycling, dirt bike riding). Daytona 2006 (March) officially starts the AMA circuit in which Carpenter competes in the prestigious Superbike and Superstock divisions on his Suzuki GSXR 1000 (Rider #97). He also races a Suzuki GSXR 750 (Rider #65) in the WERA and Formula USA circuits.
At 44, Carpenter says he still has a few good years of racing left in him. “I’m still in good shape; I’m getting faster and moving up the ranks every race.” The fans and competitors are familiar with his name; they stop at his booth to talk and ask about him. As an accomplished race-instructor at Cornerspeed Riderschool in Virginia, Carpenter also advocates schooling and discipline for new racers; he encourages caution and patience in trying out the sport. “It’s a lot of work involved in roadracing. It is not glamorous like most people think. You’re constantly doing something; you have to do most of the work yourself all the time. And you crash – often. Not that you want to but it happens. Hopefully it’s not too serious for you or the bike.” Carpenter keeps a cracked helmet with his trophies as a reminder of his crash in 2004, which he underwent surgery for a broken pelvis. He recovered quickly, and like most passionate racers went straight back into racing again. “At my level of racing, it’s competitive but also fun. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”
“The camaraderie is second to none in the racing circuits”, says Carpenter. “Everyone helps each other out.” On the track, racers are very competitive; off the track they help with equipment, socialize, swap parts and stories, and participate in charity events. The race organizations and officials are experienced and organized. At the pits, racers like for spectators to come up and talk with them. The sport promotes interaction with fans and spectators at events. Many racers have their own websites to keep fans and sponsors informed of their progress.
“I work hard and I play hard,” says Carpenter of his racing lifestyle. “Racing has always been in me and for as long as I am able to do so, I will race a motorcycle. I compete for my sponsors, my fans and for my love of the sport.”
Outside of his racing schedule, Carpenter works a full time job in Raleigh until one day he hopes to have the opportunity to manage or work a factory team after his own racing days are over. Raleigh has been home for Carpenter since 1988. He is originally from Frederick, MD; his family moved to Sampson County where Carpenter attended high school. He moved to Raleigh when he enrolled at NC State University. Carpenter loves Raleigh: “Raleigh is growing and getting better everyday. I’ve had opportunities to live elsewhere, especially in California, but I prefer to stay in Raleigh. There’s so much in this area”. So what can Raleigh fans expect to see out of Carpenter next race season?
“I hope to win championships. I want to win races. I expect to do my best when I race. I’d like for my fans to cheer me on and tell me that they totally enjoyed watching the race. The kids especially – they just love it.”
Take the family out on weekends to a motorcycle race, watch it on TV (Speed Channel) and get involved with the riders. Everybody has a favorite racer. Raleigh has Scott Carpenter and others; motorcycle roadracing just got a whole lot better to watch. Daytona, here comes Raleigh.