The debut of the Drag Specialties King of the Baggers event didn’t disappoint at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday as those in attendance won’t soon forget the sight and sounds of the big V-twins scratching and clawing their way around the iconic racetrack on the Monterey Peninsula in a manner that most couldn’t have predicted.
The victory went to S&S Indian’s Tyler O’Hara, the pre-race favorite. But it was not without drama as the Challenger-mounted Californian battled back from an off-track excursion in turn two to beat Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson’s Hayden Gillim by 1.9 seconds in the eight-lap introduction to the class at Laguna. Third place went to Indian-mounted Frankie Garcia with the Roland Sands Design-backed rider bouncing back from a painful crash during practice on Friday.
“Three or four laps in, I was going into (turn) two and I didn’t have any moments going into turn two the whole weekend and just ended up tucking the front,” O’Hara said of the off-track excursion that allowed Gillim to take the lead. “I saved it and then actually went all the way off into turn two. Actually, at the start Frankie (Garcia) was telling me my bike was smoking and I was like, ‘You’re full of it. What are you trying to psych me out?’ But he was serious. I looked at the bike and looked down and I saw a little brake fluid on the pipe. I said, ‘Okay, well we can figure this out. Don’t pull me out of here. We’re just going to figure it out.’ We didn’t have any rear brakes at all either, so that was a little interesting. We just did our homework and I was very fortunate that I was able to keep it on two wheels in the sand. Hayden was riding really good, and same with Frankie. It’s just so fun, like you said, being able to be part of this whole King of the Baggers. I haven’t seen people that excited about motorcycle racing in a long time. People were jumping up and down and hooting and hollering. It was just fun to put on a show with these guys. My hats off to everybody who rode a bagger this weekend because some of the bikes out there didn’t look too fun to be on. So hats off to the team.”