Ben Knight and Eric Paquette built a ProCharged DME Real Street Suzuki Hayabusa for the 2020 XDA season, but got a debilitating rules change slapped on them after winning the first race.
The experience left a bitter taste in Knight’s mouth, and he downshifted back into sportsman racing. Or so he thought….
This past weekend at the Platinum General Services Spring Nationals at Maryland International Raceway—the same race he won in ’20—Knight was back in the Real Street field. This time, though, Ben wasn’t on a ProCharged bike but was riding the all-motor ‘Busa of Ralphie Navarro.
“Ralphie asked me to ride his Real Street bike on Thursday evening and at first I thought he was joking,” said Knight. “I had to go check on Friday morning to make sure I hadn’t made up the whole story in my head.”
“Well, it’s a complete 180 from my Real Street bike—really, any power-adder bike,” said Knight. “They did add a rule change for this year that all-motor bikes can gain 3 inches of wheelbase with a true hand-clutch. But, thanks to my affinity for beer, pasta, and Mexican food, I weighed in at the last weight chart, so we felt we were long enough. We chose to go with the MTC Gen 2 clutch (which is only an option for all-motor Real Street bikes).
“So instead of having to really work/ride the clutch out for the first 100 feet, I was able to just focus on the tree, just throw the lever and hang on!”
After taking round wins over David Fondon, Chad Sosnowski and Mark Hylton, Knight was a whopping .080 quicker at the tree than Dave Stewart on his turbo ‘Busa. “It was hard to fight the urge to not look back, knowing that all the turbo bikes would be coming hard at the end of the track,” said Knight, who was also bracket and index racing all weekend. But his 7.677 held out against Stewart’s 7.634.
“I had a blast riding it,” continued Knight. “I was honored to get the privilege and Michael Goñi did a great job tuning and prepping.
“You have to trust the tuner/tuneup, because you’re going on a two-step and flinging the clutch lever. But once you get some confidence, it’s game on!”
Wait—the kind of confidence that Ralphie had when he went over backwards?
“Hahahaha. Well, Ralphie had too much cowbell. Even when you build up confidence, you need to be aware that anything could happen or go wrong. Or something could break. It’s not always on autopilot.
“I was totally blown away and honored to get asked to ride this stallion that has been a labor of love for Standard Cycle Company and Shane Stubbs,” finished Knight, who also thanked Platinum General Services, Platinum Fleet Repair, Stubbs Total Performance, INC. #STPI, Worldwide Bearings, Vance & Hines, Web Camshafts, DME Racing, Penske Racing Shocks, Montgomery Motorsports, Brock’s Performance, BST – Blackstone TEK, Fab-U-This Custom Fabrication, Full Spectrum Power, Maxxecu USA, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires, Tiger Racing and Old Milwaukee Beer.
story by Tim Hailey, photo by Terrence Belton, video by Brandi Neithamer