BARTONVILLE — JD Beach joined one prestigious club, while Henry Wiles joined another on Saturday in the 75th Law Tigers Peoria TT grand nationals at Peoria Motorcycle Club Race Park.
Beach joined the coveted winners list for the Super Twins main event for the first time, a race where “King Henry” Wiles and Chris “The Prince of Peoria” Carr became legends for their long win streaks.
Wiles, meanwhile, moved down into the Singles class and won going away. He also did something else:
“I’ve joined the Peoria Motorcycle Club,” the Winn, Mich., native said of the 90-year-old PMC. “This is a place with so much history to it, and I’ve been a part of it. Some day, when I retire, I’m going to bring my kids here and just enjoy this place.”
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Wiles, club officials believe, became the first Peoria Motorcycle Club member to win a grand nationals race here. He won the Super Twins event 14 straight times before missing the 2019 race with an injury.
Saturday marked his first Singles win — and as a club member to boot.
Wiles joined the club after track officials asked him to help design a new course for Minis within the infield.
“I wanted to design a track that wasn’t vanilla, one that could challenge riders but provide an element of fun,” Wiles said. “It can appeal to every age and skill level. There is a jump that might be a bit aggressive for the little guys. But anyone who rode motocross is going to love it.
“It’s a place where families, younger kids, can come out and ride.”
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Caterpillar saves the day
An isolated storm hit the track Saturday just as the day was down to the final three championship races. Caterpillar came to the rescue with its operators climbing aboard earth movers scraping the track, distributing dirt, and saving the day.
“What a great look for CAT, they are amazing,” PMC president Jake Walker said. “Caterpillar in here as a partner, with these machines, they just stepped up and got everything in order. It’s a game-changer.”
The races re-started at about 6 p.m. — most of the estimated 3,500 in attendance stuck through a delay of about two hours — and the American Flat Track officials altered the format from its usual 25 laps.
The Super Twins final ran for 10 minutes, plus two laps after the clock hit zero. The Production Twins and the Singles ran for 8 minutes, plus two laps.
On the track
Beach, 30, from Philpot, Ky., rode his Yamaha MT-07 to victory. The former AMA Amateur National Dirt Track champion returned to AFT racing in 2019 while juggling a full-time MotoAmerica Superbike career.
Briar Bauman, who won the race in 2019, finished second on his Indian FTR750. Jared Mees, who always seems to be in or around the top three at the TT in Peoria, rode his Indian FTR750 to third.
Mossville native Robbie Pearson was fifth.
Dan Bromley, a Warrington, Pa., native, won the Production Twins race.
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Wiles celebrated on the podium again with his Singles win, with his newly-designed infield track facing him across the way.
“When I was a little kid, really little, I would play in a sandbox with toy cars,” Wiles said. “I would build little tracks in there for the cars. I’ve built more race tracks than I can remember. It’s exciting to see it happening.
“I look at some of the man-made TT tracks today, and it looks to me like not much thought went into it.”
Always prepared for Peoria
He’s older now at 37, and has a family well under construction, too, with wife, Kristen, 6-year-old son Henry River Wiles, and 1-year-old daughter, Winn.
“Make sure there’s no E on the end of her name,” Wiles said. “Because there’s no E in winning.”
The Super Twins class is in his past now. His name remains atop the Peoria record books.
“As long as I come here to Peoria and race, I’m going to battle to win no matter what class I’m in,” Wiles said. “I took a solid year getting ready for this race.
“My preparation is driven from something I learned in eighth grade. I still have my fourth-place trophy from the state wrestling championships in Michigan. The three guys who finished ahead of me, I beat all of them two weeks earlier in sectionals. I lost in the state finals because I didn’t prepare as hard.
“I stare at that trophy and I remember. So yeah, I’ll keep coming to Peoria, and I’ll prepare to win.”
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men’s basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.