What’s it take to give a good interview?”
“Bravery” I replied.
The young racer seemed confused.
Let me explain.
“You’ll take just as much of a beating entering turn one
too fast, as saying the wrong thing to the press.”
Not every racer wants to risk it.
Some have too much on their plate as it is.
Or maybe they’re scared about what people might think.
I dunno…
My job is to dig for a story that goes with the pictures.
You know, like in that Jamey Johnson song ‘In Color.’ 
No one knows what it’s like until we capture the words.
Just like the Wild West: people remember a good story.
Their lives would be dust in the wind if we didn’t write them down.

The King of Peoria, after 14 straight wins, in a pensive mood. [Steve Koletar]
The young racer says I seem to favor Henry Wiles a lot.
Well he trusts me.
He ain’t afraid either.

Entertainer? Yes. Athlete? Absolutely. The control demonstrated here – broadsliding his Indian with a wide open throttle – is a requirement of winning races. [Steve Koletar]
Nothing like fumbling in the dark for your buzzing cell phone.
I knocked over half the stuff on my nightstand.
“Sorry, to call ya back so late Michael.”
There was a rhythmic clanking noise in the background.
His breathing was very controlled.
He exhaled after he answered each of my questions.
Where are you calling from?
Henry Wiles squeezed out,
“I’m at the gym.
Daytona is only a few months away.
You know, working all day is no excuse in my book.
Ya gotta want it to get it:
I know my dream requires sacrifice.”

Michael Lawless doesn’t seem too bothered by late-night phone interviews with Henry Wiles. [Steve Koletar]
Another glimpse behind the curtain came
at the press room at Daytona post race.
A lot of journalists were there to
question the three riders who finished on the podium.
The mainstream writers
expected that wild biker image.
Daytona is known for its night life after all.
They asked Wiles, “heading downtown to blow off steam on Main Street?”
Thinking he paused,
‘Well…I was thinking about getting some fried food.
I haven’t had any for six months’.
The mainstream journalists seemed confused.
Us flat track journos looked down at our notepads and smirked.
This was classic Henry.

Elemental. loud, and fast. Henry Wiles shows how it’s done. [Steve Koletar]
Wiles later laughed telling me
“we might be racers but really we’re entertainers.”
That “It’s not easy or everybody would do it.”
How you’ve got be dedicated and motivated.
Half-assing won’t cut it at this level.
Got to be fit and be ready.
Look at some of the new guys in the class-do they look in shape?
That’s why they get hurt.
They get tired and make mistakes.
They are reaching for something that ain’t there.
You got to give it your all or just go home.
Wiles pulls his helmet down and spins up the starter.
The bike burst to life.
He grabs the bars and throws a leg over,
drops the clutch and takes off.

Did we also mention – Henry Wiles is ridiculously handsome? But you already noticed that.  Sometimes talent and dedication come in attractive packaging. [Steve Koletar]


Michael Lawless [@electric_horseman], our ‘Poet of Packed Earth’, is the Flat Track Editor for TheVintagent.com, and has his own blog: Electric Horseman
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