Kulzer has loved motorcycles from age seven

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/6/96.

Paynesville native Chad Kulzer started riding motorcycles on a 50 Honda at the age of seven. Today, he rides a Yamaha FZR600 at speeds of 90 miles per hour and faster at the Brainerd International Raceway. Kulzer, 29, started racing in 1994. "I wanted to do road racing since 1988. I reached a point that it was not safe to use my skills on the street. If I wanted to continue to grow in my skills, I needed to race on a track," Kulzer said.

When Kulzer worked in St. Cloud, a racing friend told Kulzer about a new rider course. The course consists of a half day in the classroom and then expert road race instructors divide the class into groups and took them on the road race course. "The instructors show us the lines (fastest route around the course) and we slowly drove the course. They aren't worried about speed but about safety. After five laps, the instructors talked about what we, the students, did on the course and provided us with constructive criticism," he said. "Then we headed out onto the course again, if we got a tap on the shoulder or a certain hand signal, it was the go ahead to ride without the instructor."

Kulzer is a member of the Central Roadracing Association and only races at the Brainerd Raceway. He says Brainerd has one of the most challenging and enjoyable turns in North America. Sports writers consider turn one to be one of the hairiest corners in the states and turn two isn't much better.

A product technician with Electrosonic in the metro area, his racing sponsors are Paynesville businesses: Dietman Signs, Burr Barber Shop and Kascht Motor Specialities.

Mike Kascht was a high school classmate of Kulzers and has helped Kulzer modify his motorcycle for racing. Both men stress the need for safety when riding a motorcycle. Both men wear safety helmets and leather clothing. "People want to enjoy cruising down the highway on their bikes. Accidents happen when kids push their bikes beyond their skill levels," they said.

Kulzer explained the Central Roadracing Association runs sanctioned races three weekends every summer at Brainerd. The first race was held June 15 and 16. The next race is Aug. 27 and 28 and the final race of the season is set for Sept. 14 and 15.

"I always try to finish higher than I start," Kulzer said. "Your starting position depends on your grid position or when you register. In a pack of 50 racers, I'll usually be gridded 15 to 25." Kulzer explained each sprint race is six laps on a three-mile track and a trophy dash is 20 laps. Their speeds are determined by their lap times. A lap time of 2:10 minutes translates to about 88.1 miles per hour. A time of 1:50 equals 104.l miles per hour.

Kulzer said every year bikes are getting better and faster. In pro racing, spectators often wonder why racers hang so low to one side on their bikes. He explained that by hanging low off to one side, a driver will gain corner clearance and ground clearance, it will also cut their level of gravity, allowing them to take a corner faster. "It also provides you with a sense of security, if you have an accident, you have a better chance of clearing your bike in an accident," he said.
Their protective clothing includes a knee puck or slider. It consists of 1.5 inches of hard plastic. If you take a corner too low, its the plastic that scrapes the pavement, not your knee. Kulzer estimates he has removed about three-quarters of an inch of plastic off his knee puck thus far. Their clothing also has shoulder plastic, toe slides and spine protectors.

"It takes practice to be smooth on the turns with no wasted energy," Kulzer said. "Racers need to have a plan on a track or they can get physically lost on a race track. They need to know every braking marker, where to let up or apply the brakes.

"Every time you are out on the track, you are learning to improve your skills. Racing is a healthy sport, all you need is good common sense, a respect for fear, and have a clear head with a focus on your goals," Kulzer said. "You can't be afraid to crash, if you are going to race."

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