by Keith Courson
circa September 1994
City Cyclist On Road Course For Success
Jamestown native Shawn Higbee just may do that as he races for the Harley-Davidson Twin Sport National Motorcycle Championship this weekend at Road Atlanta. The famous 2.5-mile course just happens to be the place Higbee won his first-ever national event a year ago.
Higbee, who obtained his road racing license in 1989, got his start by competing in many regional club events. The Southwestern Central graduate has since become one of the most talented asphalt riders in the nation.
After receiving support from Harley-Davidson of Jamestown for a few seasons, he was invited to join the powerful Team Bartels racing stable in Marina Del Ray, California for this season.
Higbee knew he was merging with a winner.
"Team Bartels has improved my career a great deal," he said. "I've learned a lot and really improved my riding."
Higbee finished second last year to three-time series winner Scott Zampach, but the Jamestown native holds a 25-point lead on his rival entering this weekend's race.
Ironically, the two also have an opportunity to sew up a point title in a middleweight bike series as teammates.
"I have the chance to win two national titles this weekend," he said. "That's pretty satisfying, but we still need to finish things up."
At just 24, Higbee has accomplished some remarkable feats. However, it's his quiet confidence that sets him apart from the rest.
"You have to have a lot of confidence in your ability, first of all," he said. "A lot of the guys are cocky. I try to be conservative and keep to myself. I know what I'm capable of doing and I just go out and do it."
The 883 Harley-Davidson Twin Sport Series can best be described as a support class for the American Motorcycle Association's Super Bike class. It's classified as a production class since a small amount of items are modified such as brake pads and lines, exhaust systems and minor engine components.
The national series is composed of 10 stops, beginning and ending at Road Atlanta. Higbee has raced as far south as Daytona Beach and as far north as Loudon, NH.
Higbee has moved to California since his merger with Team Bartels to be closer to the operation. However, he usually makes it back to Jamestown a few times throughout the year, even though his season begins in early March and ends in October with the Daytona Champions Cup.
Although motorcycle road racing hasn't yet attained the popularity of rivals such as NASCAR or Formula One auto racing, Higbee feels it's on its way to a higher level.
"We've gotten some better exposure the last couple of years with the Prime Ticket Network," he said. "I think it's a matter of making people more aware of what it's all about. People will come back when they see the interest in it."
Higbee has always been dedicated to racing motorcycles. Winning a national championship would be icing on the cake.
"Hopefully, this is going to be used as a stepping stone," he said, adding that his desire is to race the Japanese 600cc Super Sport in the immediate future and ultimately rocket through road circuits in the 500 GP Class.
"What I like about this sport is that it's a long road," he said. "There is the adventure and excitement, but you have to have the desire to do it. It's something unlike a 9 to 5 job. That's routine. Racing is a serious business. There is a danger factor that forces you to do it right. But you have to put that danger in the back of your mind the best you can. You have to stay focused."
Higbee may one day become one of the finest motorcycle racers in the world if his success on the national level is any indication.
While he has adapted well to winning races, winning championships is next on his agenda.