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Focused on the finish line

 
Focused on the finish line
PASCALLE BIPPERT — Craig Donahoe of La Vernia, an aircraft mechanic during the week, gets an adrenaline rush most weekends by racing motorcycles.

What has two legs, two wheels, and travels at more than 100 mph? An award-winning motorcycle, handled by La Vernia native Craig Donahoe.

The son of Ben and Karen Donahoe, the 2007 graduate of La Vernia High School has been riding with the Central Motorcycle Roadracing Association (CMRA) for just over a year. His very first event -- an eight-hour endurance race in 2013 -- was in the rain.

His parents have differing opinions about him racing.

“My mom would rather me not do it,” Craig said. “My dad enjoys watching it and gets a kick out of seeing me have fun out there.”

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this accomplished rider is that he does it with single vision. Craig was blinded in his right eye back in eighth grade by a bottle rocket. He doesn’t let his eyesight hold him back, though.

Not only must he navigate the many twists and turns on a track, Craig -- who rides on a 2011 Kawasaki ZX-6R and a 2012 Ninja 250 with SNAP Racing -- has to keep a sharp eye out for other riders who might want to pass him. Craig has taken all the motorcycle safety courses required and has extensive training to ensure his and other riders’ safety on the track. Safety is a huge concern.

“Never go to the track by yourself,” is one credo Craig and other riders live by.

He dons a full suit and helmet each time he races. Navigating the turns on the track, Craig leans his motorcycle at a dangerous slant; “pucks” -- kneepads made from Kevlar -- protect his knees in such turns. In his full gear, he resembles a space man. It’s all to protect him from injuries that might occur.

Craig’s first experience with motorcycles was at his grandpa’s house.

“He had an old mini bike in the shed and I would go in there from the time I was 3 years old and climb on that bike and put on the helmet and pretend I was racing,” Craig recalled.

But now, he doesn’t have to pretend. In 2013, Craig was riding at the Texas World Speedway in College Station. A friend saw his ride and asked him if he wanted to race. Craig got his license to race and has never looked back.

Now, he races all over the Lone Star State, as well as in New Orleans and Oklahoma.

“Each track is different,” he said.

He’s raced at the Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, and a recent weekend found him in Oklahoma for an endurance race.

He enjoys the challenge racing represents.

“I am very competitive,” he said.

This is borne out in his results. In March, Craig finished on the podium at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, where he captured first place in one race and third in another.

Preparation for Craig is more than just practice. He “gets in the zone” by listening to favorite tracks, such as Eminem’s “8 mile road,” before a race.

To prepare mentally, Craig kneels, places his hand on his bike, and prays for safety. He prays again just before the race begins.

His girlfriend, Christina Shipley, also is part of his team and races competitively. When the two are not on the track, they enjoy dancing, going to concerts, and riding dirt bikes.

Craig, a graduate of St. Philip’s College, has a degree in aircraft mechanics; he works for Boeing in San Antonio. He may not fly the aircraft he works on, but he sure does fly his bikes around the racetrack!

Ride along!

Craig has several races posted on YouTube so you can enjoy the action. Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9oZLthYHeg&feature=youtu.be to watch him win a first-place title.

His GoPro camera caught all the action; you’ll feel like you’re on the bike!

 
 
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