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Roswell motorcycle racer learns craft at Alien City

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Dale Stewart sits on his souped Kawasaki before a recent race at Alien City Dragway. (Mike Smith Photo)

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Dale Stewart of Roswell has a motorcycle that could be considered a classic. However, you won’t find him riding on the streets for a Saturday cruise. Instead, you will find him at Alien City Dragway on most Saturdays going speeds that would make any motorcycle rider’s mouth water.

During the week, Stewart is a fabricator and welder for an Artesia oil field company and like many racers, he started at a young age racing dirt bikes, four wheelers and dune buggies. Stewart is the proud owner of a 1976 Kawasaki Kz 1000.

“I found it in Midland-Odessa,” Stewart said. “I picked it up for about $4,000.”

Stewart added some modifications were made.

“It’s a big tire bike,” Stewart said. “It’s what they call a wheelie bar bike.”

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Stewart admitted he’s only owned the bike for a few months.

“I bought it in May,” Stewart said. “I’ve been pretty much a rookie getting broke in on how to do this bracket racing thing and it’s been quite interesting. There’s a lot going on between the burnout box and that finish line.”

The burnout allows racers like Stewart to heat up the tires by allowing rubber to be laid down at the starting line. The burnout also improves traction.

Stewart said the motorcycle can run down the ¼ mile track at 122 mph and his best reaction time has been has been .061. The reaction time is measured in fractions of a second when a car or bike leaves the starting line when the green light comes on.

“That was my best,” Stewart said. “The rest were red lights.”

Stewart feels he’s a little late when the green light flashes on the Christmas tree.

“I usually leave on yellow,” Stewart said. “When the Christmas tree is coming down, it’s pretty much me and the bike and getting to the end of the track.”

Stewart estimates that he has put in around $500 since he bought the motorcycle.

“It’s not real expensive,” Stewart said. He added that his ride needs some attention when he’s getting ready to race.

“I put a set of clutches in last weekend. It’s intensive, it’s constant upkeep and work. It’s pretty cool,” Stewart said.

Stewart feels there are many reasons he got involved in motorcycle racing.

“I love the speed and adrenaline rush you get from (racing). It is phenomenal,” Stewart said.

Despite being foes for just a few seconds on the race course, Stewart said there is a brotherhood of some sorts with his fellow racers when they head back to the pits.

“I love it,” Stewart said. “These guys are great.”

Stewart said the racing at Alien City isn’t just for those with souped up bikes like his.

“Some of the street guys in the crotch rockets come out and they run,” Stewart said. “So, sometimes we have quite a few bikes. I’d say 8 to 15 bikes in a good bracket on a Saturday.”

Stewart said the his bike isn’t a street bike and he feels that the bracket racing at Alien City is safer that racing down the streets of Roswell.

“You’ve got people that watch out for you and take care of you,” Stewart said of the race day personnel. “Out there on the street, it gets a little dangerous. I would say do it here at the strip.”