This weekend, Cotter, 26, is competing in the 91st annual Loudon Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as part of the Championship Cup Series (CCS). As the longest running motorcycle race in America, the three-day national competition brings racers of all weights and classes together. For Cotter, a graduate of Twin Valley High School, the event will serve as another pit stop on the way to higher goals.
As a rookie last year, Cotter won six races as he climbed the ranks from novice to expert in record time, and began to travel to Virginia and New Jersey to participate and gain more points in the CCS, which is a subsidy of the American Motorcycle Association. This year, Cotter has his sights set on Daytona, FL, and the CCS championship in October.
Cotter began racing on a whim, after bringing his Kawasaki 600 to Loudon for a public track day. “I owned a street motorcycle, and I didn’t want to ride it unsafely on the street,” said Cotter. “They have public track days where you can ride with professional instruction, and ride your motorcycle like it’s made to be ridden in a controlled environment.”
After one day, he fell in love with the sport and continued to attend public days until instructors started taking notice of his talent. After approximately one year of practice, and working for Boston Moto and the Penguin Racing School, Cotter put his wheels down on the track in competition.
“I don’t do it out of some craving for scaring myself,” said Cotter. “I do it because everything feels in control. It’s just a passion, and the most fun I could possibly be having. When I’m at the track I feel like I’m home and whenever I’m not there, it’s what I’m thinking about.”
Cotter has been a motorcycle enthusiast since he can remember, owning his first dirt bike at the age of 6. Now, as a professional, a Kawasaki zx6r 600 inline 4-cylinder has become his life, and if he is not on the track, Cotter is making the constant, and expensive tweaks, repairs, and replacements his bike needs, so he can feel comfortable in competition. This past off-season, Cotter dropped a few grand for a new suspension, and a set of tires can cost $400 while only lasting two races.
“You spend most of your time setting up and adjusting the bike to how it will work best for you,” said Cotter. “If something is wrong, you sometimes feel like you can’t even ride the bike. But if it’s right it’s the best feeling in the world, and you feel totally connected to the motor and to the track.”
If an adjustment is not correct in the chassis or suspension, it can cause minor discomfort, and can cost Cotter up to five seconds, which is can be the difference between a first place and a third place finish.
Last year, Cotter missed the CCS championship in Daytona after suffering a bad, high-side crash, one of six crashes he has had in his career of approximately 75 races. A high-side crash happens when the rear wheel loses traction in a turn. When the wheel regains traction, it catapults the rider into the air. “I remember looking down at my front tire with my feet directly above me,” said Cotter. “It’s a very scary feeling, and yeah, landing hurts, but we wear good protective gear.”
With Daytona still four months away, Cotter believes he will have accrued the amount of points needed to compete. The stakes are higher not only because of the trophy and purse involved, but a good placing could mean more exposure to sponsors, and a place in the AMA racing series next year. Cotter has also teamed up with Northampton, MA, racer Clayson Baker to form Go Fast Racing, and is currently sponsored locally by Degray Construction.
“You have to commit to it like any job, and you have to stay in good shape, and commit the time to the maintenance and upkeep,” said Cotter. “But the best part is the people you meet. Some of the most genuine people you will ever meet are at the racetrack, and you form a brotherhood with these people you race against because you’re all looking out for each other out there. There is no other feeling like racing in this world.”
To find out more about Cotter visit Motogofast.com.