I remember the yearly trip to the Houston Astrodome for the nationals. We would get there early for my favorite part: walking through the pits. All the racers I worshipped in the magazines were there. My hero was Mert Lawwill, and I’ll never forget watching him prepare for qualifying. I studied the way he moved, the way he talked, looking for any clue of what made him so fast. I watched the way he cut the tire tread with a razor blade. I couldn’t remember the capital cities of the United States, much to my teacher’s dismay, but just ask me the top 25 AMA professionals and which bikes they rode.