King of the Hill | CHECKERS

Henry Wiles wins 10th-straight Peoria TT

Everyone loves a winning streak. Whether it's California Chrome going for the Triple Crown or Marc Marquez going for his 11th-straight MotoGP victory, we all watch with bated breath, hoping to see history unfold.

Motorsports record books are chock-full of winning streaks, but rare are the ones that last longer than a few races—let alone a few years. A decade? Forget about it. But on August 17, 2014, Henry Wiles did the impossible, winning his 10th-consecutive Peoria TT in Peoria, Illinois.

Just exactly how rare is that feat? Consider that the former “Prince of Peoria,” seven-time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr, could “only” manage eight wins in succession. That was the longest winning streak in the 60-year history of the AMA Grand National Championship, incidentally, until Wiles broke that record in 2013. And then this year extended it.

Winning 10-straight races at a single venue is virtually unheard of in professional motorsports. In MotoGP, Giacomo Agostini holds the record with eight 500cc GP wins in a row at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Similarly, in Formula 1, Michael Schumacher has won eight races in a row at Magny-Cours, France. Even in NASCAR, which visits some tracks twice per season, the record is just seven straight at one venue, shared by Richard Petty at Richmond, Virginia, and Buddy Baker at Bristol, Tennessee. So Wiles is breathing rarefied air.

“King of the Hill” indeed. If Wiles wins again, he’s going to have to take his boots off to count them all…

A Michigan native like so many great dirt trackers before him, Wiles learned to ride at age four and by age five was racing on ice. After racking up a dozen amateur dirt-track titles he made his professional debut at (where else?) Peoria in 2002 and has been one of the top AMA GNC competitors ever since. Now age 30, he excels at the TTs and shorttracks; in fact, he’s tied with (who else?) Carr for all-time wins in both disciplines. But he’s also tasted champagne on the big tracks, winning twice on the big twins on the half miles. So far only victory at a mile has eluded him.

Last year’s record-breaking Peoria win was a nail-biter. Wiles’ Kawasaki KX450F broke in his heat race, so he had to ride his backup bike in the semi-final and start from the third (read: last) row in the main event. “Everyone’s always told me that Nicky Hayden’s come-from-behind win here was maybe the best all time,” Wiles said afterward. “Nicky came from the back and passed for the lead on the last [20th] lap. I did it in 10 laps.”

You don’t normally see a motorcycle this far off the ground anywhere except a motocross track. Henry Wiles “airs it out” over Peoria’s legendary TT jump.

This year, by contrast, was smooth sailing. Wiles qualified fastest, won the Dash for Cash, and then, after a red-flag restart due to a crash by Sammy Halbert, grabbed the holeshot and led from start to finish.

“It feels amazing to be able to win 10 in a row here at the Peoria TT,” Wiles said after the race. “This place means so much to me. The race atmosphere, the fans here are always awesome. If you haven’t seen this race, you’re missing a little piece of American history.”

On the podium, Wiles was given a number plate with a “King of the Hill” decal atop his number 17. On back was written: “Henry, Chris is a Prince, but you are a King.”

That may be true in terms of consecutive wins, but if Wiles really wants to be “King of the Hill,” he still has to top Carr’s record of 13 wins at Peoria. Anyone want to bet he can make it 13 straight?

Looks like we’ll be holding our breath a little longer…

You don’t normally see a motorcycle this far off the ground anywhere except a motocross track. Henry Wiles “airs it out” over Peoria’s legendary TT jump.
“King of the Hill” indeed. If Wiles wins again, he’s going to have to take his boots off to count them all…