Roi Holster has two cracked ribs and is still recovering after surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. But none of that is going to stop Holster from competing this week at the MotoAmerica Championship at Sonoma Raceway.
Holster, who makes his home in Napa, knows the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course very well.
“I have a lot of confidence and comfort on this course, because this is where my career started,” Holster, 53, said Tuesday. “The very first time I rode on a race track was at Sonoma Raceway. There’s a comfort in knowing that I live close to there, I started there, and I have a lot of laps around this track. I live 20 minutes away.
“This is really a huge event for us.”
Holster races in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class. The professional motorcycle racing event, which begins Friday and continues on Saturday and Sunday, is the seventh round of the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Championship.
MotoAmerica is a North American motorcycle road racing series that was created in 2014. It’s high-speed motorcycle racing.
It marks the first time the MotoAmerica Series has visited the racetrack, but Sonoma hosted annual AMA events from 1993-2012. AMA Superbike racing at the facility dates back to 1977.
“Sonoma Raceway is one of the most physically demanding and technical tracks in the United States,” said Holster, who is with NapaValleyRacing.com. “It has a lot of elevation changes. It has a lot of turns. It’s very challenging, just because it has a lot of blind corners.
“A lot of the tracks are much more free-flowing, where they don’t have as sharp of corners and not the rise in elevations.”
Five classes of competition comprise MotoAmerica, each featuring some of the fastest and most talented riders in the world. The AMA/FIM-sanctioned event begins on Friday, with practice and qualifying for Superbike, Superstock 1000, Supersport, Superstock 600 and the KTM RC Cup, the dedicated youth-development championship.
This is followed by two full days of racing across all five classes beginning at 8 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The race weekend will also feature fan activities.
Cameron Beaubier of Roseville, Tyler O’Hara of Petaluma, Toni Elias, Josh Hayes, Steve Rapp, Chris Ulrich and Roger Hayden are some of the top riders in the Superbike class.
“Professional motorcycle road racing is part of Sonoma Raceway’s DNA,” Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager, said in a press release. “We have hosted epic events over the years featuring some of the greatest American riders ever to climb on a bike. We’re delighted to host MotoAmerica, and I’m sure Northern California’s motorcycle community will be here to enjoy the event.”
“We’re excited to be going back to Sonoma Raceway because it’s a great racetrack with a long history of Superbike racing,” said MotoAmerica President and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey.
Holster began the 2017 season battling a torn rotator cuff, and experiencing pain, had a difficult start.
He competes on a Yamaha R1 1000 cc motorcycle and after placing 11th last month at the Honda Championship of the Monterey Peninsula at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, is 12th in the MotoAmerica Bazzaz Superstock 1000 standings after six events.
Holster’s racing number is 46. His title sponsor is Jelly Belly.
Napa Ford, Bell Products, Strong & Hayden Real Estate of Napa, Vinoce Vineyards of Napa, Weiss Orthopaedics of Sonoma, Mach 1 Motorsports of Vallejo, Suomy Helmets, AXO Leathers and Racer Gloves are additional sponsors.
“I am very passionate about it,” Holster said. “I’ve been riding motorcycles ever since I was a kid. This is the highest level of racing there is in the United States. There are no faster motorcycles and no better riders than Superbike.
“A lot of it’s mental. Obviously you have to stay in good shape. A lot of controlling the motorcycle and what we do, it’s mental. There’s some parts of if that are just mental that you have to be able to overcome the fear. You have to feel what’s going on between yourself and the ground, which is basically the bike and its tires and its suspension.
“With a motorcycle, you’re able to move around and adjust how the characteristics of the bike handle to the ground.”
Holster raced motocross and arenacross for 15 years. He discovered road racing at Sonoma Raceway by doing a track day in 2008. From there, he began club racing with AFM, earning top novice 600 Superbike in his first year.
He made his pro debut in Supersport in 2010 and finished seventh place overall in Supersport West in 2011.
Holster earned his Superbike license in 2016 after moving up to Daytona Sport Bike.
“Once I started doing track days, it just led to doing the local club races with AFM. And then I qualified for my national license,” said Holster, who retired after 29 years working for Bell Products in Napa.
Jeff Lee, who owns The S Shop in Pacifica, a motorcycle shop, is the crew chief and mechanic for NapaValleyRacing.com.
Riders can reach speeds of upwards of 190 mph, depending on the course and if there are long enough straightaways.
Holster has suffered numerous injuries from crashes in the sport. He has had four knee surgeries and a hip surgery. He has broken both wrists and torn both rotator cuffs.
“The bikes have so much power,” he said. “You try to maximize the quality of the motorcycle, which showcases the talent of the rider.
“It is dangerous, but I think the danger comes in the learning stages. We’re all highly trained.”
Holster is originally from Oakland and graduated in 1983 from Armijo High School in Fairfield.
More information about Holster is at NapaValleyRacing.com.