Ben Spies confessed at Infineon Raceway, that he was unaware, as the weekend opened, that winning two races would equal Miguel DuHamel's decade-old Superbike win streak of six in a row. His statistical oversight might seem to imply that Spies isn't much of a history buff when it comes to American racing, but that's hardly the case. The Infineon weekend was an important one to Spiesnot because he would go on to equal DuHamel's win record, but because he finally met one of the historic heroes of the sport, racer Gary Nixon.
"I was signing autographs with a bunch of fans around me when an arm came at me and I shook it," Spies recalls. "I looked at the guy and he was already pulling away to walk off. As I turned my head back down, I then realized whose hand I had just shook. It took me a second to put it together. I was like 'Oh my God, that was Gary Nixon!' I just dropped everything and went after him. I was like, 'Find my mom. Tell her to bring the camera'."
"I grew up hearing Gary Nixon stories," Spies says. "The guy is just a legend; racing hard, winning championships, being injured, racing with injuries, you know, all the stories everyone has probably heard. He's the man!" Spies and Nixon did stop and chat for a few minutes at Infineon, where the former two-time Grand National champion was putting in a PR appearance for Kawasaki. When the pair shook hands it was like two eras meeting for the first timeSpies was born in 1983four years after Nixon retired from racing.
Nixon, who rode for Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, BSA and, of course, Triumph in his long career has a cozy relationship with TexasSpies' home state: He grew up in semi-nearby Oklahoma, and won the very first Houston Astrodome dirt track race (think modern-day Supercross event-wise) ever held.