Ben Bostrom had an interesting early career in racing. He won the 1998 AMA Superbike title on a *factory supplied RC45 Honda (which he hated, but that’s another story) without ever having won a Superbike race. At the same time he found himself no longer welcome at Honda–championship be damned–due to a dispute Honda had with Bostrom’s then manager. Honda loved Bostrom; they sent him to the Suzuka 8 Hours on a good team and were making big plans for him but it all ended in tears for him at Honda due to circumstances mostly out of Benny 155’s control.
Bostrom took the Superbike number one plate to Vance and Hines Ducati for 1999. Then basically, in his first-ever ride on the Ducati Superbike, his tire failed on the banking during the December 1998 tire test at Daytona. His hand and wrist mangled, Bostrom had to sit in the Halifax hospital for several weeks after the crash. Like any rider, his inability to be cooped up anywhere began to depress him. It was at about this moment that a charming and attractive young nurse entered Bostrom’s hospital room and quickly removed all her clothes. No, you read that correctly dear reader, she walked into the room and removed all of her clothes. Later in his career strange women disrobing in front of Ben wasn’t rare, but this time Kawasaki team boss Rob Muzzy had hired a local exotic dancer to dress as a nurse and strip in Bostrom’s room. This event was received pretty well by Bostrom, but not so much by his girlfriend who also sat in the room and watched while the woman disrobed.
“She looked legit like a nurse but that she was carrying a boom-box should have warned us,” Ben remembers.
Anyway, Bostrom spent the off-season having skin grafts on his hand and trying to train. He found success on the Ducati at the Laguna Seca WSBK races in July–beating the Ducati factory riders in a World Championship event–but he had still not won an AMA Superbike race.
That ended on August of 1999 when Bostrom won the AMA Superbike race at Brainerd, beating Mat Mladin and Bostrom’s then teammate, Anthony Gobert.
As with many things Ben during this period, his first domestic Superbike win had a strange episode. Racer Kurtis Roberts saw Bostrom leaving the post-race press conference at Brainerd and also saw that the Brainerd infield concessions stand lay between Bostrom and the Vance and Hines trailer. “Come on,” Roberts told Bostrom, “I’ll buy you an ice cream cone.” They headed to the food stand and Kurtis announced that he wanted to buy his friend, Ben Bostrom, the biggest ice cream cone they could make.
Brainerd’s food stand workers were affectionately known as “Carnies” after the seedy carnival workers of the past. But Brainerd’s carnies were very Brainerd in their eccentricity. They were not really anything you’d find in a story about Lake Woebegone; most were actually from Russia and spoke only basic English.
They dismissed Bostrom, his entourage and Kurtis Roberts quickly and coldly. “WE’RE CLOSED.” The race had just ended. We’re not making any more anything.
Hey, this guy just won the Superbike race, Kurtis Roberts explained, it’s his first win in America and can’t you please just make him an ice cream come? Roberts pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket.
The Brainerd carnies were unimpressed. “NO. WE’RE CLOSED.”
Kurtis was ready to fight it out with the male carnie but Bostrom just took this latest odd incident in stride, put his arm around Roberts and walked him back to the trailer to celebrate.
* This story originally stated Ben Bostrom rode a back-door Honda RC45 when in reality he rode for the US factory Honda/HRC team. This error is as a result of mind–body duality.