Dan Knowels

Dan Knowels

First-year Expert racer Dan’l Knowles finished 16th in the 600cc Sportbike race at Portland on a Ducati 748 despite riding with only one working arm. After losing the use of his left arm in a street bike crash in 1997, 27-year-old Knowles started road racing with the Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association in 2000 and turned Expert in 2002. "I’m really good at SIR (Seattle International Raceway, a.k.a. Pacific Raceways)," said Knowles. "I can go out and turn 1:38s with no problem. This is my first year as an Expert, and I usually finish top 10. I’ve had some fourths. I’ve never podiumed yet. I’ve done a lot of crashing this year, too, trying to get everything sorted out. It’s been a hard year for me." With his left arm secured inside of his leathers by a custom-made harness, Knowles struggled at Portland International Raceway. "I come down here, I’ve never been here, it’s a right-hand track, I’m hanging on with just my leg, it’s really physical. It's taking some time."

Knowles has developed his own technique of steering his motorcycle. "I push and pull (on the right clip-on). I also kind of twist the bike between my legs on a left-hand turn. I try and twist the bike back, too. It’s kind of weird. I try and push really low on the fairing with my leg and shove high on the gas tank and try to get it to twist. Then you instigate it all at the same time and the bike drops in. So I have to be a little more physical with it." What about people arguing over body steering versus counter steering? "I read (those articles in) Roadracing World thinking, you’re both a bunch of morons. You’re both right. Quit arguing about it. Go out and ride."

Knowles’ bike has few modifications to help him ride it. "I have a thumb brake for the rear brake on the right handlebar, and I clutch with the rear brake pedal. Everything else is the same, pretty much. I actually set it all up. Any bike with a hydraulic clutch, it takes me about seven minutes (to set up the rear pedal clutch). GP Suspension has had to work a lot with me to get the bike to really work well. We’re still working on it because this is really my first year out riding in the Pros and stuff. It’s a lot of work getting up to this level. I get a lot of help. My brother helps me a lot. Beaudry Motorsports helps me a lot, too. Adrenaline Freaks Track Day Excursions, they do a lot for me also. WMRRA’s behind me the whole way. I haven’t had to buy a lot of tires this year. Everybody gives me (take-off) tires. So it’s cool." In between races, Knowles is a student working on his Engineering Transfer degree at Shoreline Community College in his home town of Woodinville, Washington.

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