Local bikers raise thousands for Martina

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2005

To start off a motorcycle race, one only needs to hold a flag in the air, wait 10 seconds, and drop it.

Piece of cake, right? Well, Sunday afternoon at the Ivor racing track, Martina Natoli found out how tough it can be. The former Forest Glen Middle student, who now lives in Virginia Beach, started off every race – and just after dropping the flag, she had to scurry away from the track and hide behind a truck, just in case one of the roaring two-wheelers went haywire and delved into the audience.

At first, she was a little wary.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I’ve never been to a race like this,&uot; she said. &uot;It was nerve-wracking, seeing all the bikes go past.&uot;

But that didn’t last.

&uot;I’m used to them passing by now,&uot; she said after kicking off the last batch of races. &uot;I knew they weren’t going to hit me.&uot;

After all, why should Martina have been afraid? When you’re battling cystic fibrosis, a couple of bikes are a piece of cake.

In her honor, the Virginia Championship Hare Scramble Association turned its Tidewater 100 race into a fundraiser for the 13-year-old, who’s in need of a double lung transplant. By the day’s end, $5,000 had been raised.

&uot;Thank you for supporting me through this,&uot; said Martina to the crowd. &uot;Thank you all very much.&uot;

Before finishing fourth in the Super Mini-Women race, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy student Sarah Baldwin dropped her $6 allowance into Martina’s fund.

&uot;She needs some help, and I think the racing series could get her some money,&uot; Sarah said. &uot;I felt like this was a good cause.&uot;

Signing a beach ball along with the rest of the racers, Windsor Elementary student Tabitha Butler wondered what it would be like to be in Martina’s position.

&uot;I hope people would do this for me,&uot; she said. &uot;It would make me really happy. I just met Martina today, and she seems really nice.&uot;

On the track, Suffolkians Kyle Honeycutt and Jason Greer got the top spots in their respective divisions; Honeycutt’s Super-Mini win pushed him to the front of the pack, with nine races to go in the season. Greer continued his dominance in AA racing, piloting his Yamaha to first, as he has in all six of his races this season.

&uot;You have to be fit to race,&uot; said Honeycutt, whose sister Kelsey was sixth in the Super Mini-Women event. &uot;You have to concentrate and focus on the race and nothing else. It was hot and dusty out there, but it was all right.&uot;

&uot;This is more or less my home crowd,&uot; said Greer, the only racer in state history to win more than 70 races. &uot;You do something active everyday (while you’re training), whether it’s running, mountain biking or racing.&uot;