TIMONIUM - Born and raised in a motorcycle environment, Greg Boutwell of Hampstead has been racing most of his life.
At age 37, Boutwell has raced many types of motorcycle events and does not plan to slow down. Two weeks ago, he finished the 1990 season at the annual Indoor Short Track Series in the Cow Palace at the State Fairgrounds in this Baltimore County community.
Whenever he can, Boutwell races. He starts the season outdoors in motocross competition and in October moves indoors for five weeks. The final night of this year's five-race indoor series was two weeks ago.
Indoor racing is intense and competitive but fun. The track is tight, flat and hard -- concrete to be exact -- which means it can be slippery.
It's not unusual to see riders crash into each other going for the lead.
The oval track is less than one-tenth of a mile and has tires on the inside of the turns and plywood boards on the outside of straightaways. The walls often are pounded by flying bikes and their riders.
Attendance has increased each year, and it was standing-room only on the final night. Fans return after watching one event and gradually become fans of riders like Boutwell.
Boutwell, one of the veterans at Timonium, has always enjoyed the indoor competition. He races a Honda MX360 in the 360 cubic centimeter class and has always been a top finisher.
He is easy to spot. He looks like a hippie from the 1960s, with a long red ponytail coming out from under his helmet and hanging over his flashy gray and pink suit. When the green flag drops, Bout-well is one of the best on two wheels in his class.
His performance in the fifth and final night of indoor competi-tion started out with a good run in time trials that put him on the pole for his heat.
Boutwell took advantage of the pole and muscled his way against eight other riders to the front at the start of the six-lap heat.
While he made it to the front, some of the other riders went sprawling across the floor behind him. (Indoor races are not stopped for accidents, but the corner flagman holds out the yellow near the accident scene as riders weave through debris.) Boutwell drove a flawless heat and ended with a comfortable win. But his season ended in the feature race when his motor blew out while running third.
The blown motor led to his second DNF (did not finish) race this year; a sprained ankle had put him out of an earlier race. Because of the motor, Boutwell lost several points in the final standings; he ended in fifth place.
Last year, Boutwell had his best career finish in indoor competition, winning the last event of the season and barely missing third place overall.
Boutwell started motocross racing when he was 12 on a course near Randallstown. His father took him every week, which was natural because the elder Boutwell was a professional racer.
"He taught me a lot," Boutwell said of his father. "A lot more than he thinks he did. Most of all, he taught me to have respect for the motorcycle."
Boutwell races mostly motocross and scrambles racing. He was never big on flat track racing but has raced at the now-defunct Dorsey Speedway in Howard County and Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa. He rode flat tracks and motocross professionally from 1972 to 1975.
"I had moderate success," he recalled. "I didn't care to do the traveling, and I was still in school at the time. I made it up to Junior Novice for flat track and motocross racing, but that was as far as I went.
It became a little expensive, time-consuming and I had other things to do."
Boutwell has always been a successful rider in both indoor and outdoor competition. He was the No. 1 rider in Scrambles competition for District 7 (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) in 1972. He was the No. 1 rider in open-class motocross in 1976 and No. 1 in the senior motocross in 1984. One year, Boutwell raced with sidecars and finished third overall.
This year, he has been mostly motocrossing. He finished second overall in the District 7 points race.
The high point of the season came when he won the Medalist Race and finished second overall at the Annual Blue-Grey Moto-Cross at Aquasco Raceway in Southern Maryland.
Like everyone who races motorcycles, Boutwell has had his share of injuries.
"I've had a few," he said. "I've broken a leg, collarbone, arm, ankle, fingers. One time I broke an arm and a leg at the same time motocrossing."
But his most serious accident, 10 years ago, came not when racing but while motorcycling on the highway.
He wrecked on his way to work when he spun out going around a turn and crashed into a guardrail. He ended up in the Maryland Shock Trauma Unit at University Hospital in Baltimore with broken ribs and collapsed lungs.
"But I was wearing a helmet, and that's why I am here," he emphasized.
Despite the near-fatal accident, Boutwell continues to ride to work in Rosedale, Baltimore County, where he works as a motorcycle mechanic for Cycle World Honda-Suzuki.
Boutwell is sponsored by Jerry Casciero and Paul Krummel of East Coast Performance. His wife, Kathy, and daughters, Emily, 2, and Amanda, 5, travel with him to most of the races.
Motorcycle racing is in Greg Boutwell's blood. For 25 years he has been racing motorcycles. Don't be surprised if he races another 25 years.