When an incident or altercation occurs at a big event there are many different versions of the same story. Vince Friese was involved in an altercation at the MTA World Two-Stroke Championship. Vince and his family feel that Vince has gotten a bad rap, and Vince wants his side of the story to be heard. Here it is. In the end, the police will make the final decision after hearing both sides of the story.
MXA: Vince, can you start at the beginning and tell us what happened?
Vince: In the first moto, Michael Leib lined up on the inside gate and I lined up right next to him. I knew his bike was quite a bit faster than mine. The start straight at Glen Helen gets narrower and narrower going into Talledega and I knew that if I could get the jump off the gate and get in front of him that I could beat him to the first turn. I also knew he was the next fastest guy out there racing, so I wanted to get out front and get a lead and try to get away so I wouldn't have to deal with a guy with a faster bike up those big hills. I did just that. I got an awesome jump and got out in front of him. He says I cut him off, but I didn't cut him off. I came out of the gate and had the line on him and I beat him to the first turn.
What happened after the first moto?
After that race, four or five people, his dad, a couple of his buddies and his mom came over cussing and screaming at me. I was just just sitting there stunned. I honestly didn't think I did anything wrong. I got the jump on him, but he passed me in the race going up a hill like nothing. I didn't try to take him out, I didn't hit him or anything. We didn't touch each other the whole time, I thought, 'Why are you over here yelling at me?'
What happened on the start line before the second moto?
We went to the line for the next moto, and like anybody, I wanted to win the race. He picked his gate and I picked my gate right next to him. I was going to do the same thing–get the start on him and try to get out in front of him. That was my best shot for being able to beat him. He was killing me up those hills. When I pulled up next to him, someone in his crew starting prepping another gate, then Leib went and moved at the last minute. The rules say that once you have picked a gate and everyone else has started picking their gates you can't switch. But I thought, 'If he can do it I can do it.' So, I walked down there to check it out. His dad and his two buddies that were in his crew stepped in front of me and wouldn't let me go. They said, “You can't come down here.” I said, 'Well, I don't know who you guys are, but I don't think you can tell me where I can and can't go.’ That's pretty much all I said to them. They were making dumb little comments, calling me a loser and stuff like that. A lot of people have talked about me in the past so I'm pretty good at ignoring it. I tried to walk around them one way, tried to walk around them the other way, but there were three people in my face not letting me go anywhere. I said, 'Come on guys, this is getting ridiculous, the race is about to start.' At that point I was just trying to get to my bike because people were firing up their bikes and the race was about to get going. One guy in his crew, who had on a Leib shirt, I think it might have been his mechanic or something, decided to grab onto my helmet on the chin bar. He had my head twisted upside down and I have kind of a bad neck as it is. He was twisting my head and pulling me down to the ground. I thought, 'What is this guy thinking, you can't just pull on my helmet.' I was pulling away from him, just trying to get away from him and get back to my bike. As I was pulling away from him, that created a gap, although he still had a hold of my helmet. Then, he stepped back and kicked me, right where I don't want to be kicked. He kicked me pretty good. That's when I gave it a hard yank with my head, pulled back and swung at him. I think I hit him pretty good. I knocked him down and then he ran off holding his face. I don't know what happened to him, but I thought the guy got what he deserved. You don't just grab onto a guy's helmet and try to twist him down to the ground and not expect anything to happen. At some point I have to stand up for myself a little bit. If it's just crap talking I can ignore it but when someone puts their hand on me it's on. I'd expect anybody to do the same thing. Some people say I did something first, but I definitely didn't. I would never hit somebody first like that at the race track. On the track I'll get aggressive, but off the track I would never punch or hit somebody first. Especially just some guy standing there who isn't in his gear or anything. I'm not that dumb. I would never do anything like that.
Did any track officials get involved before that second moto started?
After that, they stopped the start of the race for a second. They talked to Michael and said, “We're watching you and Friese this race so don't do anything dirty or you'll be disqualified." Then, they said the same to me. I went and raced, and I had the opportunity to clean Leib out, but I didn't do that. I would never do that for no reason. Even though I was a little upset with him at that point for being such a baby about the whole situation, I wasn't going to clean him out. I rode my race and got second. He was a little bit faster than me. He was working me pretty bad up those hills. I think I was a little bit faster on the rest of the track, but he was dropping me pretty bad up those hills.
I came in, did the whole podium thing, got my big check and went to go pick up my normal check and turn in my transponder. That’s when they told me that I was disqualified. The lady at Glen Helen wouldn't even give me an opportunity to hear my side of the story. She wouldn't have it. I tried to say calmly, "Ma'am, what was I supposed to do? I tried to walk away multiple times and they wouldn't allow me to." It didn't make any sense to me. After the incident [before the start of the second moto] they talked to us and allowed me to race, so why were they disqualifying me after the race? That the people in charge are low enough to take money away from somebody who just went out and worked their butt off to earn that money... that's really low of them. Honestly, I was more upset over that than the Leib thing. It was a whole ordeal. There have been times when I have been wrong in situations and I'll own up to it when I know I've done something wrong. That was a situation yesterday where I didn't do anything wrong all day. I was just trying to win, and when someone tried to beat me up I hit him and got him off of me. I think there were a lot of people on the line that saw that I didn't do anything wrong. I was just protecting myself. Other than that I had a great time riding my two-stroke. The race was a lot of fun and I got some good practice in training for the Nationals.