Racing For Research: Speights Goes All Out For ALS

Speights at speed with the ALS Therapy Development Institute logo prominently displayed on the tail section of his Kawasaki for all to see.

Among the 43 riders entered in the Twins Cup class at last weekend’s MotoAmerica Championship of Virginia was Chris Speights, who is a different 43. As in, he is 43 years old. Speights’ age is not that unusual, especially in Twins Cup, but his motivation for racing definitely is.

Speights, whose name rhymes with “eights,” lives in Trumbull, Connecticut, and is an engineer for Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Helicopter Division. He’s been an amateur club racer for the past 13 years and has won club championships both in his home state of California, as well as on the East Coast.

Aboard his #138 SP8S Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650—the only Kawasaki in the 43-bike field at VIR, by the way—Speights competed at VIR in honor of Team Truman, which is named after his neighbor Amy Truman who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2014 and succumbed to the disease in Novemb

er 2018. In the past five years, Team Truman has raised more than $100,000 for the ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI), a non-profit biotech organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Team Truman logos on each side of his Ninja 650 make a statement that Speights was racing at VIR to honor his neighbor and friend Amy Truman.

“I put the Team Truman and ALS TDI logos on my bike to build awareness for the disease and for the great work that Team Truman and the ALS Therapy Development Institute are doing,” Speights said.

He definitely picked a perfect year to jump into the MotoAmerica series and get exposure for Team Truman and ALS TDI. Not only was fan attendance up significantly at VIR but also, the Twins Cup class was streamed on MotoAmerica Live+ as well as on the MotoAmerica Facebook page.

When asked prior to the weekend what his racing goals were for VIR, he said,  “To be honest, I’m pretty sure I won’t be standing on the podium, and I’ll really need to do my best to even qualify for the race, but just getting out on track and being seen is a win,” he said.

Speights underestimated himself because he did a lot more than just qualify for the race. He was 34th in Twins Cup practice, moved up to 32nd in qualifying, and then things really went well in the race as he finished inside the top 20 in 16th position after running as high as 14th in the early going. All in all, it was a heroic effort for Speights as a rider and an even better effort in building awareness for Team Truman and ALS TDI.

Speights is also entered to compete at MotoAmerica round eight at Pittsburgh International Race Complex and round ten at New Jersey Motorsports Park this summer.

Chris Speights’ first-ever MotoAmerica starting grid. He’ll be racing again at Pittsburgh and New Jersey this summer.

In addition to racing in MotoAmerica Twins Cup, Speights will ride a bicycle for Team Truman in the three-day, 270-mile Tri-State Trek, which runs from Boston to Stamford, Connecticut. The event is held every June and over the past 15 years has raised more than $8 million dollars to fund ALS TDI research and treatments.

ALS is not an incurable disease. It is an underfunded one. Tax-deductible donations can be made at