2012 Season in Review

It’s been a few weeks now so I’ve had time to digest the 2012 AFM season.

Things definitely started on the wrong foot with the first race of the season being cancelled due to weather conditions. That left six races for the season- four at Thunderhill and two at Sonoma Raceway (aka Infineon, aka Sears Point). I had worked a fair bit on my fitness and mental preparation in the offseason and it definitely showed in my riding- I was much more consistent and my practice times were finally only a second or two off of my race times which really helped me with bike setup and consistency and confidence in my races.

That said, not everything went as planned. Halfway through the season at a trackday at Thunderhill, I started having problems with the transmission in my bike- specifically, the bike would jump down a gear under high load. Thanks to KC at BRG Racing I was able to get a “new” (meaning well used) motor in my bike just in time to make the next round. After talking with KC during the race weekend I realized that all this time I had been “doing it wrong” on downshifts and not blipping the throttle. Well at least we now knew what caused the transmission to start having problems after a year and a half. The problem was that I had tried to learn to blip the throttle a long time ago and just couldn’t seem to make it work at all. I talked to KC about it and the mechanics of body position, braking hard and blipping all at once and we quickly realized that I needed to change a few things and so I spent the rest of Saturday practice that weekend re-learning how to downshift.

Turned out I learned how to properly blip the throttle much quicker then I had hoped for and ended up having a good race weekend even though the high humidity was causing a lot of problems with the jetting and we were way way down on power. The next round was at Sonoma Raceway which started off badly when my front Woodcraft tire warmer stopped working due to a sliced wire (my fault) and I ended up sliding on my back at the top of Turn 3a on my out-lap on the last session of the day on Friday. We ended up getting the bike put back together late Saturday morning and ended up finishing the weekend in high spirits even though I had a hard set of races due to arm pump. I really want to thank Paolo at For The Track for lending me a front tire warmer for the races so that I didn’t have to go out on cold tires and Jose for giving me a replacement rear master so I could pass tech.

Thanks to Woodcraft’s great customer service, I got my tire warmer fixed in time for the final race of the year at Thunderhill. Unfortunately, I knew this spare motor I was running was way down on power and Thill being a horsepower track that left me at a much bigger disadvantage then at Sears.

Things didn’t really start out that well in my first race because the bike jumped out of gear twice during the race. Honestly, at this point I was ready to give up because I didn’t trust my equipment, but everyone on the team rallyed around me and helped motivate me to go out again. During the warmup lap I pushed the transmission hard to see if it would happen again and it seemed OK, so I decided to go for it.

My last race of the season was Formula IV which is dominated by guys on SV650 “superbikes” with GSXR front ends and even a guy racing a de-stroked Ducati 749 which people estimate makes almost 100HP. My poor bike with it’s hand-me-down old motor was dyno’d at 56HP after tuning and seemed to have a inconsistent gearbox problem. To say I’m not competitive is an understatement. But the transmission held up perfectly and I was able to find something extra in that race and have a good battle with Jason Vestri (#770) for almost the entire race. Looking back, I know I would of beat him to the line on the last lap had my rear tire not gone off (I had decided to go with a warm well used tire rather then a newer cold tire for the race), but woulda, coulda, shoulda- we’ll never know.

This was another hard year, between a rain out, getting taken out at one of the fastest corners and mechanical issues but I left with a real sense of accomplishment in that I know I really improved as a racer and even with all the ups and downs really enjoyed the year. But I also have come to the conclusion that it no longer makes sense to race without really competitive machinery (my ’99 SV650 will never be truly competitive with the EFI second gen SV’s which dominate the 650 Production class) and so I’ve decided to come back next year with a much better bike which should be able to compete up front of 650Twins and Formula IV. No more excuses, now it’ll all be on me!

Finally, I’d like to thank:

  • KC and everyone at BRG Racing for building my motor, general mechanical support and all the mentorship throughout the year. KC’s love for the sport is infectious and he’s taught me a lot. You guys rock!
  • Chris and the gang at CT Racing/Pirelli for hooking me up with those great Pirelli tires and the awesome service!
  • Jim and Nickie at Catalyst Reaction and Dave at Feel The Track for handling all my suspension needs this year. You guys have always been there for me and made me feel like your most important customer time and time again!
  • Helmut and Linda at Helimot for making the best fitting and safest leathers and gloves. I’ve been taken out, knocked off, run off and just plain rode over my head and each time your stuff has kept me safe!
  • Jeff and Lance at Viets Performance for always hooking me up with parts at great prices so quickly. Knowing I can always count on you guys to get me the parts I need when I need them makes things a lot less stressful!
  • Gerry at GP Frame & Wheel for keeping my bike straight when bad things happen
  • All the AFM staff and turn workers who make each race weekend possible. Without your efforts there would not be an AFM!
  • And last but not least my wife Wendy, who supports me every day and my crazy hobby of being a club motorcycle racer. I love you!

Looking forward to next year!

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