I didn’t do race reports for the last two rounds at Thunderhill because frankly I just wanted to forget them. Even though I put in personal best times at round 4, dropping 4 seconds from last year, I was disappointed with my results where anything but top novice in 650P just isn’t good enough. But then round 5 was just a complete disaster- I never made it out on track due to an engine failure. I thought the noise from my engine was a cam-chain issue (which I thought was fixed Friday night at the track), but the ride to the hot-pits was enough to dissuade me of that notion and so I took it to BRG Racing. KC listened to my description and then the bike and with a long face told me to just push it into his truck. Continue reading
Rounds 1 & 2 were a bit more difficult then I was hoping for so I was really looking forward to round 3 and a change of luck. That almost didn’t happen as I crashed on cold tires during a Keigwins track day just a week before the race. I escaped without a bruise thanks to my Helimot leathers, but the bike took quite a bit of damage and it was a big rush to get everything squared away in time for the weekend. A couple of long nights working on the bike and lots of help from BRG Racing and I was good to go just in time.
Friday evening Eric and I had a wedding to go to in San Jose, so we didn’t get to bed until around midnight in our hotel in Novato. We both fell to sleep right away, only to be awoken at 3:30am when the TV in the room was apparently possessed by an evil spirit and magically turned on. WTF? Mostly asleep and confused I finally found the power button in the dark and went back to sleep. 6am came far too early.
Practice went well. Jeff & Craig with Viets Performance loaned me a set of tire warmers since mine were on backorder and I was able to immediately put in some decent laps right from the first session. I was pretty happy that my crash just a few days ago didn’t get into my head and affect my riding. Like most, I spent the day trying to come to grips with the intense wind which really affected where I could brake into turns. While my times weren’t anything to brag about, they were at least very consistent and I knew in the races I’d naturally drop a couple of seconds so I felt good. For the first time, no saturday races for me, so I was able to relax with a beer and enjoy watching the Clubman/Formula 40 races in the afternoon.
Sunday was another beautiful day in Sonoma- a little warmer then Saturday, but still very windy. I was race 9 (650 Twins) and 12 (650 Production) so I had a long break between morning practice and my races.
It seemed to take forever for them to call 650 Twins after Formula Pacific and I was worried that I might of missed the call. I finally heard the call and went out for my warm up lap and got gridded. I got a nice start and ended up having a great battle with Jason Baumbach #516 for most of the race. Jason took me into 9 and I got him right back in 11. A lap or two later Jason gets me back and I stay on his rear tire trying to find where I’m stronger to make another pass. Jason seems to be getting off the corners a little better then I am, but I’m stronger on the brakes. After 6 laps though, I’m suffering from a cramped right hand and arm pump and I’m struggling to keep up. I try a couple of times to make an inside pass in 4, but Jason shuts always the door.
By the last lap I realize I don’t have the pace to pass him back and foolishly take it a little easy going into Turn 7 on the last lap only to find Pat Clar #758 sneak pass me on the inside on the brakes. Where did he come from? I tried to get Pat back in turn 9, but he was strong on the brakes and I ended up finishing 21st- my best finish ever in the class, but I wasn’t happy about loosing a place at the end… something to remember I guess.
The break between races allowed me to physically recover and get ready for 650 Production. Not nearly as good of a start this time and I find myself in 7th position behind Alan Cunningham #368. Alan had about 1 second lead on me and I spend the first half of the race trying to close the gap. By lap 4 I’ve closed the gap and I know Alan is about 2 seconds faster then I am, so he’s just gotta be taking it a little easy because he doesn’t know I’m right on his rear wheel. If I pass him right away, he’ll have plenty of time to find a way back around me and will probably just check out. However, I don’t know if someone else has snuck behind me and is lining me up for a pass like last race, so when I see an opening on the inside of Turn 11 I go for it without hesitation.
Alan and I cross and end up drag racing down the front straight, but as I learned from Ernie last round, since I’ve got the inside line, Alan will have to brake first and I’ll be able to make the pass in Turn 1. Alan broke a little later then I was expecting, but I was still able to make a nice clean pass in 1. :)
Now that I’m ahead, I concentrate on getting a good drive out of 2 and the try to keep Alan behind me. Things are going pretty well until Turn 11 when I brake too late, bottom out the forks and end up going way wide and let Alan through. l quickly recover and try to close the gap, but as I exit Turn 2, the rear spins up and steps out. It happens again at the top of 3a and I realize that my rear tire has reached the end of it’s lifespan and I don’t have a prayer of keeping up with Alan who has dropped the hammer and is beginning to check out. I check my six to make sure nobody has snuck up on me again and concentrate on bring it back shiny side up for the last two laps. I finish in 7th place: Top Novice.
Overall, another great weekend. First time this year I didn’t spend hours wrenching on the bike and could just concentrate on my riding and having fun. I can’t wait for round 4 at Thunderhill!
Big thanks to:
– BRG Racing for so quickly fixing my bike after my crash last week. KC and the gang always come up big for me.
– Viets Performance for loaning me a set of tire warmers for the weekend.
– My buddy Eric for once again spending his weekend at the track with me and lending his support, advice and skills.
This being my very first year racing, I started this year with a simple goal- finish in the top 50% in 650 Production. I honestly didn’t know how realistic that would be- how many people would run in the class and how fast would they be? The good news was that after 6 rounds, I had points in 3 races (two DNS’s due to mechanicals and skipping the first round at Buttonwillow) which put me in the top 50% and with a two point lead for top novice in class. The bad news was that my motor was toast and I didn’t have the money/time to fix it before the last round. Continue reading
So a couple of days ago a dark cloud started following me- literally (on twitter). Why? Well probably because my race bike’s motor just got diagnosed with TCMS (Ton of Crap in Motor Syndrome). At this stage of the game, it would normally be game over- my season finished. Kaput. Done. Over. Continue reading
I never like waking up early in the morning and going to Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway means I’m up at 4:30am on Friday. Ugh. Eric and I climbed into the truck and headed out on the road and got to the track just before 7am. We had plenty of time to unload the truck, hit registration and riders meeting and get a new rear tire from Chris at CT Racing/Pirelli. Continue reading
Another AFM round down, 3 more to go. I’m happy to report I came out relatively unscathed (a poked thumb and burnt finger due to playing unsafely with safety wire (oh the irony) and my left big toe hurts like hell from banging in my down shifts… time to finally get new boots I think. My muscles ache from not going to the gym in months, but my back which has been giving me problems lately feels great. With the important stuff out of the way, here’s how things went: Continue reading
Just got back from a great round 3 at Sears Point. My buddy Eric joined me again which was great since he could help me with any bike issues and he’s a great sounding board for working through my challenges out on track.
After having such a difficult first racing experience the last round, I came in with some simple goals:
- Ride the bike more then wrenching on it
- Improve my lap times
- Don’t finish last!
After my first ever race weekend I was hoping to write about the race experience- the adrenaline coursing through my veins just as the green flag drops, the rush as we go through turn 1 and up the hill into turn 2 on the first lap, the passes for position and the inevitable success or failure at the end. What kind of start would I get? How much would my inexperience at Sears Point affect my riding? Would the red mist push me to the edge or over it?
Instead, this post is about people. Old friends and new ones who bent over backwards and relentlessly worked for 3 days to get me out on track and be able to race. Continue reading