2012 AFM Round 4

I don’t really have the time to write up a full race report, but I really wanted to send out a few thank you’s to everyone who helped me out at the last AFM round:

Dave, Jim and Nickie at Catalyst Reaction for completely redoing my suspension and working with me over the three days to dial in my suspension and geometry. After struggling with setup at the last Thill round where I felt we were just chasing our tail in circles trying to find something that worked, I was both worried and excited coming to Sears for the first time in nearly a year with a completely different setup. Turns out I was right to be excited- we made an amazing amount of progress in a relatively short period of time out on track and I went faster in practice then I ever had before and then faster again still in my races.

K.C. Gager of BRG Racing for helping me wrench on my bike, talk strategy and mentoring me at and away from the track. I can’t really begin to say how lucky and honored I am to have a sponsor like you who invests so much time and effort into my race program.

Matt Lai for bringing me a rear axle Saturday morning after mine decided it had lived a good life and no longer wanted to be apart of my race program. Thanks Matt!

Frank Shermon for letting me strip the radiator off his bike Saturday evening after my bike started overheating.

Ernie Montague for bringing me yet another radiator Sunday when Frank’s turned out to have problems of it’s own.

Chris Maguire and crew at Pirelli…. actually I didn’t buy tires from Chris this round or anything like that that. I ended up just using the same tires I raced on last round for Friday’s trackday, Saturday practice and my three races on Sunday. Put my personal best lap time at Sears on the last lap of the last race on tires with 4 days on them. :teeth


AFM Round 7: Well That Was Fun

KC wasn’t able to make it up this round which was going to suck and not just because it meant I’d be without A/C either- KC has been a great mentor for me all year and it seems I need someone to kick me the pants lately and KC has been more then happy to oblige.

Instead, I stopped by BRG on the way up to the track on Friday and we talked about where I was loosing time and goals I should set for myself. KC said he thought I could do a 2:02 and I think I laughed. I mean, drop 3 seconds in a weekend? Riiiiight. Seemed like a big step at this point. But I’ve learned to listen to KC and so I told him I’d push harder this round in practice and try to build off that in the races. Honestly, I would of been happy with just improving my times at all. Continue reading


AFM Round 6: Progress (Finally!)

So I haven’t done my normal post race writeup’s this year… mostly because I really just wanted to forget the early rounds. I had really high hopes for this year: my first year with white plates, a new motor, new fairings with a pretty paint job. And then I missed the first round with food poisoning and things really didn’t improve that much for the next few rounds.

Anyways, the last round at Sears actually went pretty well with me putting in a series of personal best laps in the last race and so I was looking forward to coming back to Thunderhill. The bike was running great and I’ve always liked the track even if my laptimes (best a 2:06.3) haven’t been anything to brag about in the past.

For round 6 I’d be pitting with KC/BRG Racing again. Having KC available to talk about bike setup, strategy, lines and to basically kick my ass into gear has been nothing but awesome. The fact that his trailer has A/C and the temps were near 100F didn’t hurt either. :) Saturday practice was pretty uneventful, but my laps were as usual for practice pretty crappy. I’ve never been able to do anything close to race pace in practice and I pretty much hit a wall at 2:10. KC and I spent a lot of time talking about lines and what I needed to do to get my laptimes down between practice sessions and so I hoped I could bring my A-game on Sunday for the races.

My first race was 650Twins which all things considered went pretty well since I did a new personal best of 2:05.8 on the last lap and finished 19th, my best so far this year. It was only one lap, but at least I was consistent in the 2:06-7 range and so I hoped to build on that in my next race: 650 Production.

For some reason, I haven’t been getting as good starts this year as I did last, and this race was no different, but at least I was able to get the spot I lost back going into turn 1. I slotted in behind Stephen Smith (#769) who had beaten me in the last race. I had a good run on him down the hill out of T9, but couldn’t quite show him a wheel on the brakes and lost 5 or 6 bike lengths on the exit. I was however a lot stronger in T1 & 2 and thought I had him on the inside going into 3, but he shut the door on me and so I looked for my next chance.

That came at the end of lap 2 as I got a much better drive out of the T13. Stephen was about mid-track so I went to the outside, hoping I could carry more corner speed through 14 and beat him on the exit of 15 for the long front straight. Unfortunately for me, Stephen started to drift over to my line before I could show him a wheel and I had to give way to avoid a collision. I was still able to get a good drive out of 15 and was right on his tail into the first turn. I knew I was able to carry more corner speed through Turn 2 and so I set to pass him on the outside on the exit of 2 and into 3 and was able to make it stick this time. From the last race I knew Stephen would be all over me and so I put my head down and tried to get a little space. Just up ahead I saw a couple of Super Dino’s and I knew I had to get past them as quickly as possible and hope they’d hold him up. I was able to get the first one on the exit of T6 and the other on the exit of T8.

As I came over the hill, I could see two more bikes far in the distance so I took after them and found myself right on their tail a lap later coming out of the esses onto the back straight. I got the Super Dino on the brakes into T14 and caught up to Patrick Murphy (#752) coming out of T1 with two laps left. I followed Patrick for a few turns to get an idea of his lines and found myself getting a much better drive out of T9 and easily passed him before entering 10. With about 1-1/3 laps left, I pushed hard to keep Patrick at bay and finished in 8th place- my best of the year. Even better, I put in my most consistent times ever at Thunderhill with 5 laps in the 2:05-06 range… hardly fast, but at least I was improving and I knew where I was loosing time.

I ended up skipping Formula 4 since I seemed to be suffering from the heat and/or not enough food earlier in the day and it didn’t make sense to go out there and push hard when I’d already made a number of improvements. Spent the rest of the day hanging out, drinking beer and talking to all my friends before packing up for the drive home.


Worse to Better: AFM 2010 Round 6

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


AFM 2010 Round 3

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.


It’s how you finish that matters

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


Baby Steps

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


Round 3 Race Report

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!

Continue reading