I roll up to the 4 box on the outside of the front row, the familiar faces of my Formula AFemme competitors to my left and behind me. The 2 board goes up and I put my visor down and shift into first gear. The 1 board, I roll on the throttle to bring the RPM’s up to ??? Crap. I have no idea how to launch this thing.
You may recall from my last round race report, and my horrible starts, that my tachometer was not working on my SV and I demanded that Jason fix it or I would take his. Well, guess what? Race weekend rolled around and it still hadn’t been fixed, nope, not even looked at… so you know what I did? I took his. True to my word. The only problem was, his tach doesn’t really remove and connect to my SV so I just took the whole bike (well the bike he just finished building as his back-up bike.) *SMILE* I now have a 2009 Yamaha R6… meet “Hasi.”
Unfortunately, in my two days of practice on the new bike I had spent all my time on learning how to ride her around the track and braking, but neglected to figure out how to get a good launch. Sideways….. Green flag! I roll out of the box and get clobbered going into turn one. Ha-ha-ha… I will be practicing starts before the next round, so don’t get used to this. I went back a row and lost touch of the leaders before we had even made it to turn 2. I came over the crest into turn 3A just in time to see Christie tumbling in the dirt as her bike did a break dance off the track… no idea what happened, but I gotta go as the girls were getting away from me. I charge through the carousel and out onto the back straight, what is this on the race line? It’s Shelina rolling down the track and her bike screeching to a stop right at the exit apex. I alter my line to avoid them, and carry on into Turn 7, a tight line with deep braking into the head wind allowed me to hold a pass on the inside. I work my way past Stacy and Beth and soon I realize that I am now in 3rd, a podium spot if I can hold onto it. Down into 9, Lisa Wallace makes a pass on the inside, I try to square her off and get by her on the exit, but miss the drive. I charge through 10 and brake hard into 11. I am able to get inside Lisa and hold the position nose to nose on the exit of 11. The next 6 laps were exhausting and exhilarating as Lisa continued to show me a wheel here and there, I would hard brake into the corners letting the rear tire slide a bit. I even (unintentionally) backed it in to T9, as the tire slid to the left I felt it connect and I turned into the right… it felt so cool. We diced through traffic from the other wave and back markers, I made some tight aggressive passes, sure that Lisa would get held up in the traffic, but each pass by the front straight Jason would give me gap signal letting me know she hadn’t gone anywhere. Lisa pushed me all the way to the finish, we turned consistent 1:57’s through traffic and on the last lap we charged down to a 1:54. Close to my best time on the SV last year. Wow! I think I really like this R6.As I rolled off the track, Lisa and I were greeted by Shawn at the track exit giving us big congrats for a great race. We were both stoked, she had got her best times since she quit racing a few years ago and I had just got my first trophy with the AFM! I rolled back to my pit to see the entire team, my friends and of course my husband there cheering for me.
Over the course of the weekend, many people asked me why I decided to change bikes. This was not an easy decision, I love racing the SV, the bike and the classes are so much fun… but honestly I was struggling with my goals and I had to face the fact that I was not in the same position I was last year before my crash. I am physically weaker, despite all the rehab and working out, my shoulder is severely damaged and 6 months of rehab does not have me at 100%. My bike was put back together after the crash with the best components and any extras I could add to make me more comfortable and more competitive, but the fact is… my suspension settings were gone. At round 2, I started the journey of learning about suspension and getting Nikka handling the way I want, but the process was going to take more time. I had set some pretty big goals for the season and after the first two AFM rounds and the CSC round it was clear to me that I was going to need to go back to the drawing board and revise my plan and my goals. Believe me, this was a tough pill to swallow, it almost feels like giving up. I talked it over at length with each person on my team and even made a call to “Coach Ken” for a different perspective. He helped me work out some of the specifics of my new plan. With just over 2 weeks before round 3, I decided to make the change.I had a track day with Z2 at Thunderhill on Thursday the week before round 3 and I test rode the R6, she was cutting out at high speeds, Jason managed to get the bike to run reasonably well for the TD, but this was not the R6’s full potential. The week of the race Jason made some calls and got me a borrowed Power Commander from Greg Sahnds and, on Thursday, got the bike up to Manny at Leo Vince, who had just received a shipment with a pipe for an R6, it was installed and Manny put a base map on the bike for me to get her in the range. When I arrived at the track Thursday night I was delighted at what Jason was able to do to get my new race bike ready in such short order; new Vortex adjustable rearsets, CRG adjustable levers (for my tiny hands), changed out the gearing and of course the pipe and PC5. All I had to do was put on my Race Image Graphics sponsor stickers that Chris brought down for me. Thanks Jason for all your hard work on my bike! On the agenda before the next round is to get a quick-shifter installed and get her up to Terry at JT&S Performance for the fine tuning to get the most out of her.
For the Sunday races, I signed up for 600 Production (race 2) and 750 Production (race 11). I would be gridded near the back since I had never raced these classes before and had no points, I was actually surprised to see there were a few people behind me still. I must not be the only one making changes or starting fresh at round 3. A good start would sure make improving my finish position a lot easier.
Before Race 2, I hit up Greg and Jason for starting advice. I needed someone to tell me how to launch the R6 so I could get a better jump than yesterday. Jason and Greg are both really good at starts, but funny thing is, they each have a different technique. I had a little time in the hot pits after morning practice to give my starts a try. I did a couple practice starts but they were nothing spectacular, this was going to take work.
I roll into my #36 grid box on the outside of the 9th row for the 600 Prod race. Visor down, bike in gear, clutch engaged, brake on, I roll up the RPM’s above 8000 at least (er, um, on the 650 it was 6000, but with that torquey little bike it was a charger off the line) I was going to have to get the R6 into the RPM’s where she makes power…. I’m rolling the throttle on and next thing ya know the back end starts wagging around a bit. OOPS! I just did a burn out on the start grid. Ha. Damn hooligans! I let up on the throttle just as the 1 board went Sideways… green flag! Ugh, this was even worse than my start yesterday. On the bright side, I noticed 2 things; 1) when you are at the back of the pack they tend to bottleneck up in T1, so I was able to catch up to where I started pretty easily, 2) the 600 racers are not nearly as chaotic as the 650 racers, they tend to hold their line though T1 and T2, so I was able to swing around the outside and into the inside on T2 without worry of someone cutting across the track. I made a few passes within the first lap, (including you Justus, I’m going to wipe the floor with you in the Endurance race. LOL… luv ya) had some back and forth battles with a couple bikes that ultimately got the better of me and turned lap times in the 57’s & 56’s. I did get lapped at the end, Hale got me on the front straight, O’Hara into turn 2 and of course my fast ass husband got me as we headed down into turn 9. Berto took me going into 11, but gave me a follow me signal and helped me stay on track to not give up any positions for my own finish as we crossed the checkers.
Race 11- Sam was on the grid with me, about two rows up and I had been talking smack to him about how I was going to pass him on the start, I had to get a better launch. I rolled on smooth and even as the green flag waved. I got an ok launch, but fortunately Sam went backwards on the start, well not literally, but I rocketed by him… Buh-bye! No way was he going to let me beat him though, he made his way through the traffic and schooled me on how to get through the carousel. I latched on and followed as long as I could, but Sam’s times were dropping and I couldn’t hang on. We’ll see if I can have something for him at Round 4. After that, the race was similar to Race 2, except I managed to avoid being lapped until the end, where only Lenny Hale got by me, around the outside of Turn 10. Honestly, I have been in awe at how well Lenny gets through that section and it was really cool to see him take that line around me for the pass. I learned something new. ;)
The high-light of the weekend for me personally was getting on the podium in AFemme, but more so because I came to the track with a new bike, requiring a completely different riding style and I didn’t let that hold me back from giving it my all. Don’t get me wrong – I gave everyone my disclaimer, “Hey, I’ve only got two days on this bike, so I’m probably going to suck.” But I surprised myself and I didn’t suck… I’d say I did really well.
I am extremely proud of my team as well, it was a very successful weekend for us as a whole. Jason took 3rd in 600 Prod, followed that with a crash out of 750 Superbike, handing 2nd to Greg, who got to celebrate on the lunch time podium. Jason kept his head together & rebounded to take 4th in 600 Superbike and 2nd in 750 Prod. Then Jason loaned his bike to Greg, who had an engine problem and Greg brought home 2nd in Formula 1 on a borrowed bike. David, in all his awesomeness, met his lap time goal for the year and its only round 3! Sam dropped his lap times by 4 seconds. Great weekend. Thanks to the team, Lollipop, Tom and Chris for all the support and a very special thanks to Beth Cunningham for working on my shoulder to keep me racing.
One of the three well-known California road racing clubs; AFM offers a place where you can participate in races, watch as a spectator, or even take part as a turn-worker on the course. There are competition classes for almost all motorcycles; you can race what you own, build a bike specifically for racing, or maybe even pick up a pre-set-up bike through member want ads. Competing in expert club racing can be used to qualify for a pro racing license. Explore the website for further information.
Women race with the men?
Yes, races are structured by bike size. Women race in the same classes as men that have the same sized bike. However, there is a growing interest among women in racing , so many racing clubs have added a women’s class to encourage the ladies to give it a try.
Formed in 2001, SMUSA is now the premier Pro/Am supermoto series in the country. Many of the well known American road racers such as Bobby Fong, Joey Pascarella, Cameron Beaubier, Elena Myers, Tyler O'Hara, Garrett Willis and others all competed in Supermoto USA's Nor Cal Championship where they developed their skills.
PC Dirt Track in Sacramento, Ca holds a series of the oldest and most traditional type of motorcycle racing, flat track - sometimes referred to as “dirt track” racing. A uniquely American type of motorcycle racing. Riders finesse their machines sideways through the turns, just inches apart from each other.
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. The AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. No one who has ever seen an AMA Pro motorcycle race ever forgets it.