I was asked a question this weekend. It was a simple question and it came from an innocent source. My mechanic had his son at the track this weekend. Alex spends his Sunday watching his dad, Mikey, help me and my teammate prepare for racing. At his age you don’t understand everything you see, I was explaining how his dad helps me at the track and the importance of his roll.
Alex: “What’s my dad do?”
Jason: “Your dad gets my bike ready, so I can go out and try to win!”
Alex: “Why do you want to win?”
Without missing a beat he responded to me, why do you want to win? It was an easy answer for me. When you compete against the best riders on the west coast and you prevail on top, its fun! That is how I answered him, three simple words.
Because, its fun!
Winning is not the only time you get to have fun. My team, the other racers, and friends are all fun to hang out with. Saturday practice was not as much fun, though. My need to always do better sometimes leads me down too many paths. Rather than just focusing on my own riding, I tried a major suspension change. Fastbike Industries has taken care of me all year and has made the decisions for me. Saturday with a consultation to FBI, I tried to make changes on my own. He said my setup should be great, but if I was determined to try something new it was ok. I should have just listened to him, but now I know what absolutely does not work on an R6. The last session I reverted to my known good set-up and ta-dah , it worked.
Saturday night we celebrated birthdays and had full on bench racing sessions. You know the ones, where we tell how it was a monsoon outside, 100 racers were on the grid, my tires were bald, the engine was running on 3 cylinders and I still managed to win. After a giant pile of “when I was” stories had been told I went to bed and got some sleep for the final race Sunday of the AFM year.
What makes the last race even a little more tense than it already is for some? RAIN, sure throw in a little rain, because apparently racing for championship points was not hard enough, lets try riding a giant slip and slide. Luckily, the rain stopped the wind picked up and the track dried out. The Oregon riders were more than willing to go dry the track out for us, crazy kids. We were sent out for a shortened practice, after which, I had time to prepare for three of the craziest races in my portfolio.
Race #5, is the 600 super bike race and I am sitting 3rd in the championship with a large point gap to both 2nd and 4th, I am just looking to have some fun and finish the race. We pulled to the line and set the first race butterflies aside. Green, green, green and we are racing. As we crested the hill out of turn one, the black flag came out. It was an early black flag that sent us back to the pits where we would just sit and wait while a bad accident was cleared and the fallen riders treated. After several minutes, we received word that the riders were going to be ok and were called back to grid. I head out for my warm up lap and as I crest the same hill the engine revs to a heart pounding 16,500 RPM, only I am not moving forward any faster. Aaaaargggghhhh, see my round 1 report, because this is the end of my race. I could loose 3rd place in the championship over a clutch. I was forced to pull into the pits and look for another bike to ride. Drama anyone?
Trying not speed, my arms are frantically gesturing the problems I have encountered. My entire team is atop the Motion Pro hauler, except Mikey, who was there to take my bike, as my eyes darted around our pits. I was screaming GIVE ME A BIKE, ANY BIKE. Lucky for me, Greg had his bike on warmers and by chance we gassed his bike when we did mine. I peeled off the front warmer, and as I looked up Shawn had exited from the Motion Pro hauler before anyone else and was already peeling the rear warmer. I got waived to the end of the pit wall just in time to make the grid. So there I was, no warm up lap on my newly stolen bike and with a different set-up than I am used to. Hey, no pressure right? Thanks to Greg for working on my bike after I stole his!
The race went green again and it was not long before I figured out how to move Greg’s R6 around the track.
The last thing you want to do is wreck your teammates bike, wanting to push and do well was balanced by just needing to finish. That was, until Presting passed me, then something just fired up in me. Getting passed like the offering plate at church was not my idea of fun, it was GO time. Knowing a re-pass was in order I looked for an opportunity and took it. Again, he came by and I would pass back. In one lap, it was like 5 passes we made on each other. We were battling bar to bar and having just a ton of fun doing it. We were both examining places to pass or re-pass. It was true racing, making hard passes with determination. I hear we were getting a lot of chatter from the announcers because of the back and forth action. On the last lap my pass stuck and with some good drives I held him off at the line. Nice work Presting, it was my favorite race of the year.
Back in the pits Chris V., our crew chief and owner of Race Image Graphics, was surrounded and assisted by my team as he installed the new clutch pack. I had a few minutes to rest before race #7 and a chance at second overall in 750 production. My race would be one for the overall finish rather than individual race results. My 7 point lead over Neil was more than enough, due to a crash at WSMC a couple weeks earlier he would not be able to race, he was just too beat up to sling his bike around. Neil and I have become friends this year and it sucked not seeing him on the line. Kevin was 22 points behind me and that left me with one task, I would stick to him like glue, worrying less about me and more about what he was doing.
Well, the race started and my clutch was working fine. I tried a few times to pass Kevin, but he had some ferocious defense going on. My heart wanted to race for the position, but my head was screaming just be smart. I pushed several times hoping to make the pass, and almost got my front end sawed off more than once. We came into 14 with my best chance to go by yet, up the inside on the brakes, with my tires almost on the inside curbing, Kevin was going to tighten up his line. Coming from out wide he had that option, but I was out of space and he knew it. He leaned in on me to block my pass, just then my inside peg scraped the ground, rock meet hard place, hard place the meet rock! I was sure we were both about to slide across the ground, my mind immediately started telling my heart, look what you have gotten us into. My heart had little to say, as it was currently visiting my stomach. My Pirelli tires did there job and held me up as we exited the turn. As we went down the straight, my mind had a one way conversation with my heart and its desire to beat Kevin. I rode close to Kevin for the last few laps thinking of the long term goals. A solid finish would net me 2nd overall. On the plus side of things, my seat is attached to my bike better than I thought because it was not permanently mounted to me as I got off the bike at the end of the race.
With all of my serious races aside, it was time to just have some fun. Race 12 and 600 production. The start was good and Berto rode like a man possessed. As we headed towards T5, with me currently nestled in 4th position, Berto and Tyler were having a war over 2nd. Berto had just passed Tyler in T4 and they went side by side into a very tight T5. As I crested the hill, my eyes got very big and avoiding flying debris was my new goal. Berto’s bike bounced down the steep T5 hill as I raced to pass the bike. Parts were everywhere and a red flag came to mind. Could they clean it up before we come around again? Well, race like hell and see, they may not stop this thing. The next lap and no red flag, although I just about visited the same spot as the front end of my bike tucked; my knee hit the ground, then the peg, then a quick dirt bike step with my left foot lifted the bike back on two wheels. One lap later and the red flag flew. As I crested the hill looking for Berto, Lenny Hale was there picking up his bike. Both riders were down and a question of oil on track stopped the race. Berto jumped on the back of my bike and we got him back to the pits for the restart.
Restart we did, and we continued our battles around the track. Sebastio chased me down and passed me near the end of the race, while I was busy trying to pass Berto. Not willing to give away spots like lotto tickets at the local gas and splash, my focus turned to passing him back. We had some more tight racing and at the end of the day, I had passed one rider, but not both. Fourth place again. A lack of trophies made the weekend feel weird, almost not complete. I was faster than it showed today, but I made a plan to focus on overall finishes and stuck with it. My year can be summed up with just 4 lines;
2nd place California State Championship 600 Superbike Overall
2nd place AFM 750 Production Overall
3rd place AFM 600 Superbike Overall
Earned the #10 Plate for the AFM Overall
More than all of that, I met and raced against incredible people. I also learned things about character, perseverance, and teamwork. Thank you very much to all of my sponsors, team, and supporters. I hope we made you proud to be a part of our program and will work to improve for next year.
Last race start of the season 4theriders.com
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Z2 Trackdays Staff, Z2 Race Team, Yamaha, David at Fastbikes Ind., Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Helimot, Suomy, Factory Body Works , Igartua, 4 The Riders, Sidi, Tech Spec, Ink Monkey, GP Frame & Wheel, CRG Levers, Graves Motorsports, Mach 1, and Ken Hill Coaching.
600 Superbike - started 3rd, finished 5th
750 Production - started 2nd, finished 4th
600 Production - started 4th, finished 4th
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.