“The last two weeks since AFM Round 2 seemed to have flown by, and here we are back at the race track for the inaugural round of the California State Championship, this round is hosted by WERA West at Buttonwillow Raceway.
Jason and I were fortunate and extremely grateful to have Sam come down to BW with us to pit for us this weekend. We arrived Friday night around 9:00 and were able to get the pit and bikes set up before Greg and Kyle, who came with Greg to help pit also, showed up a couple hours later. We slotted Greg’s bike into its spot and hung out for a bit before heading off to bed.
Saturday morning we were pleasantly surprised at how smooth registration and tech went. The WERA staff was welcoming and helpful to all the visiting club racers. Thumbs Up! It certainly makes me want to find some time to fit a few more WERA races into my schedule. We had two practice sessions on Saturday morning, then after lunch WERA runs several 20 lap solo races. I have limited track time at BW and seem to always struggle here more than at the other tracks, but I am determined this weekend to get beyond my issues with this track and just ride. I found it was actually easier to do this racing with WERA; the atmosphere was so much more relaxed than at the AFM, it felt more like a track day than a race weekend so I didn’t psych myself out worrying about my race performance. I was able to focus during practice on how my bike was handling and thinking about my riding rather than stressing about what the lap time sheet said, but with only 2 practice sessions I felt like I left something on the table for coming to terms with BW.
Later in the day they ran the 20 lap solo race. If you have ever ridden there you know that in the high speed sections of the track it can be very physical and demanding. Rehab on my shoulder is going well, but the idea of me doing 20 laps at race pace sounded about the same as letting 20 people punch me in a row. Deciding not to run the endurance race was somehow still not an easy decision, but it is the one I made. During the race I watched bikes coming into the pits, make some adjustments and head back out. Some riders came in 4 or 5 times, novel idea using that race as a test session. What’s that they say about hindsight? I had a bit of fun watching Jason finish 5th is his 20 lap solo for a few laps, but during the race we all sat there and debated about how often we needed to tell him he had a huge lead over 6th. I headed out to the wall every few laps to keep myself entertained and gave Jason a big arm spread signal, while Sam & Greg wandered off to chat with other racers and seek some shelter from the sun.
Saturday night we headed over to the main canopy to watch and participate in the CSC rider interviews. Shandra Crawford, organizer of the CSC, had a full production going on under the main canopy. David Kay, my favorite AMA field announcer (besides my husband of course) was here to announce for the CSC and he was doing the rider interviews. Go-Go Gilbranson and Sonny I have the longest last name in the world, were getting it done. I did a couple dry run practice interviews with David before heading up for the interview to be filmed; I really need to get a blooper reel from that night. During the interview a combination of stage fright and David asking me questions that we hadn’t discussed previously, threw me for a loop and I blanked on thanking many of my sponsors. AWKWARD! So to try to make up for it now….
Thank you to theses great people and companies that help me go racing;
Z2 Trackdays, Vanderkitten, Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Soumy, Factory Body Works, Igartua, 4 The Riders, Sidi, Tech Spec, Ink Monkey, Barbara Tadem Leather Repair, GP Frame & Wheel, CRG Levers, Graves Motorsports, Mach 1, and Ken Hill Coaching.
Sunday morning, I was up and ready to head to tech, but I was unsure of how WERA ran Sunday tech. Sam went over to registration to get the details for us. He came back laughing; they don’t require you to register and tech again on Sunday if you did it Saturday. That’s Amaaazing! Hint, hint, AFM. I had plenty of time to get some breakfast and get the bike ready for my two morning practice sessions. I was riding consistent and well in practice but was struggling with some shift points… I tried several different shifting patterns trying to find smoother entries and exits, but no matter what I tried I was stuck turning lap times of 2:11 to 2:12’s. At the end of my 2nd practice I sat down to dig into the novel better known as my notes. I went to a session with Ken Hill, at this track over a year ago and I managed 2:08 lap times. What was I doing different now and why the struggle to go faster? I found a note about a gearing change we had made back then. I still ran that gearing on my bike because I liked it so much. As I continued to read thru some of my other notes from riding various track days between then and now, I a came across another note about changing my rear tire from a 190 to a 180. There were no comments about having changed the gearing back or making any other adjustments when I changed that tire and I had not turned a 2:08 here since that tire change. Hmm, could it be related? I decided to try going back to the gearing I had before, it would put me back at the “typical” gearing that most SV racers run. Sam put the sprocket on for me as I headed over to the riders meeting.
I was up quickly after lunch/riders meeting for Race 2, the Women’s Superstock Expert. I gridded up in position 4 of the 5 women racing the class, Christie Cooley, Marisol Lacour and Shandra Crawford were on the front row of our class (which was row 11, since were gridded up with 3 other WERA classes) I was on row 12 by myself and Krystyna Kubran was gridded a row behind me since she is a Novice in the WERA classes, but she was competing with us for the CSC class. As some know, it seems everything on a SV comes off of something else. My tachometer is no different, it is from a company who designs go-kart lap timers. It has worked well in the past with the exception of its constant and inconvenient need for batteries. Well that all ended at the last round and we have not been able to fix it. This leaves me on the line guessing about my launch RPM. Some can just listen to the bike and know the sound, but with my new earplugs in the sound changed. Overall, the result was not enough gas and a poor launch off the line. My tach is getting replaced or repaired before the next round, even if Jason has to give me his tach. *Smile*
The race was busy due to the multi class grid. Rather that do a wave start, they just left a few rows open between classes, so as Brian Davis would say, “You don’t ass pack the guy in front of you”. After a less than desirable start, my battle came in the way of a guy on a RC51. You can guess how the race went, he passes in the straights and I pass back in the corners. Man I thought I had to wrestle a bike around, those RC51’s are huge and heavy. That guy looked like he was trying to get a grizzly bear to do the tango. 2 laps in a row we had a moment on the front straight, or at least I had a moment as he passed me and then pulled right in front of me. This normally isn’t an issue except he needs to hit the brakes on the Titanic about 200 feet before me and Nikka do. So with him just clearing my wheel and then slamming the brakes on, let us just say I was able to test my reaction time. After the race I made a point to share my frustration with him, not to be a complainer, more for my peace of mind if we happen to race each other again. He was not aware how close he came and said sorry, all conversations should be this easy to have after a race. Thanks again to the Titanic for a good race. P.S. I got my 2:08 back, and my first trophy, a 3rd, yea for me!
To say I had a while before my next race would be an understatement. So with my spare time we talked about lines and braking, relived my last race, and ate some lunch. Finally we were getting close to my race and I was more than ready to best my 2:08 lap times from earlier in the day. Sam had his hands full as he would get Jason out for his race, give him signals, and then hustle back to help me pull my warmers so I could make my race. I like to watch the start of Jason’s race so I can get the timing of the starter, as Jason usually is in the race just before mine. They had signaled there was rain around the track, so watching the first few laps would tell me a lot about the condition of the track. He got a good start and made it through turn 1. Not as much could be said for the novices in the second wave, as the dust settled 3 of them were up and pointing at a 4th who was face down in the dirt. Just then mother nature let us know who the boss was, and turned the sprinklers on high. A red flag flew and we all headed back to the pits. Being that ready to race and have the rain start is the worst... I want to race, but we don’t normally race in the rain. Without practice and a lot of it in the rain, racing is not an option for me just yet.
A frantic loading of the trailer was to follow the red flag. We just managed to save our pit set up as the rain and wind did there best to tear us apart. We left the bikes last to load in hopes that it was just a passing shower. About the time I was splashing through mini rivers in the pits, they announced the last races would have to be cancelled. This was ok with me as my focus is on going faster, not water skiing. So I have a track day Thursday at T-Hill and need to work on some specific things so I can go faster. Ken Hill was nice enough to spend a few minutes advising me on some drills to practice, focusing on my weaknesses. So as much anything, drills on the bike and rehab for the shoulder are in order. I have just about 10 days to make some progress and then we are off to another race. Trophies are pretty cool and I like standing at the table with other racers who had a great day picking up the spoils, yeah I definitely want to get some more this year.
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.