A Single Moment
My last 2 rounds of the 2011 season were eventful to say the least. Racing is not a for profit sport, not even a little profit. It can be described as burning money, standing on a bridge and throwing cash into a raging river, or whatever wasteful analogy you can think of. It should be called “taking,” that would seem to be much more appropriate than “racing.” Except it does give something back; the friends you meet at the track are like no other. People aren’t that nice in the regular world, so for amazing friends, thank you racing. Also, there is a moment, however brief and glorious, when you win. For just a few minutes the world revolves around you. If you race, these are your moments. A moment when you know the race is yours, the moment you feel victory, for that moment, that single moment you are the best rider on track. For that moment, an indescribable moment, I must thank racing.
Last month we loaded up and headed to the track. We would forgo Friday practice, money and time are tight these days. Showing up late on Friday, we found a place to pit and started unpacking. Jenn and I would be on our own this weekend. Greg McCullough would be pitting with Cooley and Nikki. Friends are a big part of my racing, and not pitting with Greg was strange. We are still good friends, but he needed to try something new with his program. Jenn and I enjoy pitting close to everyone, but a little space has been good for us too. Like a fine wine, I am an acquired taste so space is good. :) We were kind of centrally located to our core group of friends, so it was nice.
Saturday is the closest thing to a test day I have, although I don’t test much. It is not for a lack of effort, just the opposite. It is all I can do, not to fiddle with the bike and try new stuff. Last year I may have spent too much time playing with the bike. This year Ken Hill advised me to quit messing with things. Yes all the fast guys test, they test any chance they get. Ken was sure that a solid setup and less fiddling, would allow me to work on me. Novel idea, working on the other half of the equation. Strap me to a Moto GP bike and I doubt I would have been any faster. So this is how I spend Saturday now, working on the other half. With my work done, we stood on the wall to watch my wife have a huge breakthrough on Saturday‘s AFemme race. Ever seen Days of Thunder? Well we just had to build her a vocabulary. I will let you read about her story in her report.
Sunday morning and with another late day race schedule, I was bored and entered the early 750SB race. Otherwise, I would not race before 2pm. KFG times would put me on the fourth row and behind a pile of riders. A lap or so into the race I was in third and closing on second as we approached T9. A slight bobble on my part let my front wheel stray just off line, causing me to back out of the throttle and loading my front beyond the limits. Next thing I know several parts of my body were sliding on the ground. I held on as long as possible, hoping to minimize damage. Into the dirt we went in an ugly display of bike and body contortion. After jumping up I moved the bike and waited. Once the race was over, I was able to remount and hug the outside of the track down to T10 and exit out the back door.
Wade Bundy and Joe Hittner got my bike on a stand and Kyle Schirrmacher came over to lend a hand for a few minutes. Jenn was able to get most of the bodywork into a reasonable state and I finished the rest. Sunday afternoon would be some of the toughest races I had run. The bike was not turning left the way it should and was costing me time every lap. I pushed through the rest of the day, bruised and beat up. Round 7 ended with a 4th, 4th, and a 2nd. Not the moments I was looking for.
Fast forward three weeks and we are back for more. Round 8 and same program, show on Friday night, race on Saturday/Sunday. I had a makeup race set for Saturday and I would love to tell you it was a good race, but choosing to run a very old used rear tire would cost me any shot at a win. With talent like we have in the 600/750 classes you cannot afford to make poor decisions, I finished 4th. My day however was brightened by watching my wife bring home her very first win in the AFM. I am extremely proud of her, and she continues to get faster.
My first race on Sunday was a disaster. Results will show a 3rd place finish, leaving me just 3 points behind from winning the championship. To me it felt like it was a last place effort. After the race Tom, my former mechanic showed up and began to talk me off the ledge. In typical fashion, he reassured me about the bike and gave me something else to work on, the other half. It must have been at least a bit funny listening to me babble on about who only knows what. Tom has worked with the fastest guys in the AFM and I consider myself lucky that he shows an interest in my racing.
Race number 7 (750 prod) was mine to loose. Not for the win, but I had a massive gap back to Lenny in the championship points. Finish the race and the championship was pretty much mine. What is available from memory was an ok start from grid spot #1. Lenny edging me out for the holeshot. On his tail section in and out of T2. Then I saw it, a small gap up the inside of 3. I diced up the inside and was able to take the lead. The rest of the lap Lenny was just behind me. On the second lap and coming out of T2, I had a conversation with myself.
Self: Your leading the championship, you don’t need a win.
Self: If you crash, you are handing him the championship.
Self: Can you handle losing the championship going for the win?
Self: I can live with that, now let’s win this (deleted word) race!
At the apex, I knew I wanted the moment more than anything else. I respect the championship, but my goal all season has been to win. Staying the course even in the most difficult of moments, is what makes this win so special. Nobody would have said anything if I sat up and just rolled around for the points. The fact is I chose to race for the win, because that is how good that moment feels to me. I continued to race, watching Jenn give me signals every lap. Then as good as it has ever felt the moment came, as I crossed the checkers in 1st place and with a championship.
My last race was a short one. I crashed in T3 on the first lap after trying to make a pass and realizing I was not close enough to do it safely. I pushed the front beyond the limits and again found myself on the ground. Testing out my brand new suit was not in the cards for the day, but it performed amazingly. Oddly enough I was not angry, not angry at all. I tried to win and fell down. It happens, even to Stoner, Rossi, and Lorenzo. Better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all.
The season wrap up championship wise;
1st 2nd 750 Production
2nd 3rd 600 Superbike
3rd 4th 600 Production
#7 plate #10 plate
Overall points I am second, earning me the number 7 plate.
The Top five plates go to FP riders. 6-10 go to the riders with the most overall points. This year I make 4 trips to the podium and get to thank my sponsors as many times.
First I need to thank my wife. Without your love and support I would not be racing.
Sponsors are a necessity for me to compete. These people and companies have stood behind me, helped me, and win with me. They do this not for the profit or notoriety, but for the love of the sport. For that, I thank each and every one of them. You are the heroes of our sport.
FBI FastBike Ind.
Leo Vince Exhaust
Factory Body Works
Race Image Graphics
PILOT Leathers/Insurrection 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.