"You take a crash, you get back up and next time you succeed and that's a great feeling." - Shaun White
Sunday night, I woke with a jolt as his legs slid across the track in front of my bike, the bits of the scene I could remember, played over and again in my head. The hospital was quite… well, except for the weird, techno chanting coming from my roommate.
For AFM round 6 we were back at Sonoma Raceway and I was eager to see how I would do in the 600 classes now that we were at a different track. My lap times had been dropping tremendously over the last few rounds, and I couldn't help but wonder if that was partly to do with racing at THill for 3 rounds in a row… was I becoming one track specialist?
Saturday morning practice was not very reassuring, as I was way off the pace. My anxiety grew and I wanted to blame something (ha!), so I headed over to KFG to ask Barry about my set-up. "It's a different track, shouldn't I change something?" He asked if the bike had any handling problems, the only issue I had was that the bike felt light on the front, like it wanted to wheelie out of every corner. We talked a little about set-up and the effect of the cool morning air and without any changes I practiced a few more sessions, but now with a plan of what I should pay attention to in the handling of my bike and how I was riding it. After lunch we made a small adjustment to the rear pre-load and I headed back out for the last couple practice sessions. I was able to match my previous best lap times at Sonoma, but so far I was not down to the lap times needed to finish within the top 10 of the 600 classes.
Saturday afternoon’s AFemme race was interesting, I still needed to find the pace to run with Joy. If I couldn't beat her today our positions in the AFemme championship would be decided.
I didn't get a great launch on the start; Joy got the holeshot and the young gun from the northwest, Mackenzie Ancien, pulled ahead me. As I was looking for a way past Mac, Joy started to pull away. On the last left exiting the 8's Mac's bike stepped and tried to buck her off, I stayed on line to the inside, but Mac was still working to get her bike under control and was headed right at me. In order to avoid a collision, I had to stand my bike up and ride through the dirt from the top of 8 to the bottom of the hill, I got back on track as we neared the braking markers into 9 and found my way past Mac into 11. By now Joy had pulled a pretty good lead. My only hope was the big grid of 21 new racers that had started in the 2nd wave, Clubman Lightweight class, would slow Joy down as she started to lap them. At this tight track, I knew getting through traffic would be tricky, so I kept my head down and tried to reel her back in. I ended up getting caught up in the lap traffic myself and finished 2nd, securing 2nd place overall in the Formula AFemme class championship. Congrats to Joy Higa on her win and Mackenzie for rounding out the podium in 3rd!
Sunday morning practice was much better, I was feeling pretty good and I turned a new personal best lap time in my first practice on a Pirelli take off. Going fast in practice is unusual for me, so this boosted my confidence, I was focused and ready for racing.
Race 4 – Open Production
Jason headed out to race first in the Open Production race. With such a close finish last round, Greg McCullough was amped up to challenge for the win against Jason today. He had ridden Jason's Prod bike the day before and liked the feel from the shock. After practice he decided to get together with Barry to help him dial in his set-up. It worked out well for him, Greg was in the zone and he and Jason put on a great show, with Jason just beating Greg for the win. It was a really fun battle between good friends.
Race 5 – 600 Production
I made a good start as the green flag dropped, and maintained my position in 9th as we made our way through the first few turns. As we crested the top of 3A, Cameron Gish and his bike were sliding down the hill. Stephen Rue and I checked up to avoid hitting him and as I did several bikes passed me down the hill into turn 4. I found myself pushed out wide and back to about 15th. As we continued on that lap I started to work my way back up towards the top 10. Coming through turn 1 Sebastiao Ferreira made a tight pass over the curbing on the exit trying to find his way back to the front, but as we reached turn 4 the black flag came out and the race was stopped to tend to a downed racer in Turn 11.
We were stopped and held in turn 7 and sat out on the track for a while. It was hot out there and I asked the turn workers to call race control to see about getting us back to our pit. As they started making final calls for the racers to return to the grid they finally realized they had forgotten us out there and we were released to head back down to restart the race. I grabbed a quick drink of water and lined back up. I was still fired up from the first
start, and having been forced back several positions under the yellow flag, I was ready for a fresh start and got another good launch.
I found myself riding with the usual suspects; Tom Montana at the front
of our pack, Patrick Murphy, Stephen Rue, and myself swapping positions with Bret Nelson. I managed to hold off Bret to the checkers and finished a solid 8th place with a new personal best lap time of 1:46.116, nearly three seconds faster than I had ever gone at Sonoma before.
"Sometimes bad luck hits you like in an ancient Greek tragedy, and it's not your own making." - Werner Herzog
R6 – Open Superbike
At this point our racing luck strated to turn...
Jason gridded up P2, next to Ricky Corey on pole and Martin Szwarc in P3.
His start was good but Ricky launched into the lead. Martin found his way past Jason as he ran wide in turn 2 and Martin started to pull a bit of a gap. Heading into turn 7 Jason started to find his rhythm and began to close the gap back up, but as he came down the hill approaching turn 9 he lost power. He down shifted, but there was no engine braking and he had to stand the bike up and ride through the chicane. He realized then his motor had popped, he pulled it to the wall and parked.
Jason and Ben worked their booties off through the lunch break to swap the brakes and wheels to the Prod bike so Jason could use it to finish his races for the day. He was going to be down on power for Formula Pacific and Open GP, but it was still better for his championship goals than a DNF. (Did Not Finish)
R7 - Formula 1
I decided to run Formula 1 today to get a race mid-day. I thought it would be good for me to add another class and get more track time rather than sitting around all day. Also, after looking at the sign-ups I felt I had a good shot at Top 5 and possibly a podium. With no points in the class, and adding it last minute, I was going to be gridded at the back. I debated requesting KFG status (fast enough lap times to be gridded on the 4th row), but there were only 5 rows anyway and with the last grid position I was able to move over to the right vacant spot to set up for the line around the outside.
As I pulled up to the grid spot on the back row, I noticed the grid spot 2 rows up (directly in front of me) was vacant. This gave me extra clearance to work my plan. As the green flag dropped I launched my R6 just right… It was the best start I had all season! I came around the outside of Ricky Ford and the last thing I remember was a bike sliding broadside in front of me followed by a pair of legs. I remember thinking don't hit the legs and braking to aim for the small gap between the bike sliding past and the feet coming towards me.
After watching the video I realized I just clipped Sergio's feet, but it was enough to spin his body and he body slammed the side of my bike. My bike stepped sideways and poor Ricky, who I had just come around, now had Sergio and me crashing directly in front of him. We all went down like bowling pins and I was knocked out.
I couldn't answer the medic's questions about where I was and what I was
doing, to their satisfaction and my shallow breathing didn't help my cause, I was going for a helicopter ride.
I wasn't there to see it, but I have heard the stories about the other AFM racers and family that came to help when they heard I was being airlifted. Jason said there were 30+ people at our pit helping to load the trailer and get him to the hospital to be with me. You all are amazing and I love you very much. Ben Kautt and Greg McCullough drove our trailer and dogs all the way back to Sacramento, then turned around, drove back to Sonoma to get their own vehicles then home to the east/south bay. Our good friends Mark and Cat Stadler took care of our dogs over the next few days while we stayed at the hospital in Santa Rosa. Thank you all so much!
Also, thanks to everyone who that called and sent messages to check on
me. I feel very lucky and blessed that my injuries, along with my competitors
Ricky and Sergio, weren't worse.
Unfortunately, because of my crash our day came to an early end and Jason missed his Formula Pacific and Open GP races, losing out on valuable points for the championships. I joked with him that he should have stayed and raced because he didn't get in to see me in the trauma center for a couple hours anyway. But I know I am so fortunate to have such a caring and wonderful husband who will drop everything to take care of me.
Thanks to Oxymoron Photography for the pictures.
Thanks to Kevin Fanady for the video of my transport.
And most of all, Thanks to the turnworkers and medics for the excellent care you took of me.
Open Production – P1 1:41.989
Open Superbike – DNF
Formula Pacific – DNS
Open GP – DNS
AFemme - P2 1:49
600 Production – P8 1:46.116
Formula 1 – DNF, Crash on start
600 Superbike – DNS
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.