How do you change your riding style from the morning to the afternoon? Do you think about changes in the track conditions as the day progresses?
Jenn - This question is specific to riding style and the effects of track conditions on it throughout the day, so I am going to stay away from comments on bike set-up and stick to riding.
Honestly, my riding style definitely changes through the day. In the morning, my blood hasn't really started pumping and I am usually stiff. I spend the first 3 laps of my first session loosening up. I focus on lines, hitting my apexes, getting my eyes up and getting my body position correct. After the first 3 laps I tend to get into my rhythm and relax. As the day warms up, my body warms up and the track temperatures typically come up. At this point, I am probably, (hopefully) riding at my best. With better traction I can push the bike more, I might modify when and how much I go to the brakes, I might be able to take a better line through a corner (like over slick spots that must be avoided when damp), I may be able to pick the bike up earlier and get to full throttle sooner. As the conditions of the day change; it cools down, fog rolls in, the sun begins to set, winds pick up, etc. I definitely think about the effects of that on the bike and my riding. These may be minor adjustments, but you have to adjust. During the F1 race at Sonoma the wind changed during the race, on the second lap I was coming down the hill into turn 4 with head wind and then on the next lap the wind was gone. I didn't adjust my braking enough and I blew the corner, I had to stand the bike up and take the off ramp. That race was pretty much a throw away for me at that point, but I got back on track and used the rest of the race to practice dealing with the changing winds.
What was your biggest mental hurdle entering this round or with this track in particular? How did you fare in overcoming this hurdle?
Jason – My biggest mental hurdle is 3 fold; 1) I knew the AMA racers would be there and add more competition for the weekend, 2) I had no test data on the ZX10 at Sonoma, and 3) 3 weeks prior to this round I had knee surgery. The knee surgery had the biggest affect on me, because of the surgery I was unable to get to the track in advance to set up my bike. This left me relying heavily on my mechanic Ben and Barry at KFG to help me get the bike dialed in quickly on Saturday morning. The thing that I felt was most within my control, was me. The promise of a healthy knee for this round kept me motivated to work out and perform intensive rehab leading up to the race weekend. Knowing that you will be competing against the best racers in the US makes you want to bring your "A" game. The extra hours in the gym, a consistent pit set-up and a lot of support help give me the confidence I need when I grid up, especially with this level of competition. I am probably my own harshest critic and had you asked me on Sunday how I felt, my response would not have been positive. After taking a few weeks to reflect on the weekend, I have realized that I took positive steps forward in all 3 areas. They may not have been the gains I was hoping for, but my program is moving in the right direction.
Do you notice the draft of your fellow racers? Do you use it? Does it make a particular sound or feel when you are in it compared to without it?
Jenn- Interesting question. I recall a situation a couple years ago where I was racing at Thunderhill, I was on the last lap, on the front straight and I put myself in "the draft" of the racer in front of me, or at least so I thought. I then tried to use the draft to sling shot out and past him at the line. Unfortunately, my well thought out plan didn't work. After the race I was ranting about this "draft crap" to my husband and Berto. Berto quickly informed me that I had no flipping idea where, what or how a draft works. When I thought I was in the draft I was actually about 6 feet behind the racer in front of me, "cautious me" wanted a way out if the rider did something unusual, but it turns out that you have to be a little closer than 6 feet to make that draft thing work. Berto, the avid NASCAR fan, explained the principle of drafting to me and since then I have become a tail-gating fool on the straights. LOL! I can't really say that I noticed a particular sound from it, and the feel comes when you pull out of the draft, more than when you are in it. Try it on a bicycle sometime; the effects of drafting are very noticeable when your legs are the engine.
Do you enjoy the mixed gender races more or less than the female only ones? Does it change how you ride or your feeling of accomplishment after the race?
Jenn – When Christie and Joy started working towards getting AFemme started I was kind of against it, I honestly believe, in this sport, that the females can be competitive with the males. However, I did see the benefit of the class for attracting new female racers, particularly drawing the attention of the young girls, the daughters and little sisters, the future of female racers. For this reason, I agreed to support the efforts and I started racing AFemme.
Once I got out there my competitive drive kicked up a notch, after all we were competing for bragging rights of fastest girl in the AFM… and who doesn't want bragging rights? Really, I don't see this as being any different than having bragging rights of being fastest in whatever your class is; 600's, 650's, liter bikes, Old Guy, whatever. The down side is I want competition, bragging rights aren't that cool if you are bragging about winning the Championship when you were the only one out there. I love the fact that I have Joy to battle with and I love that these new novice girls are getting faster every round. Competition drives progress. This personal progress has helped me move to the next level in my mixed gender (600) classes and I decided this year that they were my primary focus. My goals are to be in the Top 10 overall at the end of the year and get some top 5 finishes. There is a huge sense of satisfaction of finishing that high is such a deep field of talented racers. It is all about the level of competition and the challenge of the race. I get a lot of satisfaction racing AFemme, especially when I am challenged, I know how fast I am and I know we aren't taking it easy out there just because it's the girls' class. I feel a lot of satisfaction in the 600 classes too, I won't lie I love beating up on the guys. I love going faster than guys that were previously faster than me. It doesn't matter to me who is under the helmet, I just want to be faster than the person in front of me.
Being a teammate and a life partner are two different relationships I'm sure. Do you guys each have a toggle switch for race weekends/off days or do you try to be both when working on your race craft?
Jason – The most difficult part of the race weekend for Jenn and me, hands down, is "parking the trailer" as she finishes my sentence as I write this. Somewhere after the rig is parked and the pit is set up I manage to flip some imaginary switch. Prior to that I suppose we are like any married couple, with two individuals that have their own opinions about how things should be done. During the race weekend we are both fairly self-obsessed, always willing to help each other out if need be, but intensely focused on our own programs. The roughest part of the weekend for me is watching her race, as she battles for the lead in AFemme my heart rate is typically in the 170 to 180 range, I start to lose my voice and I am bouncing one wall so insanely that Vik usually comments on it over the PA.
Jenn – What he said. To build on that, Jason and I are best friends who enjoy doing activities together. We are partners at home and we are partners when it comes to racing. We don't assign each other domestic roles or try to fit our relationship into society expectations. Some people I know think it is wrong that my husband packs me lunch everyday, but I have a long commute for work, so he helps out. And I help mow the lawn on weekends, or do other things that some people consider gender specific roles. It is this foundation of our relationship that makes it work for us at home and at the track. Jason says we are "self-obsessed" when it comes to racing and I guess I agree we are, but that is not a bad thing. If you want to perform at your best you have to be focused on yourself. At home it is a team effort to prep bikes and get ready for racing. At the race track once the trailer is parked and the pit set up, it transitions to race time. We still help each other out on race weekends, but we know the right times to ask each other and when to leave each other alone. For this reason, we solicited help, our everything crew guy, Ben is there to help and allow us to be more self-obsessed. It really is funny that pit parking was our biggest disagreement, I think subconsciously this transition in our brains (the switch flip) was happening and that process was a little rocky. We have it figured out now and our parking arrangement and pit set up is nearly an automated program. No more parking disagreements. Yay!
How much better is the ZX10 than CBR?
Jason – Everyone always asks this question… The Honda is a good bike, for me it was a very good bike for entering into the liter bike classes. I was able to get on the Honda coming from an R6 and get up to speed fairly quickly. It has an easy to use power band with lots of torque and a "rider friendly chassis". This description is a quote from the current #1 plate holder after he rode my bike. With that being said, I LOVE my ZX10! The Kawi feels like an R6 with mucho horsepower. It has very precise handling and an adjustable traction control system that I am learning to really appreciate and love. Hands down, the ZX10 is the easiest liter bike to convert to competitive race bike on a reasonable budget. I am currently running stock brakes, slip on pipe, and a kit harness with an ECU on the stock motor. Add in GP/KFG suspension and I have a winning package. Get your own ZX-10 at Roseville Yamaha-Kawasaki. :)
I know this might be giving away race secrets but do you make any suspension changes due to the track temp at sears? Say you set up your bike on Saturday and it was sunny and 75 degrees but then on Sunday during race time, the fog (AKA Carl) has not left and the track has not seen the sun. Less grip, so you have to be easier on the brakes and might not get full travel out of the front with the set up from the day before, or does grip level not matter?
Jason – Going into the weekend we usually review weather reports and try to determine what the weather will be like. I will then talk with Chris at CT Racing and we will put together a tire plan for the weekend. Once tire selection is made tire pressures and minor suspension tweaks are considered.
After racing with AMA at Sonoma in 2011 I became more aware of this issue. The first session was in the afternoon and we were on a warm track and could easily push the pace. The next morning was the second session and "Carl" was in the house, I was disappointed to see the fog, thinking that I wouldn't be able to go as fast with colder track temperatures. The other racers came on track and immediately crushed the previous afternoon times. I quickly realized that with little to no changes I was able to go just as fast. For me, this is done by breaking your corner down to 3 sections; Corner Entry – smooth application of the brakes will allow you to load the tire more effectively than trying to make a small suspension adjustment. Mid Corner – with tires up to temperature there is a minimal percentage of edge grip difference (depending on the pavement type) my personal opinion is that I lose 2-3 % at Sonoma. Corner Exit – If your bike is working well in warmer temperatures, I think of it like F1 (Car) racing, at night they are not allowed to change suspension between qualifying and the race, the easiest and fastest adjustment that can be made is a small tire pressure adjustment. Tire pressures will allow you to fine tune your bike for temperature changes to maximize grip and can be modified throughout the day/weekend.
I only make suspension changes systematically and reactive to a specific handling issue, typically these issues would be present despite the weather conditions.
What goes on inside your helmet during the race?
Jason – There better question is what doesn't go on in my head during the race… I generally tend to analyze everything, and I mean everything. One of the key factors I am working on is learning to race utilizing muscle memory to react to situations rather than overthinking them. Great racers, when interviewed, often can't remember the details of a race or a great pass that happened in the race. I can typically recall everything about a pass including the sponsor logos on the other riders back. I need to learn to quit using valuable attention on unnecessary information.
Jenn – Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing. Smooth, Smooth Operator. Yes! Nice. Dang it. Oh no you don't!!! Ha, gotcha. Oh hi/bye. What the ____? Where did he come from? Trailer park girls go round the outside. White flag, I'm coming for you bitches. Yes! Whew…
Formula Pacific - P11 1:41.745
Open SB - P6 1:42.277
Open GP - P3 1:42.228
F40 Hvy - P1 1:42.972
AFemme - P1 1:47.626
750P - P10 1:47.700
600P - P13 1:46.193
F1 - P15 1:48.659
F40 Mid - P7 1:48.317
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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.