Our 2012 race season was scheduled to start as usual with our first racing being with the AFM at Buttonwillow Raceway March 17th/18th. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not in on our plan and she scheduled a very rainy weekend… the forecasts were so bad the AFM was forced to cancel. To further rain on our parade, the AFM had scheduled a long break between rounds 1 and 2, so the 2nd round isn’t until May 12th/13th … waiting until May to race, no way, that just won’t do.
We started looking for other options; racing with WERA, CVMA, OMMRA, but the drive to the races that they had scheduled in this time frame would be over 10 hours for the closest one and we couldn’t get the extra time off work for traveling. So when we found out that SupermotoUSA had their first round scheduled in early April, and even better at Prairie City, only a 20 minute drive from our house, we decided it was time for us to give Supermoto racing a try this year.
We had been training with Brok McAllister and his crew at California Supermoto Schools on the dirt track all winter, and I was starting to feel very comfortable with the way the bike handles and slides on the dirt and was eager to take those new skills to the pavement (at a lower risk than on my R6.) In March, Jason and I rented a couple of bikes from Brok and headed up to the Infineon kart track to ride Supermoto for the first time. I had a really fun day and learned so much. Yep! I decided I wanted to race SM. *giggle*
Craig’s List! Jason found me a CRF150R already set up for Supermoto racing, and turns out it was from a fellow AFM racer, sold. She’s a sweet little bike, I named her Lily.
My first Supermoto race weekend was an eventful one, though it did not go the way I planned…. Open practice didn’t start until after noon on Saturday, so living only 15 miles away we took some time in the morning to put fresh TEXAS TEA motor oil in the bikes, check that all the nuts and bolts were tight and I even mounted up Jason’s new plastics for him. (We’re still waiting to get new graphics, so the bikes went naked.)
Saturday practice went ok, but my gearing was wrong. I really didn’t want to mess with it during practice, because I didn’t want to miss any track time. The PC kart track is tricky, with a lot of tight turns and narrow lines. I decided to focus on learning the lines and just getting familiar with my new bike… since this was only the 2nd time I had ridden her (and the first time was on the dirt track.) A 150R is small and body position is a big deal, my long legs kept hitting the bars, or the curbing, or both. At the end of the day I was EXHAUSTED. It seems somehow I forgot to mention that it was 92 degrees and I was in full leathers. I was EXHAUSTED and DEHYDRATED.
The DTX (dirt track) races were just about to start and I really wanted to race them, but I was so tired and I really did not want to hassle with swapping my tires from slicks to rains (which is what I use in the dirt.) I was about to scratch my entry, but then my sweet husband told me I could race his 250 in the women’s race. It was so much fun racing in the dirt, at night, under the lights. I’m glad I did it… and I took home a 3rd place trophy too.
Sunday morning I made the gearing change I needed on my 250R, we had a few quick practice sessions before racing would start. I went out for my first practice eager to see if the gearing change was good… but something wasn’t right, I heard a clanking and the bike didn’t seem to be pulling out of the corners, since the only thing I changed was my gearing I wondered if I hadn’t adjusted the chain right and that it might be slapping, I glanced down as I rode but couldn’t see anything wrong… Lily clanked louder and the bike just felt---broken--- I pulled off the track and pushed my bike back to my pit. I was looking her over with Jason and I grabbed a towel and started wiping the dust off the motor and I found a cracked head. *Sad face*
Lily went BOOM!
My day was over…. Unless… by some miracle Brok might still have a rental bike available. I headed over to ask Mac if she thought Brok’s bikes were all rented, she assured me that they probably were, but told me I should check with Gage anyway. Gage was so cool, he found a Honda 230 for me to race, and even offered up to let me ride his bike if we couldn’t find another one. I was going to be super disappointed if I hadn’t been able to race, thank you soooo much to Brok and Gage for getting me a bike at the last minute. It was a huge favor to ask considering they were kind of busy… you know… managing the race and all.
I had signed up for 4 classes; Beginner, Fast Females, Adult Mini and Novice. We had a qualifying heat for each race that determined our grid spot for the main. My Beginner class heat race was my first race, I was glad for that because I hadn’t had a chance to practice on the 230. My start was horrible, but I was quick and aggressive through the first few corners and found myself picking up a few positions getting up to 5th, then out I came onto the straight… I had no top end speed, the bike would rev up I would shift and it would bog. I was up to 5th gear by ½ ways down the straight, but with no more pull, the other racers just walked on by me. I picked back a couple positions in the corners, then onto the straight-Repeat. I finished 7th in my heat, I was ok, it was my first race and I realized I had a bike disadvantage, but I was still having a great time.
My 2nd race was the Women’s heat. I really wanted to do well in this class, but again got a terrible launch… I started wondering if I should be launching the 230 in 2nd gear… wait… this is not the time to worry, I need to make up ground. I went around the outside on turn 1 and held my ground as Stephanie and I went side by side for the 3rd place spot into the very tight turn 2. Being on the inside I had the preferred line, but Stephanie wasn’t going to give it up that easy, we came together at the apex and she stood it up and ran off course… although this turned out to be to her advantage, because when she came back on course heading into turn 4 she had a gained a sizable gap over me by not having to go thru the tight, slow turn 3. Noted. I kept up a good pace on the back half of the track, but again suffered on the front straight. At half way thru the race I realized I was not going to be able to catch the front runners and I focused on not losing anymore positions. I held onto 4th which gave me a front row outside spot for the main, perfect spot. After the heat race I was bummed to hear that Becky Uribe had a pretty nasty crash on the back part of the course and was injured. I wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back out there on the grid. Get Well Becky!
The 3rd heat was Adult Mini, I decided to stick with 1st gear for the launch… and again I got a horrible start. But I was on the inside and just opened the throttle heading up to turn 1. I made it through turns one and 2 and was up into 4th. Again, gaining ground on the back half of the track I was able to get enough of a reprieve to hold on to my spot, but the pressure was building… I kept pushing harder in the back section knowing I was going to give it up on the straight away. On the 4th or maybe it was the 5th lap..
I clipped my footpeg on the inside curbing, it stood me up just enough that I missed my exit line and ran wide off track into the grass, my rear tire slid as my front tire came back on the asphalt grabbing traction. I high sided right into the middle of the track and slid for a bit. I could hear the other bikes heading at me, I jumped up with my hands a waving, like… “don’t hit me” Ha-ha! I picked up my bike pushed it out of harms way, fired it up, and rejoined the race. I was hurting and my footpeg was sticking to my boot, I wasn’t sure I could finish the race, so I was quite relieved when I came onto the front straight and the checkers were waving. Apparently, my reaction time was pretty good, because even with the crash I finished 8th out of 14.
The Novice heat was up next but my ankle was throbbing and my thigh was really starting to hurt. I decided to drop the Novice class and focus my energy on the 3 mains I had coming up after lunch.
During the lunch break Brok stopped by our pit to check on how our races were going and see if there might be something wrong with the 230 I was racing… silly thing, the choke was half on (when they warm them up in the morning they leave the choke half on until the bike gets running, since I grabbed a bike that hadn’t been out on the track yet, the choke was still half on.) Doh! That explains the lack of power down the front straight.
The first Main for me was Beginner, and again I was thankful as now that the 230 was running full speed I would need to adjust my shifting points and my braking to account for actually needing to brake. ha! I can’t say I did anything exceptionally well in the Beginner race, it was like being out in the first practice of the day except now I was tired and sore from my crash. Even though I was having a ton of fun racing the course, I was kind of a mess; missing my apexes, missing my shifting points, braking way too early… I was pretty disappointed in my performance, finishing 17th, but at least I had gotten used to the bike.
Next up was the Women’s race. I had the best grid spot and as I launched off the line I missed that first important up shift and landed in the 5th spot headed into turn 1 with Shalina in front of me. I stuck to her like glue, I was faster on the back of the course, but could not get a clean pass. I would show her a wheel and she never relented, shutting the door on me again and again. As we came off the dirt section into the sweeper before the straight she had the line figured out much better than I and she would get the drive onto the straight opening up a small gap, but by turn 1 I was back on her wheel again. Literally, bumping her tire several times in the tight corners as she would brake more, and for longer, than I expected. On lap 4, as I became increasingly more frustrated, my racing instincts really started to take over, unfortunately, I still have road racing instincts when it comes to my body position and I began making silly mistakes like moving my body to the inside and putting out my knee instead of moving to the outside and using my inside leg up and out to balance the bike. On lap 5, we passed Sarah Preston who had crashed and was in the process of picking up her bike. Knowing she was coming up behind me gave me a new sense of urgency to get it back together, but by then the little mistakes I made had given Shalina an easy run down the straight to beat me to the checkers. I finished 4th. Still this gives me a good grid spot on the front row heading to Infineon for the West Coast Moto Jam May 4-6.
My last class of the day was Adult Mini. I had a second row outside grid spot, starting in 8th. This time on the start I picked up a few spots heading into turn 1, finally a decent start. I got pushed out off line through turn 2 but stayed on course into turn 3, coming out of the chicane I found myself in 5th, but with a whole gaggle of racers behind me wanting to get by. We went on like this for a couple laps, then I got passed when I ran wide in the hairpin, this allowed another bike by on the kink as I had no drive coming out of the hairpin. I was holding down 7th, but I fadded at the end of the race and a couple more guys got by me. I finished 9th.
As a first race weekend, and having only ridded one day at a Supermoto track before this weekend, I feel pretty good about how my weekend went. I know I have a lot to learn about Supermoto strategy and I really wanted to finish better in my races, but overall I rode well. I had fast moments throughout the weekend, I just need to string it together in the race. Since the one track I have ridden before is Infineon, I feel confident heading there for SupermotoUSA round 2.
Come on out to the West Coast Moto Jam on May 5th and 6th and celebrate Cinco De Mayo with us while watching some fabulous racing, you will find Jason and I racing the main track in the TTXGP on Zero Motorcycles and you should definitely cruise up to the top of the hill and watch the Supermoto races, when you see how much fun we are having you are going to want to give it a try. Now I gotta go… my new 150R motor should be here soon and I only have a week to “watch my husband” get it in my bike. I’ve got work to do. Haha!
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.