Ride Fast. Take Chances.
"On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, 'Okay, this is the limit'. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high." – Ayrton Senna
On Board Video - Click
“Joy Higa is out front, closely followed by Jenn Lauritzen. Ladies and Gentlemen, if we’ve seen an improvement in a rider this season Jenn Lauritzen is it. She’s out there killin’ it in Supermoto, she’s killin’ it in flat tracking, she’s coming out here and killin’ it at the (road racing) track. She’s racing a girl on a 1000cc on her 600 and doing it. That is close racing as they come, down into turn 10.” – Alan Cunningham announcing for AFemme.
It’s true… reading my race reports from this time last year compared to my results this year I have made big improvements and I have moved past a lap time plateau that I have been stuck at for a couple years, but to me the most noticeable improvement is the one you can’t always see from afar… it is the improvement in my confidence. This came about as a result of the various training programs, coaching and racing that Jason and I decided to start, not only to train for road racing but to also mix it up and have more fun. Supermoto Racing, Dirt Tracking Schools and Racing, Cycling…. Oh and my full day of one on one coaching with Scott Russell and Ken Hill at Thunderhill on a PTT track day didn’t hurt either. ;) For all the body positioning, technique, and bike handling skills coaching and practice I have been getting, the biggest reward came about in a new found trust of my bike, an understanding and confidence that the limit is just a bit further.
As I gridded up on the P4 at the start I was pleased to be back on the front row, missing the first round had really cost me in points, but alas I was back at the front. The front outside is the perfect grid spot at T-Hill if you get a good launch, as you can carry full speed into turn 1 with clean track in front of you. I got a good launch… the best one I’ve had all year… and probably in a long time. Joy beat me to turn 1, but I was able to stay on the throttle and tucked in behind her as we swept left into turn 2. Approaching turn 3 I instinctively took the new line I had been working on with Scott Russell a couple weeks earlier and discovered I was now stronger than Joy in this corner. I pulled up beside her as we accelerated off the exit and approached T4, I didn’t quite have the line and I backed off and settled back in tow. We crested the top of turn 5 and down the hill into the right sweeping 5A, I was in a zone… in “The Zone.”
“And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.” – Ayrton Senna
I again pulled up beside Joy on the exit drive of turn 6, but her 1000cc of fury was able to pull in front as we tipped at full throttle into Turn 7, then to Turn 8 and up to turn 9 she opened a gap, but thru 9, 10 and 11 I was able to close it back up… thru the esses and onto the back straight I kept her close enough, but onto the front straight, she ran away from me. I thought she was gone, but I was sure Zoe was coming for me too so I pushed on.
Lap 2 - To my surprise, I closed up on Joy again thru turns 1 and 2 and found myself beside her as we entered turn 3, exiting 3 this time she protected turn 4 with a more defensive line. And then we repeated the same lap as described above.
Lap 3 - “Here come our leaders, Joy Higa pulls out a huge gap over Jenn Lauritzen coming down the straight, that’s the difference between a 1000 and a 600, ladies and gentlemen, here at Thunderhill, you can come down the back straight, thru turns 14 & 15 and then up the main straight and then you’ve got a good gap. Now Jenn Lauritzen is going to close the gap down as they come into turn 2. She is riding like the devil, she knows she can get close, I’m just not sure if she can win it, if she gets in front she certainly can. She takes a slightly wider line than Joy as they come around 3, she’s not close enough as she was last time. That’s a great line from the exit of 3 into 4 and then driving up the hill, she’s making up space all the time.” - Alan Cunningham
Lap 4 – Is this Groundhog’s Day?
Lap 5 – “As our leaders for the AFemme come across the start/finish. Come on Jenn you can do this… she’s way closer than she was before, this could be really interesting coming into 3 and into 4 this time. Joy Higa leaves it wide, Jenn Lauritzen comes up the outside of 3, I think what’s goin’ to happen is she’s going to cut this back or possibly take that inside pass… she goes into 4, she backs it off, I think she’s got that lined up for the next lap ladies and gentlemen. Jenn is definit….OH, She goes up the inside!!! What a great pass! She does a block pass into turn 5, hopefully she can take that turn and keep it tight around 6. Joy Higa knows she’s in a race right now. Jenn Lauritzen with some fantastic ridin’, I think it’s all that flat track style right there .” - Alan Cunningham
“If you no longer go for the gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver...” – Aryton Senna
I was in the lead, clear track in front of me and I knew that she would be coming for me… I just worked to open the gap in the corners where I knew I was stronger hoping to gain enough space to keep her from getting back past me on the straights. I moved quickly thru the lap traffic, something just came over me and the lap traffic was just there… not in the way… just there. I moved around them, past them, thru them, quickly and decisively. Coming down the front straight, white flag, I didn’t believe Jason’s pit signal saying I had a big gap… he must be confused, but I am still out front and only one lap to finish. I kept my head down and stayed on it… still sure that Joy was coming for me. As I headed up the straight to take the checkers I saw Jason, Kyle, Greg and Skyler cheering for me, Jason gave me a big gap signal and at this moment I really wished I could do a wheelie. LOL!
That was the best cool down lap ever and I soaked it all in, waving at each turnworker as I rounded the course, a thumbs up for Max,a victory fist pump for Joe,
and then coming in for a kiss from my husband, and high fives and big hugs from my friends and my newest, awesome sponsor Ken Casey with PTT. Then like icing on my victory cake, David BenJamin told me I had clocked a couple laps at 1:59!!!! What? I FINALLY broke the 2:00 barrier!!! Oh yeah, it just keeps on getting better.
On Sunday, I had 2 more races, 600 Production was race 4 and 600 SB was race 11. Since I had skipped racing the 600 classes at both the first and second rounds I had only a few points and I was gridded at the back, P21 in both races. My goals for the 600 races were to get a good start and make my way thru the traffic… something Christie Cooley once said to me was stuck in the back of my mind, “I want to beat everyone that I am faster than and I want to be in the front of everyone that is the same speed as me… why settle for being stuck behind them.”
600 Production – I pulled up to my grid spot and lowered my visor, as I revved the bike and the green flag dropped the bikes RPM’s suddenly dropped (I really don’t know if it was me or the bike) but my start was horrible, I was nearly last into turn 1, but by turn 2 I had picked up a few spots, thru turns 2 and 3 I picked up a couple more, and thru turn 6 I block passed Keith Stie and put myself up to 17th. I was at the front of the group I was with and the next group had pulled a small gap in front of me… the group in front of me was my pace, but I was going to need to find a little something extra to catch up with them. I ended up overriding the bike and making silly mistakes, losing time rather than gaining it.
It was on the last lap, when the front runners of the second wave 600 Novice caught me up, Kyle thoughtfully waited to pass me until we entered turn 6, using me as a pawn to hold off Stephen, knowing that it was unlikely he would be able to pass me until after the exit of 8 due to the risk of passing in the shallow and high speed turns 7 and 8… but Stephen got a bit anxious and stuffed it up the inside as we entered turn 8. I had to pause on my turn in to not hit him and then wait to get on the gas as he nearly ran off into the dirt in front of me at the exit of 8. I lost my drive up the hill and the two racers I had put behind me were able to block me into turn 9. I finished 19th, picking up a few positions from my grid spot, but still a disappointing race.
600 Superbike – I added another goal to my previous plan and that was to make sure I used the lines that Scott Russell and I had worked on the couple weeks earlier. I wanted to consistently hit each one of my apexes throughout the duration of the race. I also knew that this focus would keep me relaxed and prevent the silly over-riding issues from the previous race. Back again on the 6th row, this time as the 1 board went sideways I paid attention to keeping the revs on my bike up, I got a great launch and made my way forward several postions, by the end of the first lap I had made my way up to 15th and the group ahead had a significant gap. I finished 15th and ran consistent 2:00 lap times. I was happy with that result… for now.
"I continuously go further and further learning about my own limitations, my body limitation, psychological limitations. It's a way of life for me." ~ Ayrton Senna
Thanks to Max Klein - Oxymoronphotography, Joe Salas - 4theriders and Paul Seleskey for the photos used in this blog post
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.