Ready your are not, more training you will need! Yep that is how I felt just before taking the grid on Sunday. I needed Yoda to show me the way. Not the way of the force, but the way to get around Willow Springs Raceway, fast and in one piece. (These are star wars references for those who grew up under a rock.) So how to master the fastest track in the west? Look on you tube for some fast video, and it doesn’t seem to exist. Why not, my best guess is the fast guys had to learn the hard way, so you get to learn the same way. My desire to walk home, not crutch home, as well as my desire not to play pick up sticks with my bike, meant I would take it slow and steady.
I should have showed up for practice on Friday, but like Lindsey Lohan and her court appearances, I just couldn’t make it. So late Friday we rolled in, threw some stuff out of the trailer and went to bed. Saturday, we were up at the crack of dawn as a semi trailer ripped through the pit’s at 45-50mph. Apparently he forgot the highway ended at the gate. Not so wide awake, I struggled to get things set up. Jenn and Greg, seemed to struggle as well. We tied everything down with extra weight, knowing that the Ez-up could later be a parachute for the standard water bucket tie downs. If you have not been here, it gets crazy windy in the afternoon. So with the pits cinched down and tech completed we got ready for first practice.
Never been to Willow, what’s that you say, you would love to hear a lap from my perspective, sure why not. Due to my inability to even function in the first practice or type anything but, crap, crap, crap, hold on, crap, crap, crap, I will give you a lap from Sunday. T1 you are coming down the straight at, oh lets just say pinned in 6th and your eyes pick up the braking markers. Don’t really brake here, they are more for show. Turn in crazy late after a light drag on the brakes, survey the moonscape for anything that resembles an exit marker. Your font is loaded up, skipping through the bumps, and then you see a cone. Dear god, let that cone be where it was last lap and pin it again. T2 and they don’t even have brake markers, who needs those? After all, your only in 4th gear pinned and are about to do a reverse carousel (Infineon). Really no brakes? This is what races through your mind, as you prepare to launch off track . Oh sure just bend it in and hit the gas. Look for the exit as you navigate the bumps in the half mile long T2. Cones at the exit again, yeah the lunarscape lacks reference points, so cones are a plenty. Pin it again to T3.
Hmmm, may just be me, but I starting to see a trend. Into turn 3 and my under worked brakes have there only real chance to shine. Swing wide for a late apex and up the hill, again looking for a reference point. As you crest the hill forget about the apex, swing out wide so you can get pointed in thee right direction as you descend the OMEGA. Look for some particular crack in the pavement someone mentioned, don’t worry you wont pick the right one, so just go with the first one you see. Late apex T5 and the crest a blind T6 as your back tire starts to spin up, then late apex yet again, and you guessed it, pin it. That gets you clicking the gears back up to 6th as you approach T8. Saddle up your horses, put your big boy pants on, and put the non-racing women and children to bed. We are going in wide open, again wide open. Turn any bike at speed and it is difficult, but wide open, the bike is not exactly pliable at this point. Something about centrifugal force and physics. Your mind scrambles looking for markers, your suspension compressed, and your head being smashed by the wind, you look for the line. Run out to the edge and look for more cones as T9 is coming.
T9 has a special place in my heart, which is now in my stomach. So here goes, wait until you think you should brake and then don’t. Run wide and then go wider. Prepare to grab two downshifts at top speed, while laid over. The one nice thing about T9, is that pesky lever by you right hand, wont be a bother, because you wont touch it. So, I am not down shifting when I want to, running wider than I want to, and not using my brakes. What could possibly go wrong? As you get to the last cone, turn as hard as you can and look to apex, the one that you don’t actually want to go over. Stay 8-10 feet out over a crack you can’t see and look for an exit cone. Pin the throttle at the apex and start grabbing gears. Prepare to have a 1000 suck the paint off your bike, as the power down the straight. Don’t worry about missing the giant bump on the straights, because you can’t miss it. Rinse and repeat as necessary! One lap in the bank and time to recap, pin it, don’t use brakes, and look for a cone. Congrats on your first lap at Willow, those are my lines.
If the speed does not translate in my description, do this. Set a Coke can or favorite beverage on the corner of the sidewalk. Get in your car, gas it up to lets us say, about 50mph. Drive by the can and tell me the fourth ingredient on the can. That is how fast things happen at Willow. All funny stuff aside, it is a great track and really fun. I am going back to learn as much as I can, so I may be more prepared next time I race there.
To everyone who welcomed us to there track, thank you. To Shandra and the CSC, thank you as well. This is my third trip to a new club this year. Some may have seen us as intruders, but most seem to enjoy the fact we brought more racers to the grid. Tech was super nice, registration was nice, and Willow racers were nice to us as well. It reminds me that you only get one chance to make a first impression. I am not sure what kind of impression we made on visitors to the AFM, but I hope it was good. Remember to be patient and nice to everyone who shows up at your particular club, because it’s just not fun to race alone. So thanks for having us and we hope you welcome us back.
My wife was killing it all weekend and really impressed me. The thought of going in T8 at full tilt was scary. She made that happen before me, and her lap times were very impressive. She rode smart and was able to make gains faster than I was. I may have had a better lap time at the end of Sunday, but she is ready to change that when we return. Proof positive, if a woman wants to, they can do it just as well as the boys. As for me, I enjoyed the change in scenery and took a lot of positives away from the weekend. Oh yeah and 2nd Place Overall in 600SB California State Championship.
Please remember to support the people who support racers.
Z2 Trackdays Staff, Z2 Race Team, Yamaha, David at Fastbikes Ind., Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Helimot, Soumy, Factory Body Works , Igartua, 4 The Riders, Sidi, Tech Spec, Ink Monkey, GP Frame & Wheel, CRG Levers, Graves Motorsports, Mach 1, and Ken Hill Coaching.
Race Round TTP Racing - Going to hang with the local boys!
Photo by 4theriders.com
Summer break! That is what we are supposed to be on, from the AFM. Lucky me Jen likes to race. We decided heading up to Reno Fernley Raceway would be a good way to spend the weekend. Have you ever heard the term home track advantage. I have and didn’t really believe in it until this weekend. I understand why at some tracks Ben Spies struggles to learn the pace of the Moto Gp veterans. Even knowing some have that advantage, those riders still have to be able to ride that track. So here we go, race with fast riders and many of them with track knowledge. No problem right?
Using the curb - 4theriders.com
In rock star more like budget fashion we chose not to ride Friday. So we showed up Friday night after navigating the Labor Day traffic and began the unloading ritual. SPL Pirelli was already there and set up, so I meandered over and said my hello’s. Everyone was just hanging out and enjoying the weather. If you have not been out of the city lately wow, there are more stars in the sky than I have ever seen. Add in a mountain range and some wild horses and this is an awesome back drop.
Saturday morning and we get the ball rolling with the standard riders meeting. With such a long track it allowed us to run only a two group format. You know when your on the bike and everything just clicks, well let me tell you that was not how my morning started. The only thing clicking was my very old knees. 23 turns is a lot of corners to remember. Add in that at most tracks you remember where the bumps are, here you remember where they are not at. I made some minor adjustments to the Fast Bike Suspension and just kept trying to learn the track. Every session got better and my sights were set on super pole.
Yep, I said it SUPER POLE. They staggered us out of the gates so we could get a bunch of clean laps. That was pretty crazy. My times were not what I wanted, but the experience was awesome. Just before super pole started the man (Jimmy Wood AMA#37) showed up. If there is any question about his speed, he would leave none by the end of the day. His second session on track and he was already the fastest rider out there. My benefit came from latching on to Jimmy like a Paris Hilton purse dog. He patiently spent time with me explaining how to adjust to the track conditions and how to break the track down. By the end of the day I had cut my lap times to 2:35, big thanks to Jimmy for the help.
Keeping it close to the paint. 4theriders.com
Sunday came and some changes in the schedule had to be made. We had a lower than expected rider turnout, but with some cooperation among the sponsors, riders, and promoters we had more than enough to run three super bike classes. There was also a crazy street bike class, which was awesome to watch and the riders did a great job the whole weekend. I entered 600, 750, and 1000 Super Bike class. We had a morning practice session to shake out any issues and get ready to race.
In addition to the super pole, they added a heat race to the day. The super pole qualified you for your heat race and the finish in the heat race gives you a grid spot for the main event. My 750 heat started great and then got off track literally. Chasing from the back of the pack, over the almost 4 miles track, I was able to get back to 4th place. My other heat races went ok and I was ready to race for real.
4theriders.com catching the dirt action.
Knowing your not going to win sucks like a Hoover vacuum with a V8 engine, but Jimmy was killing it and left me searching for crumbs under the podium. I also had to deal with a raging fast Andy Allen, Eddie Vigil and others. Most of the races went the same, get a good start and then get out powered to the first turn. The highlight of the weekend came in the middleweight race. Lap 2 and charging down the front straight towards turn 1, and yes I mean down hill, a 750 pulled next to me.
Turn 1 is this crazy 5th gear super fast left right left chicane You are 5th gear pinned and just let off the throttle, no brakes. Did I mention 5th gear? With the 750 coming up the inside and about to pass, I went right by my throttle let off point. I had yet to break the wide open throttle, finally the 750 slides behind me and I am left to deal with all that speed and turn 1. Yes it is that intense! Letting off the throttle the bike starts to look off track. Against every instinct I had to pin it again, so the bike would finish the corner.
All weekend I would roll into turn 1 sure it was to fast, only to come out the other end knowing I could have gone faster. My goal was to complete that corner just once at speed. He shoots, he scores! I am sure you can go even faster than that, but I felt like I rode a missile through that section. I look forward to going back up in October and trying to go faster. Thank you to TTP Racing, Pirelli, SPL, and everyone who made the weekend possible. On a side note congrats to David and Jen for there outstanding performances. Oh yes and for the bone head move of the weekend, I forgot to thank my wife, my biggest supporter while on the podium.
Please remember to support the people who support racers.
Z2 Trackdays Staff, Z2 Race Team, Yamaha, David at Fastbikes Ind., Pirelli /CT Racing, Yamalube Products, Motion Pro, Race Image Graphics, Leo Vince, Helimot, Suomy, Factory Body Works , Igartua, 4 The Riders, Sidi, Tech Spec, Ink Monkey, GP Frame & Wheel, CRG Levers, Graves Motorsports, Mach 1, and Ken Hill Coaching.
600 Superbike started 2nd finished 2nd
750 Superbike started 4th finished 3rd
1000Superbike started 4th finished 5th
Our team has had a great season so far, but as I have mentioned in many of my race reports, the best part of racing is the wonderful people we have had the opportunity to meet and become such good friends with. With so many days off between races we need another excuse to see our racing friends and meet new ones.
Saturday, Sept. 11 - Spend an evening with Z2 Track Days and learn what it takes to go from
street, to track, to podium. The Z2 Racing team will be on hand to
premier our amazing new promotional video and they'll each give some
insight into what they went through to make it happen.
New to the track? Come to the party and see what it's all about.
Already a track day fanatic? We'll have lots of other activities
planned as well:
- Technical Seminars
- Riding Seminars
- Track Day Raffle
- Bench Racing
If that's not enough for you, we'll of course be hosting our famous Z2
BBQ so come hungry! The festivities will be taking place at the Z2
Technology Center in West Sacramento: 2662 Del Monte Ave, 95691. Cost:
Festivities start around 5:00 with the BBQ getting underway by 6:00.
Video premiere and other activities into the evening.
Bring your family and friends too and show them what your passion is
all about. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't miss it!
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.