I need to make sure to say a few things before telling you about my weekend. First, thank you to everyone involved with WERA. The staff, tech, grid and so on, were all very nice to us visiting racers. I believe that due in large part to Shandra Crawford of the Cal State Championship, the weekend went smooth for visiting racers new to the club. Shandra put in a top notch effort this weekend as you will read about later. It was also great to have David K at the track and announcing on Sunday. He is the track announcer for the AMA races when they come to California, and made the racers feel like AMA rock stars when he spoke with them. When I wasn’t racing, my time was spent at the wall watching some great races and listening to David saying things like “that guy is nuttier than a snickers bar” and tell stories about the racers.
As a team we decided to skip Friday practice this time around. We have been to Buttonwillow recently and had a good set-up. So to conserve our efforts we decided it best to show up Friday night and be ready for Saturday morning. With a scaled back crew this weekend it was just myself, Jenn Lauritzen, Greg McCullough, with mechanics Kyle “Lollipop” Schirrmacher and Sam Richards. The rest of the crew got a much needed break for the weekend. Friday night we had the pits set up and they looked great. We got several compliments from WERA and WSMC racers. We are making every effort to look professional while performing well too.
Saturday started same as most, but with a laid back feeling. Almost like a track day, no big rush just kind of getting on with it. Practice is not the same as in the AFM. You get to practice 2 times on Saturday and 2 times on Sunday, then you race. I entered 600 SB and 750 SB, so I was allowed to practice in the 600 class as well as the big bike class. Yay for me! On track my main focus was to find my pace from the last race we had done here. Last race was a 1.52, but knew I could better that time if conditions were right. Practice went pretty much as expected for me. Greg had a spill into turn 3 and would have to call it a weekend as we were light on spare parts. Practice went fast and we were on to racing.
They do something different at WERA, a 20 lap solo endurance race. Never having raced a 20 lap individual event, I was excited to do it. The mindset was to use this as a 20 lap practice at or just below race pace. Starting from the 5th row would not be ideal, but Brant Wiwi reminded me that you have 20 laps, the pass will happen if it was ever going to. So with a relaxed mind, I rolled to the grid looking up at the 2 board. All I saw was a lady using both hands to hold a board. Where the hell is the flag? My own worst enemy at that moment was me. How could I have skipped the opportunity to watch a start and see his or her timing. I looked around trying to figure out who had the flag, surprise it was the guy next to her. He hides the flag behind his back and then lets it fly super fast, he was quick like a ninja. Surprised, I reacted a little slow and got a poor start. Not a big deal today, but a valuable lesson for Sunday.
Telling you the race was really exciting would make a great report, but other than the first few laps I was referred to as the loneliest guy on the track. Other than catching lappers I was all by myself. 12 laps in or so, I realized that my riding style is way to physical. Just because you can muscle a bike around in a 6 lap sprint race doesn’t make it a good idea. Trying to change my riding style on the fly, my lap times hardly wavered. 1.54 after 1.54 kept coming up on my lap timer. This was about the pace I could manage for my first 20 lap solo race. With some changes in my riding style that should drop next time I race with WERA, it was mostly an eye opener for me. Think about going all out for 20 laps, it is down right exhausting. Pro riders do not get enough credit when it comes to the physical side of racing 20 or 30 lap races. A solid 5th place finish made me smile at the end of the day.
That night Shandra came by to announce that they were doing video interviews and would like me to come over. Expecting to sit in front of a pocket sized camcorder, I was more than surprised to see she had pulled out all the stops to make this look very professional. No I would not have one of those pictures you see on the AMA races where the guys head is all squished and looks like it belongs to a bobble head. Go-Go and Sonny were setting up what looked like a movie set. Fancy lights, cameras on 10 foot booms, it was an awesome sight. David K would do a one on one interview with you and ask some basic questions as well as some personal ones. They also rolled my bike in behind me and had it all lit up to show off my sponsors. I was the first to get interviewed followed by my wife. By the time we were done there was line of top notch racers standing in line with there bikes staged up like they were waiting to get on track. The video should be up on the California State Championship website shortly, it is a must visit web site.
Sunday would start a whole lot cooler than the day before, but still nice out. Again we had the two practice format. I only entered two races and had some time to kill, so off to the wall I went to watch Jenn race. It is not very often we see each other race, because our races always seem to be back to back. Preparation for your race means you get to see the start and not much more. Today I would watch the entire race start to finish. I don’t want to spoil her report, but I am a proud husband.My first race was number nine of seventeen. 600SB was smaller than at the AFM, but with just as much talent at the front. Jimmy Wood, Bryce Prince, Tyler Odem, and Austin Dehaven were all set to be on grid. My lap times got me a CSC version of the KFG rule. Fourth row inside would do just fine. My start was good and into the first turn I was 6th or so. Trying to limit my financial output, I was racing on the same tires used at the last Infineon race. The bike felt good but a little looser than I remembered in practice. Coming out of the corners the back end started to slide a bit, a smooth slide and very predictable, but a slide. I have ridden on Pirelli tires for 3 years and know what they should feel like. Maybe I put this one through to many heat cycles or set the wrong pressure. I did 1.53 lap times and managed to get into fourth pretty quick. Every lap was the same signal at the wall, a small gap to 5th. I kept my head down and rode smarter using the incredible front tire to help me keep my lap times low. After the coming out of the last corner, I looked up to see Sam giving me the small gap and keep your head down sign. Just as I passed Sam I looked up and we had checkers. 4th place for 600SB would be ok for the start to my day.
Back in the pits and talking to Sam we decided to change out the rear tire. Watching Sam slip the tire warmers on I realized my problem. In the morning I had accidently handed him a hard tire designed to work on tracks known to destroy tires. So my lesson for the weekend, always double check your tire compound before installing it. No fault of anyone else, it was my mistake and that tire still got me 4th. With still more time to kill before my second race, it is weird only racing twice on Sunday, we went to the wall to watch. F1 was up, this is like FP in the AFM. Toye, Randolph, Wiwi, Tigert, Sorros, just to mention a few names, this would be awesome. Toye had already broken the recently set lap record on a motorcycle 1.46.03 I think. These guys were ready to brawl. It was an incredible race with tight passing and awesome displays of riding. Thank you Jimmy Wood for taking a few minutes during that awesome race to answer some questions I had.
Here we go last race of the day. Looking into the distance you could see some ominous weather heading directly towards us. As we rolled up to head out on track, David Raff of Spears Racing pulled me over and said it was raining on track and to be careful, thanks Dave. The WERA staff let us know as we went out on track to expect some weather. It had some drops on us during the warm up lap, but a 2nd row start was just too hard to pass up. Promising myself that if the weather got bad I would pull off, I chose to grid up for the start. I got a good start and chose not to make a dicey pass for the lead. Dehaven was leading, Simmons in second, and I followed in third. Feeling the immediate grip of the used SC-1 Pirelli, a win was defiantly possible. Into turn 3 I tried to pass Simmons, but was forced to sit up as he controlled the inside line. Again in the bus stop I tried with the same result. No worries Dehaven wasn’t leaving us yet. As we rolled into Riverside heavy rain hit my face shield. Remembering my promise and with mixed emotions I raised a hand and pulled off line. Falling down was not an option for me, so I chose to sit up and back off the pace and see if I could just roll around and get a finish. As my eyes scanned the sky the red flag came out. We rolled into the pits where we were informed a crash in turn one stopped the race.
Back in my pit’s the rain came hard and fast. We loaded the trailer like the place was burning down around us. After nearly loosing the Yamaha ez-up, thanks to Guy Hyder and his crew for helping us save it, we held onto a slim belief that the race would restart. Standing in my suit soaked to the bone I debated with my team on loading the bikes or not. WERA must have seen the same thing we saw, it was almost 5pm and a wall of rain about 3 minutes away when they cancelled the last three races. So the bikes went in the trailer and we decided to take off the now 60 pound racing suits. We came, we saw, we had fun, and then we got rained onJ.
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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.