Coming up in a couple weeks, Jan. 25, 2014 is the 2nd Annual Day in the Dirt with Ken Hill. As I've said many times before, in the last couple years since I started dirt tracking at Prairie City Dirt Track and working with Brok McAllister and his team of great instructors, I have dropped over 5 seconds in my lap times and moved from about 20th in the field to well inside the Top 10 in the 600 classes (at the AFM with some pretty stout competition).
I have also been working with Ken Hill since I started racing and the fundamental skills he taught me have allowed this added speed to come without crashing, plus he has helped me apply what I learned on the dirt track to the asphalt. The KH Dirt School last year was a huge success and I am proud to be a part of it.
There are a lot of dirt schools popping up lately as more people are hearing of the benefits. This provides you with the opportunity to try it for yourself, but it does not get any better than the KH Dirt School. Ken's resume speaks for itself, and him teamed up with Brok is like the dynamic duo. They are both qualified, experienced instructors who not only know how to ride fast, but they also know how to teach others to go fast. This is an opportunity not to be missed, sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you made plans for the weekend after Christmas, how about heading up to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. Get a little skiing or boarding in, or maybe some play time in the casinos, and then come check out the Holiday Fundraiser for American Forests presented by our amazing sponsor TEXAS TEA LUBES. TEXAS TEA has built their brand on the basis of providing the best quality products that help protect our environment. 1% of all their product sales go to the American Forests and this fundraiser is to raise awareness and give a little more. You can come watch a couple of great films and hang out with us and the awesome riders from Alpine Assassins, Lawlor Bros Freeride and Tom Way Ultra4/King of the Hammers Racer. All proceeds are donated, pre-purchase tickets at http://www.texastealubes.com/Products_O5D4.html
Jason and I had the opportunity to talk with Ralph Rodriguez on 2-Wheel podcast.
We talked about racing, how we got into the sport and why we think the AFM is such a special club to race with.
Click here to listen in.
Is it the end or just the beginning?
Things change, they change constantly. You can plan, train, and work your ass off, but at any moment everything you know can change. People are always making plans, but life is busy making it's own. If you ask a rider what they are thinking about before a race, you will usually hear about them visualizing a holeshot or some other positive outcome. Well only one rider gets the holeshot, and if it isn’t you, then what? Any great racer will tell you, limiting the damage on your bad days is the key. If you want to limit the damage, spend some time making a plan for that first turn when you are not the ONE!
Jennie had a tough crash at Round 6 and in the days leading to this final round a decision needed to be made; we decided due to some lingering dizziness issues, that she would not race. Additionally, my plans also changed greatly after Round 6 due to a mechanical issue with my bike. I was already planning on a new bike for next season and this just accelerated it a bit. With some help from Roseville Yamaha Kawasaki, I became the proud owner of a new ZX10r. I made the decision to commit to riding the ZX10 at the final round and putting the Honda up for sale. The Honda is a bike that can win and the ZX10 is unproven, well that isn’t quite accurate; Jeremy Toye showed the entire paddock what the bike can do in competition and additionally, Ken Hill has given the green machine positive reviews in testing. With two great racers like that touting the bike, I was sure we would work well together.
The entire crew at Roseville Yamaha Kawasaki was excited to see me at the store buying a new Zed Ex 10. I wasn't feeling any pressure to perform well, haha, since the last road racer they supported was Cameron Beaubier. Now it was time to get her race ready; immediate calls went out to LeoVince for a new pipe, which looks awesome and my forks were shipped off to Barry at KFG Racing to install his GP Suspension. Lee’s Cycle shipped me up a link for my suspension, and provided me with some much needed set-up advice, lastly some off the shelf goodies from Roseville Yamaha Kawasaki provided me just about everything I needed. Of course with such a crunched timeline, parts were coming in until the last minute and I worked some late nights int he garage getting her ready. Thank you to everyone who helped out!
With just a few days to go, I was still missing a critical part, which was on backorder and I was running out of options. I made a call to Ken Hill, he has a ZX10 and I was hopeful he would loan me the ECU I needed, a reprogrammed unit that would work with my stock harness. Thankfully, he told me I could come by his house and borrow it. The ECU is not easy to get it out of the bike; pull the tail, seat, side panels, damper, gas tank, top of the air box and then disconnect the ECU. Thank you for not only taking the time to lend me the part, but spending a few minutes talking with me about riding techniques. This would come into play Sunday.
Friday morning we left for the track, Friday's track day would be my first test of the new machine. In the morning before heading out on track, Barry made some last minute changes to my new shock and Jenn helped get the stock tires off the bike and the wrapped my new rims in Pirelli tires. Not wanting to rush things, we spent the first two hours getting the bike ready to go at the pace that would test my suspension. My first session was almost too crazy... I was not sure of the new bike and the geometry did not feel like it was where I needed it. I had several tank slappers, making me nervous that I made a huge mistake in not bringing the CBR Superbike, but I could feel the potential of the ZX10. Knowing the bike has more to give is an oddly comforting feeling. The rest of the day Barry worked with me, small adjustments every session.
If you have never set up a brand new bike, imagine this. You get up in the morning, late, and realize you are about to be late for your yearly review. Without thinking twice you grab the keys to your car and run out to find your trusty steed has been replaced, your once easy to drive Ford F150 has been replaced with a European Lamborgini. Excitement runs through your veins, after you figure out how to open the space ship style doors you jump in the seat thinking this rocket ship will certainly get you to work on time. Then you realize that the wheel is on the other side, you drive an automatic and your clutch skills may be a bit rusty, add to that, the shifter is done with the left hand instead of the right. You are sitting on the wrong side of the car and you have minutes to become one with the car and get to work on time. Welcome to having a day and a half to set up a new 1000.
All that aside, and you wouldn't have known it from my stress level, but the day went pretty well. Ken Hill stopped by to swing a leg over the bike and let me know how far I made it with the set-up, he turned 2 laps, that’s what it takes Ken to tell you how good or bad the bike is. Much to my pleasure, he came in with some suggestions and some praise. Make no mistake, that praise goes to Barry at KFG, since I had done nothing to the clickers yet. I ended the day with a bit of relief knowing the bike was good. The issues from the day were mine, in my riding, and sleeping on that for the night was a bit tough.
Saturday brought more of the same as far as diagnostics went. We made some changes, but how much do you change when you are off the race pace? Unable to get the spring we wanted originally, Barry was able to find one for me on Saturday and that made the bike much better.
Saturday afternoon sessions were spent providing rider evaluations to get some New Racer School (NRS) students certified to race. Jenn had been spending all day working with NRS, she volunteered to help due to the large turn-out of new racer hopefuls. At one point she came by the pits, desperate, knowing how busy I was and asked for some help with testing racers. When I got to the meeting area, she was grabbing riders and pairing us up, big bikes testing the faster riders and small bikes working with the slower ones. She did an amazing job of herding a bunch of cats. Chance would have it that one of the racers I worked worked with was pitted feet from us. It was fun to watch his progress and his smile grow. He did a great job of making it through 2 starts in Clubman and turned some 2:05 lap times in the process. Congrats to all of the new racers, and we hope to see you next year.
Sunday was not nearly as busy for Jenn, but she had committed herself to hosting “A Day at the Races” in an effort to get some new people out to watch the races and introduce them to the AFM. She invited people to come find her, the day was spent walking the pits and giving non-racers an up close and behind the scenes look at racing. Add in some interviews and she had a full day.
In her wanderings through the pits, she happened to bring up her medical issues (vertigo) to William Brown, Joe Hittner and a few others. They had each experienced similar issues and told her about some vertigo exercises that had helped them, the Hallpike and Epley maneuvers. After the race weekend we were able to look them up on the web and perform them at home. Within a day of doing the exercises the vertigo was gone and she is now ready to race again... better late than never. 15 minutes with YouTube fixed what a team of doctors missed. Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences. Racers need to take the time to help each other, and also remember that admitting you have an issue is not a weakness.
For me, Sunday was a huge learning curve. Barry had advised me to get rid of the electronic damper, but I could not find a manual one to replace it with. At least until Jesus Sanjuro, a fellow AFM racer, showed up on his a street stock ZX10 and stopped by my pits. After learning of my damper woes, he offered the damper off his bike. That is what I love about the AFM, we are family. This completely changed my bike and how Sunday would go.
I decided not to race Open Prod, I had my hands full with the Kawasaki and I had already earned enough points to win the Open Production championship without racing. The Open SB race was first up for me and it went OK, not exceptional, but I was starting to get the feel of the bike. The Formula Pacific race came a little while after lunch and I really struggled with fatigue during the race. I had been drinking lots of water during the day, but started to feel super sick half way through the race. I was incredibly frustrated and just assumed it was the flu. I walked to Ricky Corey’s pits to congratulate him on earning the #1, in talking, one of his pit crew guys mentioned I may be dehydrated. I told them I drank plenty of water and Gatorade, but they insisted I try some Pedialite. This is not my favorite drink and I have tried to drink it during race weekends before, this time though, the entire quart went down easy and made me feel 100% better for the last race of the day. Thank you Ricky Corey Racing for helping me when I couldn’t help myself.
The last race, Open GP, started with Tim Scarrott ripping a huge holeshot! He left Martin and I fighting for scraps, we split Tim into T3 and Martin found the lead. My race was spent looking at every hole, every opportunity, to make a pass. A few near misses cost me more time and left me making up the gap again and again. Just when I thought the pass would be made, I missed a shift. Did I mention I had no quick shifter? You get used to that little item and it makes things "unique" when you don’t have it. We had a fun race, but Martin edged me out in the end and won the race and ultimately the Open GP championship.
I finished off the season with the win in the Open Production Championship, 2nd in Open GP, 3rd in Open Superbike and taking the #4 plate in Formula Pacific.
Next year is looking really good. I have a great bike with an amazing suspension under it. Soon the race harness will be installed and the quick-shifter will be working. For sure, this is only the beginning.
"You take a crash, you get back up and next time you succeed and that's a great feeling." - Shaun White
Sunday night, I woke with a jolt as his legs slid across the track in front of my bike, the bits of the scene I could remember, played over and again in my head. The hospital was quite… well, except for the weird, techno chanting coming from my roommate.
For AFM round 6 we were back at Sonoma Raceway and I was eager to see how I would do in the 600 classes now that we were at a different track. My lap times had been dropping tremendously over the last few rounds, and I couldn't help but wonder if that was partly to do with racing at THill for 3 rounds in a row… was I becoming one track specialist?
Saturday morning practice was not very reassuring, as I was way off the pace. My anxiety grew and I wanted to blame something (ha!), so I headed over to KFG to ask Barry about my set-up. "It's a different track, shouldn't I change something?" He asked if the bike had any handling problems, the only issue I had was that the bike felt light on the front, like it wanted to wheelie out of every corner. We talked a little about set-up and the effect of the cool morning air and without any changes I practiced a few more sessions, but now with a plan of what I should pay attention to in the handling of my bike and how I was riding it. After lunch we made a small adjustment to the rear pre-load and I headed back out for the last couple practice sessions. I was able to match my previous best lap times at Sonoma, but so far I was not down to the lap times needed to finish within the top 10 of the 600 classes.
Saturday afternoon’s AFemme race was interesting, I still needed to find the pace to run with Joy. If I couldn't beat her today our positions in the AFemme championship would be decided.
I didn't get a great launch on the start; Joy got the holeshot and the young gun from the northwest, Mackenzie Ancien, pulled ahead me. As I was looking for a way past Mac, Joy started to pull away. On the last left exiting the 8's Mac's bike stepped and tried to buck her off, I stayed on line to the inside, but Mac was still working to get her bike under control and was headed right at me. In order to avoid a collision, I had to stand my bike up and ride through the dirt from the top of 8 to the bottom of the hill, I got back on track as we neared the braking markers into 9 and found my way past Mac into 11. By now Joy had pulled a pretty good lead. My only hope was the big grid of 21 new racers that had started in the 2nd wave, Clubman Lightweight class, would slow Joy down as she started to lap them. At this tight track, I knew getting through traffic would be tricky, so I kept my head down and tried to reel her back in. I ended up getting caught up in the lap traffic myself and finished 2nd, securing 2nd place overall in the Formula AFemme class championship. Congrats to Joy Higa on her win and Mackenzie for rounding out the podium in 3rd!
Sunday morning practice was much better, I was feeling pretty good and I turned a new personal best lap time in my first practice on a Pirelli take off. Going fast in practice is unusual for me, so this boosted my confidence, I was focused and ready for racing.
Race 4 – Open Production
Jason headed out to race first in the Open Production race. With such a close finish last round, Greg McCullough was amped up to challenge for the win against Jason today. He had ridden Jason's Prod bike the day before and liked the feel from the shock. After practice he decided to get together with Barry to help him dial in his set-up. It worked out well for him, Greg was in the zone and he and Jason put on a great show, with Jason just beating Greg for the win. It was a really fun battle between good friends.
Race 5 – 600 Production
I made a good start as the green flag dropped, and maintained my position in 9th as we made our way through the first few turns. As we crested the top of 3A, Cameron Gish and his bike were sliding down the hill. Stephen Rue and I checked up to avoid hitting him and as I did several bikes passed me down the hill into turn 4. I found myself pushed out wide and back to about 15th. As we continued on that lap I started to work my way back up towards the top 10. Coming through turn 1 Sebastiao Ferreira made a tight pass over the curbing on the exit trying to find his way back to the front, but as we reached turn 4 the black flag came out and the race was stopped to tend to a downed racer in Turn 11.
We were stopped and held in turn 7 and sat out on the track for a while. It was hot out there and I asked the turn workers to call race control to see about getting us back to our pit. As they started making final calls for the racers to return to the grid they finally realized they had forgotten us out there and we were released to head back down to restart the race. I grabbed a quick drink of water and lined back up. I was still fired up from the first
start, and having been forced back several positions under the yellow flag, I was ready for a fresh start and got another good launch.
I found myself riding with the usual suspects; Tom Montana at the front
of our pack, Patrick Murphy, Stephen Rue, and myself swapping positions with Bret Nelson. I managed to hold off Bret to the checkers and finished a solid 8th place with a new personal best lap time of 1:46.116, nearly three seconds faster than I had ever gone at Sonoma before.
"Sometimes bad luck hits you like in an ancient Greek tragedy, and it's not your own making." - Werner Herzog
R6 – Open Superbike
At this point our racing luck strated to turn...
Jason gridded up P2, next to Ricky Corey on pole and Martin Szwarc in P3.
His start was good but Ricky launched into the lead. Martin found his way past Jason as he ran wide in turn 2 and Martin started to pull a bit of a gap. Heading into turn 7 Jason started to find his rhythm and began to close the gap back up, but as he came down the hill approaching turn 9 he lost power. He down shifted, but there was no engine braking and he had to stand the bike up and ride through the chicane. He realized then his motor had popped, he pulled it to the wall and parked.
Jason and Ben worked their booties off through the lunch break to swap the brakes and wheels to the Prod bike so Jason could use it to finish his races for the day. He was going to be down on power for Formula Pacific and Open GP, but it was still better for his championship goals than a DNF. (Did Not Finish)
R7 - Formula 1
I decided to run Formula 1 today to get a race mid-day. I thought it would be good for me to add another class and get more track time rather than sitting around all day. Also, after looking at the sign-ups I felt I had a good shot at Top 5 and possibly a podium. With no points in the class, and adding it last minute, I was going to be gridded at the back. I debated requesting KFG status (fast enough lap times to be gridded on the 4th row), but there were only 5 rows anyway and with the last grid position I was able to move over to the right vacant spot to set up for the line around the outside.
As I pulled up to the grid spot on the back row, I noticed the grid spot 2 rows up (directly in front of me) was vacant. This gave me extra clearance to work my plan. As the green flag dropped I launched my R6 just right… It was the best start I had all season! I came around the outside of Ricky Ford and the last thing I remember was a bike sliding broadside in front of me followed by a pair of legs. I remember thinking don't hit the legs and braking to aim for the small gap between the bike sliding past and the feet coming towards me.
After watching the video I realized I just clipped Sergio's feet, but it was enough to spin his body and he body slammed the side of my bike. My bike stepped sideways and poor Ricky, who I had just come around, now had Sergio and me crashing directly in front of him. We all went down like bowling pins and I was knocked out.
I couldn't answer the medic's questions about where I was and what I was
doing, to their satisfaction and my shallow breathing didn't help my cause, I was going for a helicopter ride.
I wasn't there to see it, but I have heard the stories about the other AFM racers and family that came to help when they heard I was being airlifted. Jason said there were 30+ people at our pit helping to load the trailer and get him to the hospital to be with me. You all are amazing and I love you very much. Ben Kautt and Greg McCullough drove our trailer and dogs all the way back to Sacramento, then turned around, drove back to Sonoma to get their own vehicles then home to the east/south bay. Our good friends Mark and Cat Stadler took care of our dogs over the next few days while we stayed at the hospital in Santa Rosa. Thank you all so much!
Also, thanks to everyone who that called and sent messages to check on
me. I feel very lucky and blessed that my injuries, along with my competitors
Ricky and Sergio, weren't worse.
Unfortunately, because of my crash our day came to an early end and Jason missed his Formula Pacific and Open GP races, losing out on valuable points for the championships. I joked with him that he should have stayed and raced because he didn't get in to see me in the trauma center for a couple hours anyway. But I know I am so fortunate to have such a caring and wonderful husband who will drop everything to take care of me.
Thanks to Oxymoron Photography for the pictures.
Thanks to Kevin Fanady for the video of my transport.
And most of all, Thanks to the turnworkers and medics for the excellent care you took of me.
Open Production – P1 1:41.989
Open Superbike – DNF
Formula Pacific – DNS
Open GP – DNS
AFemme - P2 1:49
600 Production – P8 1:46.116
Formula 1 – DNF, Crash on start
600 Superbike – DNS
I was sitting in Jeremy Toye's trailer at AFM round 4 and we were discussing the meaning of life, world peace, religion, and how fast he was going. He was telling me what a great bike the ZX-10R was and how close they were to having the complete package. This sat with me for a few weeks as I thought about my plans for next year. More than once I could be found dabbling on the net looking over specs and reviews on the bike, occasionally mentioning to my wife how cool the new ZX-10 looked. She made some outlandish demand that I would need to win FP to land such a glamorous ride.
Scott helping me pick out some parts.
Flash forward a few weeks and I had heard that Kawasaki was offering a racer contingency program. Contingency has gone the way of the dinosaur, almost extinct, and this was the tipping point for me. Sneaking up to Roseville Yamaha/Kawasaki, I spoke with Sean Coplan, the owner, and "G", the sales manager, they were sure that we could get a deal that would work for me. I was so excited about the idea of riding a new
Helping me all the way out the door.
Last weekend, at AFM Round 6, my bike had a mechanical issue in the
middle of my Open SB race and minutes later I was on the phone
with G confirming my desire to buy the Kawi. A few days later my truck was in the Roseville Yamaha/Kawasaki parking lot, with a shiny new toy getting loaded into the bed. The bike was a done deal, but they helped me work some Kawasaki kit parts into the financing package. Say no more, I went straight over to Scott at the parts counter. I want one of these, two of those, oohhh and for sure one of those.
As I sat there watching Scott run through the list of parts, I saw something that Sean the owner had preached to me, "We aim to make friends out of our customers". A new customer had come in telling the parts guy he found parts cheaper at on-line. Scott was interested in what the customer had to say and did everything he could to help him out, at the end of the conversation he thanked the customer for the chance to earn his business. Earn is not a word you hear much these days. They have certainly earned my business through their great customer service, ability to work with us on bike purchases over the years and their support of racers.
Lets get to the fun part, 1000cc of shiny new garage decoration for Jason. I ordered a few parts to make the bike "race ready". Exactly what does it take to make a bike race ready, or ready to compete at the Formula Pacific level? Over the next few weeks I will show you the transformation from the showroom floor to the race track. Pick a bike, add some goodies, and go racing. The bike I have been racing the last couple of years is loaded with goodies and in no way is a slouch, but this bike is much easier to get to the competitive level. Stay tuned to see what it is going to take to go racing on a new ZX-10R.
Jason and I were both thrilled with our results from Round 4 and we were very much looking forward to Round 5 and building on that momentum. We both had goals leading into the weekend. I wanted to get into the 1:53 lap times… I figured, hey, why not, I’ve been dropping 2 seconds per round that would be consistent gain, and at that pace I’d be in the front by the following round. Jason wants to win FP! Who doesn’t really? Haha! But he actually has a pretty good shot at it and he has been working hard to get there. These are big goals, and while we might not have achieved them this weekend, we are well on our way.
We arrived Friday evening and found ourselves a pit spot on the front row near hot pit lane, I knew it was going to be a low turn-out when that pit spot was still available, but being next to the hot pit sure did make it nice since we didn’t have our mechanic Ben there to help this weekend. It was much easier for Jason and I to help each other out and still run out and give pit signals for each other even though our races were back to back.
As usual I was first up to race in AFemme on Saturday afternoon. This AFemme race will be one to remember; partly because the race was AWESOME and so fun, but mostly because of my AFM Family.
Learning from my “issue” last round on the start I made damn sure I was in gear prior to the flag dropping, thank goodness Greg McCullough texted me to remind me to do this or I may have forgotten again. :P But sadly... my start was not much better than last time. As the 2 board came out I brought up the revs on my bike, but they climbed a little higher than I normally launch at, I tried rolling out of the throttle a little, but before I knew it the 1 board was out and the green flagged dropped. As I released the clutch up she came, front wheel high in the air. I backed down on the throttle and the front set down, as soon as I felt it drop I pinned it… oops! Up she came again. I guess I was practicing my wheelies on this start. Sigh……
There goes Joy, Mackenzie and Josie up the inside with a good start from the 2nd row. I made quick work getting back past Josie into turn 2 and Mackenzie around turn 3 and I was back on Joy’s rear wheel, thankfully, she didn’t get too far away from me on the start this time. I felt great, so much confidence in my bike; those Pirelli’s were sticking like glue and my suspension felt solid. I latched onto Joy and studied her through the race, I found some areas where I felt I could overtake and I also figured out where she was pulling away. I found myself thinking strategy, if I passed to soon or in the wrong place she would take me right back. Joy has been getting that 1000 dialed and she is damn fast.
As we passed the ½ way flags I knew I was going to have to go for it soon. I made a couple tries in different areas, but found myself losing ground instead of gaining. I closed the gaps back up each time and was right on Joy’s rear wheel on the last lap. My plan was to try to make the pass in turn 10 and then try to get the drive on her coming out of turn 11. As we came down the hill toward 10, Joy was not using all the track and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to go outside and try an over/under pass in 10, but as I came up the outside, tires on the edge of the asphalt, she moved over to open up her corner and I found myself hard on the brakes to avoid hitting her, rear wheel in the air. Whooo, that was close!
I settled back in behind her thru the esses, we rolled out of turn 13 onto the back straight and we had a couple of lappers there. Joy moved over to the left side of the track to get to the outside of them. I decided to go up the inside and take the tight line into 14. Just before we got to the bridge Joy saw me pulling ahead of her and moved quickly from the left to the center of the track to get inside the second lapper, it was too late as I had already pulled in front for the corner. Knowing that I was going to be at a disadvantage on my 600 once we were thru the corner and on the long front straight, I decided to see if I could just make her wait for a second before turning in to 14 and hopefully hinder her momentum. I held the lead onto the straight, tuck, tuck, tuck, shift, pinned, tuck, tuck, shift, tuck shift, 6th gear pinned I made it 3/4 of the way to the checkers before she pulled up beside me. I tried to tuck tighter and twist the throttle harder, though there was nothing left for it to give, Joy grabbed another gear and pulled ahead as we cross the finish. Wow! I almost got her.
And ohh emm gee, that was fun. After the race, Joy complimented me on how fast my bike is, Hasi is strong and fast thanks to the fresh motor work at the beginning of the season from Mach Modified. The best part of the day was walking through the paddock after the race and throughout the evening, It seemed like I was congratulated by nearly everyone in the paddock, thanks to Vik and Alan for the enthusiastic announcing, it was a fantastic feeling and I thank every one of you for the kind words. It truly does feel like a big family at the AFM, this 2nd place felt an awful lot like a win.
Saturday after the races the other lady racers and I convened for our 2nd post race mixer to share our stories and chat about racing, then we headed over to the Catching’s for dinner. Great food and a fun atmosphere, we celebrated Alan’s upcoming trip to compete in the Manx GP and had cupcakes and Riley’s brews.
Race 4 – Open Production
By Jason - Yellow was the theme of the day. I didn’t have a great start and then with a bunch of traffic, the race became pretty stressful. Tim Scarrott was all over me for the first few laps and he rode a great race, but with some well-timed passes and a few fast laps I managed to stretch out a nice lead. I was told later that day by Joe Hittner, that his mother-in-law, who doesn’t know much about racing, saw that I wheelied the length of the front straight and she liked it. Glad it a smile on her face. Like Dan Sewell says, remember to smile in your helmet and have fun.
Race 5 – 600 Production
By Jenn - There was a slight delay after Open Production for them to pick up crashed bikes so I actually got to watch all of Jason’s race and help him with his bike when he came in. It was also nice because he was able to help me pull my warmers and get me out for my race.
I started on grid spot P9 again and am starting to figure out how to get thru the first turn from this spot. I got off the line well and found myself with the usual suspects, plus one, Oscar Fernandez who was at the lead of the pack. We had quite a battle behind Oscar as each person took a turn behind him trying to find a way past, it is challenging to pass someone running at your pace, but even harder when there are other bikes all around, jumping into the line you thought you were going to take. We shuffled all through the race, but as Rue found his way past Oscar he started to break away and I got anxious, I knew I could go faster and I wanted to go with him. I just needed to get a pass and some clear track.
On the penultimate lap Nelson found his way past me in turn 5 and around the outside of Oscar in 5a, I stuck tight to Oscar and was able to make a pass as we headed down the front straight past the white flag, but Oscar came in later on the brakes in turn 1 and managed around the outside of me. Nelson was still just ahead of us and as we came down the hill into turn 10 he out-broke himself and ran off track leaving some room for me to battle with Oscar. Down the back straight I was able to pull ahead of Oscar and make the pass stick into turn 14, I set up for the drive and repeated the tuck, tuck, tuck from AFemme, today with better results.
I finished ahead of Oscar in 9th and made a slight improvement on my personal best lap time 1:55, by dropping a tenth of a second from last month.
R6 – Open Superbike
By Jason – Off to a good run, I pulled the holeshot off the start. Toye came by me as we headed into turn 2 putting me in 2nd, turns out he’s pretty damn fast. I tried to hang out with him, but he stretched out the lead and did the old auto-pilot thing. Still second place is a good start to the open bike classes of the day. Michael Earnest made a guest appearance in Superbike and showed everyone that you don’t lose talent like that. It was cool to have him out there.
R9 – Formula Pacific
It was a strange day without Ricky there, but there were plenty of riders ready to step up and fight to get on the box, including me. Tucker grabbed an excellent start and the holeshot, Toye showed his experience and patience in setting up the pass on Tucker and I followed suit. Then I went to school and learned what I could from the fastest guy on track trying to stay with Toye as long as possible. I could see from the pit signals Jenn was giving that there was a lot of action happening behind me, I worked on staying focused and running a clean race. I set a new personal lap time dropping into the 1:49’s on a few laps and despite a couple mistakes in the race I held onto 2nd place.
FP Podium!!! This time with Jeremy Toye in 1st and Deion Campbell in 3rd. This is becoming a good habit, 2nd place is even better than 3rd and if 2nd feels this good, then I can’t wait to know the feeling of the top spot. I can’t help but look over at the guy in 1st and want to be standing there. It is not a lack of respect, rather my desire to beat them is the ultimate sign of respect.
R13 – Open GP
I rode too conservative in this race. Martin rode a smart, aggressive race and deserved the win. We had some close moments though the race. It was clean racing, but in the end my poor choices left me 1 spot short of my goals. Congrats to Martin, he rode excellent. The photos by Oxymoron capturing the race action are awesome. --->
R14 – 600 Superbike
By Jenn - After listening to the end of Jason and Martin’s battle over the mic, I pulled off my warmers and headed out for my last race. I started in P10 on the grid and got a good start, up just behind the race leaders for a moment , in turn 2, and 3 I ended up shuffling to the back of the group with Peter Kemling, Stephen Rue, Bret Nelson and Joe Palmeri. Over the next couple of laps Rue worked his way to the front and was off, next Bret moved past Palmeri and Kemling pulled a gap. I managed past Palmeri and settled in behind Kemling. I didn’t have anything for him this race, I felt like I was going fast, which was a sure sign I was over-riding and not in my rhythm. I was disappointed with my lap times, mostly 58’s and 57’s, which is funny because only 2 rounds ago that was a personal best. How quickly we move on. LOL! I still pulled a top 10, finishing in 8th, so I was happy with that.
Again, overall Ritz Racing had an amazing weekend, we each had new personal best lap times, both of us had fun, challenging battles and we took another step closer to our overall goals for the season.
See you all at Sonoma in a month.
Open Production – P1 1:52.906
Open Superbike – P2 1:50.014
Formula Pacific – P2 1:49.638
Open GP – P2 1:50.168
AFemme - P2 1:56.307
600 Production – P9 1:55.751
600 Superbike – P8 1:57.772
If you can conceive it, and believe it, you can achieve it.
This is one of my all-time favorite sayings; I can’t remember where I heard it first, but it has been a saying that I repeat to myself often in different aspects of my life. I actually carry it on a card in my wallet as constant reminder that nothing is impossible. This saying is a catchy twist on the actual quote of Napoleon Hill, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve" and is the perfect words to sum up the results of Ritz Racing’s AFM Round 4 weekend at Thunderhill Raceway.
As is typical for us this season we were not able to get off work to make Friday practice, but we did get off work early enough to get up to the track and get set-up before dinner which was a nice change. After dinner, a couple beers and a few hours of socializing I headed off to bed. If you recall my story from Round 3, I had 2 lessons; 1) don’t drink too much alcohol and get a good night sleep on Friday and 2) get some heat training time in to get my body used to working out in the hot temperatures.
Leading up to this round, Jason and I spent several days training on our bicycles in the heat of the day. We also had a couple outdoor climbing days with plenty of time hiking and basking in the sun. It paid off, I had more energy on Saturday and didn’t run into the issue I had last round with mid-race exhaustion. Still, Saturday practice was the low of my weekend. There was a very low turn-out at this round, which meant they re-organized practice groups and I got dumped back down into Group 3. I wasn’t thrilled because all the people I race with were in G4, but they had personal best lap times just a tad faster than me. I was willing to accept my fate and just ride with the goal to be fastest in G3, until the AFM decided to start combining groups to give us more track time. It was a kind gesture and meant to benefit us, but there was a large delta in the pace of the fast end of G3 and the slow end of G2. I went out for a few laps and watched multiple bonsai, group passes and resulting run-offs and crashes as racers reacted to being stuffed, I pulled in as I felt it was unsafe to continue. I filed my complaint with Barb and she sent me out with G4. This was good, as finally I was able to get some clear track and find my rhythm.
Saturday afternoon’s AFemme class kicks off the weekend racing for us and once practice is done I get to be the center of attention since Jason doesn’t race on Saturday. Ben and Jason got my bike ready, tires swapped, fueled up and brake’s checked. All I had to do was listen to my music and get focused. I was grid position 2, front row next to Joy Higa on pole. As the 3 board came out I clicked my bike into gear, it didn’t feel like it engaged, so I gave it another try… 2 board, it still felt like it didn’t engage so I let out the clutch a little, careful not to “jump the start” and felt the bike pull. I guess it is gear…. 1 board, sideways, green flag…. Jenn goes NOWHERE. Every girl on the grid, including the novice wave on the 4th row, went by me as I stood there working to get my bike in gear. Now I had a game of chase on my hands, I can run with Joy if I am there on the start, but chasing her down when she had a 10 second head start is another story. I also had Melissa Paris out there on her 2-stroke 250 and I wasn’t sure what lap times she would be running today. I wasn’t willing to give up just yet though, as you never know what could happen, so I charged, making my way past each girl ahead one at a time. By turn 6 I had worked past everyone except Mackenzie Ancien in P2 and Joy in P1. I caught up with Mac and made the pass just as we were completing the first lap and then I set my sights on Joy. I was hoping the lap traffic would play in my favor and I would be able to close the gap, but not today. I finished second.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday
I came in after the morning warm up session and told Jason I just wasn’t feeling “it” this morning. Whatever, “it” is I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I was over-thinking, trying too hard in my head before I even took to the track. I so badly want to get in the Top 10 again and run with the front pack, I felt so anxious. We headed down to the rider’s meeting, after the regular business we filmed a little AFM message of well wishes and love to Dave Stanton and CT Racing handed out some DS53 support stickers. I headed back to the pits, put my DS53 sticker on my swingarm and posted a picture to Facebook, with the comment that having the Fassst 53 on-board had to be good for at least a second off my lap times. Jason and I went into the trailer to cool off before our races and put the “Jenn Raceday Music Mix” on the stereo. A little dancing and singing and we were ready to go racing. J
Race 4 – Open Production
By Jason – I was the first race on Sunday and it turned out to be a blast to the past. Greg and I have been called the twins for several years now. Even though we don’t match anymore we still get the nickname. If you are going to be linked with someone throughout your race career, then he is probably one of the best out there. All rear end smooching aside, we play by a different set of rules when we ride together I heard from the announcing crew it was a fun race to call. We both had so much fun during the race. All said and done it was an awesome race with a great racer. The finish was only separated by .001 with me just edging him at the line.
Race 5 – 600 Production
By Jenn - Watching the start of Jason’s race and the fun battle he had with Greg got me amp’d up for my own race. As I pulled up to the inside grid spot, P9 on the third row, I recalled the last round when I had the same grid spot and how traffic pinched me off in turn 1. I decided on my plan for the start this time and pulled my visor down as the 3 board came up. I made 100% sure the bike was in gear, ha, lesson learned and brought up my rev’s as the 1 board came out. Green Flag and we were off. I moved over to the right off the start and found an opening as we rounded turn 1 and pinned it down the short straight to turn 2. I dropped into about 9th or 10th position as we rounded turn 2 and I held with the pack. As we completed the first lap the front 5 broke away and dropped their lap times down to the 51’s and 52’s. I hung with the 2nd group in a 9 bike pack from 6th position back to 15th. I was passed by a couple of others and dropped back to 13th by time we crossed the start/finish. There was quite a bit of shuffling within the pack in the first few laps, on the 3rd lap Naylor Kinzer came by me and worked his way ahead of Anthony Manciu forcing Manciu to check up just enough for me to get in his draft, Manciu and I battled for 12th position, Kinzer and Bret Nelson were having a battle for 10th just in front of us. On the last lap Kinzer managed a pass on Bret and they both dropped their pace as they made the checkered flag charge and started to pull a gap. Still, I knew they were within my reach, feeling motivated and confident I managed to stick a pass on Manciu and put my head down to chase down Bret. I dropped a full 1 second lap faster than Bret, but it wasn’t enough to get him at the line. I was really happy with how my race went, but it wasn’t until the lunch break that I made my way into the score sheets to see that I had dropped my lap times 2 more seconds again from last round getting into the 1:55’s. I was so excited, I couldn’t help but wander around the pits a little and gloat over my new found speed… Now I just needed to back it up in 600 Superbike.
R6 – Open Superbike
By Jason – I finished in 5th place with all the FP guys out there….throughout the duration you could find me racing to find the front or the back of one person or another. I am sure that more happened in this race, but I am going to claim temporary insanity due to the rest of my day.
R9 – Formula Pacific
By Jason - 3rd Place, first FP podium...Ricky Corey, Jeremy Toye, & Jason Lauritzen on the box. Yeah I like the sound of that. You can’t write the drama that went on in this race. The race had crashes, missed shifts, jumped starts and more drama than an episode of My Babies Teen Mama Who Loves Her Cousin or whatever new reality TV show just came out. The reality of my situation was getting stopped by tech and told, “Don’t go to your pits, go to the FP Podium.” I have a huge list of people who have helped me, but my wife gets the first bit of love. I fumbled my podium speech, but Toye and Ricky were very patient. I was so happy that I was able to thank all my sponsors, plus Dave Stanton. It was the best part of my whole day. Dave is continuing to support me by sharing his advice and experiences; I am truly honored to be someone he spends his time and effort on. Thank you to everyone for my first FP podium, and I hope to give you many more.
R11 – 600 Superbike
By Jenn - I splurged again, I fear this is the beginning of an expensive habit, and we had CT Racing mount up a fresh rear tire for this race. I rolled to my grid position ready to give it my all. From P10 on the third row I got off the line with the group and held 10th behind Mackenzie Ancien, who got a great jump off the start. I played chase behind Mac for the first lap, as she runs great defensive lines and gets good drive onto the straights. As I came down the front straight I could see that the top 5 had made their break-away again and the second pack had started to pull a pretty big gap on us. I made my pass on Mac between turn 2 and 3 on the 2nd lap and put a target on the group in front of me. My lap times dropped each lap and I was closing the gap, as I came down the front straight Mike Canfield was on the wall cheering like mad, was he cheering for me… or was he cheering for the bike right behind me, (I knew was there because of Ben’s wall signals.) I decided it was for me. Ha! Carry on. As I rounded turn 15 and saw the white flag waving at the start-finish tower I knew I only had about 1 minute and 55 seconds left to catch the group, who now was only a few bike lengths ahead of me… I couldn’t believe I had reeled them in and was still closing. With every corner I was closer, as we rolled left through turn 4 I picked the bike up and had a great drive, I decided I would take my inside line (that I used to make the pass on Joy for the AFemme win last year) and see if I could get closer to Kinzer… but as I got about mid-way up the hill I realized I had far more speed than I have ever carried on this inside line before and I was not going to get my braking done in time to turn in. I kept the bike upright and on the brakes past the apex and had to make a decision, ride through the dirt and down the steep hill or turn and try to make the corner. Unfortunately my choice didn’t work out so well, I turned in and felt the front tire lift and slide. Down I went, sliding down the asphalt on my hip and shoulder, with the bike still between my legs, we slid down the pavement as one for a ways until finally sliding into the dirt on the inside. There the bike and I parted ways and slid to a stop. I bounced up and headed up to the turn workers booth, only thing hurt was my finish result. I still had great lap times, dropping to low 1:56 on the lap before my crash and I had so many people compliment me on my race. I was thrilled when Corey Neuer and Wyatt Farris came over to my pit to check on me and tell how great they thought my ride was. I am bummed that I crashed, but I haven’t had a crash since the first round of 2011, I wasn’t hurt and my bike wasn’t badly damaged, so as they say, I got off fairly easily. To have made the improvements I have made in the last 2 ½ years without a crash is incredible and I really feel great about my progress and my results. I can’t tell you often enough how amazing the coaching I get from Ken Hill is, plus my guest instruction from Scott Russell didn’t hurt either. I have him to thank for helping me find my way thru turn 3. I am like a walking billboard for FasterSafer results. The other thing you won’t get me shut-up about is the improvements I have made since I started dirt tracking at PCDTX and racing SupermotoUSA, Brok McAllister introduced me to the joys of controlling the slide and bike handling skills. But sometimes, you do still need to slow down enough for the corner. Haha!
R12 – Open GP
By Jason – Still crazy excited about my first FP podium, I remember very little about this race. Well, let’s hit the highlights then, shall we? Great start, Lenny got by, I repassed Lenny, and then I saw a gap signal telling me someone was closing and fast. I saw a wheel once in T2 and then pushed the rest of the race. It turned out it was Martin stalking me. I managed to push and open a small gap on the last lap, enough to take another win for my sponsors.
Overall the weekend was a great success for us, it was a great time with several personal victories. We must thank the Catching’s for an amazing dinner. They put together a wonderful meal with fantastic company and it is really nice to not have to cook at the end of a long day, this is definitely going to be a new ritual for us. Thanks to Correne Cook for the massage therapy and giving us each some much needed treatment to loosen us up for racing. Correne does great work which is evident by the fact that her table generally cannot be found without someone on it. And last but not least, thanks to all our sponsors for the support. We hope to keep bringing you great results and representing you in a positive light.
Open Production – P1 1:52.369
Open GP – P1 1:51.509
Open Superbike – P5 1:51.112
Formula Pacific – P3 1:51.150
AFemme - P2 1:59.733
600 Production – P12 1:55.895
600 Superbike – DNF, last lap crash 1:56.213
It’s that time of year, high school and college students are graduating and the younger students are going through promotions… from Kindergarten to 1st grade, from Elementary to Jr. High and from Jr. High to High School. My cyclist racing friends are getting promotions from Cat 4 to Cat 3 or from Cat 3 to Cat 2. Well, I went through my own promotion this weekend with the AFM.
Friday afternoon we arrived and set up, we spent a little time visiting with our friend’s from PTT and then later that evening headed over to the Norman/Stanton compound to have a couple drinks and chat it up… we were there too late and I had at least one too many drinks--thank you Barry Wressell for the margarita you left me. :P and though it was fun… I would later regret drinking more beer than water, it just doesn’t hydrate quite the same.
Saturday morning my husband came back from registration and handed me my tech forms… the very first thing I noticed was the bold “4” in the upper right corner. I had been promoted into practice group 4. We have 5 practice groups, where the club is equally split thru the groups based on registered AFM lap times. It is some obscure formula that calculates an average for each racers current lap times and divides the number of racers signed up into a somewhat equal distribution into practice groups for the weekend, with group 5 being the fastest of the fast racers in the club. I have been in practice group 3 for what seems like an eternity, I think it has been the last 4 years of the 7 I have been racing. Most of the racers I am now battling or surrounded by in the races were already in practice group 4, but I was still in 3. Based on being near the top of the group 3 practice times last round, I was planning to request to be moved up this weekend, I was elated to see that I had been promoted without having to ask.
I happily rolled out into my first group 4 practice to get warmed up on track. The wind on Saturday was strong, blowing from the north to the south. I expected the tail wind into 1, 9 and 10 and the head wind into 14 would alter my braking plan, but what I did not expect was the impact the wind would have on every other corner on track. The entrance into 2 the wind would push me wide and then slam me narrow on the exit, the wind would grab my front tire and move it over as it got light when I crested the top of turn 5 and it would push me tight through turns 6, 7 and 8. I struggled through my morning practice sessions trying to find the right line and references to get up to speed with the wind forces. Almost everyone was struggling to some degree, but the leader of practice group 5, Jeremy Toye, was still putting down 1:50 lap times so I had to acknowledge speed was not impossible in these conditions. Not the way I had hoped my first day in group 4 would go, my lap times were looking pretty dismal for me to even match, much less beat my previous personal best. In hope of a miracle, I found Barry of KFG Racing and drug him over to my pit to make a small set-up change on my bike.
The AFemme race gridded up around 4:00 pm and the wind had died down a little, but the heat had picked up to about 101F. I lined up in 2nd on the grid and waited for the rest of the field to take their grid spots, I was keeping an eye on my engine heat and was just about to turn my bike off when they went from the 3 board to the 2. I put the bike in gear, 1 board, rev’d the motor and saw my engine light flash on, just enough distraction for me to not get the jump on the green flag and I went back to P4 off the start with Joy and Zoe getting the jump and Shelina Moreda coming inside me into turn 1. I couldn’t afford to let Joy and Zoe get a gap on me on their 1000’s, so I had to make quick work of getting back past Shelina. I took the long way around the outside of her in turn 2 and was able to make the pass stick up the inside in turn 3. Joy and Zoe were battling and hadn’t made the break so I quickly latched onto the back of them. It was a bit of a yo-yo effect thru the race until I saw the ½ way flag, I decided to push a little harder and see if I could find a way to get close enough for a pass. Coach Ken would not have approved, as I forgot about everything I knew and started rushing the corners and making mistakes that let them open up a bit of a gap… and then I got tired… more like, exhausted. My times dropped off as the mistakes compounded, my mental focus was lost and I couldn’t get the passes on lap traffic done as efficiently as I needed. I still finished 3rd despite my late race issues, and I did manage to get a couple laps in high 1:58’s which was an improvement on my previous personal best of 1:59.2, plus a big improvement on my practice times from the morning. My take-away from the race was that it was time to heed my husband’s advice and get out and ride my pedal bike in the heat to get my body acclimated. The next round is the beginning of July at Thunderhill, so I’ve got some heat training to do.
Saturday night I drank plenty of water and limited myself to one beer and went to bed early. My focus this year is to finish in the top 10 in the 600 races and I was going to need my energy Sunday for my 600 races.
Our Sunday schedule was action packed, thank goodness for Ben, he has picked up our process so fast and every time we check on something, Ben already has it done. With Jason in Race 4, me in 5, Jason in 6, then lunch, Jason in races 9 and 13 and me rounding out the day in 14, we kept Ben on his toes and he kept us on track without worries.
First up was Jason in Open Production and he started the day off with a bang by getting the win.
Looks like I would have to keep up the momentum. I headed out for 600 Production and rolled up to my grid spot #8, holy crap I’m on the 2nd row… I’m in the top 10 in points. Berto in P7 looks over at me and gives me the thumbs up. The flag drops and I get a KILLER launch, I’m in the lead pack as we round turn 1 and I find myself filing into about 7th right behind Tom Montano… I feel like I have arrived! These are the fast guys and I am right there with them. I lost a spot to Deion Campbell as we rounded the first lap and approached the start-finish, but managed a 1:59 lap time from the standing start. Robin Geenen got past me on the 2nd lap, Kelly Barnett on the 3rd lap and Patrick Murphy on the 4th lap. I held onto my position in 11th through lap 5 and most of lap 6; headed into turn 11 I missed my down-shift… this is not a place you want to miss a down-shift and Bret Nelson pulled up beside me as we exited 13, twisting my throttle for everything it was worth still didn’t bring the RPM’s up any faster and Bret beat me to turn 14. I tried a last ditch effort by tucking into his draft down the front straight, I moved out of his draft to the inside and stayed pinned over the finish line. Timing shows I crossed the checkers less than a 10th of a second behind him. 12th position! This was a huge step closer to my top 10 goal and a big improvement from my 20th position finish last round. Additionally, every lap was between a 1:59.8 -1:58.7, improvement in consistency at my personal best pace. This was a great race and I was pumped… now I had some down time while Jason had 3 races before I would be on track again at the end of the day.
When I got back to the pit, Jason was already on track for Open Superbike, I got my gear off quickly and Ben and I headed down to watch him. We were pulling up to the hot pits just in time to see the flag drop and Jason’s front end come way up into the air. He got a terrible start from P5 and went back to 15th or so. He made some quick passes through the field he was up to about 7th as they headed through turn 5 to 6, I couldn’t see what happened from the pit wall but I saw bikes down and several racers diverting off track. The red flag came out and soon I saw Jason coming down the hot pits and headed back to our pit. Jason and Greg told us that Dave Stanton was involved in the crash and they were rolling an ambulance for him. My least favorite thing about racing is when the helivac has to make an appearance. We all know it is the risk we take in racing, but it doesn’t discount the pain and sadness we feel when our fellow racers are injured. As is typical on a race weekend, we don’t often hear how the injured racers are doing or the extent of their injuries until the day is over, sometimes not even until a day or two later. We carry on racing, hoping for the best possible outcome and keeping Dave in our thoughts.
The Open Superbike race is restarted and Jason got a better launch into 4th position. At lap 5, Martin Szwarc got by Jason coming out of turn 12, when he must have pulled over for a smoke break or something, I couldn’t see what he was doing on the back straight, but Martin pulled about a 5 second gap. Recharged on a nicotine buzz (haha), Jason caught a second wind and put the hammer down, chasing Martin back down and taking back 4th at the line by 1/100th of a second.
Race 9 - Formula Pacific, Jason went off the start into 6th position behind Jeremy, Ricky, Lenny, Martin and Tucker. Tucker and Jason went past Martin, then Jason got caught up in the middle of the 600 young guns as Deion went past both him and Tucker. Jason managed to pass Tucker on the 6th lap and held 5th to the finish. In the process Jason set a new personal best lap time cracking a 1:50.
The day was drawing to a close and Jason was up again in race 13, Open GP. After seeing Bud Anderson’s photo of he and his wife drinking margaritas from his trophy cups earned on Saturday night, I thought what a great idea and decided we could feed our dogs from our trophy cups this weekend. Problem was we only had two trophies so far and we have 3 dogs. I told Jason he needed to head on out there and get another trophy so we could feed our dogs tonight, or one of them would be very upset with him. Jason delivered. From a front row start, Jason got the holeshot and led the first half of the race, Lenny came around him and put Jason into 2nd position where he finished. Thanks goodness all 3 dogs would get fed.
Finally, my last race of the day was 600SB and I really wanted to shoot for the top 10 finish, plus a 1:57 lap time. I had the awesome guys at CT Racing mount up a new SC1 on my rear wheel, this was splurge, but the SC2 I had been running all weekend was starting to slide a little and I wanted the advantage. I gridded up in P9, inside of the 3rd row, I didn’t have a good start plan, which was unusual for me, but this was a position I had never been in before… up front with the fast guys and on the inside. I thought I would shoot up the inside, make a tight corner and stay inside to turn 2. This did not work, even though I had a good launch off the line, I got the door slammed on me going into turn 1 and the racers started cutting across the front of me to the inside line into 2. Trying to find some room I chose to move to the outside and took the outside line around turn 2. I picked up a few spots and dropped into 10th behind Stephen Rue and Naylor Kinzer, I hung with them as they battled it out. Each lap I came around Ben gave me a pit signal letting me know how far back the next rider was. On the next to last lap I noticed the large gap he was signaling had gone down a bit and I put my head down. Volga Mermut put down a flier on his last lap and I could feel him stalking me. I focused on turn 14, I knew I needed to get in there just right, the way Scott Russell had taught me, and get the drive out onto the front straight. Down the front straight I saw Ben’s fist clinched closely together telling me he was right there… and thinking about how Jason got by Martin at the line when Martin sat up, I kept telling myself to stay tucked and pinned until I crossed the line. I beat Volga by a wheel and got my first 600 class Top Ten! I didn't quite crack the 1:57's but I got very close with a 1:58.0. Promotion!
Jason and I had good progress and results on our race weekend and we were very happy with that, though we had heavy hearts after hearing about the injuries Dave had sustained. Dave is an amazing man and has inspired and encouraged nearly every AFM racer in the paddock. I have seen Dave in some difficult situations at the track that might put many others out; bike mechanicals, crashes, bad passes and Dave always finds the humor in the situation and manages to stay positive. He is a Champion and he will rise to the top of this injury and continue to inspire and motivate us all. We love you Dave!
Open Production – P1 1:53.346
Open GP – P2 1:51.578
Open Superbike – P4 1:51.542
Formula Pacific – P5 1:50.896
AFemme - P3 1:58.727
600 Production – P12 1:58.741
600 Superbike – P10 1:58.092
One of the most under-appreciated things in life is comfort, or at least until you don’t have it. Everyone knows comfort in some way. You know that old baseball hat you have, the really old one. That hat that has seen more adventure than Indiana Jones. The way it just sits on your head in that perfect spot, and has a the perfect bend to the bill (it’s something us old guys did growing up). Comfort comes in more forms than just an old hat or the favorite sweatshirt you have had since college. Sometimes it is just a smell or a feeling you get. I don’t really like sweets, but a kitchen with the smell of fresh baked cookies has a special place in my heart. It is a comforting smell that makes me feel, that for a little while, everything is going to be ok.
Round 2 was a nice weekend at Infineon, oops I mean Sears, uhhh Sonoma Raceway. Friday practice wasn’t available, so it was the old show and go. Jenn and I took a much deserved vacation to Greece and had not tested since round 1 at BW. No problem, they’re almost the exact same track, right? My Saturday was going to be super busy and my attention was split; I had a super bike which I would be racing in 3 classes on Sunday and a production bike that would only be raced in one. I hadn’t seen the track in almost 7 months and neither of my bikes had baseline settings to start from. My comfort level is very low at this point, I felt like I had a brand new hat and only 5 minutes to break it in. I know this analogy may be lost on some, but hang tuff.
I suppose you could break comfort down a few ways for the purpose of this story;
#1 Perfect- this term is used when nothing can be done to improve your current situation. Probably a lot like Ben Spies felt when kicking the crap out of the WSBK field a few years back.
#2 Good- when you feel good about your chances, but not everything is perfect. Rossi on the Yamaha is coming to mind. Sure the bike is good, he is good, but they are not perfect yet.
#3 Making Adjustments- that thing a racer says either about the bike or himself between races. They are searching for perfect, but would settle for good. Sometimes you make the wrong adjustment and end up with a number 4.
# *#!@#! - Yes the good old number 4. Usually not spoken around women or children, these words can often be found in the company of sailors. No amount of anything seems like it is going to make things better. Probably what everyone at Ducati feels like since Stoner left.
Yes, my comfort was at a good old number 4. Luckily for me, the next few things helped me out of a #4 and into a much more pleasant #3. Ben Kautt is our team mechanic for the year. He had been to one race prior to Saturday, but is already picking things up and taking an enormous weight off my shoulders. So if you are need of a boost in the old comfort department, run right out and get yourself a Ben. Don’t ask me where I got mine, he was the last one on the shelf and they are sold out.
Already in a better place than before, life got even better when we rolled some tires down to Pirelli. CT Racing’s, Chris McGuire informed me that they had a new spec tire for me to run. “Expect greatness,” Chris said. A better tire and help in the pits was making me feel like I had a chance. Sitting there with both bikes being prepped by Ben, my wife can see the look in my eyes; she is always calming and talks to me until, like a true genius, she gets me to talk through my issues. Somehow I walk away feeling like I have a plan for the day, thanks to Ken Hill Coaching this is something she has made a routine. Now she makes it mine too.
Saturday was not to be a total loss and practice was going pretty well… until a near high side made me pull off track. I somehow managed to sprain my ankle, and pretty bad at that. Just as my comfort level started to slip away again, another new addition to our program stopped by our pit, KFG Racing’s Barry Wressel. He and his wife, April, have become a big part my racing support this year. Barry stopped by to check on things after my near high side, he said he was on the wall and watched me have my moment. I was exiting turn 9 when it happened and Barry’s view was mostly blocked by the wall, so the fact that he saw it reinforced the feeling that my superman to face plant on the bike was as big as I thought. Regardless, he worked some KFG magic and I was then able to spend the rest of my sessions just getting comfortable with the track. Comfort level restored to a 3.
Sunday, like always, was busy. When I am not racing, Jenn is, and if neither of us are on track, it must be lunch. My day started well with a hard fought win in race #4 - Open Production. Race #6 was Open Superbike, “the pre-Formula Pacific,” with all the top FP contenders lining up. The race started off good, but my pace was not what I needed to stay up front. I finished in 6th place behind the usual suspects. Race #9 - the real FP got going great with me starting out lap one in a strong 4th position, but a red flag would have us start over again. The restart was so bad, so so so so bad. Siglin came over on me after a bit of a wheelie off the start, with my own front end floating in the air I was forced to shut it down so I wouldn’t end up riding both bikes. Unable to latch on to the leaders after that, my pace dwindled and mistakes a plenty started. Coming over the crest of turn 3A the bike did what it could to stay upright, despite my intentions to crash us both out. Right about the time my back wheel left the curbing, I thought it best to just sit up and use that fancy T4 runoff. I watched nearly the entire field of 30 riders pass me as I tried to rejoin the race. I rode as hard as possible, while trying to be safe with passing, and managed to salvage a 12th place finish. My last race of the day, Open GP, went better and I ended up with a 4th place finish.
Jenn was able to find a higher level of comfort than I was over the weekend. She started off Saturday by matching her previous personal best lap time at Sonoma in the AFemme race and giving a good chase to Joy and Krystyna on their liter bikes. Barry freshened up her suspension Saturday night and after Sunday morning practice she had a higher level of confidence in her bike. When she told Greg and I she intended to drop 2 more seconds we shrugged it off just a little, because once you get below the 1:50 lap pace, 2 second drops don't come that easy. But Jenn must have really found that comfort... in the 600 Production race she dropped a full second and dipped into the 1:48's and in her last race, 600 Superbike, she dropped another full second to achieve a new personal best dipping into the 1:47's. All this on the same Pirelli tires she ran in the two previous races and on a colder track after the lunch time rain shower.
It is nearly a month later and as I sit here typing this, I feel a bit like Rossi. GOOD, is my current level of comfort. How did I increase my level of comfort? It’s funny to sit here and type it out, but it started by finding a leak on my superbike this past Sunday night, only a week before the race. Monday was supposed to be spent at the track testing a few things on the super bike, but I was only able to get the production bike ready to go. Due to my job this year, track testing time has been hard to come by, and with one bike down my testing plan would have to be modified. Oh and lets throw in some rain and see if we can make this day a real winner. Fortunately, the rain held off and we were able to get some quality laps in on a mostly dry, but very cold track.
Have you ever watched pro racer interviews in the middle of winter? Yeah, me too. I love to see what the pro’s do to train, test, eat, and their general state of mind during the off-months. There was a particular interview about a test day I recall, a factory rider was at the track and was being interviewed. Keep in mind he had a whole crew with him for support; mechanics, suspension guys, the whole lot. When he was asked how the day went, he replied, “great! We found a seat.” The interviewer seemed perplexed, “Well, did you find anything for next year?” Again the rider replied, “yeah, we found a seat.” With thousands of dollars, tires, mechanics, engines, software and other goodies the rider was still stoked about a seat. “It’s simple,” he said, “I can’t go fast if I am not comfortable.” Let that rattle around your head for a second.
Well, with some work in the gym and a few minor changes with my bike and my body position, I am getting more comfortable on my bike. It has been difficult for me to find “comfortable” on the 1000. My R6 was like my favorite hat or that sweatshirt you refuse to throw out. I may have finally found a new hat and have now had ample time to break it in! So you want advice on how to be faster racer, spend the next track day on whatever it is you need to get comfortable. Maybe it is working on that turn you previously crashed in, or maybe it is as simple as an alteration to your suit. This wise man told me once, your fastest laps will feel so slow. It has taken me 6 years to figure it out. The fast laps feel slow because you are so comfortable and not rushing anything. Now, what will make you more comfortable next weekend?
Open Production – P1 1:43.480
Open GP – P4 1:42.288
Open Superbike – P6 1:42.000
Formula Pacific – P12 1:42.068
AFemme - P3 1:48.922
600 Production – P20 1:48.928
600 Superbike – P19 1:47.972
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.