On the podium, soaking wet!
What a great weekend of racing, this long 3 day holiday weekend. We made it to the track Friday night about 5:30, just to find that someone moved into our favorite pit spot. In the last 6 years of racing, nobody parks on what I term "the island" down by pit out, but since I've been parking there starting late last year, it has become increasingly popular. Oh well, such is life. I drove around for 15 mins or so, trying to find a spot large enough to accommodate the 57' rig, and finally found a suitable spot to get set up just as the rain set in. Setting up in the rain is a beautiful thing as it no longer means getting wet (although I do get soaked once a month when I write the check to pay for this thing, but hey, I'm not complaining).
The weather looked 'iffy' at best today with it being very overcast, but still fairly warm. I ran a couple rounds of practice and some sprinkles of rain started coming down. Still not sure what the weather was going to do, I mounted up the rain tires on the spare wheels just in case.
Middleweight GP - sponsored by:
The rain held off, so I went out on DOTs. I was surprised to be gridded back on the 4th row as I had pre-entered 2 weeks prior and hoped for 2nd row. I nailed a pretty good launch and was in the lead pack of 5 out of T1. I held this position for a couple laps and got picked off by a faster guy from the back.
Drama-time! Coming into T6 (tight, 2nd gear right hander), I throw the bike in, I'm completely committed to the line, almost to the apex of the corner when I see a bike completely upright bearing down on me. This guy is coming at me with pretty much no hope in hell of making the corner. I pick my bike up to give him a foot of room to figure out what he's gonna do, and then re-turn the bike through the corner, giving him a single finger good-bye wave on the way out of the turn. Later on I found out this fellow was a racer years ago on GP bikes (which weigh about 1/2 that of a 600cc inline four which he was on in this race). Apparently nobody told him that you can't push an inline 4 to the #2 brake marker and throw them into a corner like you can a GP bike.
Head down and I continued the race. I held in 6th for about 1/2 the race until I made 2 tiny mistakes, each time costing me 2 spots. I really hate how critical perfection is and how EVERY mistake results in 2 places. I crossed the flag in 10th which was still a few spots better than I started.
My Mom & Dad showed up to watch me race, which is always a treat. The added bonus was that we were in for rain today. 2 rounds of semi-dry practice and then the rain set in. We threw on the rain tires and I donned my "crash gear" (old leathers, gloves, etc) and prepared to do battle.
I love racing in the rain. It's a comedy
of errors, and survival of the fittest. You go out and wait for everyone else
to fall down, and hope you're not one of them. Being perfectly smooth is the
key to success
(well, that and a few other secrets I'll hold close).
Heavyweight Supersport - sponsored
This is gonna be fun! I'm surprised that about 20 guys actually show up for this race. Racing against bikes with HIGH horsepower on a wet track, I feel I have such an unfair advantage running my middleweight bike. I head to my grid spot on row 3, and notice it's under a tree and almost perfectly dry. This is good... I NAIL the launch and make it up into T1 where everybody parks on the brakes. Out of T1, the comedy begins with a highside on my left and a front end tuck on my right. Bikes are spinning around the track and riders are everywhere. I manage to avoid the carnage, but lose a few spots in the process. I start picking people back off and working my way up, and the race gets red-flagged for a bike & rider on the track (the non-upright kind).
Restart from original grid positions. WHEW! I was praying they wouldn't call the race. In fact, we got 7 laps out of this restart.
2nd start, I nailed it harder than the 1st, and did well. I was 3rd through T1 and right on the 1&2 guys. By T3, another rider slipped in front of me, and I spent a miserable 3 laps trying to get around him. All the while, watching the 1st & 2nd place riders increase the gap. I FINALLY got around him, and really picked up the pace (which was paltry, but hey, you only need to go faster than everybody else, and that's what I was doing). I was closing the gap on the #1&2 guys who were right together, but I ran out of laps before I could completely catch them. WOOHOO!!! 1st podium finish this year!
The rain continues on & off through the day, and then stops about 2 races before my last race.
Middleweight Superbike - sponsored
I've still got wets on, and the track is drying rapidly. This is not really good. In the dry, rain tires will shred off in about 1-2 laps. And the half-and-half traction of wet/dry is REALLY miserable (listen to me make excuses).
A pretty big grid of +20 bikes, and I'm in the middle of row 4. I launch, still unsure of traction, and through T1, the bikes all start sliding around as people get on the gas. I wait it out to see who will fall. Bad gamble. Nobody falls, so I lose spots. As I pass and get passed, I'm watching people everywhere breaking loose their rear tires as they touch the gas.
I get into my full-wet riding mode, but it's just too dry to ride this way. Yet I still don't have the confidence to ride full-dry. Pushing a little harder each lap, I get into a groove, but don't manage any barn-burner laps such as the leaders did. Across the flag in 10th, right where I started.
Monday was a holiday that we didn't have to work or do anything, and the track was having a practice day, so we decided to hang out, and maybe ride. I'm not really big on track days, but I stayed to help out if nothing else.
My pit buddy Johnny Petta had only one set of wheels and there were rains mounted on them. He was intending to wait until later on Sunday night to have them changed, but that's about the time the tire guys packed up and LEFT. We broke out the irons and went old-school and changed them ourselves in about 30 mins.
Monday morning rolled around and the sun was bright without a cloud in the sky. I figured I'd go out and run a few laps, so I signed up. I ended up running 5 sessions out of 6 and had an absolute blast! I worked on a LOT of stuff that has been problematic for me. I didn't break any records, but ran 15's and 16's very comfortably when I was getting on it a bit. I really haven't had that much fun in a LONG time.
I didn't get any race shots, but CLICK HERE to see pics from the practice day
3 weekends in a row on the new bike and I'm still being impressed by it at every corner, straight and spot in between. The bridgestones are turning out to be a fantastic move, as is the slipper clutch, quickshifter, suspension work and just about everything else on the bike.
Since the Thanks list gets somewhat routine, I just want to give a HUGE thanks to EVERYONE and EVERYTHING out there who plays a part. Your donations & contributions, words of encouragement, helping hands, enthusiasm & interest all play a HUGE part of our success in this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Sponsoring a race:
Many people have asked about sponsoring a race. It's relatively easy and not that expensive. Since the cost of this is absolutely insane, I've made it simple. Donate $20 or more and I'll run a race in your name. If you're up for it, and want a weekend in your name, it's yours for a mere $155. Naturally if you're up for more than that, I'm always willing to work with you and am eternally grateful for your generosity. Donations can be made via cash/check in person or via mail (email me for information), or via paypal to email@example.com
Next race weekend is 6/24-26 at a BRAND
Autobahn Country Club - www.autobahncountryclub.net in Joliet, IL. We will be running the North course for the FIRST time. Should be a good time! Come on out and watch!
So? What do you think?
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