3/23 - 3/24 Gateway International Raceway
Welcome back to a whole new season of JeF4y Racing!
Before I dive into the first race report, I'd like to take a moment to thank my returning Sponsors for the 2002 Season:
And let's welcome aboard:
In preparation for the 2002 season, I've picked up a few things and made a few changes. To summarize:
New ARI Knee Pucks from Audrey of Slider Woman
New Penske 8981 from Terry of Hi-Side Racing
FULL Sponsorship from Silkolene with HUGE thanks to Audrey of Silkolene Store
Honda EN-2500 Generator from Lake Country Powersports
Leather design and repair from Alexa of Spyder Leatherworks
If you'd like to see the track layout and how to ride it, check my 2001 race reports.
We came down to the track on Thursday night in order to get some track time on Friday. It was excellent to have the bike back out again. Friday's temps were in the 30's, but nonetheless, I still got a good feel for the track and for the bike.
I started out with old tires, new setups and a new body (I've been working out for the last 4 months). It took some getting used to, but it felt pretty good. The penske performed flawlessly. It ate up Gateway's harsh bumps with ease. I started out with bone stock settings on the Penske and just rode it. There was definitely room for improvement.
Throughout the day, I dropped my lap times continually, but they still weren't good enough. To be in the front of the amateurs, I would need to shave off at least 2-3 seconds.
I met up with my new bike tuner Ed Kwaterski from Trackside Engineering. Ed is an Engineer with years of experience on both factory motorcycle suspension and automotive active suspensions. He spends his life figuring out the best fork / swingarm angles and torsion specifics within bikes. It's amazing the amount of things which can be done to a bike. I'm no suspension guru, so I can't say enough about how great it is to have one around. Anyhow, Ed had the bike for about an hour and worked on the setup. He dialed in the penske to a range which should be a great starting point, and also did some work on the forks. I got to try it out in my first race of the season...
Amateur GTU - 30 Min
The temps on Sat warmed up a good bit, it was in the mid to high 50's. I gridded on row 2b for my first race of the season. Heart pounding, butterflies in the stomach, all bodily functions going a bit faster than normal, I see the 2 board go down and look for the flag.
WHAT?!?! I CAN'T SEE THE FLAG! Damn! I'm trying to see the flag man and the pole rider #440 Matt Weber is in the way! With a BIG lean to the left, I see the flag wave. Not the best of starts by any means, but I've got time to catch up.
I come around the track and the gaps start opening up. Now I can count. 1,2,3... Wait, that makes me 4th! Okay, just hold onto it, concentrate and be consistent. The bike feels rock solid. Ed's suspension setup is the best I've ever felt (although he feels he could always make it better). There isn't even a hint that I'm going to lose traction anywhere from the fresh 208's.
Watching my times, they are dropping by a few 10th's every lap. Things look real good. Damn, I let one by. Damn, another... There were some VERY fast amateurs who apparently started in the back of the pack and caught up to me around lap 10 or so. I lost a few places, then a few more.
I had no idea where I was at during the race (as in how much time was left), but I knew there wasn't much. I came up on a rider through the last left hand carousel and we wound up trying to enter the chicane side-by-side. This is not a good thing. Luckily we both realized our own mortality and that this would NOT work. We both grabbed a handful of brakes, I'm on the outside and I look at him. He nods and I rip through the chicane with him on my tail. We shaved off so much speed that I needed to bang down to 2nd where I'm normally topped in 3rd. Just after exiting the chicane, the red flag comes out.
I raised my hand and dropped my speed. Looked back and the rider I pinched off came up on me. I raised my windscreen and shouted a huge apology. He said it was okay and there was no problem. I'm glad and I'll remember this incident because I just thought, man would I be pissed if somebody pinched me off like that! Thanks for the forgiveness!
In the mayhem of the race, I ended up with 9th place. Not bad. I wanted a top 3, but a top 10 will suffice for race #1.
All that working out REALLY paid off. I felt great through the race and could have gone another 30 mins. I'm told that the race ended about 4 minutes early. It sure didn't feel like I was out there 26 mins. I'm VERY glad that I chose to run GTU this year.
Temps have taken a bad turn from Saturday. There was a storm coming so CCS opted to skip lunch and shorten everything up to get us through the program hopefully before the rain. The day started out somewhere around the 40degree mark and overcast.
Amateur Middle-Weight Superbike 8 lap Sprint
Again, gridded on row 2b, but this time I'm making SURE I can see around #440 Matt Weber who is again on the pole!
The flag drops and we're off. Same story as yesterday. I started out and held 4th or 5th for the first 4 laps and then a few guys from the back caught up. Here are pics of how it all went!
I'd spend a lot of my weekend trying to get around Matt Weber #440, and we both consistently ended up having #227 Mike Cachere pass us! Yes, #53 made it to the checkered before me, but honestly I could have beat him. I just need to hone my passing skills. I had a lot of trouble getting around riders. This is the next spot I have to work on.
Anyhow, the MW SuperBike race would give me my best lap times yet and another top 10 finish with 8th place.
Amateur Middle-Weight Supersport 8 lap Sprint
The temperature had dropped significantly since my first race today. I had my tire warmers on a good 45 mins ahead of time and waited. Race 9, half way through and they make FIRST CALL. Warmers still on, waiting patiently. Race 9, white flag and they make SECOND CALL along with an announcement of "There are a few bikes which we have to pick up so there will be a short delay. About 4 minutes". With that, I'm waiting for third call, and waiting and waiting...
Finally I figure I've got to get out there as they're going to call it any time. I pull off the warmers and go out to see a 4 board up and they force me to start from the hot pit lane after another 3 minute delay on the line! I screamed my fool head off at the race director to let me go around and that it was complete B.S. because there WAS NO THIRD CALL. They do nothing and start the race.
I have 8 laps to manage some sort of finish so I'm pushing pretty hard and trying to control my complete FURY at being screwed over like this. Funny, I had no problems passing anyone this race! I managed my best times of the weekend and pulled out a 14th. Not too bad considering everyone was THROUGH turn 1 before I got to it.
I spent a good 10 minutes making an ass out of myself in the main building to the race director and everybody else within a mile's distance. I was pissed and it just wasn't fair. I've busted my ass to place well this season and it was taken from me. I had at least 20 people right off the cuff who agreed that there was no 3rd call, and CCS could only produce 1 scorer who claimed to hear it, although I'm not even sure she knew which race I was bitching about.
Again, my apologies out to the CCS staff for my behavior, and with that we'll call it even. I'll accept you not following your stated procedures for starting a race in exchange for not being fined/suspended for my behavior.
It was a fantastic weekend and a complete success. 2 top 10 finishes, consistently improved lap times, and I came home in one piece.
I have to take a moment to recognize a number of riders who weren't so lucky. I know there was one rider who ended up into the wall breaking his pelvis and other extremities. Here's to a speedy recovery.
Also, to Expert #770 John Wascow of W3 Racing. John hit the wall on Sunday and another rider hit him as he slid down the track. John suffered some pretty serious injuries and was flown out by life-flight to St. Louis University Hospital. He's still there, and I won't go into his condition, please see the W3 Website for such. God be with all of you for a full and speedy recovery.
All of the time and money spent in the off season is paying off. I'm feeling great and have a good bit of confidence that I will do well this year. I still have some bugs to work out, but there's a whole season to make it happen.
Thanks to everyone for your support, life wouldn't be the same without this, and you all help make it happen for me.
Here are a few more pics of the weekend courtesy of Sliderphoto.com:
See all of my pics at www.sliderphoto.com. Just pick an event and rider #42!
JEF4Y RACING IS PROUDLY SPONSORED BY: