2002 Race Report
4/6 - 4/7 Blackhawk Farms Raceway
If you'd like to see the track layout and how to ride it, check my 2001 race reports.
Having great intentions for this seasons success, I signed up for the Advanced racing school by Super Dave Rosno of Visionsports.
You couldn't really ask for worse track conditions. I drove through constant snow flurries to get to the track. It was about 30deg or a little cooler and we did the track walk. Blackhawk had made a number of changes to the track in the off-season. They cleared trees, and put a tire wall around nearly the whole track.
The only problem with all this was that we were the FIRST people on the track since last fall. The track was full of debris and had NO rubber on it. Couple that with freezing temps and snow flurries, and you have a miserable day in the making.
I was hoping for a lot more out of the school, but you can only do so much in the poor conditions we had. The track was literally like glass. Normally I run low 1:20's and am hoping to be consistently in the mid teens, but I couldn't break 1:30 on Thursday. Very disappointing.
Much the same as Thursday. Just came out for the practice day in hopes of dialing in the suspension a bit because it was WAY too stiff for the poor conditions of Blackhawk. All in all, I managed about 200 miles in the 2 days of practice.
Mid day on Friday, I broke the 1:30 mark with my screaming time of 1:29.5. Still feeling discouraged, I watched for the fastest guy I could find and clocked him. It was an expert who usually runs 1:14's and his BEST time was a 1:24. Damn, maybe I'm not that bad after all?!?
And life now has a new definition... "You haven't lived until you've touched a knee with snow hitting your face shield!"
Well, at least there is some sun today. The temps got into the mid 40's and finally things started to feel a little better.
Amateur GTU - 30 Min
I forget where I was gridded, somewhere on the 2nd or 3rd row. With the 1 board sideways, a bike in the front row TAKES OFF! Well, that's one I don't have to worry about, he's getting a meatball. The flag flies and I'm #2 into turn 1. Get out of turn 1 and pass the guy ahead of me for (what I thought was) the lead! I ran this position for 2/3 of the race.
I was feeling great. Things came together perfectly. My lap times were VERY consistent in the 1:24-1:25 range, and I had no worries of loss of traction. I hit lapped traffic about the 4th lap and flew through it. I was letting NOTHING stop me. If there was 18" of pavement, I had room to pass and damn it, I took it.
Then about 2/3 into the race, I was coming into turn 1 with lapped traffic again and 2 riders slipped by me. I don't know who the 1st bike was, but the second was #227, Mike Cachere. I had a hell of a time keeping up with Mike at Gateway, but here, I was comfortable at and above his pace. I followed Mike around figuring out my strong places on him and found 3 areas that I could pass him.
In fact, I nearly ass packed him 6 or 7 times going into turn 7 and 1. It just seemed that he was getting tired. I waited for the white flag to make my move, but the opportunity didn't come as we hit massive amounts of lapped traffic.
Frustrated that I didn't take him earlier, I resolved to a 3rd place finish. Or did I?!?!
See, it seems that the guy who jumped the start made it around fast enough to do his stop/start before I even got to him! He ran the whole race in the lead! Bummer!
That put me in 4th place, but it still got me a plaque and a check! Not to mention contingency bucks from Dunlop (where I need them the most). Pretty cool.
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Temps have taken a bad turn from Saturday. It's low 30's, and raining! The track completely emptied out. Everyone went home! I figured that today would be a good day for some easy finishes.
They cut the race down to 5 laps from 8 to get through the miserable day. The grids were pretty small, 15-20 people max. I donned some new Dunlop Rains and headed for the grid!
Amateur Middle-Weight Superbike 8 lap Sprint
Again, I started somewhere in the front 3 rows, and had a good start. I ran 2 laps in 2nd place until a red flag stopped the race.
The restart didn't go quite as well. I found myself in 5th place after a lap or two. I was gaining on the 4th place rider, but couldn't find a decent place to pass him on the sopping wet track.
Coming down the straight, my windscreen fogged up REAL bad. I hit my braking point and grabbed the brakes. Then I hit what I couldn't see.... The largest puddle on the track! Well, needless to say, the front end got VERY squirrelly, but I didn't go down! I let off and regained traction, then hit the brakes again. The problem was that I was too deep into turn 1 to make it. My brain concocted the instant plan of hitting the grass, making a wide sweeping turn and coming back onto the track.
Well, I hit the grass way to fast to make any kind of turn. I had to shave off some speed. I worked the front brake, but it just wasn't working, so I opted for the rear. You might ask "what the hell were you thinking?", and in retrospect, you're not alone as I now ask myself that same question. I was almost slow enough to make the turn and I dumped it. It was the lamest crash I've ever seen. I mean, I've had better crashes in the pits!
My immediate thought was to get the bike back up and get back on the track. I jumped out from under the bike and righted it. A mere few seconds later and I'm back on the track and caught up to the rider in front of me.
I had no idea what place I was in, but on the white flag lap, I made it around the guy in front of me for the checkered.
UNBELIEVABLY, I crashed in 5th place, and finished the race 4TH!!!
WOO-HOO! More wood, and more contingency bucks! I like this! But damn, my right ankle is KILLING me. Don't want to take the boot off though as I have one more race to finish and I don't want to even look at it.
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Amateur Middle-Weight Supersport 8 lap Sprint
I picked up a Fog-City for 2x the normal price before this race, but found it to be worth it. I could see, but just didn't feel comfortable enough to really get on it. I had another little loss of traction under braking on the straight which spooked me.
That, coupled with my throbbing ankle had me finish in 6th place. I was hoping for more wood, but 2 plaques will have to suffice.
All in all, it was a great weekend. I learned a LOT about racing this weekend. Suspension is not something which can be set and left. It must continually be worked to adapt to temperatures and track conditions. I'm pretty sure that if I had backed off the rebound damping in the front, that I would have had much better traction in the rain, but hind-sight is 20/20.
I am also thrilled because I'm finishing races quite well, and I'm making a TON of mistakes in the process! I've got some time to work the bugs out and continue to climb. I'm still waiting for that podium finish, and a coveted 1st place finish.
When we left the track, I couldn't hardly put my shoe on. My wife was awesome enough to drive the race rig back home, and then cart me off to the hospital for some X-rays. Doctor Twist & Poke, then surprised me by asking "so when did you break your ankle?", I said "about 11:00 this morning." He replies, "no, the last time", "huh?". See, it seems that I broke my ankle once upon a time and never realized it. Pretty freaky.
Anyhow, it's just sprained this time. They gave me a brace and I'm doing okay. Still hurts, but should be in good shape for Road America in 2 weeks.
Thanks to everyone for your support, life wouldn't be the same without this, and you all help make it happen for me.
See all of my pics at www.sliderphoto.com. Just pick an event and rider #42!
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