2002 Race Report
5/18 - 5/19 BlackHawk Farms
If you'd like to see the track layout and how to ride it, check my 2001 race reports.
I was out of town all week in CA and really bummed because the weather was GORGEOUS there, and back home, they were calling for rain and SNOW on Saturday. However, when Friday rolled around and I made it back home, the weather was miraculously calling for sun and mid to high 50's! With that, we were committed to the 200 mile Team Challenge on Saturday.
I got to the track around lunch time for practice. I met up with Phil Lambos who was going to being the other half of SquarePants Racing. He had never ridden the track, or my bike so we spent some time swapping bikes and going over the lines.
When I got on his R6, it became VERY apparent that something was drastically wrong with my F4. Throughout the weekend we worked with Ed Kwaterski from Trackside Engineering and localized it to the rebound in the forks. I literally had about 20% of what I should have and they were down tight.
Ed offered to rebuild them on the spot, but we were between races by the time we figured it out so we decided to stick with what we had.
The sun came out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. Today, all I had was the GTU and the Team Challenge.
Amateur GTU - 30 Minutes:
We had a 2 wave start with the experts in the front which made the pack quite large. I was gridded in the front of the amateurs but had a bad start. I really didn't want to push it into turn 1 because it was a long race and I could make it up. I ended up about 15th through turn one and then started picking people off one by one as the laps counted down. My pace was getting stronger and the gaps were closing when the red flag came out.
I figured we would have to be re-gridded as we couldn't have made it anywhere near the 1/2 way point of the race, but they called it in efforts to make sure they had enough time for the team challenge. I managed to pull 9th out of this race. I'll never go easy into turn 1 again on the starting lap.
200 Mile Team Challenge:
The plan was to use the F4 and with 2 riders (myself and Phil Lambos), and with our awesome pit crew of Jennifer, Ted and Jared, they would throw gas in the bike while Phil & I swapped as riders. The race was 100 laps, so we planned on each taking 2 - 25 lap sessions.
I went out first. All classes were run together so we had amateur and expert Lightweight through Heavyweight bikes on the track. We were running the GTU class which was 600's. I got a decent start and just concentrated on being consistent. Within 3 laps, I was into my groove and cutting 1:21's for lap times. This was exactly as we intended as it was about 2 seconds off my normal race pace which left me very comfortable and I had room for error. The most important thing of this race was to finish it.
25 laps came and went, and I was still clicking off consistent 21's and felt good. I figured I'd go for 30. At 30, I signaled I was coming in and came around one more time, flew down pit road and howled to a stop at the pit. The refuel and rider exchange went off without a hitch and Phil was out in well under a minute. We started clocking Phil and he was running 24's for the first few laps and dropped to 21's - 22's. I counted down the laps and told the pit crew to let Phil know that I was going to stay out and finish the race when we swapped. Phil clicked off 28 laps and signaled he was coming in. Another stellar pit stop and I was back out turning 21's instantly.
When I came in, it dawned on me that we wouldn't actually do 100 laps. The 100 laps would be completed by the 1st rider and everybody else would get the checkered where they were in the race. Figuring that the experts were lapping us every 10 laps or so, I counted on 88-90 laps. Well, 88 laps came and went with no white flag, then 90, then 92 argh, are they EVER going to finish this!!! 93 laps and the white flag flies. We ran 94 out of 100 laps running consistent lap times and had lightning fast pit stops. We ended up 5th in the GTU class, and 11th overall! This was awesome since the top 3 GTU teams were top finishers overall, and smoked EVERYBODY.
What an awesome race! Aside from my normal sponsors, I'd again like to thank our fantastic pit crew of Jennifer, Ted and Jared for their ability to dump 3 gallons of gas while holding a bike and fire extinguisher. I'd also like to extend a huge thanks to team mate Phil Lambos for putting up with the pogo-stick forks and cutting consistent laps. During the TC, another thing that dawned on me after watching a good 10 bikes drop for blown engines or other mechanical failures, God Loves a Honda!
A day with a little less sun than yesterday and a chance of rain mid-day.
I had a decent launch for this race and ended up about 5th out of turn 1. By the time we hit turn 3, it was 227 Mike Chachere, 440 Matt Webber and myself. We ran literally inches from each other this entire race. We were so close that the only way I could pass Matt was to be able to pass him and Mike at the same time. I hung back and waited for either to make a mistake and watched for their slow points.
The white flag came out and lapped traffic was in sight at turn 1. Coming into turn 3d which is a HARD right hander after the carousel, Matt got hung up behind lappers. I slipped by them on the inside and was on Mike's tail in 2nd place. I followed Mike into 4 and tried to make a run on him in 5, but turn 5 has slight ripples and with my forks, it feels like I'm riding on a square tire through that corner so I'd better not push it right there. I got a good run on him into turn 6 which is a hard right hander, and I was going to pass him on the inside. I got up next to him, but never entered his field of vision so he started his turn and came across my line which made me back off and fall in behind him.
I figured I'd either have to take him into 7 (the final turn), or come out of 7 faster than him in order to get the better drive and beat him to the line. I opted to back off and go for the faster drive. I let a slight gap grow (20 feet) between us by braking early into turn 7. I dipped the bike in and was just dialing on the gas when the front end slid. It slid, and I pinned the gas to transfer weight to the back, and the back end lit up too. The whole bike went to the point of sliding on the foot peg, but then it hooked up and stood STRAIGHT up. It was pretty violent and for a second I thought I was going for a complete hi-side, but I made it through. I looked up and in just that split second of sliding, a 100 foot gap opened between us so I just dropped into my tuck and pinned it to the line settling for second. Matt Webber who was closing on me in 3rd said he thought I was dead when that bike started sliding. It was a pretty hairy moment, but I could taste victory in that race, and ended up on the podium for my first time!
Still having the taste of victory (or near victory) in my mouth from the prior race, I set out for 1st in this race. The temperature had dropped the better part of 10 degrees and the sun had left us for this race. I got a good start and immediately it was Mike, Matt and myself as 1-2&3. On the first lap, I passed Matt in turn 6 and went for Mike.
I held with Mike for the lap, but didn't quite have the traction I needed to take him. I was slipping just a bit so he ended up with about a .5 second per lap advantage and I watched his lead grow. I held second, completely unchallenged for the entire race. Lap 7 comes and the white flag flies.
1 lap left and into turn 1, my buddy Phil Lambos passes me! Oh no! This is NOT happening! I dropped down and went for broke, there was no way he was getting second without some bloodshed ;-)
We were coming through the carousel and there were 2 lapped riders on the inside. Phil and I went for the outside. Phil cleanly made it around both lappers before the slight left kink coming out of the carousel. I wasn't so lucky. I was closing on the second lapped rider at about +20 MPH over his speed and figured I could make it into the kink before him. Well, he stood his bike up straight and squared off the kink. I had NO choice but to stand it up and square off the kink over the grass. There is a slight lip on the track so I took air! I landed way to the inside of turn 3d which is a HARD right hand turn. I was way to hot to turn, so I mashed on the front brakes and rode a stoppie all the way across the track. Onto the grass again and I looked back and the track was empty. I clicked down 2 gears and back on the track I went.
The thing that never dawned on me is that during this off-road excursion is that my tires were picking up sand and crap the whole time. I went into turn 4 (left turn), and the rear end promptly slid out like a dirtbike. I rode it out with little problem, and repeated the slide in turn 6 which cleaned off the right side of the tire.
In all this, I still managed to keep 3rd place, and was glad to be challenged and beat by Phil. There's nobody that I'd rather lose to, and it made it very fun.
Back in the pits, I worried that the lappers would come over and beat me with a fork leg for cutting them off like that, but instead they came by and while 1 apologized for being in my way (I apologized back as it was my fault, NOT his); the other said it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. He said it was just like a video game and he can't believe I made it through it all. He said when I went into turn 4, my rear end slid until it hit the curb and then uprighted itself. Lapper #1 said he never saw me, only this flash of red FLY through the air in front of him. I guess I've still got some work to do on this passing thing :-)
Another great weekend and they're just getting better. My "wall of fame" grew by 2 podium plaques this weekend, and I finally had a weekend without injury (knock on wood). My ankle and knee are back to just about normal. I pulled the forks and dropped them off with Ed for a revalve, and look forward to getting them back on the bike. I'm pretty confident that it will shave a bit off my lap times.
Come on out and see us at BlackHawk on 6/1-6/2, it's always a good time!
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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The day's pics:
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