2002 Race Report
6/29 - 6/30 Mid-America Motorplex
MAM is a brand new track, just opened this year. Here's their website.
Here's a pic of the track, and my way around it. If you're not interested in how to handle the track, skip to the next section.
The straight is pretty long, and start/finish tower is about 1/2 way down it. Going into ALL of the turns, there are braking markers which are set up for a 1850's lumberwagon. They are about 10x farther out than they need to be. As in, if you grab brakes at marker 5, somebody will hit you. If not, at least a million people will fly by you. Hell, they're so far out there, people will lap you before you get to the turn. Get it? If I needed to brake in a corner with markers, I'd brake between marker 3 & 2. There were some people who'd go past 2!
Anyhow, Turn 1 is a definite 3rd gear corner. There was sealant in turns 1,2,3,11 & 13. The sealant in 3 was like OIL, so I took a very inside line on all of them to avoid it. Out of turn 1, grab 4th and roll on through turn 2 without any brake or letting off.
Out of turn 2, roll off and drop a gear, back into 3rd. You can drift out a bit, but not too much because of the sealant and dirt which is RIGHT in the drive line of the decreasing radius part of turn 3. This stuff is as slick as oil. I went down on it during my first practice day and was NOT pushing it a bit. I just rode across it and down I went?!?! Keep this inside line, you have about 18" to stay on. Do NOT hit the slime.
Out of 3, pin it and grab 4th before turn 4. Keep on the gas, but be easy on the bars. The pavement through turn 4 is rippled BADLY and will upset the front end of the bike. Down the chute and hit 5th before getting to turn 5. People were dropping 2 gears for turn 5 which is a huge sweeping carousel. I tried that, but ended up needing to shift half way through it. So I found it just better to stay in 4th and roll on through the whole thing.
Out of turn 6, I'd grab 5th gear and then hit brakes and back down to 3rd for turn 7/8. Just drift wide through 7, and come back down to the apex of 8. Out of 8, I'd hit 4th, but need to downshift to 3rd for 9-12.
Turn 9/10 can be taken in 3rd and is pretty fun since it's very smooth and no sealant which I saw. Turn 11, has sealant on it though just as turn 3 so you have to stay inside or outside of it.
Out of 11, roll it on and let it spin up. No braking, just a small roll off before turn 12, and then downshift from 3-2 between 12/13. This is needed, because turn 14 back onto the straight is RIPPED up to crap, and very tight. Back onto the straight and down through the gears to the #3 brake marker of turn 1.
Summary: In all, it's a very technical track, with a lot of tight turns, decreasing radius turns and esses. The pavement is very nice in sections, but the cars have ripped it up significantly requiring 'sealant' which completely sucks, and where there isn't sealant, the pavement is rippled with about 1-2" ripples. They even got a steam roller out between races to lay the pavement back down!
I had everything loaded the night before, and we left WI at around 6pm after work. We didn't get to the hotel until 2:00am. Exactly 500 miles from my doorstep. What a ride...
Slept until about 9am and made it to the track around 10:30, after a good breakfast. It was HOT. Like Africa type hot. 98deg and not a cloud in the sky. Oh, I can't forget to mention that directions to this track include the words "leave the paved road". There was a TON of dust.
Well, we unloaded everything and set up our brand new 10x20 portable garage type canopy. This was the first time I'd had the bike out since replacing the engine, carbs, electronics, and exhaust. On the dyno, it looked a little rich, but was still running just shy of 101hp.
I suit up and hit the track for my session. As I come down the straight, there is something definitely wrong with the bike. It's got a HUGE flat spot right at 8k. Also when I'm coming through a corner, at *any* rpm when I dial on the gas, the first 1/4 turn is a deadspot. This is not good. I can't carry any corner speed because of it. Oh well, I'll fix it in a few, let me take a look at this track. I'm cruising around the track *very* slowly because I have these carb problems. Just trying to study my line when all of a sudden through turn 3 the front starts to go! Crap! I go for the gas to get some weight on the back tire, and am met with a deadspot. Damn... I slide, the bike tumbles, leaving the seat and tail section on the side of the track. The cornerworkers must be car guys. Nobody got up from their chair to either help me or get my debris off the track. I couldn't believe it. I actually had to lay my bike down and run out and get it myself! MAM cornerworkers may be fine for cars, but they SUCK for bikes.
Back in the pits, the wife replaces the right side bar and we go to work on the carbs. I spent the next 2 days trying to sort out the CRAP with these carbs, to finally have it come together on Sunday after I raised the needles a clip, making it a slight bit richer. Turns out I had the bike too lean on the needles. This discovery came after MANY attempts of fixing things. We had the carbs off about 15 times with different combos. I ended up with NO practice during all 3 days.
Again, another beautiful day in sunny South Africa... Oh wait, we're in Iowa... No matter, it's so hot that a bicycle tipped over because it sank into the pavement. My canopy has dug 8 holes into the pavement because the FEET of it are sinking into it! The heat is unbearable.
Amateur GTU - 30 Minutes:
I'm well hydrated, in my non-vented BLACK leathers, cooking alive on the front row of the grid. The starters are car guys too. They held the 1 board for about 30 seconds, and half of that time was while it was sideways and we were all revving the nuts off our overheating bikes! The flag flies and we're off. I had a great jump, but then hit the deadspot and watched everyone pass me. Oh well, I'm just out here for a few points, so finishing is what matters.
I suffered through the heat and deadspot and managed a 16th or something to that effect.
One of the best parts of the weekend, was being able to come in from the heat and just wheel the bike into my new Condor Pit-Stop and get off of it. No messing with a rearstand or anything! It was beautiful.
Weather exactly like the last 2 days. Insane heat and dust...
The warm-up lap to this race was the FIRST "real" lap I'd had around the track. As in, the first lap without a complete deadspot! As mentioned, after about 15 different adjustments, raising the needles 1 spot in the clip cured the deadspot, but there is still a lag in power on the main jets.
I was gridded in the front as always, and had a pretty good launch. I was 1st down the straight, but rolled off before 2 others so I settled for 3rd through turn 1. I felt pretty good through this race, but was still pretty lost for lines and braking points. I settled with a 9th place for this race. Certainly not up to my capabilities, but respectable for the situation.
By this point in the weekend, I was just plain ready to leave. My head wasn't anywhere with me in this race and I crossed the finish line 11th.
To sum it up, the weekend sucked for a multitude of reasons. I never really "got in the game" and that's very disappointing to me. There are a lot of people who worked hard to provide me this weekend, most of all my family and I let them down as well as myself.
I'm in the middle of a two week break right now between races where I need to get my bike sorted out and get my head on straight.
Thanks for hanging in there with me everybody.
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