4/5 - 4/6 Blackhawk Farms
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 2003 Season:
And let's welcome aboard:
Procrastination definitely got the best of me this year, leaving me with motor work, painting/repairing of bodywork and a complete trailer build-out to complete in a few short weeks before the first race weekend.
Alas, everything was finished, or as finished as finished gets for weekend 1 on Thursday 4/3.
I was on the fence about going to practice today because the weather looked extremely poor. Well, when I got up to about 1/2 an inch of ICE over everything, with it still coming down, that kind of clinched it for me. I spent the day finishing packing up and running errands which I'd put off while prepping madly for this weekend.
The forecasts for the weekend look miserable. Prediction is some snow on Sunday and bone cold 20's-30's during the days. This is quite ironic considering that 2 weeks ago it was in the 70's. Mother nature has a cruel sense of humor.
Jennifer came home a bit early, the kids were both home at 3:00, and we were out the door around 3:30. The trailer didn't pull too bad, but it definitely shows its weight, and also shows my poor weight distribution with a nice wag if I get over about 63. With the cruise locked in at 62, we make it safely to the track with some daylight to spare.
We set up on the front straight as usual, with the 10x20 enclosed garage up against the trailer. I immediately fired up the generator and the kerosene torpedo heater outside as well as the electric heater in the trailer. Within a few short minutes, it was balmy both outside and inside (yet still 30 some odd degrees and drizzling outside).
With everything unloaded, we retired to the trailer. This was completely LIVIN' LARGE, I must say as I laid in a warm bed, eating popcorn, watching a DVD. It doesn't get much better than this...
Keeping the generator on overnight, we slept quite comfortably. In fact, that generator ran from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. I 'hot-fueled' it a couple of times, and was amazed at the SMALL consumption of fuel is took! Running roughly 43 hours straight on about 6 gallons of gas. Not bad...
Bike in garage (with ferocious guard dog)
I made one round of practice, but in the ~20 degree weather, all I could manage was a couple laps.
The new track is gorgeous. The salt they put in the corners was a bit disconcerting though. Plus, there's still dirt & debris all over the edges of the track (like the outside 3-4 feet of surface).
Snow flurries moved in just in time for the races.
GTU - 30 minute timed
They cut this race down to 20 mins to try to keep us alive. My first expert race, on a VERY cold track. The launch wasn't too bad, nothing spectacular (like last year) though. Honestly I don't remember a lot about this race. Other than when I got off the bike, my hands hurt so bad I nearly cried. This race found me placing 20th which was about 3/4 through the pack. Certainly nothing that I'd look forward to repeating, but this was pretty much the first real time I'd had on the track and the bike this year.
Middle Weight GP - Sprint
It's only 6 laps, I know I can hang in there for that long, let's just get it over and done with. The launch found me roughly 8th or so through turn 1 (bit rusty I guess). I made it up by getting around a few folks before the checkered flag. There wasn't a whole lot of dicing for this race, more of a "pass when you can & hold your own".
I didn't know where I finished in this race, and couldn't believe it when Jennifer came up and said I was 4th! WOOHOO!!! My goal this year was for one piece of expert wood. Here it is on RACE #2!!! How cool!
Queue livin' large with heat, Playstation 2 & DVDs. Yes, those are SNOW FLAKES in these pics!
"Suspension-Ed" staying busy (and 1 grid shot)
The weather was supposed to be worse today, but at least there's some sun. Perhaps it will heat up the track a bit.
Still a few snow flurries here and there, but the temp seems a bit warmer, and it's nice to see the sun.
Middle Weight Superbike - Sprint
Figuring that the track was warmer than it had been all weekend, I intended to push just a bit harder than the previous races.
My launch was spectacular. This is how it's all supposed to work. 3rd place through turn 1, right on the tail of the #1 (bike and plate) of Kevin Gordon and #7 (plate) of Rob Lacovich. I can't describe how incredible it felt to be on the tail of these two guys for the first half of the race. They weren't pulling but a few bike lengths out of reach.
On lap 4 (of 6), coming into turn 4, #555 of Russ Voight FLEW past me. And I mean FLEW like I was standing still and his front brake lever fell off type FLEW. I wondered how he'd make the turn, and his bike promptly answered by releasing the rear end and pin-wheeling RIGHT in-front of my front tire. At near full lean, I had to check up to avoid clipping it until it spun out of the way.
This gave the first 2 riders too large of a gap for me to catch them. It also closed the gap for #25 of Brian Baker behind me who managed to pass me on the following lap coming into turn 3. I stayed on Brian's tail, and looked for a spot to pass. My opportunity came on turn 7, but pushing too hard, I went slightly wide and got into the crud on the outside of the track. It made for a very interesting slide which I held on to, but opened the gap for Jeff Purk to come around me on the inside. Argh! 3rd to 5th just like that.
Head down, through the final lap, I held my spot and racked up another expert wood.
I had my lap timer on for this race as well. I clocked a 1:17.3 for my fast lap and many 1:18's, which was incredible since my fastest lap EVER at BHF was 1:17.2, on a HOT day. Now I'm aiming for 1:15's or lower :-)
Middle Weight Supersport - Sprint
Slicks off, DOTs on, I moved to my spot on the grid, fully intending to duplicate the performance of my last two races. The green flag flew and I got a bit ham-fisted on the throttle. The dense cold air fed the motor all the oxygen it could want as the front end climbed progressively higher and higher. I ended up having to chop the throttle to bring the front down after 100 feet or so, and it cost me 10-15 bikes going into turn 1.
Head down, I pressed the bike through the fresh pavement, regaining as many spots as I could. On the white flag lap, I was passed by my fellow 1st year expert #722 Mike Chachere who I diced with regularly last year. He ended up blowing turn 7, opening the door for me to take that spot back from him to the checkered. I landed just outside the top 10 (either 12th or 13th. I forget).
Yeah baby! That's wood! Now don't go saying how Shane's wood is bigger than mine. I know, but hey! I'm racing experts! Shane rocks though. There's nothing better than seeing a husky Super Motard smoking GP bikes.
The weekend was great. Practice would have improved me vastly, but having faith and confidence in the bike and myself finally paid off. I'm thrilled that the bike runs as strong as it does following me tearing it down to fix the transmission and replace the headgasket. The weather, as cold as it was, was perfectly timed. Friday saw freezing rain, Monday has produced 6" of snow so far.. Sat & Sun just being cold were perfectly placed.
Running with the experts is also an awesome experience. It's nice to hold off people who I watched winning expert races for the past several years. However, it did prove a few things to me.
1. Expert races are VERY dependent on the start. A good
start will likely yield a good finish. A poor start is nearly impossible to
2. Tiny mistakes are VERY costly in expert races. Gone are the days of leaving the track and coming back on in the same spot. You even *SLIGHTLY* blow a corner and it will cost you a place or more. It's just that tight.
3. Experts know how to launch their bikes. Gone are the days of starting on the 8th row and still being one of the first 5 through turn 1. I'm glad I can "hold my own" on a launch against these guys, but didn't realize there was that much of a difference.
Thanks for stopping by, reading and showing your support. Look for us at our next round on 4/25-27 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI.