4/25 - 4/27 Road America
Before beginning, I must say that Road A is my absolute favorite track of all time. What can beat a 4 mile road course where a 600 can reach speeds around 170mph, excellent pavement, wonderful facilities, and a SAFE track?!?! Road A is billed as the fastest road course in the United States, and what roadracer can resist stretching throttle cables winding their bike up until it screams like a sewing machine on crack!
With everything still packed from the previous Blackhawk race, we made it to the track on Thursday night in order to hit the track right away on Friday morning. The weather was looking beautiful for the weekend, so a quick setup of the pit and we turned in for bed.
The weather was as gorgeous as the forecast had predicted. Low 60's and sunshine. Much better than the freezing rain encountered last year at the first Road A weekend.
Practice went well. I was a bit disappointed that I was running times in the mid to high 30's when I should have been running in the low 30's or high 20's. Oh well, the weekend is young. On this big track, HP is EVERYTHING. Feeling a bit weak in the HP department, we sought some help from Super-Dave Rosno of Visionsports Riding School. Super-Dave to the rescue with a fuel concotion of Power-Mist T111, Pump Gas and Power-Mist Nitro-X in a 10:10:1 ratio.
A longtime buddy of mine (Ken Woods) came out to spend the weekend with us and showed up just in time for my first race:
GTU - 30 minute timed:
Since I only pre-registered 2 weeks in advance, I was gridded mid-pack, on the 7th row. I got a decent launch, and made it into turn one a good 4 rows up from where I started. I was starting to get in the groove of things. The Power-Mist mix definitely made a difference within the power of the F4. It felt MUCH stronger, and more responsive than it had before.
The race was running real smooth. My lap times were dropping around 1-2 seconds per lap, I was on my way into the 2:20's. Coming into turn 6, I thought I was getting a rear end slide on accelaration since the rear end seemed to "snap" just a bit. I noticed the same in a few other turns. Then it dawned on me. It wasn't a slide, it was second gear slipping a notch.
Within the next lap, it got to where if I used 2nd gear, I couldn't get hard on the gas at all or it would slip. Now mind you, when I say "slip", it's more of a "CHUNK" than a "slip". ARGH!!! So now I was stuck using 3rd gear instead of 2nd which was 6 out of 14 corners! Some of them I made okay time through, but others were just insane... Coming through turn 5, I'd leave the corner at around 6k RPMs and it would just DOG up the hill. This instantly added 4 seconds to my lap times, and placed me in the back 2/3 of the pack... I guess it wasn't too bad since I didn't come in last :-)
Back in the pits, I explained my scenario to Kenny and Jennifer. I had another transmission at home (3hr round trip), and had everything necessary to replace it. Ken finally convinced me that replacing 2nd gear was the only way to go.
We dropped the motor in less than an hour, and headed back home to get the transmission. Picking up a bite to eat along the way, we made it back to the track at 10:00PM on the dot.
hmmm, how ya gonna race on that?!?!?
This whole story epitomizes the heart and soul of a racer
Jennifer and the kids opted to head to bed to stay out of the way, and Ken & I went into the garage of the trailer to twist some wrenches. At this point, I must again give huge thanks to my Dad and Brother Brian for all the work on the trailer. It was awesome to have a well lit, clean and warm place to work.
We managed to replace the transmission and get the motor about 90% back together by around 2:30. At that point, I was literally falling over from exhaustion, and Ken was too. I headed to bed in front of the trailer and Ken opted to return to his rental car versus cleaning up the garage to sleep there.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
but I don't know who took these pics ;-) (boy do I love that new camera. Is this a cool shot or what?!?)
Saturday morning 4/26:
I was up around 7:30, turning wrenches immediately. I rolled Kenny out of his car around 9:00 since Jennifer had breakfast ready for us. Ken finished off the motor while I went to the riders meeting. My races on Saturday were Middleweight SuperSport in the morning, and then Middleweight GP and Middleweight Superbike at the end of the day.
We had the motor back in the bike, everything topped off and ready to go around the 5th race of the day. Just enough time for me to relax before my first race.
Again, gridded on the 5th row, I had a decent launch, and managed to weave through the early brakers to a 4th place spot through turn 1. However, there was no holding onto this spot since I was being killed on the straights by the newer, higher HP bikes. Nobody passed me into the corners though, so I felt pretty good. I was fast enough, but the bike just wasn't. I took a 9th place in this race. Not bad, at least a top 10, and the bike runs and shifts great.
Back to the pits & got the warmers back on. Just enough time to catch a quick drink and refuel before my final race of the day.
My launch wasn't bad, but I got hung up in a pack of riders going down the straight. I picked the wrong side to go around so I got stuck and didn't charge into turn 1 as I could have. This really hurt me since there was no catching up to most of the other bikes. I managed to regain a few spots before the end of the race, but it was too little too late and I ended up finishing mid-pack, in the teens.
It was great having the bike running and shifting right. Finally some good luck. Looking forward to another great day on Sunday, we headed to bed a bit early after hanging out shooting the breeze with a few fellow racers.
Having a few marshmallows with the race kids. Left to right (pic on the right) JeF4y, Renee, SliderPhoto Jack's boy Drew, my son Queue, Kenny, my daughter Tori, Jack's brother Dave's daughter Emily
Up with first call to practice group 1, I had about 45 minutes to get ready for my practice session. Checked the tire pressures, gassed up, donned the battle gear and headed out for practice. Everything went smooth. The bike still ran, the sun was BEATING down, heating us up into the 70's. An absolutely gorgeous day for racing...
Nothing special about the start of the race excepting the 2 red flags. One on the 2nd lap, and then the second on the warm-up lap of the restart!
Finally about 30 minutes late, we restarted the race for the last time. I immediately clicked off a 2:32 lap, and felt much faster. On the second lap, I hit :31. Third lap, I'm sure I was heading to 30's or possibly 29's. I was coming up the straight. Clicked 4th gear on the bottom of the hill, banged 5th at the top. Topping out 5th gear, the bike seemed to lose power, shaking a bit, stuttering like it was running out of gas. I went for 6th, heard a pop and that's all she wrote... Immediate loss of power.
I pulled in the clutch, stuck out a leg to warn others and moved over the the outside 2" of track, not knowing if I was spewing anything. Hard on the brakes, coming down from somewhere around 150, I shaved off enough speed to get on the grass and over to the wall in turn 1. I jumped off the bike to look down and see flames.
Yelling for the corner workers to bring a fire bottle, they surprised me to no end as they DIDN'T HAVE ONE!!! The guy had to run a good 30 yards, jump through a fence, then root through a paddock box to get one!!! He got back about 3 weeks later and then spent a minute fumbling with the pin. Finally, got a few squirts to put it out.
Back in the pits, the crash truck crew unloaded it and Kenny pulled off bodywork while I shed my gear. I moved the back tire and worked the bike from 6th gear back to 1st, back to 6th, back to neutral. It shifts just fine, but it isn't going to move anywhere under its own power.
Something in the case decided it no longer wanted to be there and simply had to see the light of day. It separated the case right below the head, pushing it down and splitting it open. It didn't push a rod through, but something definitely went wrong. The transmission went together right, I know that much. However, the oil sight glass went from nice fresh yellow oil at the correct level to murky black fluid completely covering the glass.
I should be able to perform the autopsy here within the next week or so to find out what went wrong. I'll keep you posted.
We packed most everything up and spent a good part of the day watching the races, which is something I don't often do. Kenny packed up and headed back to Chicago where he flew out on Monday morning.
So what now? Fear not faithful followers! JeF4y Racing will return, targeting Blackhawk Farms on 5/31 on the new Honda CBR600RR! The destruction of this motor, ironically a mere 4 days after selling my SPARE MOTOR, made my decisions about this bike perfectly clear. I'll part it out, and use the funds to buy spares for the new RR. If all goes well, I will have the RR this week!
Now you ask, what will become of our beloved cbr600f4.com? Not a chance around that I could abandon ship! The crowds love the site, and it WILL continue. I'll keep it updated with new products and services which I try and use on the RR. You can also follow along there at cbr600rr.com!
All in all, it's been a good long run with the F4. I've been through a lot with this bike, and it's never let me down. I fear this end is more me letting it down, as the catastrophic failure will likely prove to be something I did wrong while having the motor apart.
To that end, I remove my hat, raise my cup, and say, "Rest in peace my friend. You taught me how to really ride, and showed me how to race. May your useable pieces propel others to the podium, and give them the faith, confidence and thrill which you provided me. There will always be a special place in my heart for you."
Stay tuned for news of the new RR, and our return to the race season sometime VERY SOON!
Picked up the RR today. Broke it in on the dyno, and it was turning 104 and STILL CLIMBING... Bone stock, off the show room floor. Absolutely incredible.
Anyhow, I pulled the F4 apart somewhat. Now let's play jeopardy...
"I'd like 'shit gone horribly wrong' for $1000 please Alex"
The answer is "the number two rod"
"What is..... The cause of that BIG F'ING HOLE in the rear of the case?"
"You are correct!"
-JeF4y racing thanks the following sponsors