Race Report. Week 1 3/17-18 Gateway Intl. Raceway St. Louis

Here's a pic of the track and some info on how to handle it. If you're not interested, just skip to the next page break...

The track uses the straight away of the banked oval then makes a sweeping left onto the road course. The track is pretty basic some say it is a technical track. Turn 6 a right hand 180 gives some people trouble; starts out in a nice sweeping radius but tightens up about 3/4 the way thru. If you enter wide or a late apex you can make it in one smooth radius. Turn 7 is a tight left that puts you back on the oval with no run off on the outside just hay bales and concrete wall. The oval is wide and banked 11 degrees out of 7 but you are only on the oval for a short time then you dive off the banking to pit road,turn 8 which is another sweep left turn which ends with a quick right. Left chicane to put you back on the straight past the start finish line back to turn 1. The chicane at the end of 8 is a little tricky; you do not want to shoot right back up the banking it will unsettle your bike much like coming out of the infield at Daytona and hitting the banked track. You need to angle your exit out of the chicane parallel to the banked oval for a much smoother transition to the straight away. The straight is little over a 1/4 mile long rest of the track is corners with short straights between the turns. You can basically pick a single gear for the infield (2,3,4 depending on gearing) and then do all your shifting on the straight.

Friday 3/16
Snowed about 3", but everything is loaded in the trailer and we're ready to go. Kids get out of school at 3:30 and it's off to meet up with Bill and Brian, my racing buds. We drive the LONG wet slippery drive down to St. Louis. Get in about 11:00 and unload. Finally get to bed around midnight and didn't get much sleep between it being in the 20's and nerves, etc.

The black fashion, the clenched jaw, the steely look in the eyes. It is the Motorcycle Racer.  He who is set upon staring Death in the eye, sticking out his tongue, baring his ass and then scampering away, never to look back.  The Motorcycle Racer has no fear, no feelings- only the desire to race. He craves nothing else in life.  Be it friends, family, employment, credit card debt- no thoughts such as these will enter into the Racer's mind on raceday. His sole focus- to Race.  To vanquish the competition.  To commit such acts on a motorcycle enough to make any other grown man weep, collapsing to the floor in a fetal position of abject fear. Yes, the motorcycle Racer will conquer His demons on this raceday. Or, maybe he will just wad it in the third practice session... -PhuzzyGnu

Sat 3/17
COLD COLD COLD.. It's in the low 30's and we're just about up for practice. I check the air pressure in the tires and I'm at 7lbs front and 12lbs rear. I need to get the pressure up so I was going to the Dunlop truck. I have my helmet sitting on the seat and gently put the bike off the stand. You guessed it, the helmet starts sliding and I grab for the helmet which goes to the left and the bike dumps to the right. DAMN.. Oh well, not a scratch.. Frame sliders and rear-sets are a beautiful thing. Off to sort the tires out. Getting them sorted out to 30/29 takes away my first practice, but there's still another. Red flags would take the second practice from me with only 2 laps under my belt.

I'm scheduled to race the GTU which is a 30 minute endurance event. I am gridded in row 1B, just to the right of pole position. I got the hole shot and lead the race for about 30 yards then braked early for turn 1 and a lot of folks flew by me. I was very lost during the race as I hadn't had a chance to pick out any turning reference points so I was all over the track trying to make things work. There are 2 spots where you go onto the banked corners of the Nascar track out of left hand turns, and the transition is ROUGH. There's about 12" of perfect transition, but if you miss it, you're in for a ride and it's straight towards the concrete wall. I managed to get through it unscathed, but on 1 poor turn onto the banking, the rear end lit up and I slid out leaving about a 30 foot black mark all the way up the banking. I ended up coming in 20th out of 50+ riders. I was disappointed in this, but for my first race and the first time at the track what could I expect..

Sun 3/18
Much better sleep on Sat night. Weather on Sun showed SUN!!! Yeah!! The temps were still pretty low, in the 30's and climbing for practice. Practice was delayed as they broke up ice in 2 turns..

Game plan for today: Do the first practice on the tires I have, change tires, break in new tires on second practice and then do the 2 races of the day on these new tires.

The first practice, I took a few laps and picked out turning reference points for EVERY turn and by the end of the practice, I was flying! I felt great, a few adjustments to the suspension and damper and the bike is feeling very stable. I think I have a chance today.

Shed the old skins and don a new set. This eats up practice #2, but they've decided to run 3 practices this morning so I'm in luck. I get out for the 3rd practice, first practice while KNOWING where and when to brake and turn, and new tires... I make it around the first 2 left handers, nice and smooth in second. Bump into third and drop into the right hander. Just that fast and I'm sliding. No warning, no nothing, just the snap of a finger type fast and I'm on my rear. I slid off into the grass and stand up and wave to let everyone know I'm okay. It pissed me off more than anything. I picked up the bike and looked at it. Broken windscreen, broken front brake lever, ground a hole into my lower bodywork, bent the rearset and rear brake lever, but all in all, nothing that could prevent me from riding.

Get the bike back to the paddock, pull the plastic to check for damage and really none to be found. Replaced the windscreen and brake lever, bent out the rearset and rear brake lever and cleaned it up a bit.

Note to self:
Race tires have mold release on them just the same as street tires do. Won't make that mistake again.

The 2 races for today are both 8 lap sprints. The first is the HeavyWeight supersport race where I'm racing my 600 against 750's and 1000's. I'm gridded again on row 1 but spend the first 2 laps scrubbing in the tires very slowly so I completely bombed the race.. Finished 31 out of 36.

The second race of the day is the MiddleWeight supersport where I'm against 600's and 750 twins. I'm gridded again in row 1. Get the hole shot and lead into turn 1. Now it's "GAME ON". I'm comfortable with the bike and the track and I'm BALLS out. A few folks pass me just to have one cartwheel his bike right in front of me. Red flag, time to restart.

They restart where we were on that lap (it was lap 2). I was in 11th so that's where I gridded. Row 3C. Green flag drops and I have kind of a rough start. Cranked a wheelie and brought it back down. This cost me a few places, but right back into it. Within 2 laps, 3 bikes ahead of me, a guy blows the turn onto the banking and into the haybales he goes. Red flag #2.

Again, they regrid with me 3C and there's 6 laps left. Green flag drops and I've got the best holeshot of my attempts. Everything clicked and was perfect. I felt SO GOOD! I held my position through that race, I was passed once, but regained that position 1 turn later. The bike felt great as did I. The tiny track was done as follows, entire infield in 3rd and then get to 5th on the straight. By the end of that 3rd race with my reference points down and tires sticking like glue, there were spots on the infield where I bounced off the rev-limiter in 3rd, but didn't go for 4th as I didn't want to ruin my groove. I didn't stay to find out where I placed, but it should be on the website sometime this week.

The second practice and that last race made the entire weekend worth while! That's what racing is all about.

My measure of a "Successful Weekend" was to: (a) not finish last, and (b) not crash.
By said criteria, I failed. But as far as failure goes, I'm happy.. :-)

Next race 4/7-8 Blackhawk Farms, IL

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