Race Report. Week 3 4/28-29 Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI

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...

This track is better than any description can offer. It is 4 miles in length, has significant vertical changes and is near perfect in every way imaginable. Here's how I take it.

Balls out from the start-finish to turn 1. Take turn 1 very high in 3rd gear, it can be handled at MUCH higher speeds than expected. There's a ripple in turn 1 which can upset the bike so you need to apex it right. If you're wide, you're going to hit the bump. Out of turn 1 hit 4th through turn 2 which is really non-existent. Stay on the gas until the 1st brake marker. Hit the brakes, drop to 3rd. Take turn 3 again to the inside as the far outside has a NASTY bump. Out of turn 3, mash your chest into the tank bury your helmet into the tank and pin it through the gears. This straight, through turn 4, you will top out and can hit 150-160mph+. Grab the brakes HARD out of turn 4 and start downshifting. Turn 5 is a NASTY 2nd gear turn. It's VERY tight and slippery. Kitty litter and grass await those who enter fast here. Through turn 5 in 2nd, hit 3rd and you're headed up a steep hill. 1/2 way up the hill you have to brake HARD for a turn you can't yet see. Turn 6 is a 3rd gear left hander. Pin it out of turn 6, roll off to scrub off some speed for 7 and then hit 4th. Back down to 3rd for turn 8. Out of 8 in 3rd, short shift to 4th and hit the carousel. This is nearly 1/2 mile of perfect turn. Full lean angle, downhill exit, come out pinging the rev-limiter in 4th. Stay in 4th and roll off a bit for the kink. The kink begs for speed, but the concrete wall on the outside says, "be easy". You're topped in 4th and dragging knee through this seemingly mild turn. Then its back through the gears, top out in 6th again through 11a & b, then drop to 2nd for Canada corner (turn 12). Back up to 3rd for 13 & 13a. Hit 4th and then back down to 3rd for turn 14. Come around 14 and pin it through the gears. Top out in 6th and hold it UNTIL the 1st brake marker for turn 1.

This track is deceptively fast. Sometimes scary fast, but a ride and a rush that is unmatched.

Friday 4/27
Knowing that Road A is such a long track, I've ordered a new front sprocket to get my gearing back up. Stock is 16/45 (2.8125), I had been running 15/47 (3.133) and wanted to go to 16/47 (2.9375). Only problem? Not enough chain slack. Oh well, we'll figure it out at the track.

After talking to the Road America staff and CCS staff, I learned that admission wrist bands and camping passes would only be sold until 5pm. After 5 and you're sleeping outside the gates. With that in mind, we pulled the kids out of school at noon (hey, it was a good enough reason for me!) and headed off.

We arrived at 4:50 and found that the windows all said, "CLOSED UNTIL 7:00 TOMORROW". Well, there were folks inside so I asked what the deal was. They said that they closed at 4. I stated that I called twice and was told 5 and wanted my wristbands. Well, they said there was "nothing they could do" and I had to come back tomorrow. 5 minutes and much heated discussion later, they decided it best to sell me my wristbands and camping pass.

Saturday 4/28
My tires have just about had it, but right now I'm in the poor house so I've got to stretch them out. I headed out to practice #1 with my 15/47 gearing and immediately found that I was running WAY too short. I was topping out in 6th all over the place and at least 1/2 mile before I needed to brake.

During the first practice I found turn 5 and 6 to be extremely difficult. I slid the back and then the front in turn 5 and wound up going through the gravel and grass and back onto the track. Finding a braking point for turn 6 also proved difficult, as you have to brake before you see the corner.

Back to the paddock and I'm off in search of gearing. I found a guy with an F3 who was generous enough to loan me his BRAND NEW, still in the package 45t rear Vortex sprocket. Not enough time to change between practices so I stuck with my low gearing for practice 2. The tires stuck okay, but I was still getting frustrated with the track and myself.

This was a "double sprints" weekend, so no 30 minute timed races. Just the Middleweight supersport and Heavyweight supersport races. The first of which was the HW SS. I was gridded on row 8, spot D. The race went pretty poor, but I managed to finish exactly where I started, 32nd out of 90+ riders. The 45t rear which put me at 3.0 was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. This helped me greatly as I was no longer topped out, but didn't have too much room to spare.

Race 2 of day 1 went much the same as race 1. I finished in the 20's which was slightly better, but I was still terribly frustrated with turns 5 and 6. On one lap, coming up the hill to 6 from 5, I grabbed a SINGLE finger full of brake a little too hard and wound up staring at pavement in a "crowd pleasing" stoppie. Dropped it back down and into the corner I went.

Sunday 4/29
History repeats itself yet again! History in that the second day of racing went much better than the first.

I went out for practice and took my time and let everything soak in. The tires (just about shot now) were sticking very well, and I'd learned my way around the track quite nicely.

First race up, HW-SS. I gridded on row 6 and had a good race. Nothing spectacular, but nothing frustrating. I ran the race very well, and felt great. I ended up finishing 19th (again out of 80-90 bikes) so I was quite pleased.

The second race was the MW-SS which there was only 1 race between the HW and MW supersport events. I came back to the paddock, had some water, caught my breath and back to the grid I went.

The green flag dropped and everything just clicked. I was faster than I've ever been, and felt smoother and more confident than I ever have before. I was making the right decisions at the right times, and always felt that I could have gone faster. This was fantastic because I was within my comfort zone, and I was FAST.

Around the second lap, I surprisingly came up on one of my buddies who was gridded on the second row (I was gridded on row 7). I've never caught him in a race, let alone pass him! Well, I did this time. I went around him with the greatest of ease and continued the race.

White flag. 2 bikes in my sights that I REALLY want to pass. Just taking time and being sure not to do anything stupid. Show wheel here and there to rider 1 that I want to pass. He is sticking me left and right, not letting me around. Okay, game plan now is to shave off speed a bit early to give a gap between the two of us, line myself up and hit corner 14 much faster than he does and pass him in the draft on the way out. It worked.... Almost TOO well. I came out of 14 and was lined right up on him, and for whatever reason it was like he threw it in reverse. I gained on him in an instant and had a split second to make the decision of which side to get around him on or I'd have punted him into Illinois. The left had less room, but was a smoother section of the track so that's what I chose. I flew around him and with chest and helmet mashed into the tank; I'm stretching the throttle cables and banging the gears toward the finish.

At the flag a guy on a ZX6 was directly at my side and I don't know how they will score it, but I know in my heart that I beat him by at least 1".

After the race, I talked to my buddy who I passed early on and asked him what happened. He said that he was flying and according to the guy timing him, he had his BEST EVER lap times on that race, and I was faster than him (and could have gone faster still)!!!

I don't know yet where I placed, as it wasn't scored when I left. I'll have that this week, and should have pics back and up by the end of the week.

As always, I'd like to thank my sponsors for their continued support:

I'd also like to thank those who've contributed to my Wishlist

Next race: 5/19-20 BlackHawk Farms, IL