Race Report. Week 2 4/7-8 BlackHawk Farms Raceway Rockton, IL

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 is 1.95 miles and has "officially" 7 turns. However, if you actually count the turns you have 13.

The track record was broken this weekend by it's original record holder and is now down in the 1:13 range. This is incredible considering the track is extremely rough. All of the corners have been replaced with concrete and the concrete was poured by the asphalt company (as it was under warranty). Well, suffice to say, they lay pavement fine, but shouldn't be anywhere near concrete.

Turn 1 is deceptive. It can be taken at much higher speeds than it seems, and I found this out this weekend. I hit turn 1 in 3rd gear and then stay to the outside of the track and bang 4th before turn 2. This shaves off a good 20-30 feet of travel and cuts down the time. Out of turn 2, brake a bit, drop back down to 3rd and through turn 3.

Turn 3 is also deceptive. It is a double apex turn. I enter at a moderate speed and control my line making it 1 continuous turn by dialing the gas on HARD about 1/2 way through the corner. This pushes my line out and hits the second apex perfect which lines me up for the slight kink before turn 3D. Brake hard, drop to second for 3D through 4. Bang 3rd between 4 and 5 which can be made into 1 turn if your line is right.

Hold 3rd gear and right at the rev-limiter, brake hard for turn 6. I started taking turn 6 in 2nd gear, but I had a hard time shifting into 3rd. I found that I could carry 3rd and work it fine. This corner gave me some problems as this section of the track is real rough. Coming out wide from turn 6, and still holding a leaned right turn line, I apex the second portion of turn 6 perfectly (by the "sound control"). Then it's through 4th and 5th, hit the slight kink of 6A, brake and bang down 3 gears to 2nd for turn 7.

Turn 7 has a pretty rough transition back onto the straight and I experimented with 2nd and 3rd, but 2nd gear gave me the drive I needed to get moving on the straight.

On the straight, bang 3,4,5 and ping the rev-limiter in 5th about 20 feet before hitting the start-finish line where you madly brake and shave off a few gears to enter turn 1 in 3rd.

Friday 4/6
Everything loaded, pick up the kids and had an uneventful ride to the track. Set up camp and headed to bed around 10 after watching the local news. Weather forecast is warm and windy. Nice temps made for a good night's sleep.

Saturday 4/7
Up mighty early to head through registration and tech. Made sure the tires were 32/30 and everything was in it's place. We had 2 practice sessions which were each 20 minutes long. The first session presented us with a wet track from the morning dew. We all rode around at a street pace to try and get reference points and dry off the track.

The second session had a dry track, but the wind was ferocious. It was a constant 30mph, gusting to 45mph. This dramatically affected everyone's lines and riding.

Jack B. and his brother Dave came down for the races from WI. Jack took a LOT of pics and it's always nice to have a cheering section.

My race today was a 30 minute GTU. I was gridded in the front of the pack (row 2), and got a good start, but between the wind and finding shifting points, I had miserable times. My times for this race were in the high 1:20's, low 1:30's. I felt pretty lost on the track and just couldn't get into the groove of things. Even though I was basically "winging" the race (feeling lost), I still pulled off a 13th which in my opinion wasn't too bad.

The wind was bad enough to have destroyed my canopy and camping table. It also brought down numerous tents, etc and had everything from bags to barrels flying across the track.

Sunday 4/8
Up shortly after the sun and it's a BEAUTIFUL DAY!! What a Sunday! Sunny, rapidly broke 70 degrees and no wind so to speak of.

After discussing the best lines with several friends, I went out and in practice was turning far better times than I was in the race of the previous day, and I wasn't really even pushing it that hard. Everything just seemed to work. I'm having a problem with the rear end letting loose on sections of the track, but it isn't really bothering me as the slide is very predictable. I'm certain that suspension changes to the rear of the bike (still running stock suspension in the rear) would correct this, but I opt to leave as is because I know how the bike is going to react.

Race 1 of the day, HeavyWeight SuperSport.
Huge thanks to Terry from Hi-Sideracing.com for a lead on a pair of Tyr Sox tire warmers which provided INSTANT traction. I gridded in 3A which is the PERFECT setup for turn 1. I got an excellent holeshot and blasted by most all of the folks going into turn 1. Late braking and great confidence in tires put me in the #2 position coming out of turn 1. I held second place for the first 2 laps of this 8 lap race. I was turning lap times of 1:23-1:25

By the second lap, the real fast riders who paid late and gridded in the back made their way up front. These are guys who are turning 1:19-1:21 times. I'm holding strong, and get into lapped traffic around lap 5. Here's where racing gets to be it's finest.

I go to the outside on a lapper into turn 1 and left him enough room so he wouldn't have to do anything stupid and take both of us out. BZZZZ wrong move. In what can only be described as a Kurtis Roberts move, out of nowhere this guy splits the two of us. Here we are, balls out 3 wide going into turn 1. I've got this guy underneath me and he is hitting me with his knee. He winds up pushing me into the dirt where I remained upright and got back onto the track, but it cost me 4 spots.

I'm holding my own now and catching back up to the 4 folks that got around me during the off track excursion. I'm back on them and have 2 folks on my rear when the white flag comes out. Okay, going for broke, I've got to get around these folks. Well, the pass in turn 6 didn't turn out as planned and I'm pushed into the grass again. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I was headed for the tires and see the corner workers RUN! I managed to straighten out, miss the tires and get back on the track losing another 2 positions. DAMN!!

Okay, another 1/2 mile to the finish. I can do this. Everything goes well and I get through turn 7. I'm WFO pinging through the gears and a DUC comes inching up on my side. I'm in 5th, stretching the throttle cables and I hit the rev-limiter and he inches by me for the finish!

Damn, damn and damn! Too many mistakes put me 16th in that race. Oh well, lessons learned and I've got another chance to redeem myself.

Race #2 of Sunday, MiddleWeight SuperSport.
Redemption time... I'm gridded on the inside of row 2 which means I NEED the holeshot and then to get to the left before turn 1. Green flag drops and I boff the holeshot. Crank a wheelie which was high enough to make me chop the throttle to bring it down. Not good, I'm losing places here!!!

Everything is going like clockwork through this race. I'm feeling perfect and the bike is responding so predictible you could set a watch by it. I turned consistant 1:23's through this race. Very few errors this time (a missed shift here and there), and now there are sections which I'm hitting the rev limiter on where previously I had RPMs to spare. I don't change my shifting pattern though as I don't want to mess up my rythm.

The rythm I had worked out for 10th place in this race. I diced it up with 2 folks through the infield, trading places a few times and they both made it around me on the crucial white flag lap. Aside from a bad holeshot, this was a great race.

A successful weekend and I learned a LOT from it. Though I had a few off-road experiences there were no crashes. I (personally) think I placed well for a 1st year racer, but there's still room for improvement. Also experiencing the "joys" of racing as my legs, sunburn and blisters on my hands continue to ache.

Next race: 4/28-29 Road America.

Saturday pics in no particular order. These pics are all courtesy of Jack B. Notice the leaves and debris in the shots. This is how incredibly windy it was.

Sunday pics are being developed and will be up soon.

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