Hey Chris, how come you didn't just ride back to the pit? Well, that's cos my bike quit. Oh. Suckin. At least "suckin" doesn't describe my whole weekend, but it sure could come close.
This month was the first month that I didn't have to work on one of our bikes the day we were leaving for Lancaster. I had the van loaded at a record hour and we were on the road with no stress. Got in to get our room and they lost our reservation. They've had their computers for 3 years and I swear you'd think they got them yesterday to watch the people use it. =( So I ran over to another motel and they had a room, but only for Thursday night. Ran back and made a new reservation for us for the next two nights at the first motel.
Woke up Friday morning and it was warm. Ooooo, it's a gonna be a scorcher this month. We kinda did something new this time. Seeing how the track time we've been getting with the Ducati Riders Club has been less than optimal lately, we signed up for VIP passes from FastTrack. It's kinda hard to get in hot laps when you're concerned about getting too close to your friends. The VIP thing is like where you pay the price to get 10 single session trackdays, but the "pass" comes with 12 track days, 2 sessions each. They're somewhat transferrable and don't expire, so we went for it. Zina and I went on my VIP card and got 2 sessions each on Friday. I got to do 2 sessions back to back, which was good, as it closely simulated putting in 20 laps that I'd have to race Saturday in the Solo Series.
I ran 2 "double sessions" in the morning, then it got real hot, so I relaxed until the afternoon, then ran another session. Basically, I got a bit woozy and started double chugging Gatorade and water. Then I went out for the last rotation (with two sessions again). As I was near the 15 lap mark, I smelled something sweet. hmmmm. Then I noticed that the temp gauge quit working. hmmmm, part ii. Then I saw the coolant on the windscreen. DOH! Pulled in and started the cell phone drive. Turns out that Kelly from Pro Italia lives near-ish to the track and he agreed to bring a coolant tank home with him after work. Score!
Saturday, I worked on my 916 replacing it and then got sucked into helping two different people change their wheels. =( Oh well. And it was really hot. I pretty much drank and worked all dang day. As the day wound down, the announcers were making noise that the practice starts would be at such and such time and then the solo series race would be at 5:15. 4:40 rolled around and they made first call! Mad dash to get ready and I got out.
I made the "practice starts" and then the solo series start without any real issue. I was gridded 3rd. In the hot pit, Jodie York pulled up next to me and said hi. She pointed out her underwear... she had these red bikini bottoms on on the outside of her leathers. So I spanked her ass and told her that I'd better do it to her in the pit before she did it to me in the race!
Got my launch and didn't do too poorly. All the regular fast guys got by (either on the start or a few laps into it as the real fast 600s flew by) and I settled into a nice rhythm. 6 or so laps into it, we started lapping folks. The first to go were the lightweights that weren't flying. About 2/3 of the race gone and a 125 goes by. Those guys absolutely rip. I think he had removed his brakes to save weight. Oh, and was running "sew up" bicycle tires to decrease wind and rolling resistance.
Towards the end, I started catching a good number of 600s and other folks. There was a green Kawi I pulled up on out of 9 and it was like it hit the afterburner once on the straight. Right about the start/finish line, we were side by side and dead even in our drives. They moved to the right, very close to me, and I didn't back down. Turn 1 loomed ahead, but there was no way I was backing down. As I started really contemplating my turn in point, they let off and disappeared, so I grabbed brake and two gears and went on like I had been all race.
The next lap or so as I started setting up for turn 1 a REAL fast guy actually put me a lap down. He got by in the beginning and again later on - near the end of the race. I think he won the middle weight race. Anyways, as I just think about leaning it in, SHOOOOOM right on by goes #60. Yeahhh! I actually love it when I get strafed. After the turn he stood up and looked back to see who may be with him (uhhh, no one). My first, last, and only mistake was into turn 3 behind this guy. Since he was goofing off at my "race pace" he took this wierdo line into 3 that I didn't notice was wrong. It caught me out a bit, but just woke me up more than anything else.
I ended up finishing OK and on the cool down lap, I noticed that I was only 1/2 lap back of the guy ahead of me, Frank! This made me feel pretty good, as he's been racing a while and faster than me. I was also stoked when Jodie went by me in the hot pit. Even though she's probably a bit off pace right now, she's genuinely fast and didn't catch me. Pulled into the pits and it was pointed out to me that I was missing a frame slider. So I got a track worker to ride me around the track in a crash truck and we didn't find it.
Back in the pits and we start breaking down what needs to go in the van for the night and the buuuuuulshitting begins. Turns out that a friend, Nancy, was piloting that zx that I duelled with. Oooo, she's good! I bet she'll kick my ass next month, as I don't think I'll be up to speed on the RS250... Z and I walked around the track as the sun was setting. I was amazed at the debris in the impact areas. We ran into Dave coming the other way in 2. He was looking for knee sliders he lost over the day. Sometime around turn 6, Zina started her collection of bike parts and crap strewn about. As I was walking the outer perimeter of the run off, Z noticed the slider between 8 and 9 partially buried. Good girl!!
Sunday morning came and we got to the track nice and early. I spent the first part of the morning diddling with the frame sliders. Turns out that the bolt didn't vibrate out, it snapped off. They're those really hard black oxide ones. I've seen a few fail on bikes and don't really like using them. The one that was lost, I had to EZ Out the bolt. It wasn't tight, just no purchase. That worked OK. Then I went to loosen the other side and it felt finger tight. It, too, had snapped, only it was held on by one thread.
OK, got that sorted and made the 2nd morning practice session. After a few laps, as I pass the start / finish line, the bike shuts down. It's like the kill switch is thrown. Off - kaput. So, on the way to 1, I pull in the clutch, put up a hand and hang out a leg. I'm in the racing line and slowing down. So I pull in to 1 and run around the outside of the turn, then run off once I make the most of the turn. For others planning on this, slow down a bit first. I got off then noticed a ledge that runs to the 2 barrel. Well, I saw that I'm hauling ass up on this barrel and pretty much lay on the rear brake and start feeding in front brake carefully. As it turned out, I stopped right next to the barrel. The corner worker looked at me and I tried starting the bike... all starter and no other action, so he calls up the crash truck for my first ride on one ever.
I got in the pits and it started getting warmer as I diddled with the relays and checked all the connectors on the bike. Everything looked OK so I tried the 916 again and it fired up like nothing was wrong. So I set out in Race #2. Got a real good start in Open Modified Production and in turn 5 saw the red flag on the first lap! Pulled to a stop and waited for the crossed flags. Got in, waited for the cleanup, and headed back out for another warm up lap and restart. Got another good start, though not as good as the first one. We all bailed into one, then got through 2. Going into 5, I got my good drive and poured it on over 6, touched the rev limiter, caught 5th through 7. Ready to shift into 6th and bend it into 8 when the bike shuts off again! I again do the clutch in, arm up, leg off drill and stay to the outside into 8. I don't want to peel off too early, or I'll be headed straight for the ditch and berm. A little bit into the turn and I pull off and take the tangent. Off roading again with my 916. I'm probably going 110 or 120 when I left the pavement. There's something of a gravel trap outside of 8 where they tilled down into the desert about a foot deep. I had to have been going 50 or 60 when I hit it and immediately sank and slowed like on the brakes hard. Another crash truck ride home (pic above).
Oooo, it's hot today. Check out Scott "chillin" with an ice water soaked rag. All weekend, it's been hot and today a lot of people crashed at willow. It seems that everyone's a bit off their pace and those that tried to step it up crash. In the time after my dnf, I checked the schedule and see that I can run Zina's bike in the Aprilia race. 550 Superbike is right before Zina's 0-500 novice race, so I can't run that one. So I post enter in the Aprilia race.
Someone blows a motor in the 600 mod prod race and like 5 people go down in their oil. Our friend Nancy got in it, too. She's pissed, but OK. There's a forever break, so I opened up the van and laid down to get some sleep.
After the rest and affixing the trailing 7 to Zina's Aprilia, the time for my race draws near. Our warm up lap is the first time I turn a wheel on the Priller. It feels wierd but stable. Start comes and I suck big. I don't know how to turn into 1, so I practically stop for it and everyone pulls off into the distance. Get around a whole lap and I notice that the rs really turns well. It just rails and tracks very well. Then the orange crush flag comes out and we cruise on in.
They call us out again and the warm up lap makes more sense to me. New start and they still pull on me into one, but I have to let off cause they all slow through there. Then into 2, the last guy slows and I just keep on the gas. This is where the 916 helps, as I know the rs is slower and turns easier, so I can just rip. I go around the outside of #130. I pretty much sucked the rest of the race into turns 1 and 3, but I do well everywhere else and can simply fly through 8 and 9. Again this is where the 916 and doing comfortable 1:32s helps out with my comfort level. I bring it home next to last in my inagural Priller race!
I pulled in stoked that I wasn't last, got out of my leathers and filled up Zina's bike. We waited for Z's race and watched a few more crashes. We also watched our buddies race. Eric got 2nd in the middle weight novice class. He was 3rd but a dude crashed out dicing to try and get the win. Scott's race was last, but I'll talk about it now. He got an OK start and worked his way up from like 12th to 4th! He brought home a certificate for a free practice session, so maybe he and Mel will show again next month. Kelly was also out this month. Her 929 is still bent, so she dragged out her M900 and did pretty well considering the horsepower deficit. I'm not sure I could have done so well with 80 hp!
Zina ran out and walked on the lightweight field again. She got an insane holeshot and pulled at least 6 bike lengths into turn 1. She stretched out a 6 second lead within a few laps. Z looked back and then ratcheted back a little bit and kept the 6 second gap and brought it on home. Z gets another plaque and a certificate for a free practice session.
On the ride home, we talked about things and Z suggested that we get me a dedicated race bike, so I don't have to spend so much time converting my 916 form street to track form. Her first idea was that we get a pretty RS250 and I get Z's "ugly" one. Then we talked about an SV650 or a salvaged 996 that I could put my race stuff onto. I said as much on the big Ducati list and the next day, someone told me they were selling their RS250 on the cheap!
Woohoo, little bikes, here I come!