November was shaping up to be a good event. Even though I crashed at the Streets last month, it was feeling like forever since our last month's racing. Zina and I are truly addicted to Willow. =) We signed up for Tom Sera's FastTrack on Friday and burned up two more days of my VIP pass. We're also helping out another racer, so I signed him up as well at the last minute. I think we were the most prepared for any event this month. We got a lot of new crap in the "Racing Arms Race" and I wanted for things to be as smooth as possible.
I had the trailer totally packed Wednesday night. That 'new crap' consists of a 3250W generator from Lowe's for only $400 and two sets of tire warmers for somewhat more than that. Along with AC power, I thought a small compressor as "mandatory". Zina doesn't agree but it's nice to be able to fill the tires without having to go to a tire vendor and get someone to hold up your bike and you fill the tires, etc. I also spent the last week installing all kinds of shelving stuff in the trailer. This was pretty awesome - a home and permanent storage for track / pit / racing junk that otherwise layed on the floor. Considering the extra room, I decided to pack Zina's DR200 as a pit bike. Thursday morning, we head out on the road. Since last month's Track Day From Hell destroyed our EZ Up canopies, I found a place that says they do canopy repair that's kinda sorta along the route to the track if we head through LA instead of around it. So we go up I-15 to I-10 to I-210 then I-5 and off onto 14 and bail on the first exit to stop by AV Party Rentals. No wonder they advertise fixing canopies… they rent them and have to fix their own every time they come in. Got that done and back out on 14 North to Rosamond to unhitch at the track. There was some big ass car thing there. Apparently, it was for media folks and there were really a hundred or so cars there for them to drive. Vipers, Mercedes(es), Jags, Fords, all kinds of cars. Luckily, they just cleared out of our turn 1 area. We got over there and found San Diegan Joe Pitz there and we set up next to him. Man, that generator kicks ass for night time unloading of the trailer. =)
Friday morning and we show up for the usual FastTrack thing. We used Friday to get acquainted with the tire warmers. We actually ran the generator and heated the tires in the first 3 or so sessions, but we always put the warmers on when coming off the track to help make the heat cycles on the rubber more forgiving. We don't really have problems with losing tread on the Aprilia RS250s, it's that we heat cycle and kill our tires, so they'll have tons of tread left but no grip. Zina also wanted to start fiddling with the fiddly bits in her bike's suspension. I thing we messed around with the rebound on the rear shock a little and also the forks' rebound later in the day. Early on, I found that I kinda forgot a bit about the track and totally had to relearn turn 5. I was kinda bummed about that, as getting a good drive through 5 I consider a strong point.
We went out in the Advanced group just before lunchtime and as I was getting around, the cornerworker in 4 was furiously waving the yellow flag. Huh. Then as I get around the bend, I see a bike on the ground and immediately notice the number… 666. Dang, that's Z… then I see her sitting down near the berm and wave. She gives me the thumbs up, so she's OK. I pull in figuring that they'd bring her in, but the bike was too close to the track to retrieve so I watch as they take two sessions to get her back. She's fine and the "simple low side" on the right of the bike is normal… scratched bodywork, bent peg, bent brake lever, munched throttle tube, and beveled end of clip on. I've got spares, so I get to work replacing the footpeg and brake lever and I just happened to have a throttle tube that I was going to put on my RS250, so it went on, too. The bodywork is sound but let's just say that her's is no longer "the pretty one." At least it's still pretty from the left side. Zina is totally OK. I'll let you read her website for her description of the crash. The one thing she kept repeating all weekend (and after) is how surprised she was at how loud crashing is.
I got hooked up with some fast moving 125 GP folks including VJB and I did a personal best lap time. It's so weird… I can ride my ass off but still be like 2 seconds slower than this. I think it's all acclimation and seat time. Plus, hero mode only gets you so much before you're on your head. Ended getting in 138.7 miles on Friday. Hi tech Aprilia dashboard stats: Vmax: 132; Vavg 74.
Saturday we got up reasonably early and headed in to the track. This month's tech inspection included removal of radiator caps, so we pushed our tank-less RS250s to tech. After that, we ran the tire warmers for a goodly long time to make sure to maximize grip. We skipped the first session to allow other folks to put heat into the pavement on the racing line. Saturday went pretty well. We just worked on our lines the best we could considering the traffic. I think there were like 40 bikes in one of the 0-500 sessions. My times were still what I consider average, but they look a lot better on average compared to last month. Our pit neighbor, Joe, crashed pretty mightily in turn 3. It wasn't good. He kinda just laid there face down in the dirt for a while. He came to, they brought his bike to the pits and him to the hospital. Leena was understandably and appropriately freaking so she went to the hospital. After a while, she came back with a dazed Joe, unbroken arm in a sling. Zina and Leena packed up all the little stuff in their pit and Leena (who drove up to the track separately) took Joe home. We got our fellow Aprilia RS250 rider Don Libasci to drive Joe's truck and trailer back down to San Diego. We would have, but we left from Willow to head to San Francisco for Thanksgiving holiday.
After new racer's school every month, WSMC has practice starts. These are for the new novices to experience Turn 1 in a quasi controlled environment. Well, for $10, expert racers can participate in a second wave of these practice starts so they can refine their own technique. I use this for a variety of reasons… usually to get extra sighting laps before the Saturday Night Solo Series during summer or to scrub in new tires. Or to actually practice starts. This month was special. Kevin Jump #94 is in the running for finishing the year top 10 in points, which could get him a single digit number for next year. WSMC points structure is pretty bad if there are 5 or less racers in a class, so Kevin race prepped a buch of dual sport bikes for people to ride in several races to ensure that there are 6 or more racers in his races. I was to ride a liquid cooled yamaha in 660 singles, so I wanted to take it around before hand to see what I was to expect. It's pretty funny… I'm in top gear before the grand stands, let alone the cones for turn one. Top speed must be near 60 or 70 mph. I don't think I've ever done a 5 gear wheely before. =)
Saturday night, the Libasci team had a dinner for friends, sponsors, and WSMC and track staff. Those guys are a class act. Al is a great guy and all his riders are very nice. "His riders" are his son Don, Oliver, Amir (ernie), and Andre. After feeding, we went back and set up artificial sunlight to pack up Joe's bike and pit into his trailer and get all that sorted so we could go back to the Desert Inn and get some much needed rest.
So we're asleep at 9.
Then around midnight, someone checked in above us and was kinda noisy, stomping around their room, etc.
No biggie as I wrap a pillow around my head and go back to sleep.
Well then around 12:40 or so there's this loud ass squeaking.
I mean loud, too.
Now Zina and I are both awake, cheering the early and satisfying orgasm so they'll shut the hell up and go to sleep.
And the squeaking goes on and on and then really starts into a fast rhythm and we know golden silence won't be long away.
At 12:58, the squeaking stops.
But then, these folks are stomping around for another hour, keeping us awake.
Then we hear their door close, so I jump out of bed and put my shoes on and head into 40 degree air in shorts and a tee shirt to figure out what's going on.
I see this dude standing near the stairs looking up.
Blah blah… typical angry middle aged white man. It truly is his world and he had no clue what so ever that his actions could influence or disturb others. Don't get me wrong… checking in, banging your woman, and taking a shower is perfectly acceptable. Doing it for 2 hours is OK, too. Just don't do BOTH at midnight, eh?
Sunday morning while checking out around 7 (it would have been earlier, but we slept in for some reason), Zina uses the phone in the motel lobby and quickly hangs up. I asked her how many rings and she says one. Oh no, that's not good enough. So I use the phone and dial 2 5 7. After like 5 rings, dud gets on the phone "Huh?" And I hang up on him VERY satisfied with the exceptionally tired voice. Fellow racers Isaac, Ian, and Gayathri were in the lobby, too, and enjoyed the tale we told of the miserable night previous. We got our Burger King coffee and Ham Croissant on the way to the track and were late enough that we could make the first session only if we didn't use warmers, so we bailed on that and waited for the second (and last) warm up before racing. The tires were definitely hot… the warmers had been on for 30 or 40 minutes and the thermostats were cycling on and off. We went out and I started near the front and simply went for it from the off. They do stick pretty dang well when pre warmed. I got in a few good and clean laps, so I pulled in before becoming mired in traffic.
The riders meeting came and we went in leathers as the Pro Italia sponsored Aprilia Challenge race was #2. As soon as we got back, I fired up the generator to heat the tires. We figured out the timing of things on race day… near white flag of two races prior is time to get in the leathers. When the race prior to yours starts, get your helmet and gloves on. Then the crossed flags for the prior race comes along with "first call" for your race. That's when you turn off the generator, pull the warmers, front stands and basically leave for your race. Typically, second call goes down before or as we pull out. Then final call comes as we pass through the wall into Hot Pit. Out for the warm up lap and we grid up. Lightweight BoTT grids behind us in the 2nd wave. I wave and give the thumbs up to Donnie. Even though I don't think he's finished ahead of me in a race, I consider us very close riders on the track and I work very hard to keep whatever advantage I do have over him. The starter does his thing and we're off. Somehow, I get a killer start and only Tim is ahead of me. Daaaaang, where is everyone? Zina and Andre are both typically ahead of me. Screw it! I'm here and I'm a goin for it! So I keep it pinned into and through turn 1 and try to stay with Tim but he slowly pulls away. It's not like he motors me, it's just that every time we exit a turn, he gains a few bike lengths. Our bikes are all so close that even when up to 2 seconds apart, you think you're very close to your foe. Not so… =)
I know Andre must be critiquing the stitching of my Z leathers and noting how my low side last month didn't overly damage the custom logo on my back. I forget exactly where he passed me, but it was stunning as ever… I'm getting along about the best I can and he just goes by someplace with like 10 or 20 mph. Pretty cool. After that, I was getting along real well, not blowing any apexes when I see one of the Kevin Jump posse ahead on a dual sport… crap. He's slow and I see Tim and Andre split him going up the hill into turn 4. I catch him going down the hill into 5 and is in the middle of the track… f*ck. So I nail the brakes for fear of ramming the guy and I actually have to downshift to get in the power to go up the hill. From here on out, I figure Donnie and Zina are setting up for the pass, so I try to go as well as I can while still protecting the inside here and there. I finally get the checkered flag and look back to see Donnie and company close, but not super close. Wow! I got 3rd again! I totally didn't expect that, as Vicky Jackson-Bell said that she'd be out and that she was going to get serious about riding WSMC Aprilia class next year. And I saw her RS250 in the pits, too. Anyway, she would have certainly finished ahead of me and that would mean 3 fast folks ahead of me…
Anyway, our next race comes up and it's the 550 Superbike race. This is what is normally the axe-murderer race. I get a respectable start but then totally wuss while going into 1 and everyone goes by. Zina, Donnie, RS250 Expert new guy Rob, and Mel, too. I get some move on, pass Mel and start working on Zina. Going into 9, she totally isn't on her normal line and is way to the inside. I guess crashing this weekend plus the earlier axe-murdering upon her has her a bit startled. So she looks over while exiting 9 and sees me and lets off a little and I go by. Now I line up on Donnie and Rob Clark. They're dicing back and forth pretty mightily. I think I passed one of them in 8 and then the other in 8 again a lap or two later. The race eventually ends and later on, I find out that all that fighting got me tenth. I really need to figure out how to ride around the outside of the turn one log jam in 550 sbk so I can get a respectable finish. =)
550 SBK was race #7 and 660 Single was race 9, so after pulling in, I rode the DR200 to Jump's pits where the swarm of race prepped dual sports awaited the Kevin Jump Hooligan Squadron. We got ready and headed out on the final call. I confirmed with Kevin that the other waves of our race didn't include massively fast folks. The only people to worry about were the 500 superstock riders, but I think only a couple are massively fast, so closing speeds won't be a major issue. We went out on the warm up and I quickly realized that the bike that Stuman was on vastly better geared that my mount. We lined up for the 3 wave start and eventually got our start. We were like the 3 stooges… I did my 6 inch 5 gear wheely and then promptly hit max speed when everyone else flew by on the way into turn one. After this, I stuck to the left edge of the track like white on rice. The motard role is kinda fun… I actually have respectable speed through 3-4-5 even on the left edge of the track, staying out of everyone's way. It even wheelys up the hill from 3 in top gear. We got around to 8 and Stu-man was there anxiously pointing for us to exit the track. The 3 man mod squad assembled at the start finish line in the hot pit and it turns out that there was an empty row between Kevin Jump and the rest of us losers and the starter accidentally went between us to block the 3rd wave. Since it's normally a 2 wave start, Kevin was none the wiser. So we pulled off and waitied a few laps in the chance that Kevin was docked a lap for jumping the start. It's good we pulled in anyway, as two Fizzer 400 guys were cooking it up pretty well and I'd hate to be what determined the outcome of their battle. So we head back out and single file around the left edge of the track. We tried to time it so that we'd only do one lap, but we went out seconds too soon and caught the white flag, so we had to go around again for the checker. This time, while trying to stay off the curbing in one, the Fizzer dudes fly past. Then I'm going down into 5 and totally hugging the absolute left edge on the exit and over 6 when the 500 Singles dudes blat past. I guess I was doing a good job staying out of their way, as one of them gave me the thumbs up.
This month was a lot of fun and very memorable as most racing months are. Someday, I may become so jaded that I don't bother to write about my race weekends, but I hope that doesn't happen any time soon. =) After that last race, the official buuuuulshitting begins and the packing up should be commencing, but we always manage to stall that as long as possible. Maybe that's out of denial that our favorite weekend of the month is about to close! Sunday, I decided to dyno my RS250. I have been meaning to do it for a while but I always seem to forget. Someone had been wondering if I've got motor based on my turn 6 through turn 8 performance and I wanted to know. I had dynoed the RS in San Diego and it made 61 hp, but I did do a top end rebuild after that, so who knows? Well, it made 55 hp, so there's gonna be some rejetting going on as I believe that the F-USA guys had a good bit more when they came to Willow.
Other notable things on Sunday: