January was much better than December. Let me count the ways: We didn't crash. I got plaque and P-I money at the 10th annual WSMC awards banquet. I then got 3rd in the Pro Italia Aprilia Challenge race along with its trophy and $40. Thanks P-I.
This month, I was certain to get the bikes prepped so we would be prepared for January's event. There were a lot of little things I had to take care of on the bikes and I got them done by Thursday night. One of said details was mounting up new rubber. We tired of losing the front, so I got us some Pirelli Supercorsa fronts in the super soft compound (SC1 ?? Blue) to try out, as the Soft fronts (SC2 ?? in green) would fail us with no warning. The super softs ended up being perfect.
We headed out Friday... Our goal was to leave at noon but I was lagging behind getting the trailer loaded, so we left at 1. As we're headed out, I ponder the question to Zina... I-15 or I-5/405?? See, we needed to go to Newhall (north of LA off the 14) to pick up our repaired canopies that were trashed in October. Well, we decided on a change of pace and hit the 5/405.
I-5 was good. We stopped for gas in Oceanside and Zina ran into Yan, fellow WSMC racer. On up the 5 was clear, even full speed through the border patrol checkpoint. The toll road (73) was good as was I-405... until the airport. That's when we went 2 to 25 mph all the way up to Newhall. That took like 3 hours. We got the canopies as AV Party Rentals were closing. Then back on the 14 to do 20 mph all the way until Palmdale. Suck. 6 hours to the track from San Diego is a new record... =P
I go to the tower and find out that it'll be like an hour and 20 minutes until the next 0-500 rotation, so I grab some tri tip sandwich and head back to the pits. After eating, we find out that they're skipping lunch, so we're up soon. I run and fire up the generator and get in my leathers. Thank you cornerworkers... I know it's hard on y'all to skip lunch, but I really appreciated the extra track time!
As we get out, the Willow breeze starts picking up, making for entertainment in some places and pant crapping in others. But it's oh, so good to be on track. It felt foreign and I've had too little practice the past few months. After a few laps of being beaten up by the "Breeze," the checkered flag saved us. The next session was almost too miserable to tolerate... the "breeze" turned in to sustained wind with massive microbursts. I recall going into turn 2 and the wind lifting my body from tucked into an upright position and then my whole bike moved left about 3 feet instantaneously. Turn 9 was miserable... you go into it pinned and on the exit, you run into this brick wall and have to downshift, sometimes twice, to keep the tach needle sweeping the proper direction!
Going into 1 is always fun on an Aprilia in the "Breeze". Usually, the wind will move you off line dramatically as you pass the grandstands and just scare the hell out of you. When this happens, you chop the gas and turn in again. Once it was so bad that I chopped the gas and the bike still wouldn't turn, so I got on some front brake, too. But that just made the front tuck. I could just feel it going, so I let off the brake and was then able to reel in the bike to make the turn. The next time through 1, I set up a little more steep of an angle and this time, the wind suddenly turns off. Noooooooo! I scream into my helmet as the inside curbing looms large in my visor... I felt the front wheel climb up on the curbing with a bump and then it was back off again. I don't know what I was doing in all of this, but after I got off the curbing, the bike was still getting along through the turn. After that, I kept more buffer between me and the edges of the track...
We all pulled in after the checkered flag and found out that my second practice of the day was also my last. So we started packing up. We finally got packed and took the doggies for a walk on the track. That's like the highlight of their weekend. After packing up, we went to the motel room to get ready for the awards banquet.
Towards the end of the day, some MO-RON in the 750-open practice was doing a hot lap and while exiting turn 9, looked up and saw the checkered flag. After this, he bailed left to the pit entrance. Small problem is that our neighbor, Clinton Whitehouse was passing him as this went down. All he got out was "ohhh, shhh" and it was over. That was a very lucky man... I've never seen such a trashed bike and the rider in as good a shape as he!!
We had no idea what to expect as we pulled into the former Essex House. The Convention Center was pretty huge and WSMC took up the whole hall, it was like a high school prom or something. Zina saw Scott and we went over to their table and met his parents. That was pretty cool. We were BSing with folks and doing the usual social interaction that taxes our limited social skills and then I see Zina running away towards the food line and I run after her. The beef product had a most excellent flavor and everything was pretty good. The only thing that sucked were the bar's prices. =) After dinner, the awards started. For each class, Danny Farnsworth (the MC) would announce and call up the 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st place finishers for each class. Then they would give little acceptance speeches in the same order. A LOT of the same folks were always up there, too! They were good and would change up their thanks at different appearances. I only got one shot, so I thanked PI for the prize money and for sponsoring the class. Then I thanked my fellow competitors including specifically mentioning the Libasci folks, as they're the class of the field. Then I thanked my sponser, me, and all the folks that bought timers from me at the track. And I thanked Zina and I think I stepped away form the mike. Then I stood on the platform and asked Andre Castanos when he'd teach me how to ride fast... Shook hands with Tim after his speech and we all left the stand together. On the way back to sit, Scott's dad, Wayne, took the pic above. I'm still on cloud 9 over this. I still suck, but am very honored over my achievements at WSMC.
Later on, the Toyota Cup top 10 were honored and then the WSMC 2001 overall top 10. And then the giveaways. Jeremy Toye got the Yamaha sound system, Chuck Graves got the YZ125, and Brian Kovaric got the R1. But... guess who won the drawing for the Toyota Tundra? Clinton Whitehouse! That was really cool that he got it after having his bike trashed the day before.
I got a great start and we all hauled ass into one. But I'm a puss and backed off a little and a few folks get by. I'm a little frustrated over this, but get over it, as one has to in order to make the entrance into turn 2. We get into 2 and I see some wierdness ahead of me on the exit, like unnatural lateral movement among bikes. Next thing I see is a Libasci bike going down on the outside of 2. Daaammm! Then the debris fly. Everyone else seemed to get through OK. I forgot that Tim K got through on me going into two, so I thought it was Andre. At some point after that, this loud ass single sounding bike got through on me and the race remained processional from there on. On the next lap, I saw that it was Tim's bike, but I didn't see him anywhere - nor did I see an ambulance. The rest of the race was an intense practice session for me. My apexes got better, I kept more speed up here and there and worked on being consistent. Even though it was only 6 laps, some 9 or 10 minutes, it felt like forever. I pulled through 9 for the last time and kept my head down to the finish and looked back to see empty track and waved to the stands to see folks waving back. On the exit of two, I looked to the crash truck crew who gave the thumbs up then I saw Tim in the passenger seat looking bummed.
We got in and put the warmers (unplugged) on the tires to slow their cool down and wound down. Our next race would be in an hour or so, #11. I had a banana, fussed about the pit, cleaned the windscreens, and did whatever until race time came. I saw Andre in the pits near us talking to Norm, so I went over and found out that Tim was OK. Good to know! After another can of Whoop Ass, we got ready and headed out for the Aprilia race. We couldn't really hear the PA system, so I guessed when the calls would be and we were like 2 minutes earlier than I wanted to be... We gridded for the Aprilia race and noticed that Donnie wasn't out there, but Tim was. I got another good start but didn't help my cause with more wussing into 1, which made Andre's pass on me that much easier. Tim eased by me in 2 and I latched on him as I always do and he deceptively pulled away as he usually does. =) We all made it through the race and I scored another 3rd. In the Pro Italia Aprila Challenge, our second and last race of the day, I finally got enough speed through 3, 4, and 5 to again get knee down. That was my 5th session of the weekend on track.
Not too much going on after the race, as we start up the usual bullshitting with anyone and everyone as we try to get ready to leave. We watched friends race the three novice races and everyone made it out alive, though there were a couple middlewieght and heavywieght crashes. Packed up before dark and the doggies got another very appreciated walk. It helps to really tire them out before the trip home in the van. =) Hitched up as some loons were making a mess in the pits on dirt bikes and pulled out as the sun set.
Our weekend ended as it began when we had to wait through a huge accident involving a flattened pick-up and a jack-knifed semi on the 15. On to Lake Elsinore (John Ulrich's Center of the Roadracing Universe) to have some excellent service at the Sizzler and on home!