Last weekend kicked off the beginning of my 2014 race season. The CCS races at Roebling Road in Savannah Georgia were a great excuse to get away from our lingering Wisconsin winter. While we were looking forward to some warm weather, it seemed that we brought a little of Wisconsin with us. In order to get a little track before the races we signed up for the Kern practice day on Friday. Friday was a wash out, however, with cold temps and rain. While I did have rain tires, there was very little to gain from venturing out….and plenty to lose. At least the weather for Saturday and Sunday looked great with sunny skies and temps in the 70′s.
This season,in addition to running the normal CCS and ASRA sprint races, I decided I wanted to try Team Challenge. Team Challenge races are 2 or 3 hour endurance races and I’d be teaming up with my buddy Mat to tackle a new challenge. While not getting any track time on Friday was a bummer I knew we’d both have a chance to learn the track and knock the rust off durning the Team Challenge race. Mat decided to take the first stint on the bike and he ran some very nice lap times considering he was riding a new track on a bike he’d never been on. We ended up finishing 7th in our class and 14th overall out of 43 entries. Not too shabby! Our biggest mistakes was changing riders too often. We were both concerned about fatigue if we only made one stop. The extra stops cost us too many laps and really hurt our finishing order. Now we both know we can do half race distance and should be a little more competitive next time. The main thing is we had FUN and will be looking team up more as the season progresses! Keep your eyes peeled for Team Bawk! Flight!
After Team Challenge I gridded up for my first ever Expert races. Needless to say, I was a little nervous gridding up with some really fast guys. My goal was to ride smart, stay out of trouble and hopefully not finish last! For the most part I was able to accomplish my goals. I improved my lap times with each race and was competitive with some of the other Experts. The only real blemish was when my rear tire let go suddenly in the Unlimited GP race. I was sure I was going to crash, but somehow managed to stay on the bike. I did end up running off track however, which spelled the end to my race. I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but I was glad I didn’t start the season with a crash!
In other news, I decided to add a data acquisition system to the bike. I went with the AIM EVO 4 system. While not cheap, the system is very impressive and it’s already starting to help. I had Jason, at Farrell Performance install the system and he’s been a big help in identifying areas that I can improve. There’s a few aspects of my riding that really stand out and I should see a big improvement in my laps times as I address those. I’m also happy to report on some sponsor news. Once again I’ll be teaming up with the following sponsors for 2014: Southeast Sales, Farrell Performance, TSE, BrakeTech/Ferodo, Pit Bull, Skarkskinz and Motovid. I appreciate their support and will do my best to represent them! Next up, I’m planning to do the STT trackday at Barber in April followed by the CCS races at NJMP in May. I’m looking forward to hitting two new tracks and riding with my buddies!
Well, as the title says, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted! So what new? The biggest news is I decided to have the plate removed from my wrist in December. There were possible long term risks to the tendons in my wrist. I was also concerned about the consequences of having the plate still in place if(when) I crash again. My doctor agreed and so out it came. Luckily it was a fairly easy surgery and I had very little pain. The biggest hurdle was waiting for the stitches to come out before I could return to work. Since then my wrist has felt pretty good and I’ve been able to start getting my upper body strength back to where it should be.
In racing news there’s several things going on. As mentioned above I’ve been able to really start weight training again in ernest. I’ve also continued to cycle or do hard cardio 4-5 times a week. My goal is to go into the season in top condition. I’m also hoping to drop another 10 pounds before the start of the season. I think for the club racer it’s easy to miss the importance of being in shape, but it’s clear that to ride at your best, especially at the end of a race, physical condition trumps a lot of other things. To track my progress I had a body composition test right before the holidays. I’ll have another test done right before my first race and I’ll post the results.
Preparations on my bike continue too. First, I’m having PopShadow create my expert number plates and a couple other stickers. I’m really looking forward to see those white plates on the bike! I’ve also sent my rear brake rotors out for weight reduction. It should give me a small performance increase. I’m going to experiment with using the rear brake to help settle the chassis in hard braking areas. Locking up the rear wheel is an issue when using the rear brake and having less surface area should help mitigate that concern. I’m not sure if using the rear brake will help much, but as I continue to look for more speed I need to search out new techniques to drop those seconds. I’m also considering adding data acquisition to the bike. There’s several systems on the market and they offer the opportunity to collect massive amounts of data. I truly believe these systems can help a rider objectively review and analyze their on track performance. The biggest downside is the initial cost of the system, but I think the benefits outweigh the cost. I should know whether I’m going to go forward with a system in the next week or two.
In other news, I attended the CCS Midwest awards banquet with Elizabeth a couple weeks ago. It was great to see all our friends from the track and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. I was awarded my trophy for winning the CCS GTO championship. I was also shocked and humbled to receive the Learning Curves Race School “On the Gas” award along with Ray Hoffman. Our race director, Rick Brewer, gives the award to a rider or riders that each year have shown exceptional sportsmanship and results each year. I had no idea the amount of respect my fellow riders had for my comeback from injury and win at Daytona. It was really cool to be recognized! Finally, I’ve decided to start my season racing a CCS Southeast round at Roebling Road near Savannah,GA. It’ll be my first expert race, on a new track and there will be a number of AMA pro’s there getting seat time before the AMA races at Daytona. Talk about drinking from a firehose!!! It should be fun! In the meantime, I’m continuing to search for sponsorship for 2014. I have a couple sponsors lined up and will continue to search for more opportunities to help fund my racing effort. I’ll be sure to update my sponsor list once I’m a little closer to the first race of the season.
Last weekend was the final weekend for the CCS Mid-West championship. Going into the weekend I had a comfortable lead in GTO and was 5th in the overall points standing. In Superbike, Grand-Prix and Supersport I’d need a lot of help in order to win a championship, like the class leader not showing up. That didn’t happen so I set off to have a decent weekend, secure the championship in GTO and go home without falling down.
The first race of the weekend was GTO and I go a typical weak start. After a few decent laps I was able to take the lead. Just after the halfway point, however, my legs began burning…bad! My wife Elizabeth was giving me gap information from pit lane and I could see my lead dropping slowly. Near the end I was passed for 1st and held on for a solid 2nd and the Mid-West GTO championship! Later in the day I also took a win in Supersport, 3rd in Gran-Prix and 4th in Superbike.
On Sunday I started out racing Supersport. This has been a lightly contested class due to the restrictions on equipment and tires. I’ve had really good finishes and expected to win the race again. Things didn’t go exactly to plan! On the second lap I ran wide at the bus-stop(a tight low speed right hand turn that has asphalt on the inside and a concrete path mid track). It was fairly cool still and being off line I was forced to choose to either turn the bike hard on a questionable piece of track or go off roading and rejoin. I chose to ride off track and in process lost the lead. I was slowly making up time on the leader, but in the end had to settle for 2nd. Even in a race you expect to win anything can happen! Hats off to Derrick on the win and the Supersport championship. I also took a win in the ASRA Superstock race by being the only rider entered. I got a really cool cup for the win but would have liked to have at least a few guys to race against! I finished the day taking 3rd in both Grand-Prix and Superbike, nursing a badly worn and tearing tire home in both races.
In the end, in addition to taking 1st in GTO, I finished the year 2nd to Sam Kok in Superbike and Supersport , 3rd in Grand-Prix and 5th in the overall Amateur points. My goal for the season was to sweep the Unlimited class and challenge for the overall points lead, but it wasn’t to be. I am happy though to secure one championship, get a 1:13 lap time at Blackhawk Farms(another goal for the season) considering my injury at Road America. I also learned a lot about myself and how to overcome challenges in life.
So now what? Well, I’ve decided to race at Daytona in the CCS Race of Champions in October. The ROC is a winner take all format that determines the CCS National Championship. Right now the bike is at Farrell Performance having an engine rebuild completed. I also have the bike mapped for MR12 race gas for a little extra horsepower. Daytona is a high speed, high power track and I’d hate to lose a race because the bike was a little down on power. As far as expectations for the races….I have none! I hope I’ll be competitive and I’ll ride as hard as I can but there’s no way of knowing how I stack up until we’re there racing. I’m nervously looking forward to it! I’ll be sure to post up after the races, so check back.
Finally I want to thank my wife and family for their support during the season and especially as I continue to recover from injury. Without their support I don’t know what I would have done! Before you go I hope you’ll check out my sponsors on the right and you can check the points below.
I wanted to post a few pics from my crash. First, the bike isn’t bad, it seems my body took the worst of it. It never flipped and damage was limited to the right side of the bike. I’ll need a new rearset (footpeg), handle bar, fairing and exhaust. The exhaust is the biggest item. Lucky for me, Rich, from Austin Racing is working with me to get a replacement for a great price! Thanks, Rich!
Second, great gear makes a difference. As a rider without an unlimited budget, it’s always tempting to find less expensive gear. While cheap gear may be easier on the pocketbook initially, you’ll certainly pay in both cash and pain when the big one happens. My RS Taichi leathers held up great! I suffered no rash despite the speed at which I fell. They’ll need a few minor repairs, but honestly I wouldn’t have had an issue wearing them again right away had I not been hurt. The same goes for my Held Phantom gloves. I had several seasons of both track and street riding in these and they did great despite their age. I will replace these, but they certainly were worth the price. I will be going with the new Held Titan’s however. The Titan gloves have a finger bridge between the pinky and ring finger which might have prevented my dislocated fingers.
And now for the pics, sorry for the quality!
Well, I’m finally feeling better and have been able to back off the meds enough to write what I hope is a semi-coherent post! Here we go…
The weekend of July 6-7 saw the 3rd round of the CCS Mid-West Championship. Going into the weekend I was quite excited. I’d somehow managed to secure a vacation week that covered the Road America round and allowed me the time off for round 4 at Blackhawk Farms! Since I’ve had a limited number of laps at Road America, my plan was to take advantage of the SportBike Track Time trackday on Friday before lining up to race on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday ended up being a great day. I had moved my bike in gear into the garage on Thursday and had eliminated the stress of getting set-up, getting registered, getting the bike through Tech Inspection before the first morning session. During the day I worked on trying to find a better line through some corners that had given me trouble before and working to tighten up my braking points…something that’s harder than it sounds when braking from over 175 mph at the end of Road America’s front straight! Little by little I was able to chip away and finished the day with a new personal best lap time of 2:31. It was a very good time for an Amateur and I felt I’d be able to drop a little more time on race day. I leave the track happy!
Saturday morning I couldn’t wait to get to the track. The weather was perfect, I’d be racing at an incredible track and hanging out with my biggest supporter and some great friends. I skipped the first morning warm up session preferring to go out during the second warm up to mainly to work on my biggest weakness…race starts! After a few laps and finally getting a couple decent starts I pull in and relax before my first race.
My first race is the 25 minute GTO. I’ve got usual first race jitters, plus I’m a little nervous since there’s a few guys I’ve never raced and a number of first time racers on the grid. I know what to expect from the regulars, but these guys are an unknown…this could be interesting! I ended up with a mediocre start, but everyone gets through the first couple corners ok. It’s then a matter of making up a few places and getting to the front. I’m able to make a nice pass going into the bend early in the race for second place. I follow that pass by taking the lead down the front straight…man this ZX-10 is fast!!! I ended up leading 3/4 of the race but start to fade slightly near the end and lose the leading going into turn 6, a definite weak point for me. I’m able to hang on the the leaders’s rear wheel and I’m hoping to at least give him a fight on the last lap. Unfortunately we catch some slower traffic and while he gets through I get held up slightly. That’s racing, I finish a close 2nd in a great race!
Next up was the Unlimited Superbike sprint race. This time I get a better start and am in the mix from the get go! Going into turn 1 there’s bike everywhere and I’m hoping everyone uses their head getting through the first couple corners. We all make it and I find myself in a group of 4 breaking away from the other riders. On the second lap the rider in 2nd has a near high side coming out of the bend and I use the opportunity to go from 4th to 2nd! Thanks Tony! Over the next couple laps I had some great action. The highlight had to be going three wide down the front straight at over 170 mph! That’s a rush! By the last lap it was just the leader and myself at the front with the other guys falling back slightly. Going into the last couple corners he was slowing intentionally and looking over his shoulder trying to goad me into a pass. We both knew whoever led out of the last turn was likely to be passed in the draft in the long run to the finish line. Neither of us wanted to be in front! Coming out of the last turn I thought I’d lined him up perfectly, getting better drive out of the corner than he did and solidly in his draft. This going to work out perfect….except I ended up with a massive wheelie coming over the crest of the hill on the front straight. I had to roll off the gas and lose the race by .3 seconds! I couldn’t believe it. In the end it was another great race and hats off to Bart for taking the win.
The third race of the day, Unlimited Grand-Prix would end up being my last for a bit. After my first two races I’d noticed a tear forming on the right side of my front tire. My suspension wasn’t working correctly and was rebounding too quickly(the forks were extending too quickly after being compressed). My suspension guys tried to make some adjustments but couldn’t fix the problem. To top that off I didn’t have time to replace my front tire and get it warmed up properly before my next race. We decided I should ride conservatively, collect some points and we’d get the suspension rebuilt overnight. The problem with racing is that once the flag drops the best laid plans go out the window. I got a great start for once and found myself behind Bart, who’d just beat me. I had a great first lap, the front tire never giving any warning. I felt confident and felt like I was riding within my ability. Running down the front straight I draft pass Bart and out brake him going into turn 1. I never felt out of shape or out of control. Everything was great and then it wasn’t. No warning, no sense I was in too deep. Upright one instant and then BAM! On the ground hard, and then tumbling through the gravel. Just when I thought I couldn’t tumble again, I’d tumble, doing my best Hommer Simpson impression. “Doh” “Ow”! Over and over. Kind of funny in a sick way!
I’ve been told, when you crash don’t try and get up to quickly. All I knew was I was in an impact area and didn’t want to get hit if another rider crashed. It seemed like my limbs mostly worked so I got up and walked to a safe area with corner workers. I knew right away my left wrist wasn’t right and I really didn’t want to see a couple fingers. With some help from the corner workers I got my gloves off and could see my left wrist didn’t look normal….things weren’t were they should be and my right pinky was sticking out at a sickening angle.
It was a tough few minutes right after crashing. Not only was I in a lot of pain, but I felt like an asshole. I’d thrown my championship away! The truth is, however, I could have crashed settling for 5th. It could have been much worse. Bart did a great job of not running me over. I’m glad I took the risk of racing. I’m glad I wanted to win. Maybe if I had to do it over again I’d have backed off….just a little….but then your mind does funny things when the flag drops….
So what’s next? I had my wrist plated last Friday. The pain is getting day by day. I’m hoping to be off the strong pain meds today or tomorrow. My fingers are starting to move better and are a little stronger each day. My plan is to hopefully be able to race the August 17-18 round at Blackhawk Farms. The Doctor doesn’t think I’ll want to ride, but said he’ll work towards that goal if I want. I need a goal, so I’ll shoot for that. If I can grid up and collect some points I will. Maybe I can still salvage my chances of winning the Mid-West Championship. If not I’ll race the season final in September.
Finally, when something like this happens you learn about yourself. You learn even more about those around you. My wife was been great. She’s stuck by me the entire time. She’s helped keep me calming dealing with doctors and surgery. She’s had to help me daily task like showering and dressing and even simple things like washing my hands. Not one complaint. I can’t say how much I appreciate her help and support. You also find out about friends. My Team Chouffe buddies are the kind of people you want to be around. Without them the weekend would have been much worse. They went out of their way to make sure both Elizabeth and myself were ok, that my bike and gear were packed up and got home and that I’m doing ok recovering. Thanks!
Tomorrow morning I’ll finally be getting my wrist fixed. I’ll be having a titanium plate installed. The doctor then plans to repair the ligament damage in my hand. While I’m not exactly looking forward to things, it will be a relief to finally have it taken care of. I’ve been told to expect an 6-8 week recovery, although I am going to see if I can shorten that and get back on the bike ASAP…..you’ve got to have goals to shoot for!
Well things didn’t go exactly as planned this weekend. Things started out good with two 2nd place finishes in GTO and Unlimited Superbike in very close races. I also managed to post a very good lap time of 2:28! Things went downhill in my third race, Unlimited Grand-Prix. While fighting for the lead I crashed heavily in turn 1. It was a very fast crash and I ended up with a couple dislocated fingers and broken wrist. I’ll be seeing a surgeon tomorrow and hope to have my wrist repaired this week. I’ll miss the races at Blackhawk Farms in a couple weeks, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can return for the August round and possibly salvage the season! I still had a blast at the track and am thankful that my wife and Team Chouffe took such great care of me. I’ll post some pics and more details from the weekend when I have a little more time.
Cool video of Jim chasing me at the Motovid trackday at Blackhawk Farms. Enjoy!
Well, points have finally been updated on the CCS website. After two rounds my current standings are as follows:
Overall Amateur Standing: 2nd out of 67 riders with 263.7 points, 17.6 points from 1st
Amateur GTO: 1st with 65 points
Amateur Grand-Prix: 1st with 91 points
Amateur SuperSport: 1st with 96 points
Amateur Superbike: 2nd with 86 points, 2 points from 1st
So far I think my results are outstanding. Now I just have to keep pushing, it’s still early in the season and I know the other riders will continue to race hard.
In other news the bike is undergoing some repairs to the transmission. I was having issues shifting to and from 3rd gear and we found some wear to the gear and shift forks. Hopefully this will be the last repair for a bit since things are getting expensive!! On Monday and Tuesday I’ll be heading up to Road America to take part in a trackday. I haven’t had a lot of track time there and am looking forward to getting a chance to practice before the July races. I’ll post an update when I get home.