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.
This weekend was the second round of the CCS Mid-West Championship. It was held at my home track, Blackhawk Farms in South Beloit, IL. I started the weekend by working for Motovid as a control rider during their invitational trackday. I rode with the guys and girls from ChiVin, vintage motorcycle group. It was great to see an enthusiastic group of riders riding bikes you don’t normally see at the track! Due to the limitations of the vintage bikes, however, the laps times were very slow. I was slightly concerned that it might not have been the best way to go into a race weekend. Luckily, this round of races would only be held on Sunday with a full day of practice on Saturday.
Saturday, we arrived to the track a little later than I’d hoped. I was exhausted from the long day on Friday and decided to get a little more sleep. I missed the first two sessions, but was ok knowing I had plenty of track time still available to get up to speed. My first session out was a little concerning when I was only able to manage a 1:20 laptime, which is pretty slow. I knew I needed to pick up the pace in order to go into the races on Sunday with some confidence. During the next three sessions I was able to slowly pick up my speed, dropping a couple seconds a session. I finished the day with a 1:15.7 laptime, which was respectable and just a few tenths off my personal best. I left the track that evening feeling a lot better about my pace.
Sunday arrived and I decided to sit out the first practice session. I did go out and turn a few laps during the second practice session to make sure the bike was working properly and get in a practice start. Then it was time to get set for my first race, the 25 minute GTO race. While some racers don’t seem to like the longer GT races, I love them since it’s a real challenge to try and run sprint race pace for such a long time. Even though I’d had a really nice practice race start just a few minutes prior I got a typically terrible start….again…Not exactly the way I wanted to start my first race! The good news was I didn’t panic and settled into last place. I could see the leaders weren’t getting away and knew I had time to work my way to the front. By mid race distance I’d done just that and was leading the race. Once to the front I pushed hard to try and build a nice gap to the following riders. Prior to the weekend I had talked to my wife Liz to about having her stand in hot pit lane to give me an idea of the gap I had to the riders behind me. As the race wore on it was great to see the gap increasing and Liz cheering me on to my first win of the weekend!
After lunch I had three 8 lap sprint races with the first being Unlimited Superbike. In this race I got a mediocre start. It was better than the GTO race, but I was still in last place going into the first corner. This time I didn’t have the luxury of time to get to the front. I pushed hard, made passes as soon as I could and was in second place after a couple laps. I felt I had the pace to run away with the race if I could only get by the leading rider, but he was riding very well and making it impossible to find a way by without trying to pull off a risky pass. To complicate things there were several crashes which meant waving yellow flags, where passing is prohibited and a close call for both the leader and myself as an ambulance crossed the track right in front of us as we were hammer down, nose to tail going down the front straight! That got the heart pounding!!! I made a couple last minute attempts to get by, one of which was a little too close to ending in disaster and in the end had to settle for 2nd. Fair play to Tony on the #792 Honda, he rode a great race and deserved the win.
Next up was Unlimited Grand-Prix. Not a great start but at least I wasn’t last this time into turn 1! The leader, however, got a great start and cleared off. I was quickly able to work my way into 2nd and put my head down to see if I could close the gap to the leader. I was making progress but it was clear that I was going to run out of laps to catch him, but I decided to keep pushing to the end…just in case. In the end that was a good decision! On the last lap we came up on a lapped rider. I thought the guy I was chasing would be able to get by without a problem considering his pace yet to my surprise he was stuck there for a couple corners! Now I’m on his rear wheel and have to go for it! Coming out of turn 6 he drifts wide and gets stuck behind the lapper. I hold a tight line on the exit and am able to pass both. It was the best win yet and really hammered home that I should never give up. The race doesn’t end until you cross the finish line!
My last race was Unlimited Supersport. There were only two riders with one rider dropping out. I knew I could win it with ease, but you still have to grid up…you still have to finish. I set out to ride controlled fast laps and cruised to an easy victory. Going into the weekend my goal was to win four out of four races. I fell just a little short, but felt great winning three and taking a 2nd. I also set a new personal best of 1:14.5 and will go into the next round at Road America in July with a nice points lead. I can’t rest on my laurels though and will have to continue to ride hard if I want to take the Mid-West Championship. As always I would like to take a moment to thank my wife and the following sponsors: Southeast Sales, Ferodo/BrakeTech, Pitbull, Sharkskinz, Farrell Performance, TSE and Motovid . Without their support I couldn’t go racing! Please take a moment and click on their banner or check out my sponsors page!
Well, we just returned from the first CCS Mid-West race at Topeka, KS. It was great to get back on the bike and race! Leading up to the weekend I started the inevitable weather watching. The forecast bounced between ok and down right terrible. Our drive down to Topeka started ok, but we were heading towards what amounted to a huge winter storm. After a couple hours we ran into heavy rain, followed by rain snow mix and finally a snow storm. As we drove further into the storm my stomach sank and I kept thinking to myself, “we’re going to race in this stuff?” I actually considered turning around and heading home, but figured we’d driven so far that it made sense to stick it out and see what it’s actually like at the track. As we rolled in to Topeka we actually got a glimpse of sun! Could it be??
Friday, we got to the track early to be greeted by cold and wind. At least it wasn’t raining! The bad news was the track was still fairly wet, so I decided to sit out the first couple sessions. The good news was the wind seemed to be drying the track out quickly. I was able to get out on the last session before lunch and tip toe around the track to see what it was actually like. Topeka’s layout isn’t bad, with a few flowing corners, a few very slow corners and a series of ever tighter corners that lead to the front straight. The most daunting part of the track is the end of the front straight, where you charge uphill and then bend in blind to a right hand kink to set up for turn 1. It certainly takes guts to keep the gas on going over the hill, but it’s key to a good lap time. After lunch the track was mostly dry, with a few wet patches and puddles, but good enough to try and pick up the pace. I finished the day with a respectable lap time but still not quite where I wanted to be.
The forecast for Saturday looked ok, but we got to the track to be greeted by a temperature of 38F, rain and more wind. At least we have a garage! One of the guys sharing our garage was good enough to run to the local hardware store to pick up a space heater that we’d all huddle around between races. It might have been the best purchase of the weekend!
The first order of business was to get the rain tires mounted and head out for morning practice. Prior to this weekend my entire experience riding on rain tires was limited to 3 trackday sessions at Blackhawk Farms last season. I’m still amazed how good the Pirelli rain tires are. You can brake very hard while the bike is straight up and down and the rear has enough grip to wheelie out of the corner when getting on the gas. Did I say “amazing”?
My first race was the 25 minute GTO race and there were 3 of us on the grid. I got off to a slow start only to see the other two guys scream off into the distance. While the rain tires are good I still didn’t have the confidence to let it rip like that. I decided to settle in, run my own race and see what happened. About half way through the race I approached a corner with a waving yellow flag. Someone was down! Sure enough, one of the guys in my class had crashed out unhurt. I was able to maintain a steady pace and bring home a 2nd place for the first race of the year! My next 3 races were the Unlimited Supersport, Superbike and Grand-Prix races. The grids for these races were bigger, and while I was increasing my pace each race, I was only able to take 3rd in each race. At the end of the day I mentioned to my wife, Elizabeth, that I was riding not to crash instead of trying to win. While a 2nd and three 3rd’s was good for a lot of points I wasn’t too happy with that mental out look. I made a decision to race for wins on Sunday.
Sunday we woke up to a dry hotel parking lot and slightly warmer temperatures, only to have our elation crushed when we got to a soaking wet track. I put the rains back on the bike and get ready for my first race, Unlimited Supersport. I finally got a decent start and settle into 2nd early in the race. On the second lap I’m able to make a pass for the lead, put my head down and go on to win my first race of the year! After the race I returned the garage to celebrate only to realize I didn’t go to tech after the race as required! In panic I jump on the bike and tear off through the pits to get to tech inspection. Luckily I got there just in time and avoided being DQ’d! WHEW!
My next two races were after lunch and the track began drying. While that sounds good it complicates a rider’s tire decision. Do you run rains, DOT race tires, a rain front tire and a DOT race tire or even a slick on the rear? I’d made a decision to run a DOT on the rear and kept going back and forth between running a rain front and a DOT front. I literally made a last minute decision to throw a DOT front on for my next race, Unlimited Grand-Prix. My pit mates were good enough to give me a hand getting the tire change done so I wasn’t overly rushed.
During the warm up lap I was hopeful I’d made the right choice since the track was fairly dry, although there were some wet patches on the raining line in some of the corners. Well, I guess I’m about to find out! I got an ok start and settle into 3rd in during the first lap. On the second lap I’m able to make a pass on the outside of turn 3 (thanks Brian!) for second and concentrate on riding the best I can. In the end while I only manage 2nd, I run my fastest laps of the weekend, pass two experts and am within 3 seconds a lap of the fastest expert! It was a good race and I’m pumped at the end!
The last race of the weekend was the Unlimited Superbike race and I want a win! I get a good start for once and find myself in 2nd going in to the first corner. By turn 3 I’m leading and I put my head down to try and build a lead. I feel like I’ve got the race under control until mid way through the 3rd lap when I get passed on the brakes going into turn 6. Where did this guy come from??!! In my surprise I lose a little ground, so I push to get back on his rear wheel… I’m not going to settle for 2nd! By the end of the lap I’ve made up the distance I lost but now I see two expert we’re reeling in….fast! This could get interesting! The guy I’m chasing gets though the first expert quick and I get hung up. After getting by I’m able to reel him back in only to see him get my the next expert while I get hung up..AGAIN! I finally get by and have the last lap to catch up. I see the leading rider making a few mistakes and by turn 5 I’m there….but I’m also sliding the front going into corners and spinning the rear up coming out of every corner….UH OH! I hang on his rear wheel through the remainder of the lap and hope I can get by in the last corner since he been running wide there the last few laps. Sure enough going into the last corner he goes wide! But I’m trying to get on the gas hard on a wet patch of track and feel the rear start to spin instead of hooking up and driving. I end up losing the race by .4 seconds. Although I’m bummed not to win, it was a great, fun race! I’ll get him next time!
In the end it was a great weekend even if the weather was terrible. My goal was to get points, not crash and come home to the Blackhawk Farms races with a nice point total. I did that and more, and leave with a lot of confidence going into the next race. I left Topeka with one 1st, three 2nd’s and three 3rd’s!
Finally, I want to thank my wife for her support! She put up with cold, rain, noise and fumes for three days followed by a long drive home and going straight to work without a complaint. She also really helped calm me down and keep focused during the weekend. Without her support I couldn’t go racing! I’d also like to thank the following sponsors: Southeast Sales, Ferodo/BrakeTech, Sharkskinz, Pitbull, TSE, Farrell Performance, and Motovid.com! Please take a minute and click on their links on the right or go to my sponsors page and check out what they have to offer!