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!
Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Not because I was no longer interested in blogging…other than trying to improve my fitness there was simply not much to report. As the season quickly approaches I finally have some news. First I was able to ad Pit-Bull as a sponsor. They make what have to be the the best motorcycles stands available along with several other great products. And they’re made in the USA! Check them out at http://www.pit-bull.com.
I’ve also made a couple decisions on the upcoming season. First, I’ve decided to remain an amateur for another season. After talking with some more experienced racers whom I greatly respect, I realize that giving myself another year to develop my skills and racecraft is the right decision. Second, after much debate I’ve decided to switch from Michelin to Pirelli tires. I’ve used Michelin for quite a few years now and they’ve been great, but I felt like it was time for a change. There will be quite a few guys riding Pirelli this year and I’ve only heard great things about the tires. I’m looking forward to seeing how they perform first hand!
My first race is the weekend of May 4th-5th at Heartland Park in Topeka Kansas. During the next few weeks I’ll be continuing to look for additional sponsors for the upcoming season, hitting the gym and making final preparations for the start of the season. I’ll be sure to update my progress and of course report back on my race weekend!
I’m happy to report on some exciting news for 2013! Once again I’ll be riding for John Erdmann’s Southeast Sales Race Team. Last year John offered tremendous support during my rookie season and I’m looking forward to riding for (and racing against) John again. Southeast Sales is a full service Kawasaki, KTM, Honda and Suzuki dealership located in Milwaukee. Southeast Sales can also service your Yamaha, Triumph or BMW. They also actively support the local motorcycle community through race sponsorship, motorcycle trackdays and bike nights. The shop can be found at 6930 N 76th St in Milwaukee. Stop by and check them out or give them a call at 414-463-2540.
I’ve also been offered sponsorship by Ferodo/Braketech and Sharkskinz bodywork. For the last several seasons I’ve used Ferodo CP1 carbon brake pads in combination with Braketech’s Axis/Cobra Stainless Steel rotors. This combination gives incredible braking power and feel with fade free performance. When traveling at high speed the last thing I want to worry about is how the brakes are going to perform, that’s why I chose Ferodo and BrakeTech. Even if you don’t race or do trackdays your brake system is the important component on your motorcycle. Ferodo and BrakeTech offer a whole line of rotor/pad combinations that will improve your braking performance regardless of the bike you ride!
I’ve also chosen to use Sharkskinz bodywork. In addition to offering great customer service their bodywork offers excellent fit, is easy to prep for paint and holds up well to crashes. If you’re looking to replace your stock bodywork for track use, these are the folks to contact!
I’ll continue to look for more sponsorship opportunities for the 2013 season. If you have an excellent product or service and are interested in sponsorship please visit my “Sponsors” page or contact me at email@example.com.
Finally, I found out this week that I’ve been officially bumped from amateur status to expert for next year! I’m currently evaluating whether to take the bump or petition CCS to race in amateur again next year. Racing expert will be quite a jump up in terms of competition and laptimes. It’s certainly a little daunting thinking about making the move up after only one season, but it promises to be an awesome challenge that will make me faster. I’ll be sure to update the site once I’ve made my decision.
Before you go please take a moment to support the companies that support me by clicking on the links below!
This week I was able to secure my first new sponsor for the 2013 race season! More details to follow soon! In the meantime I’ll continue to look for those sponsorship opportunities that will help me reach my racing goals next year.
I grew up being told that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. As I grew older I realized that wasn’t entirely true. I’ll never be starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, no matter how hard I try. This video shows what can be achieved, against incredible odds when someone puts their mind to it and refuses to take no for an answer! I find riding a motorcycle at speed to be a challenge and it’s hard to imagine riding without an arm or leg…..much less missing both limbs on one side. Alan Kempster faces major challenges just working on his bike, much less racing. He’s decided to not let those challenges stand in his way…and that’s incredible!
Final points have been posted for the 2012 CCS Mid-West Championship. My final standings are as follows:
Rookies Cup: 1st
Unlimited Grand Prix: 5th
Unlimited Superbike: 5th
Overall Mid-West Standing: 18th out of 125 riders
Blackhawk Farms Track Championship:
Rookies Cup: 1st
Unlimited Grand Prix: 3rd
Unlimited Superbike: 3rd
Full Points can be found here:
Congrats to all the Mid-West regional champions! It’s been a fun year and I’m already looking forward to next year! Before leaving please take a moment to go to my sponsors page and click on the banner!
This weekend was the season ending Mid-West CCS race weekend and it was certainly an interesting weekend! There was some stress, some ups and downs and a couple high moments. I decided to head down to Blackhawk Farms on Friday to take part in the Motovid race clinic. I figured I could use a little more seat time on the Zx-10R, plus I’d have a chance to get some valuable instruction from some of the fastest guys in the region. The other major reason for wanting to get to the track was the weather. The forecast was calling for rain on both Friday and Saturday and I had never had a chance to ride on rain tires. I wasn’t looking forward to venturing out on rain tires for the first time during a race. I was able to pick up a set of used rain tires Thanks to John at Southeast Sales and headed down to Beloit.
The first stressful moment of the weekend came on Friday while switching tires from slicks to rains. A fellow racer who also rides the Zx-10R noticed the rear suspension link had been installed backwards. With some help we were able to remove the link and get it installed correctly and get the rain tires on the bike in time to still get out on track. I ventured out for some tentative laps in a hard rain with temperatures hovering in the mid 50′s…..FUN! While I wasn’t sure what to expect the tires worked well and the ZX-1oR’s electronics made life a lot easier. I was able to select a lower power mode and increase the intervention of the traction control to keep everything under control. I was able to get three sessions in and improve my lap times slowly until heavier rain and large areas of standing water on the track made riding too risky. I finished the day satisfied that I had been able to get some laps in, find and fix an issue with the bike. I figured that Saturday morning would be stress free since they were still calling for rain and I was already set to go….
Saturday morning we got to the track with temperatures in the mid 30′s a damp but drying track and wind….lot’s of wind. While I’d normally be happy to see a drying track, I realized I was in for some extra work getting tires changed back to slicks and hoping the tire warmers would get the tires up to temperature before my first race. First up was Unlimited Superbike on a cold, slick track and only 4 riders on the grid. I got an ok start but was still last into turn 1. I tried to get around the rider in 3rd, but unfortunately it took me a little too long and the 2 leaders had run away by then. I ended up having a good battle with Sam getting the best of me. I finished 4th…last place, not where I wanted to be! Next up was Unlimited Grand Prix again with just 4 riders on the grid. I once again was unable to latch on to the back of John and Carl and they were able to run away. At least this time I got the better of Sam and was able to finish 3rd. Still not the result I wanted.
Sunday was even colder with temperatures in the low 30′s but at least the wind was calm. I ventured out during the second practice session to work on some race starts and get a feel for a very cold track. I was happy with my starts, but the track was slick. I figured finishing was more important than fast lap times. First up was the 25 minute GTO race. The lap times during this race were very slow, but unfortunately John was able to run away in first place. I worked my way into second and hoped to be able to hang on and take my best result yet. As the race wore on though, I found it harder and harder to run consistent lap times. Near the end I was passed by Sam and finished 3rd. Again not the result I wanted, but it was enough to finish an overall 3rd in the Mid-West region and take 2nd in the BHF track championship. When I got back to the pit I found the source of my issues during the race…my rear tire was completely destroyed. Uh oh this is a problem! I wheeled the bike over to the guys from TSE suspension to have them check things out. We found with the rear link finally installed correctly, the rear end was way too stiff. There was only two choices, either throw on a fresh tire and rip it apart too, or re-spring the rear shock. We went with the second option. This means the tail, seat, and gas tank had to be pulled off the bike to remove the shock. I also had to remove the rear tire since it needed new rubber before the next race. With four guys tearing into the bike we were able to get the shock off, re-sprung, new suspension settings dialed in and a tire installed in time for my next race, Rookies Cup. Going into the race I had a 5 point lead in the championship and the second place rider did not show up. I could take the championship without riding, but that’s not the way I wanted to win. I decided to take it a little easy to see how the changes to the rear shock were working and took 2nd in the race. I secured the 2012 Rookies Cup for the Mid-West, my first regional title! The next two races were Unlimited Grand Prix and Unlimited Superbike. They were both big let down’s. While I had some good battles and set my best time of the weekend I finished last in both races. I seemed to fade near the end of the race and allowed guys I’d left behind earlier to catch and pass me. It’s not the way I wanted to finish my rookie season. In the end maybe I expected too much when racing a new bike for the first time. While the ZX-10R is certainly much faster than the Honda, it’s going to take some time to come to terms with the raw power and speed of the bike. I’m sure I’m going to stew over the way the season ended, but hopefully I can use that as motivation for next season. I’ll also try and focus on the positive aspects of the season. I won the Rookies Cup, made a lot of new friends, stayed safe, proved to myself I can race motorcycles and most importantly….I had FUN! Wednesday I’ll be heading back to the track for the next to last Motovid trackday of the season. It’ll be another chance to work on some skills and have some fun. I’ll post up after the trackday. Before I sign off I want to thank my wife and family for supporting my dream and all those who’ve given me a hand at the track. I’d also like to thank everyone who’s checked out my blog and shared in my experience. Before you leave please take a moment to check out the “Sponsors” page and click on the banner.
Yesterday I picked the ZX-10R from Jason Farrell. He’d made a modification to the swing-arm to make rear tire changes easier and took care of a couple other minor complaints. We also made a rear ride height change to help the bike turn a little quicker and avoid running wide on corner exit. I’m hoping that will give me an improvement in lap times. On Friday I should know if the changes helped or not!
I also got a call from Todd Carlson saying the bodywork was done. All I can say is wow! He did a great job and I think the bike looks great. My only complaint is the numbers on the rear number plate are a little elongated, but it’s really minor and something that can be easily fixed down the road. Not only did Todd come in on budget, but he had the bodywork ready when promised. I’d highly recommend Todd to anyone needing paint!
Friday I’ll be heading to Blackhawk Farms for the Motovid race clinic. I’ll have a chance to be coached by some really fast guys and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two. It will also give one last chance to get the bike dialed in for it’s maiden race this weekend. Saturday and Sunday I’ll be racing the CCS twin sprints at Blackhawk. It’s the last race of the season for the Mid-West region and I’m sure everyone will be racing hard trying to secure as many points as possible. Right now weather looks a little iffy with a chance of rain on both Friday and Saturday, although the forecast has been changing daily. I’ll be sure to pass along updates of the races via Twitter during the weekend and will post the result here once I’m home. Before you leave please take a moment to check out my Sponsors page…..and now for a few pics of the bike!