Z and I loaded up Thursday with both bikes. My 916 and a borrowed 900ss for Z, both with fresh D207GPs. We went out on FastTrack Friday to get the SS dialed in. It took a bit of twiddling on the suspension settings and we came to a compromise where the bike was smooth in turn 2 and still had a slight weave in 8. It seems we couldn't help 8 further without making 2 worse, so we left it be.
Cool guy DRC member Todd Robinson was there with his big ass motorhome to check out the track. He's jonesing to get out on the track, and I think not being able to ride hurt him more than his injuries. Hang in there, Todd!
At the end of the day, we found a good spot along the gold pit wall to claim for our pits and parked the SS in the LA Wheel Chock. Covered, cabled, and put to bed. A lone cone I found in the shop's parking lot designated the other end of our pit area. We started gabbing with a friend Jay at the track and ended up eating with him at the Golden Cantina and chatting away until 9 or so and headed for the Motel 6 in Lancaster.
Got in and hopped on the bed and about hit the floor... Hmmm. Looked under the bed and saw that it was badly broken. Not wanting to sleep away from the TV or near the door, I came up with the bright idea to swap the beds, since the other one was fine. Slid the good bed forward... and exposed a used condom on the floor. niiiiicccce We got on with putting the bad bed in the good bed's position and worked on getting a particular image out of our minds!
Woke up at 6:15, showered, dressed with some silk and cotton long johns and headed for BK to get a Ham Croissan'wich, OJ, and coffee for the missus. Saturday practices started out OK and we both made improvements in our riding and times. Z got down to in the 1:44 range and I managed a 1:33 in a slew of :34s and :35s. Then it got a bit crazy. After the sun really came out, the next practice session was basically racing. People were passing where ever they could get a wheel in, usually requiring you to brake mid turn or come off line to avoid a collision. This is when the hacks do it... when Anthony Gobert flew by me (this was Friday), he spliced a few of us and no one really noticed. =) Anyhow, people started racing, so riding in practice was more about protecting your line and being balked by others doing the same. My times slowed to the 1:36 to 1:37 range. Zina was having problems even getting through 9 without morons blasting up the inside, so she pretty much called it a day. I went out again and got a huge slide out of the rear in 2. After the session ended, I realized that that the ambient temp was warmer and I didn't let the air out of the tires, so they were over inflated. Oops.
Another oops was when I went to go around a slow starter in a practice session and ended up nailing a cone at the exit of the hot pit lane. Duh. And I just painted my 916, too! I got some street marking spray paint (and sealer / clear) at a hardware store and sprayed my Sharkskinz. The top half is white and the bottom is green. Rather than cheese-dick it where the fairings meet, I stylized it with a line trying to match the bottom contour of the tail section. Turned out pretty good I think.
On an interesting aside, there's a girl that went to new racers' school with Z and me. Well, before the end of one of these sessions, I got by her (Honda 929) in 7 and passed her in 8. She felt the desire to block pass me in turn 3 - on the cool down lap. So I filed this in my brain and made a mental note to stay to the inside this bike in turn 3.
Day 2 of this weekend ended and we were hangin out and were gonna hook up with above lady and a bunch of other racer folk at the Cantina. Well... another racer gal was riding her bike up this huge ass ramp into the back of a big rental truck and kinda fell off. The bike seemed OK, but she got a big ol knot on her head. Lady #1 went with lady #2 to the hospital, so the rest of us were standing around feeling useless and just went on with going to the Cantina.
Other cool DRC guy Frank! went as well as Red Star, Dauve, Zina and I take in the drinks and eats. Frank! and I are the racing mis fits with normal names. This night didn't wear on as long as the last night probably because Sat practice wore us all out...
Sunday, we got up just before 6 and headed to the track. Went to registration, showed our wrist bands on our arms (held in place with tape) and got our tech slips. Took the bikes to tech, got our stickers and suited up for the 2 morning practice sessions. The first one went reasonably well and then the rains came. We got some sprinkles on the last lap which didn't seem to affect things at all. The 2nd practice after ours was deemed a wet practice so no one with slicks was allowed out. Then we got our next rotation and the track was fine again, only there was a bit more racing going on. I used this practice to remember where the turns were, etc.
Rider's meeting came and went and then we sat around all day... our race was #18. The very last race of the day. We took lap times, talked to people, etc. Walked around, ate lunch. Talked with other novices and some girl racers, too. When we got bored or needed a break, we'd go back to the van and sit in the front seats to watch the racing action. There was this 12 or so year old girl going around getting all of the wsmc racers to sign her sweat shirt. Zina signed her first autograph. The girl didn't ask if I raced, so I didn't bug her. Plus her shirt was pretty dang full by then.
Our race loomed closer and closer and I started getting kinda antsy. While watching other races pre-grid for the warm up lap, I noticed that someone would lag a little bit and do a practice race start. Hmmmm, filed away for future use. Race #16 starts... bathroom visit and adjust tires pressures. The tires were 2 to 3 psi too high due to the change in temps from the morning. Got suited up and waited. When race #17 started, the helmets went on and we got ready to grid. Adrenaline was flowing and my heart racing. I strongly desired to place well. I strongly desired to be ahead of a couple different racers I could pass in practice (no names or numbers mentioned, but one is a girl). I pull to the side of the hot pit area for pre grid and wait for the starter to send us off.
Everyone pulls out for the warm up lap and I wait... check that no one's behind me and I pull clear of the cones and practice launching the Duck... hold a steady 5000 rpm, slip the clutch and as I'm engaging it, dial up about 3/4 throttle. Once rolling, pin the throttle and it settles into a 1 foot wheely that just grow to 2 feet when shifting to 2nd. Upon catching the gear, the front drops and I'm gone. Cool. I quickly catch the end of the warm up lap and pull around to my grid.
As the starter shows the 2 board, I get the revs up, then think they're too high... I look down and reset them to 5k. Then when I look up, he's switching the 1 board to sideways and the green flag goes. Shit! I go and one of my nemisis-es kills me on the start. No worries, I still get a good start and we all bail into one. This is pretty hair ball, and we pour through... bikes everywhere, people cutting all around - inside, outside, it's chaotic and feels like war. Going into 2 is almost as bad, and exiting 2 someone is in the gravel on the outside, kicking it all over the track. Then I see the red flag on the 3 barrel! I put up my left arm and pull to the right of the track in 3 and stop. Eventually, the red/yellow cross flags are up and we pull around the track. They have us go to pregrid then we pull into the pits and wait. Someone ended up crashing out of one (likely a power highside) and left body and bike on the track at 1's exit.
They call us again to pre grid and I get another practice start on the warm up lap and vow not to screw the start. We pull around and I get into my grid position (7th). I notice that my engine temp is below 180, so I set the revs at 5k and hold them so I can focus on the starter. 2 board, 1 board, sideways... as soon as his other hand flinched, I went for it. Straight up between starters 3 and 4, I'm like 3rd when we reach the cones for turn one. A few people are on the outside and just throwing it in when someone blitzes up the middle of the pack with like 40 mph on all of us on a RC51 (I'm on the inside somewhat)!! At least it wasn't one of those on my "to beat" list. This dude was fast in practice and just creemed by. I immediately looked through 1 for my line and set about not target fixating on what I was certain was another crash. Apparently, we all got through turn 1 OK. Into 2 is as bad as either start and I get blitzed by a few people, but I keep it on. Through 2, someone rocks the field again by running off the track, but they get back on OK. 3 is hair-ball again. People blitzing each other (though not me, cos I was on the inside and intentionally carry a bit of speed causeing me to go a touch wide) and folks are in the wrong places, panic braking, etc. Then I see I see 3 riders starting to tangle... one dude is unable to get through 3 without panic braking and running wide. Well, two folks are trying to pass him on the outside and they run off. One of them tumbles. I see this and think to myself "Crap! - Look through the turn!!!" so I look up the hill and get on with not adding to the mix.
Almost immediately, the orange crush flag comes out in turn 4. At wsmc, the red flag means to come to a safe and immediate stop, off the race line if possible. The orange crush means to continue around the track and pull off. They have us go to the pits. We pull up to turn 1 area where Frank! and Gayatherie (sp? - she's a girl racer Z and I talk to) and we find out that the girl I was tangling with slightly is the one who tumbled in 3. Man, that sucks. While she was a bit over the top, I wish she hadn't piled. I'd rather see the competitive-ness channeled rather than balled up off track.
So we grip up for a 4 lap race. All I can think is that there will be more mayhem and chaos. Now my adrenaline is more for fear and survival than the excitement of the dice... Another practice start, warm up lap, and another race start. This time, the 11th starting position was notably vacant. I tried to keep it out of my mind that the roles could have been reversed. Another good launch but I go into 1 with tempered enthusiasm but still do well. More melee in 2, but not as bad as before. More rocks out of 2! So I protect the inside of 3 again. I don't recall anyone getting by me until later on in the race... So we're all in a train through 4-5-6 with the leader on the RC51 seconds ahead (he must be something of a ringer). A guy holds me up in 8, so I let off a touch and when he drifts out to set up for 9, I ride up the inside of him (he's on a blue R1). Then someone went up under both of us into 9 (I think he's on an red R1), so I didn't get as good a drive as I wanted, and the guy gets back around me on the straight. They're dicing it up into 3... the red R1 guy goes wide. We do another lap and I just can't really find a way around the blue R1. Into 3 and the blue R1 guy starts going around the outside of the red R1 guy and gets totally pushed wide. Rather than go off, he stops. I look on up the hill and pass them both. Now I'm on this ZX10... he's slower than me in a few turns but has motor from hell. I totally got an awesome drive out of 6 and have like 20 mph on him and he just straightens up and walks away from me! That was the story of the rest of the race. The next lap around, I was able to spin the rear tire in turn 4, telling me that the D207GP out back was going off. I kept the R1 guys behind me and finished 6th. (I had to be told this again...)
Phew! I got enough points that I just need to run one more "Novice Heavy weight" (win or crash) race and I can get my provisional expert license and get away from these crazies into a better forum. (hopefully)