Let's Go Motorcycle Racing!
So I've been doing track days for about a year and a half now. I've got to where I'm decently fast. I've also started instructing at one of the local track day organizations. People have asked me why don't I start racing. My answer has always been it's too expensive. It is. Its $180 for 3 races. Not to mention the licensing fee of $145 every year. There's also the one time class fee that's $75.
Compared to track days, where I can ride all day by simply putting in a days work worth of either corner working, track marshaling, or instructing...racing is ridiculously expensive. Especially since a race probably averages 5 laps as compared to 1 session at a track day being 7 or 8...and you get 7+ sessions.
Anyway, some friends of mine got together and started a pool for me. I have some pretty awesome friends. They raised a few hundred for me to start and go racing. I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't.
The final CMRA round was this last weekend right in my back yard at Texas World Speedway. My favorite track. But I still had to get my license. They have a Friday 'practice' which is basically a track day on steroids full with racers. They also offer the licensing school during that time. The school consists of some classroom time. You have to complete a 'mock race' at the end of the day...and you have to go all day without crashing.
I told myself just to take it easy all day that way I don't crash. Well, that went out the window. I was there to race...and I needed the passing practice (something I'm not very good at). I wouldn't say I was going 100%, but I wasn't taking it easy...especially when I needed to pass someone. I also got a little carried away with my lean angle. Enough to where I was dragging elbow around a 90 mph turn. No action shots...but here's my suit (Which is 2 track days old)
Got through the end of the day and was ready for the mock race. I got a terrible start. Went from 3rd to 6th (of about 12 total) before I ever got to the first turn. I was picking people off one at a time. Stuffed one of the instructors in the process and almost ran him in the grass...oops. I finally got the person in first. I got him on the brakes in turn 3. He got me back on the inside of T7. I got him on the brakes again in T3. I took a more defensive line and he couldn't get around me. I won the mock race. I found out afterwards the dude I was battling it out for lost the front in T7 on that last lap. He was perfectly fine, the bike wasn't. It'll take a pretty penny to get it back in order. The motor and frame was probably okay...maybe the forks...everything else is probably getting replaced. It was the last lap of the day. Besides the obvious of not having a bike, he failed the class and couldn't race this weekend like he had planned on.
Here's my video of the mock race. It cuts out half way though :( I ran out of memory on my card. I wasn't terribly happy about that, but what can ya do
The mock race really calmed my nerves. I had been anxious all week...but now I was calm again and ready for Sunday. Only problem was it was only Friday night. Saturday seemed to fly by though. I finished all the wiring and put the number plates on my bike, got teched and registered.
We had 2 practice sessions. Just used them to get a feel for the track conditions, scrub in my new front tire for both sessions, put a new rear on for just the 2nd session.
Due to day light savings, they cut all the races from 6 laps to only 5...which hurt me since I was in the very back of all my races.
My first race was Superstock B. Superstock limits the modifications you can do to the bike. The 'B' is the size bike. You can run up to a 750. I'm on a 600. Disadvantage :( There were 38 people in this race. Having acquired no points and not being able to register until Friday night (since I got my license Friday), I was at the 2nd to last row (in all my races). Another big disadvantage. I managed to get 13th. Up until this point, I was only ever to hit a 1:56 lap once. This race I hit it twice :)
Second race was Superstock C. This is a 600 class, so no disadvantage there. But there were 43 people in this class...and I was in the back again on the second wave. Managed to get 8th this time. I also hit a 1:54 that race :) This race is probably the most entertaining of the 3 to watch. At the very end I couldn't get around one guy...although I had multiple chances...I still haven't mastered the art of passing quite yet
Last race of the day was Superbike C. The superbike classes allow upgrades to the bike that superstock doesn't. Things like better master cylinders and calipers...or slicks instead of DOT's. Grid size was 35 and still in the second wave. Managed another 8th place.
The scariest pass I made all day was in this race...although it doesn't look scary at all. On the last lap, around the 8:15 mark, I'm sucking up a guy and make up a good 50 yards through turn 1 and 2. I tell myself I have to pass him in T3. It's the easiest place to pass on the whole track, besides T1 and T2, which I just went by. My camera is on a fork mount. So all the side to side motion you see is my forks going side to side under acceleration. Well, I was braking so hard coming into T3, still completely straight up and down, that my front tire was losing traction and making my forks shake ever so slightly. I wanted to hold the throttle until I got completely around him before I hit the brakes...and that's what I did - with my balls in my throat. By the time I hit the finish line, I had number 7 in my sights...and 5 and 6 right in front of them. If it had been any other weekend with 6 laps, I definitely would have passed number 7 and would have tried my hardest to get 5 and 6, but that would've been a stretch. Oh well, there's always next year. Oh, and I hit a 1:53! In fact, I ran a faster time than the guy that got first :) I was pleased with that. Managed to knock off a HARD 3 seconds in just 15 laps. Incredible.
That was it. Now that my weekend is over, everything seems to be moving slowly. A few guys are hopefully moving up to the expert class next year, which will hopefully allow for me to get on the podium next year and win some contingency money to help pay for some of this crap. It gets expensive. I plan on racing 4 rounds next year...all of which I should be starting in the first wave...so we'll see what next year holds!
Here's me in my first race, first lap...just got passed on the outside of turn 4 by a friend of mine who is INCREDIBLY fast...and also on a 750. He's number 380, I'm number 985.