Monday, September 10, 2018

AFM 2018 Round 6: Sonoma

Sonoma Turn 1 -- Oxymoron Photography
I have a strong love hate relationship with Sonoma Raceway (formerly Infineon, formerly Sears Point). I love the layout of the track, I love the flow of the track, I love how it makes it work for it.

On the other side, the track surface has degraded to the point of it being painful to ride. Bumps, cracks, seams splitting, this track has it all. I suspect more than one crash recently has been due to the poor surface conditions.

But I love the flow and going fast on this track means something to me.

Friday Practice

Friday practice was hosted by Keigwin’s @ the Track and it was announced that they are shutting down at the end of the year. That news was a sad blow as they are a great track provider.

Practice through the day went extremely well. I signed up for the middle group (ostensibly the “A” group) and unfortunately pace wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but it was great for passing practice and for using alternative lines into the corners :)

No issues through the day and by the end I was down below my previous personal best at this track. Ended the day with a big smile on my face and very happy with the way my bike was performing.

Saturday AFM NRS

At this round I ran the New Racer School instead of going out for practice. Getting new racers into the club is an important part of keeping the grids full and keeping the club healthy. I am honored that the club trusts me to perform this vital role.

We had a great group of students and were able to complete NRS in record time. Other than two minor miscommunications everyone completed NRS before lunch and were able to get some practice in before their races in the afternoon.

We wrapped up so smoothly that I was able to go out for a practice in the afternoon and get my qualifying in for my Sunday Formula race.

I set a very pleasing 1:54.77 in qualifying, recording the fact that I was below my previous personal best.

After qualifying was time for the Formula 40 lightweight race. The race was reduced to 6 laps due to some issues with crashes earlier in the day which was unfortunate for me.

The race started smoothly and I was pleased with where I slotted in during the first lap. I wasn’t last and I had a rabbit in front of me to catch.

I got so focused on catching that rabbit that the race ended before I realized it :)

I didn’t catch the rabbit but I set a new personal best: 1:53.938!

Another second down.

Sunday Races

Sonoma T9 -- Oxymoron Photography
My first race on Sunday was race 6 which I like, especially at this track.

There is one practice session in the morning but Sonoma is so cold at that time of day that I really do not like going out for it. Since my race was so much later in the day, I didn’t bother.

Race 6 gridded up and launched. We had an overly excited novice crash in the first lap and took out another rider which caused us a red flag.

After the regrid, the race launched smoothly (minus the overly excited novice) and we got in a very fast 7 laps. I finished the race in 9th place with two riders in my sights.

When I looked at the data I discovered I found another second; new personal best is: 1:52.1!

My two races in the afternoon went smoothly. No red flags and other than my lap timer failing on me they were uneventful races. I did not repeat my new personal best but every lap was below my old personal best.

Could I have gone faster? Yes

What was different? The lap timer plays a bigger role in my racing than I expected, that is ... interesting.

The other difference in the afternoon races was the lack of a rabbit on the horizon. In both of my races in the afternoon I didn’t have someone close enough to potentially catch.

Not sure which item effected me the most but I definitely need to work on my pace when alone in a race.

I ended up losing a position to Steven Smith in my third race due to slowing down. I did a great lap early in the race and then slowed down into the 1:54s. Would I have lost that position to him if I had been more focused? Not sure but definitely need to work on that!

Wrap Up

This was a great weekend for me. The track flowed well and I felt truly in harmony with my bike.

A big part of that harmony comes from Dave Moss of His tuning and mentoring is an extremely large portion of my successes. He never ceases to amaze me with his generosity and guidance.

In addition to Dave, there is Z2 Track Days. I love helping other riders learn good habits on the track and become safer. As a part of that, the other instructors at Z2 also help me to correct my bad habits which in turn leads to better lap times. Working with them has helped me to become a better, safer and faster rider on the track.

As always, without my sponsors I could not do what I love so much to do. If you are wondering which parts to put on your bike, look at my sponsors page.

I trust them with my life every time I go on track and they do not disappoint.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Race Report: MotoAmerica @ Sonoma

I was not expecting to be able to race at this event.

With my injuries from last year and the fact that those injuries threw me significantly off pace, I expected to miss MotoAmerica this year completely.

Fortunately, plans change and the event was fantastic.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MotoAmerica at Sonoma

The original plan for 2017 was to race all three Moto America rounds in the western United States.  After my injury at Round 6 of the AFM last year, that plan was canceled.

My progress has been better than I expected, so I am taking the opportunity to run the final western Moto America round at Sonoma Raceway.  This race round is on the weekend of August 11, 2017.

This round is going to be especially challenging as I will not only be running a 600 Superstock bike with Moto America, but I will also be racing in the Formula IV race with the American Federation of Motorcycles at the same event.

While this is a great opportunity for me, it is also an opportunity for a few companies in our development community.

AFM Round 4: Thunderhill: Back with a Heat Stroke

The 4th round of AFM was back at Thunderhill on July 15th and 16th.  Round 4 was unusual as AFM has been avoiding racing in July and August both due to vacation time and because of the potential for an extremely hot race weekend.

About the heat, this weekend did not disappoint with the temperature peaking over 110F ambient and track temperatures recorded over 155F.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

AFM Round 3: The return to Thunderhill

AFM Round 3: The return to Thunderhill

The last time that I gridded at Thunderhill, I left in a helicopter. To say that I had a bit of trepidation would be an incredible understatement.

But let's start this report with Friday.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Custom Race Helmets

Every year Valentino Rossi (among others) presents the world with his new custom race helmet for the season. He also tends to have a special helmet for his home track.

I love the idea of having a custom helmet.

It looks amazing. It stands out. It gives you a more professional look compared to another Rossi helmet.

The reason that most riders don't have a custom helmet is simple ... cost.

A high end helmet (one that I would consider suitable for racing) is going to run you north of $500.00. The really good ones that have the more advanced features (and arguably are more protective) are close to or exceed $1,000.00.

Once you have the helmet then you add in the cost of the custom design and applying that design to the helmet. That can run you *another* $1,000.00 or more.

As a racer I tend to go through 1-3 helmets per year. Some years I don't have a crash that damages my helmet but other years it seems all I am doing is hitting my helmet.

These costs add up.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

AFM Round 6 -- End of the Season

I sit here in my home office trying to get started on this race report. It is the hardest one I have ever tried to write.

As of today, October 8, 2016, I have not been on a motorcycle in seven days. This is the longest “break” in recent memory.

I am battling depression on an hourly basis.

I am supposed to be in Las Vegas, battling for three championships.

This is my last race report for 2016.