Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 Dagostino Cup

Another great day of racing, this time at a new venue. Since the flange for my KTM didn't arrive in time for me to do the Turkey Run, racing at the new Electric City Riders track was looking like the best bet, which was cinched when Scott secured a ride up with the crew from 6th Street Specials! Thanks Hugh and crew for bringing him up, and waiting for him through the rest of the program. Scott and I would have to share the XT500 for the day, so I asked the sign up official if Scott could race it in Vintage Light and I could race it in Vintage Heavy. She didn't see why not, but just to be sure I asked another track official. He looked at me, shrugged and said sure. My reasoning was that Scott would be able to race with the 6th Street guys that brought him up, and I'd have more fun getting beat by big Yamaha twins than modern Honda 450s in the Senior B class.

The only problem I had was that I'd replaced the rear brake shoes after the last race, but I hadn't had any way to really bed the shoes in, besides riding up and down Bixby Hill Road, which isn't particularly effective and isn't particularly popular with the neighbors. So I just hoped that we'd be able to continually adjust the brakes as we ran through practice and heats. As it turned out, the brakes were essentially useless the whole day. We flipped the actuator arm to see if we could get more travel, but in the end the only way we had any brake was to adjust them so that there was constant drag on the wheel.

Scott's day went pretty well. He was in the first heat for Vintage Light, didn't have a great start, came down the back straight in 3rd place. He had a race long chase for second and took it towards the end, which got him 3rd spot on the front row. The first two spots were given to the heat winners, in this case the Richtmeyer (sp?) brothers, both on Honda 4 valve Xls. Scott had a great start in his feature and held down first place for a lap before the Richtmeyer brothers took the lead. If Scott had had a usable rear brake it would have been a closer race, but he had to back off a 1/2 second before they did for each turn entry, and that adds up in eight laps.

My day went well too. I went out in the Vintage Heavy heat, had a fair start, little wheelie slowed me down a bit so I went into turn 1 in fourth but came out on the back straight in third place, which was encouraging. Since I really had no plan or strategy in mind this was going to be a totally reactive race, and being in third with the two guys in front not far ahead, my "reptile brain" took over. The reptile brain doesn't consider risk as much as my mammal brain, and really only wants to win. I can't switch between the two brains easily, if I start a race with a plan of action, the mammal brain will usually take control. Anyway, the reptile brain sensed that we (my bike and I?... have you noticed that a lot of racers refer to themselves in the race as "we") could hold the low line through both ends of the track pretty well, and that if I was patient getting back on the throttle I could stay inside of the big twins on the corner exits. This seemed to rattle at least one of the twin riders, as we were going down the back straight with me behind but inside he blew his corner entry into three and I found myself in second place coming out of four. I was encouraged even more when the guy on point drove into turn one a little deep and we came out of two side by side with me on the inside. There's nothing better than a drag race down the back straight, listening to the bikes, recording the whole thing in your mind for playback later, it's a very visceral experience. So I took the lead going into turn three, took the white flag out of four and checked out on the twins on the last lap.

So then a little post race drama. Seems the twin riders didn't appreciate a new guy on a 500 single winning their race, so they complained to the race ref and anyone else that would listen. I'd suspected this might happen as one of the twin riders yelled as we were pulling off the track that I couldn't be in this class. The ref was kind of embarrassed to come talk to me but he'd told them he would. I assured him I didn't care about points, which I figured they were concerned about, and he went back and told them. End of drama, sort of.

Unfortunately, that's about all there is to tell too. I went out for the feature, picked my spot on the line as the heat winner, which still caused some hand waiving and shouting, (since I wasn't racing for points the twins guys didn't think I should get first pick, but I ignored 'em). They finally got lined up, I anticipated the start, almost jumped it, pulled the clutch back in just as the light came on and stalled the bike. Bad combination of dragging brake, hot clutch and poor timing on my part. The assistant starter was about to red flag it but the starter shook his head "no".

I'm still smiling about the heat race win though. I've been trying to get the race videos on the blog but I'm having technical difficulties. You can check 'em on my facebook page though...or cut and paste these on your browser.



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