Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Oakland Valley Race Report
What started out as a really nice race day turned into a nightmare pretty quickly.
I got up early and drove the 5 hours to meet Scott at the track by 10:00 AM. He'd managed to catch a ride up with Greaser Mike at the last minute instead of his normal racing transportation with Van, because of some drama down in the city, but we all arrived at the appointed time, and got busy with pre-race prep.
OVRP runs their practice sessions before the riders meeting, so we suited up and got in line for our first session. The track was just as I remembered it, smooth and fast, easy to slide in to the turns and good grip coming out as long as you're careful with the throttle. I had gone down to a 42t rear sprocket at Electric City and I left it on for this track. I wasn't disappointed either, 'cause it gave me a little more top end, I was able to run it as hard as I dared without over revving the engine.
In the first practice session, I went out and found myself in front, I knew Scott was behind me so I ran a couple different corner entries to catch a glimpse of him, and to try some different lines. We caught up to another rider and passed him before they waved the checker on the session.
We both felt pretty good after the session, so we didn't change anything on the bikes and got back in line for the second session. This time Scott went out first, I was going to be right behind him, but I was in neutral when we got waved onto the track and Nick Wiemer got out in front of me on his Honda, which was fine 'cause I wanted to see how hard he'd run it. Well Scott took off and left us. He was gone within a couple laps, so I just followed Nick to see if I'd be able to keep up with him. I could, but I didn't see any easy way around him and I tried a couple different lines.
When we got back to the pits I mentioned to Scott that the holeshot would be important, he said that was on his mind as well. Fumi came over and said he took some video of Scott 'cause he was flying out there.
The riders meeting was kind of typical, but the track manager did say we were going to start the races without an ambulance there, because the ambulances had been called out, but that there were two in the area so we would be OK to race.
Scott and I were lucky enough to be in the same heat race for Open Am, along with 4 other riders. I started on the outside, next to the wall, and Scott was next to me, so we were last on the line. I had a pretty good start and I saw that Scott did as well. The low line into T1 was filling up, so I stayed a little high and figured I'd see how it was going to shake out coming out of T2 onto the back straight. As we were rounding through T2 I had a good high line, and the competition for the low line turned out to be Sandriana Shipman, riding a newish Honda. I had clear track ahead, and I could see that Sandriana was struggling with traction down low, so I eased on the gas and got going. Just as I passed her I felt a little jolt, I suspected it was her hitting my rear wheel.
Looking down the back straight, I saw the flagman start to raise the yellow, and then start running up the track. I hadn't even gotten down the straight and I knew it would be a restart.
It was when I came around turn 4 and looked back up track that I saw that Scott had been taken out in the crash. He was on his side and not moving. So the rest of this story gets a little harder to write about, in fact, I'm going to skip over some of the details.
When I reached him he was just coming to. It took him a little while to put together what happened, but I was relieved to hear him talking and responding to the EMT that was on the scene immediately. (I don't know where she came from because there wasn't an ambulance on site, but she knew what she was doing.)
So I stayed with him as she started to get busy with her EMT stuff. At some point during the proceedings (Cervical Collar, Backboard) I questioned whether this was all necessary, and she told me in no uncertain terms that yeah, this was necessary.
I decided to load the truck when the ambulance team took over. I had some help from Arion and his dad, as well as all the 6th Street gang, which was great. While I was loading, I saw a helicopter flying kind of low over the track. Curious...
Next thing I know the chopper has landed, so I'm worried about Scott, and Sandriana.
I run back to see what's happening, to find that they've cut Scott out of his leathers and he's got an IV in his arm. Holy Shit. I asked who the chopper was for and they pointed at him. Sandriana was going to get an ambulance ride.
Well, they loaded him on a stretcher and eventually got him on the bird. After some internal discussion, the pilot told me they were going to Westchester Medical Center. I asked where that was and had a dozen EMT's tell me it was in Valhalla NY, just across the Tappan Zee bridge, about 60 miles.
The rest of the story involves lots of Emergency Room sitting around etc. so I'll cut to the end. Scott had a broken Collar bone. I left Scott at Westchester after it became clear that he wouldn't be released but he would spend the night in a comfortable room, got home at 2:00 AM. Scott didn't get released until late the next day, but was released into the care of Clubman Racing/Saviour South Cycles Brother Bill Clarke, who will be a hero, a legend, for delivering Scott to his front door in Brooklyn.
This was my helmet-cam footage, it may not work on the blog, but I'll try to fix it tonight.