Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lebanon Valley Speedway

I have a new favorite 1/2 mile track, located only 3 hours away from me in the lush Taconic foothills of New York. This place should be referenced in the Webster's dictionary under the definition of "paperclip", because you won't find a better example of this type of oval racetrack. I tried to lift an image off of Google Earth, but I lack the appropriate hacking skillz.

Anyway, Hannah and I met Scott at the track on Sunday for the opening round of the Electric City Flattrack series. They always run one race here, and the rest at the Indian Lookout track near Schenectady.

Scott and I signed up for Vintage Medium, which is a new class this year to allow for less hurt feelings when the 500's smack down on just about every other engine size that shows up.

Hannah and I got there a little early which allowed us some time to watch the drag racing going on right next to the oval, and we also had time to walk the track. This place is intimidating to a first timer, long straights and fairly steep banking in the turns makes for a bit of second guessing about how to ride it.

Here's turn 1

Scott and I were able to get two practice sessions in. We took it easy for the first lap but got comfortable pretty quickly. By the end of the second session we were both feeling confident about the track and conditions. The only problem was Scott's bike was running a little rough, and his gearing was off. We borrowed a taller rear sprocket from Hugh of 6th Street and put it on, which required an extra length of chain. I had a spare couple links as well as a spare master link, but the master didn't fit his chain as well even though it was the same 520 size. That came back to bite him in the feature race, he completed four laps before the bike spit the chain coming onto the back straight. Tough day of racing for him.

Scott taking a high line in practice, before the groove got established.

I had a better day of racing. Got a second place in the heat race after a decent start from the outside position on the line. I followed Nick Wiemer around and actually closed the gap a little bit towards the end of the race while he was experiencing some high speed wobbles on the back straight.

The Feature race was fun, I started next to Nick on the bottom and we both had a good start. He was below me and first into turn one but I had a better position on the groove and was able to power around him coming out of T2. I held the point down the back straight and through 3 & 4 but Nick was on form and passed me at the line to take the lead starting lap 2. I was racing at a pace I was comfortable with. Two more guys passed me but one of 'em was racing against himself in Vintage Light, so I still wound up with a 3rd place finish.

On the line for the main event.

This picture of the start shows the length of that front straight.

Hannah was pit crew, push starting me and minding the photo/video department as well. Good work.

I had a great time out there, good speed, great racing visuals, and a decent performance overall. The last time I showed up at a new 1/2 mile track it didn't go so well for me, I didn't complete a lap before I was in the hay bales, so walking away with a trophy was icing on the cake. Now we just have to get Scott's bike up to speed.

Here's some GoPro video of the feature, you'll have to cut and paste it to your browser;


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