Sorry for not posting on your thread eeek. I didn't think the story like nature of my write up would fit with the news wrap style of your thread.
Saturday morning my buddy and I wake up at quarter to 6 to the hotel wake up call in Buttonwillow, CA. Not really sure how long things would take we packed up quickly and took off for the track. We arrived to a sea of tents and bikes. I couldnít believe how many there were. This was no track day. If I were to guess I would say it was 4 track days in attendance at once. It looked like an AMA race without the sponsorship trailers. We found a spot next to some friends and started setting up. As the time ticked away we decided to bail on setting up and instead headed over to registration and to get signed in for our racer school. Tech inspection was a piece of cake aside from having to carry all our junk over there. That was a pain.
We get to the new racer school with pen and paper in hand but didnít take many notes. Anyone who has been on a track day already knows 90% of what was covered in the class. The only thing that seemed to give an ominous feeling over the whole class was the subject of crashes. It seemed to take up 80% of the class time. How people crash, why people crash, how to avoid crashes, what to do if some one crashes, what to do if YOU crash, WHEN you crash (to be separated from ďIFĒ you crash) these things need to be done before you can go out again, whoís fault, etc. They did cover at fault crashes when being passed. The instructor said that if some one is passing you and you change your line abruptly once the passers presence is known that you are the one at fault for the crash. I asked if it was okay to jump kick the person if they did that. At any rate, the test was easy since it mostly covered flags and safety. The only hard part was paying attention while Tigert blasted by on his new 600rr. They did mention that they average about 60 crashes per weekend!!! I was stunned and a little more frightened than before. After lunch I get the SV fired up and my buddy gets on his 600rr. The first session during the class was typical as we just cruised around on the race like slowly. The second session they let us go and I guess a few guys had some trouble containing their enthusiasm and there were a few off track excursions. 2 of them right in front of me. A 250 2-stroke and then an RC-51. So the third session they decided to do a lead-follow again to calm people down. Fine I guess but it didnít help me at all for hitting my brake points and shift points so all in all for my first time riding at Buttonwillow Raceway I didnít get much out of the class except my license. An acquaintance of mine (Eeeek's wife) was having a lot of problems with one instructor. She was on an EX250 and although not blazing fast in the corners she had no fear of laying on the throttle and she had a smooth consistent race line. The instructor still yelled and screamed at her on corner exits to get back in with the group and go faster. Not the best way to teach ďsafe racingĒ within your own riding limits. What happened to "be smooth and the speed will come." He even threatened to fail her before she had even taking the riding test. I guess he apologized later in the day but only after she asked for a new instructor to take her riding test. She passed easily. I drew her jackass instructor for my one lap test but he said I rode a very nice lap with a slight early apex in one particular turn. So myself and my buddy are both licensed.
We then see a mass of people re-teching their bikes for tomorrowís event. Seems to be the thing to do so you donít have to worry about it in the morning. We immediately attempt to head over there only to find out that they have closed registration. Thanks! We were out taking our tests and doing practice starts! Sure donít make it easy on the newbies.
Next morning we get up and head back to the track early so we can get techíd and ready before our practice session since we practice first. This time we have transponders so we can tell just how pathetic we are riding. Hopefully I can find some sort of a rhythm during the practice session. I still am pretty fuzzy on the track in general with my limited riding time there. Only one practice session and then the race. My friend has race #4 just before lunch. 600 superbike or as I have learned that people refer to it as stupidbike or supersquid. 90+ entries in that class but I think only around 70 or so started. At any rate I go out for my practice session and Iím starting to feel better about most of the turns. Have a little slide in one turn but nothing heart stopping. Then I head in and back to the pits. People are talking about this spectacular crash that apparently I missed out on. Good thing. 5 minutes go by and my friend on the 600rr isnít back yet. We head over to the ambulances and my friend is being attended to. Nothing broken but a seriously bruised back, butt, and a crunched thumb. He said he hit the straightaway and punched the throttle. Hit a bump and got a serious tank slapper that kicked him off the bike. He rag dolled into the dirt at 120 mph and when his bike hit the dirt it cart wheeled (away from him thank god) end over end and the bike flew probably 20+ feet in the air at one point. Amazing he wasnít more seriously hurt. Later on we found out that an old dude with a digital camera got 90% of it on video. People were saying it was the most spectacular crash they had seen at an AFM event in years. He didnít get the tank slapper but he got everything else and said he would send us a copy. The crash truck brings his bike back and the forks are destroyed, front wheel destroyed, instrument panel in 20 pieces, subframe and underseat pipe destroyed, tank destroyed. He is done. Time for a steering damper. He packs up and heads home early. Another friend that we are pitted with who is also racing the 600 superbike race is now pretty frightened himself. He ends up doing just fine in his race though. He started in the second wave and was only passed by one of the guys from his wave. He was running 2:21 second laps during practice and was able to get a 2:13 during the race. Unfortunately his race started and ended on a red flag so he never got to see a checkered for his first race.
My race was after lunch. Found out there were 27 riders in the 650 twins class. We would be starting with the open superbike class however so plan on getting lapped. I am gridded in the dead last 27th spot on the outside. BummerÖ.but who cares since I pretty much plan on letting most people go anyway to avoid the first couple turn pile ups. As long as I can make it through the first race Iím happy. Even if I have to finish last. I figure Iím just trying to figure out how this whole thing works instead of blasting through a pack of riders not knowing what to expect and hope I come out okay. So we are lining up and they wave off the superbike guys. As Iím watching them head towards turn one I donít see any crashes so it looks like we will be cleared to go very soon. The ď2Ē sign is up and people are starting to blip the throttles a little. ď1Ē sign comes out and the green flag drops. Immediately I see the wheel next to me 4 feet in the air. Then it comes crashing down and nearly into me. I am running through first gear and he disappears from my view. The group looks like itís tightening up for turn one but I stay in contact probably 1 or 2 bike lengths behind the person in front of me. Into turn one I am probably in front of only 3 riders but itís better than none. We come out of turn one hard on the gas not to lose any spots and just as the bike is straight up and down I see 2 riders go down in turn 2. One guy gets his arm run over by a passing rider. Red flag, full restart. After they clean everything up we get another warm up lap and grid again. The open class heads off and again I watch that first turn. Looks like they made it through fine. I look up to see the ď1Ē sign and then the green drops. This time no wheelie from my immediate neighbor and I think his conservativeness this time allows me to easily get the jump on him again. I head into turn one with probably 4 riders behind me. Out of turn 2 everything looking fine and dandy. Still a little conservative because of cold tires and lotís of traffic. I pick off one person on the fast back stretch of the course. There is a banked corner that you can fly through. Then I see a white plate (expert) rider ahead. I set my sights on him. He is faster than me in a couple spots so I watch what he does and try to at least match him in those areas. Just as I start catching up to him I see out of the corner of my eye a bike come up beside me going towards a turn and then it backs off. Some one must be trying to get by so I get a little more intense to try and hold him off. I also think to myself if I can get in front of these expert rider then the dude hounding me from behind will have an even tougher battle. Iím still slowly creeping in on my target when 2 open class bikes that have caught up split me on that fast embankment. Scared the hell out of me but my arms are steady. No unusual movements. Then a couple more fly by. Then nothing. Through this my target has gained a little distance on me but Iím on a mission now. Feeling more comfortable riding at speed I close on him again much with some good late braking. I think my corner speed has actually decreased. With my inexperience on the track Iím not used to the higher approach speeds so consequently I over brake into most of the turns. Itís alright though, it seems to be working anyway. I finally get on my target and look for a place to pass quickly so that the rider behind me doesnít take us both. I find a spot and make my move, then hard on the brakes and downshift. Safely through I push on harder to keep from getting passed back. Next time around I see the white flag. I keep on my pace and coming towards the last couple turns there is a bike in the middle of the track. There are workers running out to it and yellow flags waving telling me no passing. I slow for just a second but then realize that once past the incident passing is okay so I get back on the gas hard before the last turn to keep the other riders off me. Through the last turn and over the line for my first checkered flag. A warm down lap and the corner workers are clapping. I wave. A nice gesture but I didnít think I rode that well. Then I see some of the top riders from the open class around me. Oh, I guess they are clapping for them. Hehe. I get back to the pits and grab my placing and times. I moved from 27th to 19th and my lap times dropped from 2:16 during practice to 2:11 in the race. The top rider in my class was doing close to 2:00 flat but I donít feel bad for my first time out racing or even practicing on that course. Itís my third day on the SV650 too.
No trophies, no prizes, and a large slice of humble pie please. There are a lot of guys out at these little club races with a ton of talent. I am totally impressed. Hopefully at the next race I can be as successful as I was at this one and have as much fun. I only hope my buddy recovers quickly and at least comes out to ride with me again sometime if he doesnít race.