Talladega race report
Race report for TGPR April 27-28 2002
UGLY. That word nicely sums up the comedy of errors that was my first WERA racing weekend. The 10 hour drive on Friday turned into 11.5 due to 2 construction zones on I-75. Still got to bed early and was pleasantly surprised how little my 2 roommates snored. Saturday morning we headed to the track and set up. Pre-registering for the races made for a fast, smooth transaction with the nice ladies at the WERA trailer. Was relieved to get through tech with no problems, just a suggestion to add a few dabs of silicone to a couple bolts. Weather was looking decent, and for once I make my first practice session. The track surface and layout is nice, but Iím pretty lost with no curbing to use as braking/apex marks. Also, I was not used to the mostly left turn layout. By lunchtime Iím feeling pretty comfortable (if not fast). Hereís where the ugliness begins: I somehow miss first and second call for the Solo 20 race. I hear the last call and head for the track. As I pull up I see the whole field about half way around the track. They look to be going slow, so I figure theyíre on the warm-up lap. The pit boss waves me out, and I begin meandering around the track, warming my tires slowly. At the end of the lap, I see that everyone is continuing around (a second warm up lap?)Ö about the third turn it hits me- AARRRGGHHH! The race is in progress and Iím almost a full lap down! <Those who were there are snickering ďoh, so that idiot was Tristan!Ē>. At that point I figure this race will just be good practice, so I start working on turning some good laps. After a few laps I come up on some slower guys and make some passes. By the end I passed quite a few, lapping a couple of them. Ended up 7th place out of about 16- not bad consideringÖ I survey what Iíve learned so far: Ground clearance is a big problem- even with rearsets the left peg is beveled heavily. More alarming, my left boot is also beveled to within a couple millimeters of my little toe. The slicks are roached after less than a half of a track day and the Solo 20 race. I visit Derek (aka Stickboy) and ask if I should use a harder compound rear. He takes a look, and says ďthatís a weird wear pattern, you need to back off on your compression dampingĒ. I reply with ďuhh, Iíve got a stock shockĒ. Of course, he says ďoh, then you need to pitch that shock!Ē. And so the denial ends that I can get away without spending another chunk of cash on a Penske! Stickboy slaps on another set of Bridgestones and I prep the bike for Sunday. I notice a track vendor is selling Woodcraft solid mount pegs, and I get some, hoping for better clearance from their shorter length and better crashability.
Sunday morning practice goes well, toes and pegs donít touch at all, lap times are decent. My pit crew tells me at least 5 times when he hears the calls for my race. I line up on the second to last row and get ready to roll. The experts are gridded in front, then thereís space before the novices. The flag flies, and I (along with about 2/3 of the other guys) sit there waiting for the second flag. When we realize that the guys that DID go didnít jump the start, and this was a one wave start, we decide to join them. Iím almost dead last, but at least Iím not a lap down! Iím running pretty good, starting to pick off some guys, then it happensÖ lap 2, last turn before the straight I hear SCRRAAAPE, followed shortly by my bike and I parting ways. I discover that solid pegs can minimize damage, but they can also lever your tires off the ground in a hurry when you lean too far over. So, itís back to the friendly trackside vendor for a set of snazzy Woodcraft rearsets to replace my shattered ones. I forego the solid pegs for now and put on my spare folding ones. After an hour or so of creative fabrication, and liberal application of zip ties and duct tape to bike and leathers, Iím ready for my other 2 races. Those races are frankly kind of a blur, I did have some good dicing with a couple guys (elbowed my way through a turn for the first time!), enjoyed watching Opie Caylor and some other fast guys as they went by, and managed to not crash again. Ended up 11th and 12th.
Hey, at least it didnít rain!
Thanks to sponsors LP USA and Bridgestone, and to my friends and crew RC John, Tim (Wookie Tek Racing) and Paul. Thanks again to Mike for mounting yet another set of tires, and to Jon for the use of the van. I WILL do better next time!