Race report for Grattan,MI June 21-23 AHRMA
If you thought my last race report was one big semi-incoherent rant, this may be worse...
For those interested in the hard facts only: 2nd of 9, 3rd of 10, 2nd of 7, 3rd of 7, and no crashes.
And now for the rambling-
About the track: Grattan may have slipped ahead of Putnam as my favorate track. The place is like Busch Gardens with motorcycle racing. It's got the two main ingredients, wildlife and rollercoasters. I had heard about the turtles but didn't expect to see 5-6 of them crossing the track the first day! Luckily, they made their crossings on the straightaways and not in the middle of one of the several blind turns. Also heard about a heron making an appearance, and within an hour (during my race) there it was! There's a small pond to the left of the track between turns 4-5, and the bird glides right across the track (at rider's head level) to land in it. Would have really freaked me out if I hadn't been expecting it! Grattan has some serious elevation changes, which make for several blind turns, one is also off-camber for added fun. There's a big rolling hill before turn 5 that can be taken two ways: 1. keeping the throttle pinned and getting one or both wheels off the ground, then braking for the turn once you land. 2. roll off the throttle right before the jump and get back on it after. I chose #2. After seeing Rod Mahr (nice meeting you Rob) practice #1 and end up going straight and drop his bike in the grass, I think I made the right choice. Also adding to the challenge factor were a couple high speed corners with rather bumpy exits- nothing gets the adrenaline going like having the wheels skip sideways while leaned over, wide open in 4th gear!
And now about the racing: Race 1 is Twins formula 3. It usually takes a "trigger" to set me off during a race- usually someone passing me or a big slide to light a fire under me, but this time I was feeling the "red mist" descending as I pulled onto the track for race 1. It was hot and muggy, and I felt like I might throw up. I did the warm up lap and slipped into my grid position, still feeling way too serious. Instead of the usual voice in my head saying "relax, have fun, get a decent start" it was "kill, destroy, you own this". Then the flag flies, and BRRRUMP!- stalled out on the line. The pack is about a third of the way down the front straight by the time I restart and join the fun. Now that the initial pressure is gone, I can clear my head and get on with it. Most of the pack bunches up in turn 1, and I actually pass a few of them right away. Unfortunately, Matt Winnacker has clear track in front of him and he runs away leaving me to fight for second. Had a nice battle with Rod Mahr (from Follow The Helmet Racing)- I passed him entering T1, he repassed in T2. I can't remember where I got him back, but that last pass stuck and I took 2nd place.
Race 2 was formula 2. Josef Brenner wasn't racing, but his Guzzi 1030 was, with Pat Mooney at the controls. I get a halfway decent start, and after fending off Rod again I collect a third place. Winnacker and Mooney are way ahead, but at least I can see them and I feel like it's at least possible to beat them on sunday.
By sunday I'm feeling pretty beat up, it's less humid but very hot. My memory of the events is pretty blurred together, so bear with me... I'm determined to stay with Winnacker, and doing a decent job of it, then Mahr passes me. He's really pushing, trying to lose me. I'm thinking "third place is OK". As I come down the hill toward T5, I see him crest the top of the "jump" with the rear wheel about a foot off the ground, and wagging sideways onder hard braking. I'm thinking "man, he's going good", then as I crest the jump I see he's in a bit of a tankslapper and doesn't make the turn. I force myself to look away, and cruise to another 2nd place.
In f2 I keep Winnacker and Mooney in sight for half the race, but exhaustion sets in and I go into survival mode. I see Kelly is behind me, but he's far enough back that I can go slower on each lap (last lap was over 2 seconds slower than lap 1!) and still take 3rd.
All in all a great weekend! Thanks to sponsors LP and Bridgestone. Special thanks to Mike Solace for changing untold quantities of tires, and to Jon Guzman for providing my luxurious race transportation. See you all at Mid Ohio!