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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-17-2007, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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Smile My journey back to the front

I've said many times how I was in massive debt and how that burdon has greatly effected my ability to race competitively by choosing not to buy race tires as needed to be a front runner and applying that money toward my old debts instead. Well, I've reached a point where I'm sitting a bit better than I was financially, so I figured it's time to get back up to speed! It's been such a long time since I've been a Top 5 finishing Expert Regional Racer that I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get my head and my bike's set-up back into the game once I made the choice to do it. I thought it might be interesting to let you guys follow my journey back up to speed, so I figured I would start a thread about it and keep you guys up to date. I hope some of you find this interesting.

*****************************************************
The tires I've had on my 2002 GSXR 750 have been on there since I started racing that bike in the mid-summer of 2004, needless to say they only had so much traction available at this point for racing. For example, the track record at Blackhawk Farms Raceway (BFR) is somewhere around 1:09 per lap, at the last race at BFR that I ran my 2-1/2 year old tires (May 12-13, 2007) I had the following lap times in the Heavyweight Superbike race (the fastest lap set in that race by anyone was 1:12.939):

(1) 1:28.401
(2) 1:22.629
(3) 1:22.065
(4) 1:21.253
(5) 1:20.661
(6) 1:19.732
(7) 1:19.488
(8) 1:18.732

So last weekend at BFR (June 9-10, 2007) I had brand new Dunlop D208GP's on my bike with the intent to bring up the pace (my cheap self took the better deal on new 208's instead of the more expensive 209's ). There were going to be 2 issues for me concerning this event, that was my work schedule for Saturday and the heat that weekend. I unfortunately have been afflicted my entire life by a total intolerance for heat, I will get sick very easily from overheating if I'm not careful (no state of physical shape good or bad has effected this). BFR is my home track (I live in the same county) so doing only 1 day of an event there is not a huge deal for me, in fact I went and dropped off my trailer late Saturday afternoon and got my canopy set-up and secured so I would be ready to go the next day. The biggest problem with showing up at BFR to only race on Sunday is the fact that many of the racers not only already raced on Saturday, but many may have done the all day 'Racer Only' Friday practice and will be absolutely flying by Sunday while I'm just getting on the track for the 1st time of the event.

Sunday morning I got up at about 5:45 am, ate breakfast, then drove 45 minutes to BFR (it's located at the opposite extreme of the county and I drive thru the city to get there). I arrived at about 7:00 am and found my fellow racer freind MJ already there and starting to set-up our pit area, his father is a corner/safety worker so he has to get him to the track early for the morning pre-race safety worker meeting. MJ and myself got our pit area set-up and our bikes out of our trailers, I then went to registration to enter my races around 7:30 am. I debated between entering 2 classes or 1 due to the weather going to be in the 90's, I decided based on past experience I would probably be too hot to do the 2nd race since it would be at the hottest part of the day, so I only entered 1 race (better than nothing at least!). Since I was in practice group 5 I wouldn't be going out for 1st practice till about 9 am (practice almost always starts at 8 am at every track we go to), so I had plenty of time to get all my gear on and over to tech inspection before going out on the track. After tech inspection I relaxed for a few minutes and drank some water while I waited for my practice session.

I personally have never used tire warmers in my life, so I usually just take it a little easy the 1st lap or 2, but I imagine that will be a future purchase for me since everyone else is using them and it gives them an advantage at the start of the race. I went out for my 1st practice session on my new tires and ended up getting arm pump about 1/2 way thru the session, with me this makes it very difficult to squeeze the brakes and operate the throttle so I have to come in to be safe. Generally if I get arm pump it's only on the 1st day of an event and usually only in the 1st session out on the track, so I wasn't suprised when it happened. Even though I didn't do the whole practice session I was more than happy to see my lap times, here they are:

(1) 1:31.223
(2) 1:21.857
(3) 1:18.918
(4) 1:17.588
(5) 1:18.806
(6) 1:16.813

I decided not to go out for the 2nd practice session because I felt really good out there and I generally can get up to 'my speed' really fast. Instead I got my leathers off and cooled down till the racers meeting immediately after practice, then lunch break till noon. It started getting really hot in the afternoon (for me at least) and I was somewhat concerned how I would handle the heat during my race and if I would finish, but I know when I have to pull off the track due to the heat, so I wasn't concerned from a safety aspect.

I went out for my 'Hot-Lap' for my race and immediately felt really good (though the fast guys that had used tire warmers were passing me), I proceeded around the track to the starting grid and took my grid position. At BFR they grid us in a staggered pattern, 4 riders in the 1st row, 3 in the next, and then repeat that pattern on thru the grid. CCS also grids you based on when you entered the race, so since I had not pre-entered this event I was the 2nd to last person on the Expert grid - row 4, middle position, on a three rider row (position 13 out of 14 racers). I saw someone ahead of me on the grid that had held me up in practice somewhat so I wanted to make sure and get in front of him on the start, since I'm usually really good on the starts I did this without a problem. As we all charged into turn 1 we all started to take positions and I ended up behind a racer who was obviously on a newer GSXR 750 than myself (I believe an '06 or '07), he quickly proved how he could out accelerate me out of the turns. I spent a few lap behind him, but ultimately he was holding me up, but I was having trouble finding a place to make a pass stick. I ended up letting him be well aware that I was on him like fly's on stink, I was making alot of noise with the throttle and trying to force him into an error (not crashing, just missing a shift or screwing up a line thru a corner to give me an advantage to get by him). I eventually backed off before going into turn 6 because I new I was faster thru there than him, that way I created a gap so I could go thru the turn at 'my speed' and out drive him at the exit. Ironically as I was in the middle of doing this he looked back at me and actually motioned with his elbow to pass him on the right (where I was already heading)- I believe he knew he was holding me up. I completed the pass and immediately upped the pace to what felt good for me, I then continued to move forward advancing ever closer to the 2 bikes a couple hundred feet in front of me. As I was catching them I realized the back bike was gaining on the front one, but I was gaining on both of them so I figured if I had 2 to 3 more laps I would pass both of them but then we had a waving yellow caution flag in turn 1 because of a downed rider (which I slowed down slightly for loosing about 1/2 a second). The next time at the finish line the white flag came out to signal it was the start of the last lap - DAMN!!!! I ended up getting close, but not close enough to make a pass, so I ended up 10th place. Here are my lap times from the Heavyweight Superbike race I was in:

(1) 1:22.770
(2) 1:19.759
(3) 1:19.018
(4) 1:16.738
(5) 1:16.135
(6) 1:16.056
(7) 1:16.625
(8) 1:16.060

The fastest lap set in that race was a 1:12.267, so I was thrilled to see that with only a dozen laps on the track after deciding to 'up' my pace I was able to get within 3-3/4 seconds of the fastest rider in my race! Ironically I was also not overly effected by the heat that race, but I'm not disappointed I didn't race the 2nd race as well because I know I would have felt awful after it. I looked over the results and the lap times everyone was doing in my race and found out if I had started on the 2nd row I would have probably got a 5th place finish - man does it feel good to be almost instantly back up to speed! The other thing is I have not done any ride height, sag, or geometry set-up on this bike ever, I just revalved the suspension and put on heavier springs. Now I'm going to work on the set-up of my bike to make it easier for me to go even faster!

Next event is Road America (RA) on July 6-9, 2007, this will probably be an all time record setting entry event for CCS with most likely numerous 80 rider grid races. Though I won't be gridded anywhere near the front, my goal at RA is going to be how many positions I can move forward in all my races, it should be a blast!

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What you just read is my opinion and is based on my experiences and the info I have acquired during my life, it's my interpretation and isn't written in stone. Yes, I post long responses regularly because I like to fully explain my views. Don't like it or agree with what I have to say? Then don't read it or respond to it! Respond like an immature idiot to posts of mine and I will just ignore you. Have a nice day.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-18-2007, 12:11 AM
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congrats mike, have fun at road america.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-18-2007, 12:25 PM
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Glad to hear you are back in the hunt.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-18-2007, 03:58 PM
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Congrats on getting up to speed so quick and thanks for sharing. Racing sounds like fun!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-20-2007, 10:23 PM
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That is awesome .............I feel like I was there

with you...........better new 208's than old sucky race tires.......
Sounds like you had a blast.......


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-21-2007, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the well wishes guys!

I know from past experience that even though I made up apx. 1/2 the gap between the fastest times I was doing with my old tires compared to the laps I did at this last event with new tires, that the quicker time required to get closer to the front will be much harder to gain. Set-up is going to become more and more critical the faster I go, I certainly won't be able to get away with not having things correct, but I will do what I can to improve the things that I can.

The 2 key challenges I see with getting a Top 3 at BFR for example are going to be:

(1) Handling due to a lack of easy adjustability of rear ride height due to having revalved the stock shock and changing the spring on it instead of spending 3 to 5 times the money on an aftermarket shock with a built in shock length adjuster.

(2)Power to weight ratio for me is a definite concern, I generally was right there with most the guys thru the turns (or even faster than them), but they were able to accelerate away from me in an all out drag race out of turns. I'm personally 5'-10" and about 228 lbs after loosing apx. 20 lbs since late summer last year (the heaviest I ever saw myself on a scale was a whopping 248!), though I have alot of muscle mass - weight is weight and it slows you down no matter what form it's in. Combine my personal weight with the fact that my bike is now 5 years old and down on Horsepower compared to the other bikes and that makes getting up to speed even more challenging and doesn't give me any advantage at all over the riders on the newer 600's. I have heard of what I call the 7-7-7 rule (very handy for figuring rough numbers), every 7 lbs on a motorcycle equals apx. 1 Horsepower, every gallon of fuel weighs apx. 7 lbs, and every Horsepower on a bike equals apx. 7 Horsepower in an average weight car due to power to weight ratio. A number of the really fast racers I race against are about 70 lbs lighter than myself, that means they have apx. a 10 Horsepower advantage on me just due to their lower weight - compare that advantage to cars thru power to weight ratio and that's like they have a car with apx. 70 more Horsepower than myself. I will continue slowly loosing weight thru the life style changes I have made since last year, but I don't see being much more than 10 lbs. lighter by the Race of Champions at Daytona in late October.

My greatest assests are going to be:

(1) My ability to launch the bike pretty good at the start of the race to get a position closer to the front from the beginning (especially if I pre-enter and get gridded in the 1st 2 rows)

(2) Individual racetrack and general racing knowledge due to having raced since '96

(3) I can be somewhat difficult to pass, especially as I get going faster due to the lines I run. I have a tendency (especially when I get up to speed) to run flowing lines (much more like the MotoGP guys do) than the lines that are becoming more and more common nowdays at lower levels of racing. I know that type of style can be frustrating to the guys that run the 'squaring up the turn' type of style, but the nice thing for me is that generally the fastest guys will be running more flowing lines as well so as I get faster this will become less of an issue. I know in the past if I got in a 'rythem' I could go really fast without a whole lot of effort, those were definitely the times I was 'in the zone', a great feeling that was like everything just happening almost too easily.

I'm using BFR as somewhat of a guage since we generally race there the most (5 times per season), my goal for the next event there is to try and knock another second off my lap times and get a 1:15.0. As I already mentioned, the few seconds I have left to cut off my lap times are going to become progressively more and more difficult to achieve - I certainly don't expect to be in the low 1:14's the next time I race at BFR. And as far as my bike goes, I will continue to race it this season, most likely without any major improvements to it. I have a feeling that 2008 will bring a new toy for me to be racing, so I will wait till then to get a bike set-up with an adjustable length shock and such.

SBN "
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Questions, concerns, problems? P/M me.


What you just read is my opinion and is based on my experiences and the info I have acquired during my life, it's my interpretation and isn't written in stone. Yes, I post long responses regularly because I like to fully explain my views. Don't like it or agree with what I have to say? Then don't read it or respond to it! Respond like an immature idiot to posts of mine and I will just ignore you. Have a nice day.
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