Recovery from my surgery has been taking way too long! I try to work out a bit, and then can’t for several days, then try again… repeat… repeat… ugh…..
One incision got infected, slowing me down even more… the only thing that did progress was my waistline :-/ I was working out just enough to increase my appetite, and wasn’t able to work out regularly enough to burn the extra calories… couple that with feeling frustrated about not being able to work out – and drinking a bit too much beer… I’ve gained a few pounds since the surgery, but not anything more than I had weighed in the months before… but still… it was frustrating…
Anyway… the doc just cleared me to work out again and gave me the ok to push through any little bit of pain I may experience. Giddy up! Here we go!
This also meant I was clear to race Valentine’s weekend in Las Vegas with WERA (Feb 11-12)… of course I was going to race anyway
I was really excited to race in Vegas! This would be my first weekend to race in 2012, and first race since September! Most importantly, first race on my amazing “new” Graves built 2006 R1!!
Graves Motorsports graciously took in my Big Boy in Nov 2011 after I had spun a rod bearing in the engine. They transformed my 2006 Yamaha R1 into the most incredible machine I have ever ridden.
WERA West at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
So far in 2012 I rode my R1 one day at AutoClub Speedway in Fontana, Jan 7th, and commuting to work on my Black Stallion (black ’06 R1) since January 2nd. It’s now February and my belly feels considerably better in regards to riding, so I was optimistic to be able to ride without pain, yet my fitness levels were really poor – months of not being able to work out due to pain, then not being able to work out due to surgery recovery.
Given my physical condition, I opted to compete in only 2 classes, and ride just a few sessions at the end of the Friday track day. Being able to rest all day Saturday proved to be beneficial! I rode the last 3 sessions of the day on Friday, and was tired. I struggled to maintain pace for the duration of the 20 minute session… man I was out of shape!
In choosing to only run two classes, I was going to run Open “A” Superstock and Women’s Superstock, but the classes were scheduled back to back! There was no way I was ready to run back to back!
So, I opted to enter Open “A” Superbike (A Sbk) as it was 2 races before Women’s Superstock (WSS). I wasn’t exactly thrilled about running A Sbk as the AMA liter bike racing dudes are in it… geez…
On Saturday, I watched most of the Heavyweight Solo 20 race – with the dudes I was going to be competing against in A Sbk… I watched Aussie Dave Anthony just destroy the track; watched my friend Corey Sarros get a killer start, take the holeshot, and hold off Aussie Dave for a good portion of the race. Watched Jason DiSalvo tear it up on a Triumph 675! Watched a couple of other dudes on their R1s battle it out…. As I watched my competitors I was rather surprised when I felt myself getting excited, building confidence, and building excitement to run with those guys! I was surprised because last year I would have watched and become consumed by intimidation and defeat.
My riding on Friday, the way my bike felt – solid, planted… fast; the way I rode it – aggressively yet relaxed – built my confidence with each lap.
Sunday morning practice went pretty decent. There were a few small suspension changes that needed to be done, and I pulled in a few times during the single long practice session to make changes. My awesome cousin Matt Buanno (cousin Matty) sat on the wall and made the adjustments as I requested. Matt has been helping me so much since I asked him to help out in August at a Willow round. Having someone with me in the pits to help do the mechanical work, and help me keep my head on straight, is absolutely invaluable!
Anyway, the front end still felt sloppy during practice. It cleaned up as we made a few adjustments, but it still just felt sloppy.
I gridded up for A Sbk, and the first few rows are on a downhill slope!! While trying to figure out what do with my feet, as I was rolling away a bit, I was not even ready for the start :-/
The term dudes use “left standing there holding my d*ck” was very appropriate for this case… Argh!
To top it off, my best pal, Jacob Brown (aka Donkey) entered this race explicitly to race against me! If he beat me, I would *never* hear the end of it! Especially as he was entered up on his R6 that he was racing for the first time!
To watch him get the jump on me during the start just pissed me off… I got on it as hard as I could and threw myself up into the mix in an effort to catch Donkey’s ass. I was able to get around one guy that I recall for certain, but the important thing was that I got through clean, and Donkey was in front of me.
I rode as hard as I could despite my front end feeling ridiculously sloppy. Under the brakes and corner entry it was just moving the handle bars, and sometimes the chassis, all over the damn place. There were more than a few times I thought for sure I was going to crash.
Some dude was showing me a wheel in several corners, but I told him to f*k off and gassed it! It took him 3 laps to finally make a pass on me, under the brakes into turn 1. When I saw he was on a BMW, I was especially proud he wasn’t able to get me passed me on any corner exits!
I was running down my pal Donkey, and the two (albeit now three) dudes with him. I was the tail end of a 5 rider battle. This dude named Steve who has this tiger motif on his bike (a large twin of some kind) was getting reeled in on every lap. As we took the white flag, I was mulling over where to pass him when Donkey (the lead of the 5 bikes) screwed up bad going into T1, causing a chain reaction of brake stabbing and near run off. It trickled back to the tiger bike, who almost blew turn one, but was able to get it turned, albeit as wide as the edge of the track! I was able to capitalize on this and go underneath him, and since Donkey screwed up, he got himself passed by the BMW and the Honda that were all over his ass. For the last lap, it was just him and I. I rode my ass off trying to get close enough to make a move on him, but it was not to be. I crossed the line 1.3 seconds behind him. However, I was quite proud of myself to have run his ass down! I also matched my personal best lap times from 2010! 1:24.2 was my best lap… in 2010 a 1:24.1 was my best lap (on brand new tires!) I’m so proud to have run how I did on a front tire that, as it turns out, was just flat wore out! I had mounted that tire in August at Willow Springs. It was raced on in August, in September, rode at Buttonwillow in November, the Fontana track day in January, and those couple of sessions on Friday. It probably had over a hundred laps on it.
The most exciting part was that I was one second away from having a top ten in Open “A” Superbike. After struggling to badly last year to actually being competitive in the big boy class, I was unbelievably thrilled!!!
After talking to Lenny Albin after morning practice, he suggested I evaluate the tire life as it was likely the cause of my front end slop. Makes complete sense as the front end was effectively unchanged, yet it got completely sloppy – what’s different? The tire wore out! Although the tire looked amazing – tons of rubber, clean, etc – it just didn’t have the grip resulting in a lot of movement under the brakes, and instability while trail braking and heavy loading during corner entry. These are the two parts of a race track that will load the front end the heaviest.
So cousin Matty swapped my front wheel with a hard compound front I had mounted from when I purchased it at Willow back in August – or maybe even earlier, I don’t remember! – anyway, since it was a hard front, I knew it had considerably less laps on it than the medium front did, and if I was going to have a shot at winning W SS, I was going to have to have two things – a killer start, and a front tire with grip!
There was not a huge turnout of women racers in Las Vegas despite over a 130 racers in the paddock. A relatively new girl had also come out to the track, and after hearing how she dominated at Chuckwalla, and watching her beat my girl friends, I was excited to race her.
Part of me was stoked to see what she would bring to the race, and how she’d make me work my ass off, but part of me was a little bit intimidated. I had never raced against her before, but I’ve seen what she can do on track, and it’s pretty bad ass!
As we were getting ready for WSS, another – bigger – rain shower came through and actually got things pretty wet. Thankfully it let up a good little bit before my race, but I was pretty sketch as I was on friggin slicks! (WERA is allowing slicks in A Superstock this year, which is my eligibility for W SS – which is 600 Sbk, 750 Sbk and A Superstock rules).
During the out lap, I see T4, a critical corner, is really wet – like water glistening back at you wet – in the apex area. T4 is a very slow entry corner (hard braking) off a brief straight, and it opens up to the super high speed back section, so getting a drive off this turn is critical!
Thankfully the braking area wasn’t too wet, but the whole mid corner was super wet, meaning I was not going to be heavily trailbraking as I was before, and I was going to have to really watch my lean angle.
The pavement has 3 seams in it where they laid the surface, and most of the water was from the inside most seam to the curbing – right where I wanted to be.
A few other sections of the track were damp enough to change the color of the pavement, but thankfully they had plenty of grip, and dried up as the race went on.
We grid up, and this time I wasn’t f*kg around! And being gridded behind the heavyweight twins class also meant I wasn’t going to roll away on the starting grid! Ha ha ha… The green flag went, and I got a killer launch! I just got right into the throttle and grabbed second gear. Since us girls got our own green flag, the track was clear ahead of me, and I was able to rail through T1. I gassed it hard exiting one, and just rode like hell as I knew the other girl would be HOT on my ass! That girl can get on the damn throttle, so my best bet was to be on the gas as early and as hard as possible to ensure I get a drive on her, and get myself a bit of a gap so that she won’t get close enough to out brake me!
Turn 4 was an incredibly tricky balancing act. How much risk was I willing to take on to stay in front verses the risk of falling down. Since the high speed back section is long, I opted to go in hard on the brakes, turn relatively slowly, and rocket the f*ck out of there so she wouldn’t be able to get her R6 to keep up with my Big Boy. I had tricky track conditions, and this was my strategy.
As I took the start/finish line still in first place, I could see it was working. I didn’t dare let off, as I knew her little butt was hot on my tail! She is a fierce competitor, and I knew she’d make me earn every millisecond out on that track.
Lap after lap, I had no one in front of me, a completely clean track! Methodical, focused, and evaluating the track conditions with every pass to determine when some areas were safe to go faster through.
I got incredibly lucky in that I caught these two little boys on their 125 two stroke bikes in the super fast back section of the track and was able to get around them clean and easy. Shortly afterward I caught and passed another rider from the twins class. I knew I’d be toast if I let traffic hold me up.
I took the white flag all alone again, and ran strong to finish the race in first place. I took a glance over my shoulder as I was exiting T4, and caught a flash of her bike running along the straight into turn 3! What the…? From there I backed off just a little bit, and brought it home safely.
The lapped traffic slowed her up – I’ve been there, done that, and it sucks balls so horribly!!! Especially when you’re running someone down!
Then she told me later she blew turn one on the last lap. That explains a lot… there is no way I would have beaten her by 21 seconds if she didn’t have some bad luck. She rides excellent, and I was thrilled to have her challenging me to the end! I’m really looking forward to racing against her again, especially as she gets better on the Vegas track, as it was her first weekend there.
So there you have it… an incredibly positive start to 2012!!! I finished 13th/15 in Open “A” Superbike – and within a second of making a top ten break…and winning Women’s Superstock from holeshot to checkered flag.
Despite being out of shape, running on worn out front tires, and dealing with adverse winter conditions, I am so proud to have met my same personal best lap times!!!
April in Las Vegas with WERA is going to hold better weather, and will see this girl with fresher tires and a tighter body!!!
Let’s go racin’ boys!
HUGE Thank you to my incredible sponsors for making my 2012 opener successful!!
- Graves Motorsports (www.gravesport.com)
- Lenny Albin (www.superbikechassis.com)
- M Racing (www.mracingperformance.com)
- Five & Dime Tattoo (www.fiveanddimetattoo.com)
- Moonstone Cellars (www.moonstonecellars.com)
- EBC Brakes (www.ebcbrakes.com)
- Five-0 Racing (www.five-0racing.com)
- CT Racing Pirelli (www.ctracing.com)
- Scorpion Helmets (www.scorpionusa.com)
- Attack Performance (www.attackperformance.com)
- Jason Pridmore’s STAR School (www.starmotorcycle.com)
- RaceTech Suspension (www.racetech.com)