Daytona International Raceway, Florida
What a start to the season…
For those of you that are unaware Daytona has a typically bad stigma involved with it. This year was right up there with my worst to date rolling the Huge Industries truck and trailer after hitting a guard rail head on the way home from the race.
Well here's the '06 version…
Daytona always involves a lot of preparation due to the Daytona 200, and being the start of the season. This year was harder than normal since during the off season I had blown up both motors in the superbikes. Almost immediately after the '05 season ended I started trying to get the motors back together. Due to financial restricitions and parts being on back order from Suzuki, the motors did not get finished until two days before I left for Daytona. So I did not get any time to test the bikes before leaving. Enroute to Daytona I had a flat tire on the GPR truck and had to spend the the night in a tiny town in Texas waiting for a small tire shop to open so I could buy an overpriced tire and get back on the road.
I arrived at Daytona International Speedway the weekend before the AMA event to compete in the CCS events to get some practice. I unloaded everything and took the superbike 'A' bike out for first practice, did 3 laps, brought the bike in to change the oil and check for leaks etc. I changed the oil and got the bike ready for the next practice. I started the bike up to warm up the motor and it began to misfire. I tried to ride the bike and see if it would clear up, but it just kept getting worse.
I spent the next 3 days trying to get it running properly, every night bringing it back to the house to work on it. After 3 days of unsuccessfully working on the 'A' bike I started to prep the 'B' bike. I managed to get the 'B' bike ready for the last CCS practice on Sunday.
I went out with the intent to just cruise around really slow and shake down the bike. Since I had installed a set of the Ohlins nitrogen charged forks with Yoshimura triple trees I was just looking to make sure everything was working. After 3 laps of putting around in the 1:59 range (last year I was doing 1:44’s and 1:43’s so I was about 16 seconds per second a lap slower!!!!) I went into the chicane so slow I didn’t even have to brake just sat up and coasted in, and tucked the front. The bike went cartwheeling thru the chicane and bent the front end (which retails for a REDICULOUS amount of $$$$) and broke off pretty much everything that was sticking out.
Well come to find out the Ohlins forks had a manufacturing defect inside that caused a loss of pressure and the spring preload spacer to crush. So the forks bottomed out going over the bumps…. WONDERFUL!!! Ohlins did fix the forks at no charge as it was a warranty issue.
So I spent the next three days tring to get the bike back together less the Ohlins front end. I managed to get it together just in time to make the first AMA superbike practice. My first lap was a not timed the second lap was a 1:55 the third was a 1:46 then I high sided the bike coming out of the international horse shoe. The bike went flipping down the track, as did I. I managed to break the last 2 inches off the outside of my right collarbone. This was still wednesday morning.
Thursday morning, after sulking all night, I decided to try to qualify for the Daytona 200. Since I did not have any practice on the bike I was in the slow group which was a good thing at this point. I went out and did 16 hot laps and 3 out laps a total of 19 laps. Unfortunately I could not get the time I needed to qualify, I could only pull off a 1:52.9, I needed a 1:50.9. That was one of the most painful things I have done, trying to get the bike to turn out of the left turns and into the right turns on the brakes was horrible. I kept collapsing onto the bars and tank because I could not push back with my right arm. And the end of that session brought my Daytona weekend to an end.
Now I try to heal and get bikes back together for barber…….