Miller Motorsports Park, Utah
I managed to arrive at Miller Motorsports Park the weekend before the AMA national for a WERA event to get some track time in at the new facility. I was unable to attend the AMA team tests because of my injuries. When ever it seems like I am getting things together and actually ready to go racing, I always get thrown a curve ball. Every time I go testing the weekend before a national something always goes wrong. The WERA event was more of the same. The weather was pretty bad raining off and on and high winds etc. Because of the rain they cancelled qualifying for my first WERA race, the premier superbike race. So they assigned a grid spots by WERA points, order or pre entry, and then order of post entry. Of course I had entered that morning so I was one of the last rows on the second wave (row 18). Well they threw the green flag and a bit later they threw the second green flag and I was off (about 60 seconds behind the leaders). On the first lap I took it pretty cautious as to not get taken out by anyone, I passed about 5 people. On the second lap I had passed about 4 people by about half way on the second lap I passed a guy on a short straight. When I sat up to go to the brakes for the next left hander the guy comes by me on the right side out of control and hits my handlebar. When he hits me the bar get caught up in his fairing and I cannot get away from him, he also managed to break off my front brake lever. Needless to say we went down together. I somehow ended up on top of his rear tire and was sucked in between the top of his rear tire and the bottom of his subframe. Let me tell you this is not a comfortable place to be on a motorcycle, pretty scary. The tire rubbing on my back, pulling so hard that it managed to tear open a few seams on my leathers. Of course this accident tore up my bike pretty good. Lucky for me Bob from GPR was there and he loaned me all the parts I needed to put the bike back together. So I spent the next few days making a bike for the AMA national race weekend.
By time the promoter practice came around we were ready to go racing again. I managed to get thru the promoter practice without piling the bike up again. During the promoter practice we were constantly making changes to address the primary bike set up problem at Miller, destroying front tires. Throughout the day we were making progress with it, except that the better the tire wear was the worse the bike would handle. By time qualifying was over and we were ready to go racing we had the tire wear issue pretty well worked out. Unfortunately the bike did not want to change directions on the gas, and would chatter the front tire in almost every corner. Let me tell you at Miller you spend a lot of time on the gas and when all the bike wants to do is go straight, it can be rough. During the second qualifying session Saturday morning I tucked the front trying to make up time in a fast bumpy right hander. This time I didn’t tear the bike up too terribly bad. (Again SORRY BOB) So out came the duct tape and spare parts. We managed to throw together the bike in time for race 1.
Before I knew what was going on we were rolling out on the sighting lap for race 1. The race went green and I started to move forward a few positions, which is good because I didn’t qualify very well (27th with a 1:56.1). However with the bike setup I could not manage to go any faster than I had qualified. I managed to salvage a 21st place finish after a race long battle with Mark Ledesma (another AZ local) and Shane Turpin (THE local fast guy at Miller Motorsports Park).
For Sunday morning practice I decided that I needed to make the bike handle better in the high speed stuff so I made some changes for practice. I managed to match my race times from the day before on the same used tires and it was significantly easier to ride. Then came the race, I failed to get the start I wanted but was still off and racing with my mind made up to move forward. I was running around in a group of riders in somewhere around 20th place when the red flag came out. The red flag turned out to be a mistake by the officials. So into the pits we went. The other teams were changing to new tires and we were looking at a different used set of tires trying to decide if they were any better than what I had on the bike. In the end we decided to go with what was on the bike. After about 15 minutes they sent us back out for another warm up lap. Then the green flag flew yet again and we were off. My second launch was no better than my first, unfortunately. Yet I did manage to make up for it on the first lap passing 6 bikes on the opening lap. By mid race I had worked my way up to 17th place. I was circulating at mid 1:55’s but was having trouble not abusing the front tire doing this pace by myself. So I started to back off the pace in order to make the front tire last and was caught by Roberto Pietri, and John Haner. As soon as they went by me I was back in the low 1:55’s again and not abusing the tires. Most of the time it is easier to follow someone when you are trying to conserve tires it gives you an immediate gauge on where you are losing time and where you can make it up. By time the checkered flag came out I was right on John Haner's rear wheel trying to make a pass but could not make it stick. We managed to finish 19th. Well all in all it was definitely not the weekend we wanted but we finished both races upright, and did not have any injuries. Now begins the prep for Laguna SEE YOU THERE!!!!