«

»

Jan
17

WERA Round 1 Race Report – Fontana, CA – January 8, 2012

Short story:
I went to California with some awesome people ,  rode 2 trackdays, kicked some butt in the races and then came home. End of short story.
__________________________
Long and winded unorganized story:

On the afternoon of Wednesday January 4th I jumped in Steve Kidd’s truck along with Chris Bostron, and Michael Klotz  bound for a weekend of  fun on my motorcycle in Fontana, California.  We were headed down there to attend 2 trackdays with Fastrackriders.com and the opening round of WERA West Lucas Oils race series at the Auto Club Speedway.  Steve’s truck was towing  his 28 foot race trailer which contained our motorcycles and a few more for other PNW racers/riders that would meet us down at the track. (8 bikes total)

We left Seattle in a very typical rain shower and didn’t  break into dry ground until we reached Southern Oregon later that night.  This was the first time I had ever been on a trip with Chris or Michael and it proved to be a pleasure to have them along for the ride.  The bantering and joking back and forth certainly made the 1200 mile journey south a lot more bearable. We drove around the clock for a total of  around 21 hours.  We finally pulled into Fontana at about 2 PM on Thursday afternoon.  This left us with plenty of time to check into our hotel, grab some food, and go to the track to setup our pits for the 3 days of riding / racing to come.

Bright and early  on Friday morning we met up with our entire northwest crew:  Steve “Duct Tape” Kidd, Chris “I Had That” Bostron, Eric “Pinky” May, Bob “Crash Bandicoot” May, Daryl “Mr. Steel” Richardson, and of course myself…  We all crammed into the pickup then grabbed a quick breakfast prior to heading to our first trackday .

The Fastrackriders.com  trackday is run in a VERY professional way and flowed nicely.  They stick to their schedule precisely and because they operate out of the world class Auto Club Speedway, their  trackdays are hard to beat.  We all shared a very nice big  garage and had a pretty uneventful first day on the track dialing things in.

We had the pleasure of being joined by some other Seattle  peeps including:  Chris Burgess, Chris Sarbora, Mike Castro, and the world  renowned Barry Wressel. Tim Hines Jr and Sr  both joined us from Spokane as well… The Northwest (and Canada) was well represented in SoCal that day!

These guys were also pitted in the garage with us. Speaking of the garage -  These are  huge garages with multiple bays.  The bay next to ours had team Erion Racing and Jake Zemke  pitted in it. That was a  nice bonus to our trip that made us really feel like rockstars!

During practice on Friday , I managed to clip off a  1:45 lap time on my SV which would have been good for a 3rd place finish in the year prior’s races according to the times on mylaps.com.  So this left me feeling like the  money and time that I spent rebuilding my engine with Fuzimoto, suspension with KFG, and  hours of  selfless hours by Phil Cook prepping the bike were  REALLY going to pay off for me this weekend if I could put my head down and put in some clean laps during the race. I was starting to get  pretty excited for the Sunday’s races.

Friday night we all went out to grab food and had a few drinks then hit the sack nice and early.  Chris Bostron was delighted when he heard that he was going to be sharing his bed with another dude.  J   Welcome to privateer racing my friend!

Saturday was another great day of track riding and everyone saw their times consistently dropping throughout the day with the exception of me.   Since noon on Friday I had not been able to get one clean lap in at the track without running into traffic or slower riders.  I was out on the track with an SV650 which has  nothing on the straightaways for a larger bike but I can ride it well enough that I generally outbrake , out corner , and have much better lap times than the majority of the riders at  the track in the middle level sessions regardless of how big of a bike they are on.  I encountered a major problem with this on Saturday that left me with looking like a major jerk and reckless rider in the eyes of some pretty prominent people in the motorcycling community…. More on that :

Because I was on the SV, I did not feel like I would be anything other than a hazard to the “Race” level group on the straightaways and potential cause an “asspacking” situation (rider approaching me from behind is traveling at a much higher rate of accelerations due to larger bike with way more horsepower).  So, I opted to run in the middle level group of riders at the trackday.   I went out in several sessions on Saturday and kept flying up on one particular rider when I was entering corners  which caused me to  intentionally leave the “racing line”  in order to not spook the rider or  cause any kind of  bike to bike  contact. (This was a trackday afterall and I am well versed in trackday etiquette)  Immediately after each corner, the rider would squirt off ahead of me with ease, so I assumed he must be on a larger displacement bike or getting  ONE heck of a drive out of the corners that I did not have available to me.  We played this game of  closing in the corners and darting away in the straights for several laps / sessions.  Because I am a very cautious rider and did not  want to spook this person who may be rather new to the track, I chose to not make any kind of  pass in a corner and hoped that I would find an opportunity on one of the shorter straights or something.  That did not happen.  This situation happened in multiple sessions with the same rider and even after taking the hot pit lane to try and find a few feet of clean track, I still managed to tangle up with this same fellow after a few laps.  SHOOT! It was like I was  piece of metal and he was a magnet !

Well, I pulled into the pits after the 3rd session of this and went about  my business of  prepping for the races the following day and getting registered for the races.  When I came back to the garage my whole crew said that the Fastrackriders.com  staff was looking for me and said that I was  riding recklessly and needed to go speak to them.  So, I headed right over to the track official and introduced myself. He was standing there with a gentleman in a cowboy hat and leathers when I walked up.  The official told me he had reports that I was riding “way over my head” and that I really need to slow down or I am going to get hurt or hurt another rider. He also said that people said that “I am all over the track and nearly impacting people”….  I was left feeling really humiliated because if anyone knows me, they know that this is absolutely not the kind of person or rider that I am.  I was intentionally going slow and avoiding people out there so that I didn’t cause any incidents or spook anyone.  I have served as a control rider for a trackday org myself and I have years of racing experience as well as  a long track record of doing everything in my power to make sure people enjoy their time at the track. Today was no different, or so I thought.   L

After talking with the official and telling him what I thought was happening  (Slow bike with a good rider,  vs  fast bike and a mid level rider),  he  told me I needed to “slow down” and that was the end of the story.  I explained that I was trying to get some practice in for my races the following day and maybe I could be bumped up into the faster group so that I could  get some race pace laps in.  He said that he “appreciated my time and that the conversation was over”. I walked away quite humiliated and left wondering what the heck I could have done differently.

I completely respect his position because to him I am just “another trackday rider” and he does not know me , my skill level, and has to try to mentally put the pieces of this puzzle together based on reports from corner workers and the other riders.  Unfortunately I still feel he was wrong, but he was  certainly doing what he is paid to do – which is to keep everyone on the track safe.  For that I respect him and appreciate him.

I decided that I was done riding for the day because I was just wasting tires, fuel, and being seen as “reckless”  which is the very last thing I ever want to be known for.

So, I proceeded to do tire changes and prep the bike for  WERA  tech inspection and racing the following day.  I walked my bike over to tech and found that the head tech inspector for WERA is the same guy that just  told me I needed to slow down and was riding reckless.  GREAT.
So… I re-introduced  myself and explained that I really am not “THAT GUY” and there had to be a misunderstanding.  He seemed to believe me and then proceeded to tell me that the gentleman in the cowboy hat happened to be the guy on the track that reported me for being reckless.  Take a guess who he was…  JOHN ULRICH!!!    So , um yeah,  I  was  tangling it up on the track with the famous John Ulrich owner / editor of Roadrading World and he reported me as reckless and  not being on “the line in every corner”!     Now I thought that my racing life was doomed for sure….  I teched my bikes (ninja 250 and SV 650) and called it a day.  (a disappointing day to say the least)

Something really great happened  shortly afterwards that really made my day and took my mind off of the Ulrich incident.   A man in a Dunlop jersey came up to me while I was tinkering on my bike and introduced himself as  Tony Romo.  He was a tire developer for Dunlop and was out here doing some testing from Maryland(?).  He went on to say that they were developing a new  Dunlop Q2 with GP / NTEC  technology and compounds in it. He asked if I would be willing to practice on it in the race practice the following morning.  I said that I would be happy to do so and would provide as much feedback as I could but that I was not super comfortable on this track and was not certain that I would be able to provide adequate feedback for him.  He said that was fine and that he would like to me to try the tire.  If I liked it in practice, he also wanted me to go out and race on it to see if he could promote the tire as a race winning tire that sells for less than half the cost of  full on race tires.  I shook his hand and said he had a deal.

We mounted the tire up and then my day at the track was complete. It was time to go home meet my family for dinner, and then get some rest for the day of racing to follow.  Racing is why I came here afterall ,  right? J

That evening I was blessed to have my sister Becky, her husband Ron , and their 2 kids come into town to join me for dinner.  They drove in from Visalia, CA to watch me race the following day.  My mom (Sue) was on the road as well and would not arrive until later that night.  We had a good meal and then I was dropped off at the hotel to meet Mom and get a good night of sleep.

That was the plan anyhow …

Unfortunately that was also the opening round of supercross (Anaheim) and it was being broadcast in the hotel bar where the rest of my northwest pals were hanging out having food and drinks.  So, that led to me having a couple of drinks and watching Bubba  destroy his competition in the Heat race and then toss away and easy win at the end of the main event.  Dangit  BUBBA !!!  For those of you that don’t know, James Stewart runs the number 7 on his bikes and so do I .  I was  faced with some real pressure now –  if number seven was going to get a win this weekend in Los Angeles it was going to be me that did it.   I went to bed, slept, dreamed about racing, and probably snored some. NOTE: I also laughed thinking about Mark and Chris sharing a bed upstairs in another room as I shared a bed with my mother. Oh… privateer racing – you are so humbling.

Sunday morning rolled around and I will not bore you with race details like so many other people do in their reports…

WERA Round 1 -  Race 1 of 2012  was something I had been looking forward to for months, and it was finally here! My mom, sister, brother-in-law, niece nephew, and a host of good friends were there to show their support and be a part of this day.

I was registered to race 3 times that day.  Once on the ninja 250 and twice on the SV650.

My first race of the day was the ninja 250 in a class WERA calls “Clubman Expert”,  I  took my pink sparkles out to do battle with the fastest  ninja  riders on the west coast and came out with a 5th place finish out of  7 ninja racers.  Not a great showing, but I have plenty of excuses as to why I might not have done very well.. I wont’ bore you with them.

My next race was  Lightweight Twins Superstock.  I was on the grid and about the drop the hammer for the first time in a race aboard my newly rebuilt  steed.  I was sitting there watching the number board and was trying hard not to think about things like: “did that areanacross racing in the offseason help or hurt me”,  “I wonder where my mom and family are watching the race from”, “I hope I get a great start and can pick a fast guy to follow without getting passed too many times”,  “man I should have  peee’d one more time before I came out here”, “are my tires still warm?”, etc , etc, etc…

The board went up, it went sideways,  the green flag  waved and I launched off the line.

I was in second  place  going into turn 3 and  made a  pass for the lead on lap 2.  I could not believe it.  This was going WAY better than I had anticipated!    I held the lead with ease until the checker flag  came out and then it  hit me.  I JUST  WON MY FIRST EVER  WERA  EXPERT RACE !!!!!

This was a major landmark and highlight for me .  It  proved that the time, money, and efforts put into getting ready for this race season were worth it.  I was  sooooo unbelievably happy that my family was there to see it all happen.

The final race of the day for me was in lightweight superbike.  I had a decent race but ended up finishing in 5th place.  I had one  really great pass on 2 riders while sliding the bike on the brakes into turn 12 which made the hair on my neck standup until well after the race was over.  Aside from that nothing major happened.

The rest of the trip really was a blurr..  Racing was over, I said goodbye to my family, we packed up , and we drove home.

Everyone rode well, noone got hurt too badly, and we all came home with a heap of memories that will last a lifetime.  Was a great time with Great people!

Next month I am headed to Vegas with another crew of riders / racers for adventure number 2 of  2012.  Wish us luck!

Absolutely could not have done this without the people that came along to help split the expenses and the following sponsors:

*WEIGRACING* *KFG RACING* *AFTERMARKETCYCLES.com* *Flexi-Glass* * DARREN BEATTY PHOTOGRAPHY* *FUZIMOTO *GIMP INDUSTRIES* *MUZZYS* *Fulmer* *DeCal Works* *MotoFit Group* *Vortex*d

Always support the companies that support our passion for racing !

 

MISC  PICS from the Trip:

 

 

6 comments

  1. lionel says:

    Great report Tim – don’t skimp on those “boring” details you mention – sometime’s that’s the good stuff! Good to see you making friends with JU – as soon as I read Cowboy hat he’s who I thought of.
    How did you end up liking the new Q2′s – obviously well enough to win on them and to not mention how they were holding you back in the race so I’m guessing they must be a pretty dang decent tire?
    Once again, congrats on your success and keep the reports coming!

    Lionel

  2. mom says:

    Great Read!!

  3. Bob May says:

    Nice write up Tim!

  4. Adam J says:

    Is your sv motor built? Just want to compare it to my lap times.

  5. Tim Weig says:

    I raced on a supersport SV engine at Fontana that was built by Fuzimoto in Seattle. In Vegas I raced on a bone stock high mileage SV engine.
    In Vegas round 3 I will be racing on a Spears Enterprises Supersport build.

    I expect to see another 1.5 seconds shaved off of my lap times at round 3 due to a strong engine build and more experience at that track. I have only been to Fontana and Vegas 1 time prior to this season’s races.

  6. Tim Weig says:

    I race on a full suspension setup built by Barry Wressell at KFG suspension. It is a night and day difference in how the bike handles. If you are going to spend money to drop laptimes, I highly encourage you to call him.
    or… Brake REALLY deep :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>