Ed.–This is the fourth in a five part series bringing readers the story of two Lightweight Novice riders as they go through a season in the Central Roadracing Association. Jason returns after his 2nd crash of the season and Tony gets a pleasant surprise.
by #95 Jason Bishop
You never really know what you’ve got till it’s gone. We’ve all heard this saying before, but sit back and think of all the times it has rang true in your life. You never really appreciate the top third of your ring finger until it’s gone. An extreme example, but those who’ve been reading the last few months know I found that one out first hand. Pun intended.
One thing I’ve definitely taken for granted in the last year racing is trust. You whip around that track as fast as you can, making passes and sometimes getting passed. It catches you off guard the first time someone passes you on the inside, or outside for that matter, of a turn but you get used to it. That level of comfort comes with a great deal of trust in those you’re racing with. Until my crash in July, when I was taken out by another rider at BIR, I had really taken that trust for granted. The races this weekend at Mid-America Motorplex in Iowa (MAM) taught me just how important that trust is.
MAM is an awesome little track and I had a ton of fun racing here at the season opener. I headed out for the first session of Friday practice and felt like crap. Not like taking a crap, but like crap itself. A lot of it was the bike. I’d made some changes to the rear ride height and it turned out they weren’t for the best. I told myself this was the problem, made the changes, and headed out for the next session. The bike did feel better but I still couldn’t get comfortable.
MAM is really tight which leads to very close racing. The kind of racing that involves two, sometimes three bikes all heading for the same corner at the same time. It took me most of the day to admit it, but I just didn’t trust anyone else out there. It’s tough to realize that regardless of how good you are someone else’s mistake can end your race, your weekend, or even your year. With racing being 90% mental I was pretty much hosed.
To make matters even worse MAM requires a lot of shifting and throwing the bike around, a task that my left hand just didn’t seem up to all weekend. This was supposed to be fun damn it. Why was I not having fun?
With 30 minutes to go before first call to grid I’m in my office pinching off a loaf and trying to decide if I should even run the damn race. My head’s not in the game for a win and if I’m not here to win then what the hell is the point? Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be having fun. I remember when it was fun. When dicing it out with my buddies was my only concern.
For the first time ever I decide to attempt a race where winning isn’t the priority, I’m just going to have fun.
30 minutes later the number board goes sideways, the green flag drops and we’re off. I actually get a good jump off the line but I’ve already made up my mind. I short shift the bike and watch everyone fly past me until I see Tony. I can’t have him beating me. That just wouldn’t be right. I stalk him for a few laps and decide it’s time to check out and chase someone else. My buddy Karl, a fellow Team Poop rider, had signed up for this race with his GS500. I catch up to him fairly quickly but I have to hand it to Karl, he’s riding the friggin’ wheels off his bike. I stay behind and watch him cross the line in 7th place, outstanding considering the rest of the grid is making 25 more horsepower than him. To make it even better we both beat Tony to the line. Now this is fun.
With temps expected to reach 105 degrees in the shade Sunday the day looked more like work than racing. I play with the back markers for the first race and then call it quits for the day. The combination of my head, my hand and the heat just doesn’t add up to a good time.
I’d like to thank Colder Products Company, Ignition Motorsports and Lockhart Phillips USA for all their help this year. I am currently seeking sponsors for the 2004 season. If you or your company is interested please check out Team Poop.
by #808 Tony Marx
Practice went well yesterday. I’m able to do 1:51 laps comfortably, much better than in April. Jason’s hand is giving him enough trouble that I may have a chance at beating him. That may sound cruel but I’m slow and will take it however I can get it. And I’m certainly not too modest to brag about spanking an amputee with a middle finger that looks like a bent coat hanger.
I’m gridded in the 4th row, Jason’s up front, and our buddy Karl is directly in front of me on his decrepit gs500. For the next 15 minutes the only thing I care about is beating these two.
The flag drops and I use my extra horsepower to drive right around Karl and pass a whole pack of bikes including Jason who’s in sport touring mode. I hold a tight line through turn 1 and flick it left aiming for the apex of turn 2 when Karl, sneaks by on the 12 inches of track I left on my inside. I tuck right in on his rear tire and try to get him back a few turns later coming into the chicane but he slams the door on me and I lose a bunch of ground as I stand it up and run wide, missing him by inches.
He’s slowly leaving me behind with a puff of blue smoke in every corner when Jason tries coming around me on the outside of the horseshoe shaped 7-8. He’s carrying more speed but I’ve got the line and pinch him off. Pun intended.
I know it’s only a matter of time though, and a few laps later I get a false neutral coming through the fastest turn and he blows my doors off. I finish 9th out of 14 with both Jason and Karl beating me.
My 2nd race is a 14 lap trophy dash. The temperature is nearly 100 degrees when I hear the first call to grid so I quickly soak my head in icewater before heading out.
When the flag drops the dude in front of me hoinks his front end so far off the ground he nearly kicks me trying to avoid falling off as I drive around. I get by two more and am using the very edge of track trying to sneak by one more guy when he moves over an inch and I am forced into the dirt. I had it coming and only lose 20 feet before getting back on the track and making a clean pass on the brakes in turn 5.
A few laps later I figure the fast guys have cleared off so I take a look behind me and see bike #391 (the last guy I passed) about 8 seconds behind me. I settle in and turn some comfortable laps until someone shows me a wheel on the outside of turn 8 on the second to last lap. He’s still there on coming into 9 but I have the inside line and squirt through first.
Coming onto the straight I take a quick look back and see bike #391 right on my ass! I can carry decent speed through turns 1-6 but I suck at the two chicanes & the final turn and sure enough, coming into the first chicane all I can hear is the sound of a 650 twin hunting for a way around me or waiting for me to choke. His tactic pays off as I run wide on the brakes trying to avoid a last minute pass in the final corner. We’re side by side, full throttle, and full tuck coming out and I just manage to hang on by half a bike length crossing the line. Weighing 140 lbs isn’t much good in an ass kicking contest but it sure pays off in a last lap drag race down the front straight.
Andy Wilson, the guy on bike #391, gave me a big fat thumbs up on the cool down lap. He’d mounted a hell of a charge in the final 5 laps gaining 1-2 second on me each time around. Nice race dude!
An hour later when the results were posted I was shocked to see we’d been racing for 3rd place! Never mind the fact there were only 8 bikes in our class because like I said before, I’ll take it any way I can get it. I just wish I could’ve beaten the amputee with the crooked finger.
Special thanks to my sponsors Mimic Industries, Lockhart Phillips, and of course Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly.
Check back next month as the CRA heads back to Brainerd for the season finale 5 hour endurance race!