Ed.–This is the final 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 and Tony battle for bragging rights in the final race of the season.
by #95 Jason Bishop
Three more days and it’ll all be over. I’ve had some good times this year but looking back I could have done with out them considering all the bad shit. Turning my hand into hamburger in May sucked. And having my wheels knocked out from underneath me in July sucked.
September marks the end of the CRA season and as you’ve probably caught on, I’m anxious to get it over with. Three short sprints on Saturday and then the highlight of the year, the 5 hour endurance race on Sunday. I’m feeling much better in the saddle than I did in August at MAM but I still have no desire to push it and be up front. Next Thursday I go in for surgery to get my middle finger fixed and the risk of injuring myself further in another crash just isn’t worth it for a few pieces of wood.
Saturday’s races were lame. So lame that the rumbling in my bowels that we’ve all come to know and love wasn’t even there. They shorten all the sprints to 5 laps so they can cram them all into one day, barely enough time to get into a groove and then they’re waving the checkers. In the second race of the day I manage an all time worst 14th place. No big deal, the main reason I’m here this weekend is the endurance race anyway.
Saturday Team Poop picks up a couple guest riders for the endurance race. My buddy Birch’s GS explodes leaving him and his team without a bike. Karl and I decide to pick up Birch and resident MMM safety geek, Pat Hahn, and are really happy with the fact that we’ll split shifts with two other riders.
Sunday morning is a complete friggin’ cluster. One of our riders shows up late and since we all have to register together we end up 45 minutes behind schedule. We finally get the bikes through tech and down to pit lane, just in time for the 2 hour open practice session before lunch. None of the guys have ridden my bike so practice is definitely needed. When practice closes everyone has gotten a little seat time. A little is going to have to be enough.
The endurance race is the only race of the year that actually requires pit stops. Races are often won in the pits and I had high hopes for my pit crew and team in this department. We had Birch’s quick fill fuel tank, but the first practice with the can didn’t go so well. We ended up dumping about half a gallon of fuel down the top of the bike and making a complete mess. Sweet, the tank is now full, we’ve got 15 minutes to go before the race starts and I’m not getting a very good feeling about the rest of the day. Oh well, poop happens.
Birch gets a great start and quickly sets into a very comfortable pace. As we approach the first pit stop everyone takes their positions. I sit back waiting for the worst. I have visions of fuel dumping over the top of the tank and my bike bursting into flames, but man do I get a surprise. Everything just clicks, it’s perfect. Nikki holds the pit board out for the rider, Sheldon grabs the bike and pulls the gas cap, John starts dumping fuel and as soon as he’s finished there’s two or three guys waiting with rags to mop up the spillage. They have the bike in and out in less than 30 seconds, I about shit myself. Now we have a race on our hands.
I’m well into my first shift when I know I’ve got trouble. My lap times are staying consistent but every time I pull the clutch it feels like someone has my middle finger in a vise. I start missing shifts and finally give the signal. I have to pull in early. I complete 14 laps and when I pull in everyone is ready to go. Another lightening fast pit stop and we’re back underway.
We figure if each rider pulls a few extra laps I won’t have to ride again although I’ll get in my leathers and be ready to go just in case. When there’s about 20 minutes left Nikki, our timing chief, will signal Karl from the wall and if he thinks he can go the distance he’ll give us a thumbs down. I’ve never seen a more motivated thumbs down in my life, the man was on fire.
When it’s all said and done we complete 145 laps during the 5 hours, finish 2nd in our class (yes we beat Tony’s team) and 20th overall out of 47 teams.
Since the endurance race I’ve had surgery on my middle finger and I’m happy to say that it’s already improving. We all know you can’t trust doctors, but they tell me I should get most of the strength back in it and about 60% mobility. It ain’t perfect but it’s enough to pull the clutch and the pain I dealt with this year shouldn’t be an issue now. I fell short of a lot of my goals this year due to my crashes but I still managed to score high enough to get promoted to Expert next year. I’m hoping things go well with my hand over the winter and I can come back fighting in the spring with new hope and new challenges.
I have to give a huge thanks to Colder Products Company for supporting me through the good and the bad this year. I’ve said it before, but without their help my season might have been over in May. Thanks to Birch at Ignition Motorsports for helping us get 2nd in the endurance race and for all the cool t-shirts. In racing money makes the wheels go round, if you’re interested in sponsoring me or my team please contact us via our website, www.teampoop.org. For those of you interested in racing or volunteering with the Central Roadracing Association you can find out more at www.cra-mn.com.
by #808 Tony Marx
My plan for September’s endurance race was to ride with the Ignition Motorsports team which included Pat Hahn, three homeless guys, and a slick looking GS500. After a quick test ride two weeks before the race saw the rear wheel come loose, a short circuit melt the seat, and carbs that held the motor at 5000rpm I decided it might be a good idea to bring my SV, just in case.
This turned out to be a good idea since Pat coasted in during Friday practice with the valve train seized up and a hole in one of the pistons. The cat loving vegetarian later confessed to seeing 17,000 rpm while drafting a GSXR750 down the straight. I jumped ship and devised my next plan which was to recruit 3 people who were significantly faster than myself and beat Jason’s newly dubbed Team Poop.
Thirty six hours later my team was comprised of three friends. First was Mike, who’d be riding with a broken finger after wadding his bike up last month at Mid-America. Next was Kent, who’d also tossed his bike at Mid-America, would be riding with 2 pins and a foot of wire holding his knee cap together. Finally there was George, fast and perfectly healthy.
I skip Sunday practice and let the others get used to my rattle trap bike. It’s sprung for my skinny ass so it feels a little soft to the others and the exhaust note is noticeably sloppier than most other SVs. After a few ride height adjustments and a new set of Bridgestone DOTs the guys are turning decent lap times. Team Poop is pitted right next to us and they’re obviously worried by the experience level of my cripples.
My team lets me start and after two laps I’m ahead of all the Ultralight bikes but running near the back of my own class. A crash in turn four on the first lap reminded me that an endurance race can not be won on the first lap but it can certainly be lost on the first lap and I settle into a comfortable pace and wonder if my experience running the MN1k rallies will pay off while riding at 8/10ths.
A dozen laps later I get the 25 minute board from our pit bunny and nearly lose it roaring into the hot pit not realizing the road is dusty and bumpy as hell. We fill the tank and George heads off and starts putting in good laps but pits after only 15 minutes. He’s got some bad arm pump and his forearm is swollen like a fat sausage. We missed his signal and lose a few minutes as Kent throws on his gear.
Even with his busted kneecap Kent puts in our fastest laps yet and pulls his full 30 minute session without drama. After a quick splash of gas Mike is off and running but after only 3 laps he signals and comes in. His hand is bugging him but more importantly he says the bike is falling out of fourth gear, a problem I’d had twice last month. I hop on the bike and head out to asses the problem. It happens on the first lap but I’m able to continue by making very precise shifts and ride a long session until the bike begins to sputter coming out of turn three. It’s running out of gas while leaned over but by the grace of God it doesn’t fizzle out until turn ten and I manage to coast into the pits.
Kent has bad pain in his knee and Mike’s head is not in the game. Both are finished for the day. George is geared up and puts in a good long session by resting his hand on the long straight.
My next session I have a great battle with another SV rider. I’m able to pull harder out of most corners but the guy keeps blowing my wheels of in turn two which I’m taking nearly flat out in 6th gear. We’re both wasting time passing each other lap after lap so I tuck in behind him and try to figure out a way to make it stick and get away when, coming into turn eight, a faster rider on a 600 sneaks in between us and takes a wide line trying to drive around the outside of my rival on the exit. They’re side by side, knee’s on the deck with me 2 feet off their rear tire when the SV guy loses the front end, collecting the other rider in a pile of sparks and elbows.
George heads out for another session and gets hit not once but twice, banging side panels with the same rider in two separate corners. He stays out for a long time and I get the honor riding the last session.
I’m getting tired, my concentration is waning, and I’m a little nervous about conditions of the tires we’ve been beating for the last four and a half hours when I get hit from behind just as I tip it in to the bus stop turn nine. The bike stands up and wobbles hard two times before I crank the bars and barely miss jumping the rumble strip. Turning to look back I get an apologetic wave and motion the guy by, happy that no one ended up on the pavement.
At this point I’m frazzled and am just looking to bring the thing home. Hoards of people are lining up along the pit wall so I’m guessing the end is near. I can see my team cheering me on each and every lap and even the Team Poop guys are waving and yelling for me as I pass under the white flag. Feeling all warm and fuzzy I kick back and am enjoying my last lap of the season when Hot Karl from Team Poop stuffs me coming into turn eight and drives off. I give my best effort to stay close but he crosses the line ahead of me and as I pass under the checkered flag in slow motion, to a chorus of air horns and cheering from my fellow racers, all I can think is “Man, I’m never going to live this down.”
We ended up 27th of 47 overall and took 3rd place in our class. I’d like to throw big thanks out to Mike, Kent, and George for not wadding up my bike, to the CRA for being a good environment for new racers to learn the craft, and to my sponsors Lockhart Phillips, Mimic industries, and most of all Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly.