Summit Point Round 2 for 2011
JUL 1-3 2011 Summit Point Raceway, WV
This weekend was set to be the best weekend for our team in a long time. We have been struggling with our roles and wondering what God has in mind for us.
First, I would like to say that we were blessed with a probational team member for the weekend. His name is Jake Johnson. More on him later.
This weekend started off clean with a good departure time and no problems. We made our routine fuel and food stop for some chicken fingers and arrived at Summit Point with plenty of daylight left for set-up.
The MARRC road race school on Friday was a nice day. With the “Junkyard Dog” engine in the SV, I could run cheap pump gas all day. I was blessed with having a good student for the day and was able to watch him improve. I was also able to collect my brand new AGV leathers that Lizzy Leather Works had sewn up a bit for me. They look really nice! This was my first ever new set of leathers so I was a pretty happy with the whole deal. I didn’t want to risk scuffing them in practice so I would reserve the first wear for Saturday’s races. The adjustable fuel pressure regulator had arrived from TPO Parts so I installed that on the Ducati. It had been re-calibrated (thanks Allan!) and I was hopeful for a successful weekend on this new bike. With this being a twin sprint weekend, I would get plenty of seat time on the new ride. That night, we had dinner with our MARRC crew. They are really growing on us. There are some real characters in the organization and they all seem to get genuine enjoyment from what they do.
Saturday morning arrived and things were hopping. Denise was up and out to help new MARRC member (from CSBA) Sarah Treese prepare breakfast for the corner-working crew. No tech inspection was conducted Friday night so I had to get up early to beat the crowd. With help from Cecilia and Jake, we were done with both bikes in record time. With fresh Bridgestones from Mize Mobile mounted on the SV wheels, a little wrenching and we were set for the day. I saddled up the Ducati and headed out for the first practice session. It ran fairly well, but still had a bit of an issue at part throttle on corner exit. I found that if I gave it a bit more throttle than I wanted to, it would “get over it” and pull away clean. Lap times were still miserable at 1:27. With a few minor adjustments between sessions, I headed out for the second practice and tucked in behind Mark Evry. This time, I was determined to do better. After following Mark for a few laps to build my confidence, I was able to increase my lean angle on this skyscraper of a bike and improved my laps to 1:23s. The Bridgestone R10s were rock solid (as they should be at this slow pace) but I could tell they would be quite awesome as I went faster.
Pit chicks, Denise and Cecilia, sporting the new crew shirts. They both love them because they’re “girly.”
After delivering the invocation, I headed back to the pit. The team and “proby”, Jake, would be up for a coordination challenge as the first two races were not only back-to-back but required a bike change as well. We discussed what would happen, laid out a timeline and everyone seemed comfortable with what would need to happen. Well, except Denise of course. She is our resident “Nervous Nellie” and would not be comfortable until it was finished. The Ducati still would not idle so it had to be fed some throttle in the pit to keep going. This resulted in a very hot header pipe which melted the rear tire warmer! There is always something, right? I went out on the Ducati first for LW40. The race went well but with my not meshing with this bike quite yet and other ergonomic issues, I settled in for a lonely third place behind Joey Thomas and Art Diaz. I had a good lead on the rest of the field but those two were too far ahead to catch. But, with only a few laps left in the race, Thomas went down on the entry to T6 and while thankfully unhurt, he handed me second!
The new leathers are lookin' spiffy!
After the cool-down lap, the Ducati roared into the pits where the SV was being prepped for departure by Team CSBA Racing. Warmers were coming off, stands removed, water thrust into my hand, the Ducati sprung into the air behind me on its stands and the transponder migrated to the next bike. After a few heavy breaths and some water chugging, I fired the SV and pulled away with several pats to the back.
The ULSBK race was to be a bit interesting. I had a great start and passed everyone into T1 in the lead. This is what I was hoping for so I put myself to work to keep it. Entering T3 I noticed my helmet was pushed down over my eyes a bit. As I exited, and headed to T4, I pushed up on the chin bar to put it back in place. As I entered T4, it was right back again but worse! And even worse through T5 and by the time I tried to look through the long sweeper of T6, all I could really see was Arnie Hastings passing me on the inside! It turns out that the speed hump on my nice new leathers was hitting my helmet and pushing it down over my eyes! The only cure for this mid-race was to change my riding style by not hanging off the bike as much and literally be out of position. Well, the SV doesn’t like that and responded with very slow steering. I did manage to hold on to second but I was not happy to be taken out of the fight with Arnie. When I returned to the pits, I changed into my old leathers for the third race of the day. This third event was Thunderbike and we were all set to go and waited until third call to fire the Ducati. It had been leaning out from getting hot so I did not want a long pit-run time. When third call came, I hit the starter button. Nothing happened. I hit it again, nothing. I recycled the master switch, heard the fuel pump run and again, nothing. In a panic, I yelled “switch to the SV!” The crew responded and the transponder jumped bikes, we added fuel and fired it off. I missed the warm-up lap but I was allowed to take my grid space. Again, I gridded up behind Art and Joey. This was ok except I was on stone cold tires. The SV was done for the day so we had let them go. Needless to say, T1 was a bit scary and I did not get comfortable until well into the second lap. I did manage to maintain third though. All in all, not a bad day but I was eager for the re-run that was to come Sunday. Upon my return from my last race, I was informed that one of our buddies Gian had been in a crash in T4, the fastest corner on the circuit. His bike was destroyed and he was not well. He had refused ambulance transport to the hospital but after a few minutes agreed to be driven there. We all prayed for his well being and waited for news. The news would come later as Danny Ronca came back from the hospital. Gian had a mild concussion and a badly pulled groin. He would be scanned and tested with the results coming in an hour or so. We ate some dinner and waited for the word. When it did come, it was good news. Gian would be OK but would be kept for observation overnight. Danny had made plans and coordinated getting people and equipment home and everything was set.
Looking for corner speed on the SV.
As we made final checks on the bikes for the night, Joey Thomas came by looking for a brake line. It seems his was damaged in his T6 crash earlier. I had no spare lines for the Ducati as I had to buy a set for a Yamaha at VIR to temp fix mine. Well, Joey runs a GSXR front end on his superbike so normal Ducati lines were not needed. I remembered I had the other line left from the Yamaha set and went to get it. Joey compared it to the damaged one in his hand and said it should work. He tried it and came back later to say it worked perfect and thanks. Denise promptly informed me that this indeed was why I had to buy those lines (that really didn’t work for me) at VIR. I had questioned that earlier as I ended up using an old SV brake line to fix my problem after I paid (money I really didn’t have to spare) on the new ones. I did this of course, only to end up not running the Ducati anyway due to the injection issues. God was setting things up for us to be able to help a friend. Joey had been looking all over the paddock for the brake line and I was his absolute last chance. This reminded me that we rarely see God’s plan until it’s executed. And even then, we can be blind to it.
That night, Denise and I made our rounds to visit people and lend a hand or a smile as needed.
It started to get dark and most people were either gone or waiting for the fireworks to start. We sat on the asphalt looking to the sky in anticipation. With only sporadic pops and sparks, I headed out to talk to a few more people. When I came back, the crew was watching a movie. Then the fireworks started, the movie paused and we watched the display. Once finished, I was quite tired. Denise had to get up early again to prepare breakfast so we finished off the movie and hit the hay.
Sunday AM, Denise was up a 0500 and out the door. I was up a little later and began to prep the pit and recover from the rain that night. With a wet track and a lame Duck, I decided to skip the one practice round. We would rather save the tires on the SV since it would have to run all three races today. Donnie Unger from The Duck Pond had diagnosed the SS with having a bad starter solenoid. With no spare and a propensity for stalling, I did not want to risk running it. I had a meeting with the owner of CCS to discuss a few team issues so I missed chapel service. But, I was able to give the invocation again and Cecilia sang the anthem and was followed by a healthy round of applause from the paddock.
For Sunday, the race order was different. We had no back-to-back (nice!). The first race of the day was Ultra Light Superbike. This was the SV’s race anyway. With nice hot tires and leathers without issues, I headed out on the warm-up lap and gridded on row two. Arnie didn’t arrive on the grid, bummer, but I was ready. When the flag dropped, I had a perfect launch and took the holeshot. I did not know this but by the time I hit T10 I had already pulled a significant lead over the rest of the field. I don’t look behind so I kept pushing for the rest of the race and ended up winning by over 20 seconds. I was very happy to have gotten my lap times back to where they should be.
My biggest fan….
With one race in between my first two for rest and re-fuel, I was ready to go back out for LW40. On the out lap, the bike sounded strange and was missing a lot. I pulled over before gridding to peek through the frame to ensure I was’t losing a coil wire. Nothing looked out of place so I took my place on the grid. When the flag dropped, I took off. The bike spit and coughed its way through T1 almost throwing me off. Bikes were passing me right and left. I kept hoping it would clear out. It seemed like it wanted to as it would pick up and run like normal for a spell. I made it around one lap and decided to pull in the next time around. I would at least get points for last place. I never made it. The bike completely died in T6 so I coasted to T8 and pulled off the track. After receiving a courtesy ride from my MARRC buddies, we found the quick connect to the battery had crumbled to pieces yet again. A quick search through the spares provided a new replacement and the bike was good as new.
The last race of the day and weekend would turn out to be the best. It was Thunderbike again and I was dreading it because I was not on the Ducati. I asked God to keep me safe and help me do my best. With a bit of confidence from my win earlier and knowledge of my lap times, I was getting myself in the zone and determined. On the outlap, I was thrilled to feel the engine pull as it should, reaffirming the fix. I had a brief second where my heart jumped into my throat as I realized I never checked my grid before leaving the pit. But, my memory won the day and I took up my proper position at the center of row two.
Look what God lets me do!
I looked way down the track to turn one, my immediate target. I looked at the bikes in front of me that blocked my path. I looked over at the starter. Time seemed to slow down as I fixed my gaze on Jenny who had the number board showing “3.” She changed it to “2.” Visor down, the “1” board is up, a voice in my helmet said “watch the flag, watch the flag.” As I fed the clutch to feel it grab just so slightly, out of the corner of my eye I saw the “1” turn to “ -- “ as it was laid sideways. The flag twitched as the starter’s arm moved to wave it. I rolled on the throttle and fed the clutch. With the front wheel slightly in the air, the little SV lurched forward and rocketed between the thundering Buell and booming Ducatis of my rivals for the moment. Within seconds, Joey Thomas came beside, and then by me. This was normal as my SV was no match for the Ducati under power. However, I had such a good start, I was still on the rear wheel of the Thomas machine as he hit the brakes for T1. I wasn’t ready to do that yet so I pulled to the inside and passed him on the brakes into the turn. With my knee puck scraping, I found neutral throttle, got the bike turned and opened it up immediately. The twin FCR 41s were howling only to be drowned out by the Hindle exhaust making its presence known. Upon the entry to T3, Joey was not trying to pass as he had on other occasions. I sped to T4 staying on the throttle after a quick check to set the turn. Hard on the brakes downshifting twice into T5 still slowing hard as I leaned into the turn trailbraking like a madman. Determined to keep my advantage, I kept my entry speed into T6 (a problem spot for me) as high as I could. Hard on the gas to T7, slight roll off the throttle to tighten the corner approach, back on the throttle grabbing another gear as I transitioned my body left for T8, back to the right for T9 and early on the throttle hard through it as Joey’s bike has twice the torque of the SV and can easily pull by going up the hill. Still no Thomas Ducati. Downshift for T10, hanging way off and on the throttle, the front tire is struggling for grip as I pull my body forward to give it what it wants. I cross the start finish still in first! Within a second, Thomas is on me. He pulls by under the awesome power of the Ducati coupled with the draft he had from me. I thought, “OK, here it goes….” As we approached T1, I was still close enough and again, I passed him under brakes! I could not believe I was leading the second lap! As we repeated this dance for several more laps, I was again put on the brink of failure as on lap 5, Joey pulled by me coming out of T9. Now he would lead through T10 and have a clean run down the 3000 ft straight. I would never catch him now. As we entered 10, I was determined to stay as close as I could. Joey wouldn’t get his usual “runaway by a mile” win if I could help it. As we exited T10, I was on the throttle earlier and was able to stay near enough to pick up the draft! I tucked in behind my awesome Zero Gravity Double Bubble and thought to myself “think small, think small, become Danny Pedrosa!” My face looked like Rossi’s “wide eyed, mouth open” helmet as the big Ducati sucked me down the front straight. I waited for Joey to come up from his tuck as an indicator that he would be braking and pulled out to his inside. My rear wheel left the ground, my arms shuddered, and my knees gripped the tank as my Yamaha R6 calipers squeezed the life out my EBC rotors with their EBC pads. I downshifted three times, dropping the clutch lever to let the slipper do its job. The rear of the bike danced from right to left in protest until I started turning in still on the brakes hard. As the bike turned I released pressure on the brake lever accordingly, I was so far off the bike, I thought my head was leading the front wheel! I hit the apex and rolled on the throttle, the bike struggled for grip. The rear tire spun just enough for the rear of the bike to lose grip just for an instant rotating a few degrees in favor of my turn. Going through the gears and back down into T3, Joey had not come back on me, it was done! I took the white flag and headed into T1 for the last time waiting for my ritual duel with Joey but he didn’t come! I thought he would take me in T9 again so I didn’t let up. I pushed as hard as I could so he would not be close enough to get me. He had never passed me prior to start/finish so I felt if I could lead through T10, the race was mine. As my little SV grunted up the hill without the sound of Joey coming beside me, I waited as late as I could to brake for 10, as I went through for the last time, the front tire slid a bit but my knee relieved the pressure, on the gas hard for the last time I cut to the inside to break any draft, shifted to 6th with the throttle pinned and waited. No Joey! The Checkered was mine! I was amazed at what had just happened as I circled the track on the cool-down lap. Cornerworkers were again waving with a passion and Guz, again at the edge of the track, with my MARRC shirt stretched out and waving! I felt like a celebrity as I came off the track and several people were taking photos. But, that was nothing compared to what my pit looked like. I had stopped to thank Joey for a great race on the way back. By the time I turned the corner to my pit area, there were at least 12 people (including Vondari Racing) cheering, clapping and taking pictures! It was almost embarrassing, but pretty cool.
Victory is sweet!
As we cleaned up our area and packed to leave, Donnie Unger took the Ducati to his trailer to see what he could do with it at The Duc Pond. I made sure Lizzy had my new leathers back to shrink that speed hump. We went over and helped put down John Dodson’s canopies due to the coming storm, gave Gian a hug and wished him well as he watched everyone hitch up his gear for the ride home, and said our goodbyes.
On the way home we were joined by Danny (Davey) Loikits and Beth for dinner at our usual Chinese Buffet. A good meal and conversation was had by all. After the meal, I talked with Jake to see what he thought of the whole deal. He said he loved it and wanted to commit to all of the events. I told him he did a great job and that he earned his team shirt. Probation period is over.
(Special thanks to Mike Porter for the great action photos!)
Stay tuned for more!
We have plenty off track work to do for Him!
………….Joe (Cowboy 6) Cotterino
Last edited by Cowboy 6; 07-28-11 at 06:53 AM.