It definitely felt good after travelling hours to a race track, spending the night in the cab of my truck, and setting up all by myself in the summer heat. It felt good after knowing that I had completed two races. The new “loaner motor” still has a few quirks, but seems to be entering the world of reliability.
Pulling in around 1:30 AM and being directed to the overnight, off campus, parking area, I caught a few restless hours of sleep. As the sun started lighting the morning sky, my alarm went off and I paid my cover charge at the gate. Having never been to the VIR track before, I drove around a while to see if there was any obvious location for the CB350 race guys. I found a few and then found a pit area to park.
Registration, tech, and the general lay of the land started my objectives for the day. After that, it was time to meet the locals. I’d known that Steve Barber (former GP500 National Champion) was going to be there, but I saw no sign of him. Then, I finally got to meet PatMan and his Triumph 500. It was a nicely tricked out race bike. It sported a full front fairing and plexi shield for a very aerodynamic profile. Pat was a very cordial guy and made me feel right at home.
We had the northeastern GP350 celebrity on his 350 Harley Sprint, Mr. David Roper. With Doug Bowie back in Atlanta, David was the man to beat (or at least wish you could). I also think I saw Mr. Congeniality, Tim Joyce at the racer’s meeting. Otherwise, there was a lot about this track that was new to me.
As the morning progressed, the calls began to get closer to practice group 6, Vintage 1-4. As I suited up, I consoled myself that no other southeastern GP riders made the trip, so all I had to do was achieve my goal. I wanted two finishes on this trip to the track.
Practice was comfortable even though the Virginia climate was only a few degrees cooler than the southeast circuit temperatures for 2010. I had to come up with names or verbal cues on how to react to each variation of the track. Where applicable, I used comparisons to turns on tracks I knew well. For other turns on this track, I gave myself instruction on what to do…
“Climb right up that hill” was the name for the right hander that disappeared up hill and to the right. On that one, you just stayed on the gas and let the track reveal itself. About three turns later was “Hammer Down” and that was NOT my cue to hit the gas. As the track crested to reveal a downhill heavy right hand turn that would mean downhill dirt biking if you missed the turn, it was time for full braking capability.
For the second practice session, I started using these names and talking to myself around the track. Roebling Road turn 1 was very similar to VIR turn 1. Sweeping right hander after the front strait that left you guessing when it was time to hit the brakes hard and when you could gas your way out of it. Other turns were spent determining the ideal marker for the late apex cut across the turn. Either way, I had a lot to learn and even more when at race speed.
I made a check to see who in my class had worthy fenders to mount cameras on. When it was all said and done, I had trusty Steven Barber whose fender rivals Keith Bennett’s steady camera capabilities. This actually worked out as I was having difficulties with my camera in the first race and switched to the third camera between races.
Our grids were the most populated for the whole day’s race schedule. With seven racers registered in the GP350 and six in the GP500, I was bound to find someone I could chase for the races.
Race one was the GP500. Pat McGraw on his Triumph 500 was in my class for this race. Although it was my bump up race, it was his designed class race. As Pat also bumps up, in his case to V1, in that race, we are on the same track at the same time, but in two different classes. That’s when I run the GP350. It was important to keep that in mind when it came time to race because we were so closely matched on the track.
At the start, the pack was poised toward turn 1 and ready upon arrival. The starter was almost as consistent as Chuck Edgeworth. No issues at the start and we were on our way. Depending on the gearing that each racer has set up, different bikes are better poised for taking turn one. By the second pass through turn one, those gearing benefits that made taking turn one easy to lead through would become difficulties when racers were up to speed. The acceleration required to get there first, from a dead stop, came from gearing for drag racing. Motorcycle sprint and endurance racing is better optimized for the “at speed” conditions and not drag racing conditions.
I will leave the description of the races left to your TV view nature.
Presently, I have four videos posted from the VIR race. Enjoy!
This was a special race for the season. Not only was it a new track for me, but this race session was held at WERA’s annual Cycle Jam gathering at VIR. The race was on a Thursday so they pretty much ran the GNF schedule for the weekend. This race set was, for me, was for the Southeast only. No North Florida nor Mid Central points were issued for Cycle Jam. This means that I did get to bump up my Southeast points score for some margin, but otherwise Keith, Jamie, and Chris and I are ready to take the points battle to the end of the season.