It’s been a few weeks since the Grand National Finals. If you read the previous entry and then saw the video, you too may have felt my disappointment. Going into the GNF with a five point lead meant I could follow Jamie Brenton across the finish line and still with the GP500 by one point, so long as nobody was between us. So, when I approached turn 12, having just passed James Walker in the climb prior to the turn, I was confident that I could keep Jamie behind me to the finish.
What you saw was the result of James Walker colliding with me into turn 12. He picked up speed, that he normally carries much better through the turns than I do, and accelerated into the inside of me. If you play the video frame by frame at the point of collision, you will see James’ clutch handle and shadow for a few frames. Then I was impacted counter to my lean and sent over my handle bars. I was quite impressed that the camera stayed on for the whole race, even after breaking off the mount.
Elsewhere on the track, some interesting events were occurring. Keith and David Hurst were lapped, but not me, Jamie, and James. We were keeping up a pretty good clip and were all a close pack. I never looked back to see just how close Jamie was. James and I were trading places at the end and I knew that Jamie was going to try his last lap surge at the first opportunity. From the time James showed his presence and jumped in front of me, I knew that Jamie was right behind him. Exactly as I imagined, this photo covers exactly what I thought I was going on behind me. Jamie is number 725 and James is number 109.
Above is a photo of me, James (109), and Jamie (725). I never looked back to see who was where, because I learned earlier this year how it cost me. I believe this is coming out of the “bus stop” turn 3 area. This is pretty much an example of what was approaching turn 12 at the end of the race. Jamie watched me tumbling out of the race and went past James who had gone off the track and into the dirt. James did not go down, but he lost all his momentum and Jamie past him before James crossed the finish line.
The interesting part of this whole fiasco was that because Keith and David were taken out of their eighth laps and Jamie, James, and I were wrapping up our eighth laps, finishing the race kept me in front of Keith and David. Even though I didn’t finish the race until everybody else had cleared the track and I crossed the finish line in pit row, just 100 feet from the crash point. As such, because James did go across the finish line between me and Jamie, I lost the GP500 National title by only one point. I finished in 6th place at Road Atlanta in the GP500 race, Keith took 7th, and David took 8th.
Scrambling back to the pits, James apologized profusely and let me know if my bike needed anything to get back on the track for the GP350, it was mine. He and Keith grabbed wrenches and started getting my bike ready to re-tech before it would be allowed back on the track. I pried my foot peg mount, Keith realigned my right clipon handlebar, and James worked on my muffler and other items on the port side of the bike. Drinking water and slightly shaken, I filled the tank and headed for tech just as second call was announced. The bike felt okay. Turned good and stopped right on a dime. When I got to tech, Tony gave the bike a quick once over without any concern. He then asked me if I had a spare helmet? Seems the scraping it took protecting my head while inverted in my semi-flexible fetal position roll was not going to pass inspection.
I headed back to the pits as the rest of the pack was heading to the track. Jamie heard what I needed and offered me is beautiful blue helmet. Seems my 7 3/8 head didn’t fit into his helmet. It hurt just trying. I was feeling the aches of my tumble and a wave of wisdom rolled over me. I simply parked my bike and consoled myself that 2010 racing was over for me. The GP350 race would go on without me.
I also thought about the 1,400 mile trip I was going to take over the next 24 hours. I loaded my bike and racing gear and was heading home about the time everybody got back from the track. I let them know I would be back for the awards ceremony. By the time I was, I had unloaded all race stuff and reloaded with all my home remodeling gear.
The rest of the afternoon included me getting ready for a nine day remodeling escapade after the next 30 hours of travel. I returned well before the awards ceremony which included both the awards for the day’s races AND the national awards. When it came time to pick up my SECOND place for the GP500 National award (my only award as my second place award for GP350, which all I had to do was cross the finish line to receive, was squashed by me not being able to be in the race) I gave great accolades to Martin Mattes at Sirius Consolidated Incorporated.
In spite of a fairly lame start to the season on my SL350, Martin was always there with encouragement and positive reinforcement. He actually made me believe I could take the GP500 National title again as I had two years before. Then when the SL350 motor blew and the CL350 behaved like I used to race, I too began to believe him..
Then a great round of appreciation to WERA, the racing organization that we call our family on the race track. That always included the wonderful volunteers we know as corner workers, without whom we could not get on the track, GOD BLESS THE CORNER WORKERS! This was followed by the great group of guys I race with and of course the very special thanks for the one person that deserved the solo credit for me getting Second Place rather than first place, Mr. James Walker. You really can’t understand the camaraderie that is involved with this group of buddies that would include a rebuttal from James, in the midst of my Podium time, that was immediately followed by my rebuttal to his rebuttal. The point is, we all but kissed and made up, looking forward to next year. Also, as I am writing this entry weeks after the event, it should be noted that James has been to a Norton meeting, my bon fire, and Jamie’s party and has taken his “medicine” like a man. We’re all good.
It should also be noted that I have handed James my carburetors so that he could take his race bike out to a “test facility” to verify that the problem is NOT CARBURETORS. The reassuring part of this information is that the “Carb Master” could not solve a carburetor problem, because it was not a carburetor problem.
The season is over!
Next year will include a Suzuki T250 that Mr. Dick Gruhn handed me. Time will tell how well I perform on the “Dark Side” (world of two stroke race bikes).
Stay tuned for off season commentary. Thanks for following this year’s exciting episodes.