Quite a day at Grattan… Where to begin?…At the
To no surpise I couldn’t really sleep. Not sure if it was more the mattress and pillows or the anticipation of the track. But I got up about and that was it as far as sleep went. I just laid there with my eyes closed until it came time to wake up. Figured it was better than nothing.
I had showered the night before, so when I got up
all I had
to do was eat breakfast --this time out of my cooler-- check out, and
go. And that’s what I did.
When I pulled out of the parking lot you
could just see the sky turning that sunrise orange at the horizon. As it turned out I made it to the track at
just about … That was the main reason I picked the
As a I pulled in at the main entrance all I saw was two guys bustling around their bikes on their trailer. So, figured I’d go over and talk to them. Turns out they had arrived at , and since the gate to the track was closed, they slept in their truck. Their trailer was pretty damn impressive. Basically it was a harbor freight job, but they had done some welding to it, including a couple steel platforms and chocks made from plate steel to allow two bikes to be carried… pretty slick… rusty, but slick. Should have painted that steel or something. They were actually there for the intro class. To fast-forward a bit… when they were leaving for the day, they were talking about what mods they needed to make to their bikes. Needless to say they’ll be back.
I left those guys at the gate and figure I’d drive toward the track now that the gate was open. I drove down a ways, got next to the track, but wasn’t sure where to go, so turned back around. On the way back I flagged down a guy going in the other direction with a trailer and he explained where to go. So, I followed him, crossed the track, and that brought me to the main track buildings and parking area. The NESBA trailer and a few other trailers were there, but nobody was moving around yet.
Let me say that it was cold and windy, and it
any warmer. I had my thermal undeware
on, a T-shirt, sweatshirt, jacket and hat, and I was just staying warm. That was too bad, because the previous day
driving up it was just gorgeous… high 60’s and sunny.
Watching the weather that morning they were
talking about severe weather moving through
As I unloaded, a few more people came, but by the time rolled around, and there was maybe a dozen people, I figured there was going to be plenty of room on the track. It actually turned out that there were almost as many Control Riders as there were riders. I know there were two beginners, one or two advanced, and a handful of Intermediates. That was it. They actually ended up combining the I and A classes because there were only a couple Advanced guys.
Well, sometime after eight we got through tech
inspection and a
very short rider meeting.
At that point we got the green track and we were off. Well, let me tell you… the track was definitely green. My tires had dropped a psi in pressure from the cold, and you could really tell just how cold they were. My second or third turn into the first lap, even though I was going fairly conservatively, I could feel them sliding around. Once it was a pretty nice little slide that caught and put that new rear shock to the test. Good news is things damped themselves down and I took it a little easier until things warmed up.
My biggest problem actually turned out to be my visor. It kept fogging up on me, and I spent as much time trying to keep it open as I did working the controls of the bike. That combined with being on a completely new, difficult, track.. and I was just all over the place on the first session. Someone watching me would have mistaken me for a beginner.
After the first session I stopped to talk to a control rider to gripe about my visor. He asked if I had brought a deflector.. Duh! Well, no I hadn’t brought mine. I didn’t think I was going to need it! So, all I could do was make sure all my vents were open. I tried putting a piece of duct tape in place to keep the shield partially open, but that didn’t work. I was talking to one of the other guys about it and he actually had a slightly used anti-fog wipe which he gave me. Well, that combined with the fact that it was getting a bit warmer was enough that I could actually see my way around the track.
The track… Ah yes. That is one nice track. I though Autobahn South was technical. Let me take you through a lap… Down the main straight you can carry some good speed… course with the weather what it was, the faster you went the colder you got.. So, I think the max I got to was about 135, and that’s only because I was trying to pass a guy who’s tail I had been on for a couple laps.
Turn one is wide and slightly up hill, but you can’t really see all the way around the turn. Several times I went through there knowing I could go faster than I was going.
Turn two is a downhill, so it feels like an off camber. If you wait to turn until you really see it, then you’ll tend to go wide, so you have to turn earlier and then stay close to the right to get ready for turn 3.
The only thing you can say about the down hill, off chamber, back uphill, turn three is you have to take it slow. I found that a late apex and sticking close to the inside was a good way around, but going a little wider wasn’t bad either.
As you come out of three you can accelerate pretty hard for downhill turn four and then the slight kink before the jump. The question is how fast do you want to go before the jump. I found that right around 80-85 mph you’re getting into flying territory. And I definitely left the ground a few times with the rear end getting all squirmy cause as you land you have to be on the brakes.
I carried pretty good speed into turn five, but basically through five, six, and seven you’re gradually slowing down. And if you go into six too fast you mess up the entry to seven.
Turn seven is hill and ends just after the crest and you accelerate through it, but not too much because the highly banked and tight turn eight is right there. The best way through that seemed to be to really get into the apex and then drift out at the exit.
From there you accelerate through turn nine, crest and stay tight at the kink, past the second kink, where you brake and set up for turn 10.
10 is a downhill hairpin, and more than once I came through there wider than I wanted to, but in one sense it didn’t see much worse a line than really sticking to the apex, which is just on the other side of the downhill.Turns 11 and 12 are definitely fun. There’s a hill leading up to turn 11 so it’s completely blind, but you know it’s there, and you can get some good speed up the hill. You turn just before you crest. The bike gets light and then the suspension is really working as you settle into the turn. Immediately after is turn 12 and you just keep accelerating through it, so I was doing about 90 as I came out of it. And then you’re back on the straight; the only place on the track you can relax.
So, as track layout goes, it’s really technical and makes you think about the lines you’re taking. It was absolutely a blast. When you get those turns figured out and knit them together it really flows well.As I read the above description I can only say that it doesn’t do the track justice. Even videos I’d seen of the track don’t do it justice. You can’t really get a feel for the flow… the ups and the down and the way it all fits together. Obviously one the things that attracts people to motorcycle is going trough turns. And Grattan has just an unbelievable combination of turns. It is difficult, but it is also rewarding. If you do track days, you need to do Grattan.
The shape the track is in is a whole different
thing. There are definitely places where I
my lines in order to avoid some patched areas.
In turn 4 in particular because you’re downhill and picking up
the normal line there is some patching that I found to be slippery, so
to the inside of the turn. Turn eight is
also pretty bumpy, and turn 11 makes the suspension really work if
the inside, which is where you need to be, and carrying speed. Turn three is not great either, but you’re
going through there pretty slow, so it isn’t that big a deal. But, assuming your suspension is set up, it’s
just part of the game.
What made it even a better track day was that by mid day there were even fewer people and NESBA made it open track, with Intermediate rules. So basically you could go on and off when you wanted. The end result was that I got a couple half hour sessions in, and I ended up with nearly 140 miles of track time for the day even though we finished the day at … and I even started packing up earlier than that. It is funny though, that just as I started packing up the sun came out and it got warmer. I was really tempted to go out for one more session, but figured I’d quite while I was ahead.
On the way home I caught up to that severe storm front and got poured on for the last 100 miles or so. I got home, put the dripping trailer in the garage, with the bike still on it, and went in, where I had some food, talked to the relatives who were there fore Easter dinner, and promply fell asleep at .
Grattan is definitely the best track I’ve been to so far. I’m really thinking about signing up with SportbikeTrackTime just to get some more time there. We’ll see.
If you do track days, you have to do Grattan… at least once.