Track Day 6: Blackhawk Farms 9/4/2005

Back at Blackhawk Farms.  I actually debated if I was going to do this track day or not. One reason was that my tires have three days on them, Blackhawk isn't particularly easy on tires, and I really wanted to do Autobahn one more time this year.  So, I didn't want to wear out my tires, and have to buy new ones just as the season ended.  But, after the track day the tires still look pretty good, so I think doing Autobahn will not be a problem.  The other reason I seriously considered not going was was that as of Tuesday the week before, my knee was still bothering me.  I still couldn't do deep knee bends without having some discomfort.  In fact I shot an email to the NESBA administrator to see if I could get credit for the day and not have to go, but no dice, I would have lost my money.

Well, the weather for this event was absolutely perfect. Sunny to partly cloudy, yet when the sun came out it still wasn't that hot.  In the morning I was actually able to wear my leathers throughout the rider meetings and not sweat in them.  Actually I had to put them on to stay warm cause I came in just shorts and a T-shirt, and it was probably in the 60's.  Also, got a beautiful parking spot back toward the carrousel, right under a tree, so staying in the shade, when needed, was not a problem.

I got there right about 7:00 am, and by the time I got my self unloaded, registered, and to tech inspection, it was about 7:40.  Had a bit of a glitch in tech inspection because my chain was too loose.  That was kind of strange because I had recently checked it, but the guy let me through with the recommendation that I should tighten it up.  Fair enough.  I got back to the car, took out the tool set, and had the chain adjusted in about 5 minutes.

While waiting for the rider meeting I started looking around.  Next to me were a couple guys that came in a pickup hauling a GSXR750.  They got there after eight, at which point the announcer had said registration was going to close.  I'm still not sure how they got registered.  I ended up talking to them throughout the day.  They were both actually into auto racing, and one of them had the GSXR in the garage so he though he'd like to give NESBA a try.  This was his second track day.  The other guy had that California surfer dude look, figured him to be in his 30's, but actually turned out to be over 50.  Guess he'd raced some pretty nice cars in his time here and Europe.  Pretty cool.  By about the middle of the afternoon was tell us that we're crazy.

Just a bit beyond them I saw a guy with a RC51 so I walked over there to check it out.  I've always wanted to know more about those bikes... I actually considered buying one.  We shot the bull for a while and found that he had lived in Croatia at one point.  Didn't have much of a chance to talk and we never did get into our stories.  He was in Intermediate and had actually crashed the day before, but the bike was still ridable. 

Well 8:30 rolled around it was time for the rider meeting.  The emphasis was definitely on safety, and it was made clear that this was a no tolerance weekend.  No rules broken.  Anyone breaks a rule and they're going home. They had send some people home Saturday. I guess there had been just a few too many incidences at the track and the owners were staring to put the squeeze on to minimize occurrences.  Overall I guess Saturday was a pretty good day and they wanted Sunday to be the same.  Also did my usual sit through the Beginners meeting and the bikes started hitting the track.  We got out in plenty of time to get ready, and the fun was on.

First session I actually lined up first in line, not that I necessarily wanted to, but I guess people were a bit slow in getting out to the grid.  Well, I've been thinking about making a point of lining up at the start to get myself noticed and possibly get a bump to Intermediate.  So, why not. 

The first CR (control rider) got out in front of me, and I was off.  I followed him around and every now and then he'd look back and give me a thumbs up.  After a couple laps we started catching up to the back of the field and passing people.  It was going great.  The CR I was following had gotten through some of the traffic and now I was up on one of the other CR's.  I came down the straight and pulled next to him to see if he'd wave me by but he wouldn't let me go.  Instead he pointed behind him, indicating for me to stay behind, and I acknowledged and pulled behind him.  It was kind of funny after that, because a few more people tried the same thing and he wouldn't let them by either.  He kept motioning to his tail, indicating he wanted us to follow his line.   That was the end of the fun, cause the pace was slow, and traffic was tight. 

At the end of the session I pulled off to the side to see if any of the CR's would come over and give me some feedback.  One of them did and he had some good things to say and asked me about the pace.  I told him the pace was kind of slow and could he hook up with me next session to evaluate me for a possible bump.  He agreed and we met next session, with him going out behind me.  Well, I got through that session, and we met at the end of it.  He said I looked good, I had the speed, made good passes, but that I need to settle down a bit with the heavy traffic out there.  He said I should hook up with another CR and get some more feedback.

Next session I went out, and the pace was still a little slow.  I caught up to a CR, the same guy that was holding everyone up before, and followed him around a lap or so.  He then waved me by and I was off.  After the session I pulled over to the side and the guy came up to me, said I looked good and he thought I was ready for a bump up to Intermediate.  I waited for a bit while he went and talked to the CR captain.  He came back and said to hook up with the captain next session for an evaluation. 

Next session rolled around and by the time I got myself out to the grid everyone was already lined up.  So I just rode up next to the captain.  He asked if I was riding with the guy behind him.  I told him I was suppose to go out with him for an evaluation.  Guess he had forgotten.  Of course, he's a busy guy.  What he said was that it would be him, me, and the guy who had lined up first in the fast line, right next to me.  Good enough, and we were off.  Well, to make a long story short, I followed him for a couple laps with him showing me lines. We lost the other guy half a lap in. He was moving and it was work keeping up with him, except for cases when we got into heavy traffic I stuck with him.  He kept looking back and gave me the occasional thumbs up.  Then he let me go ahead of him for a lap.  Next time we came around he got in front of me again and showed me lines through a couple corners again.  The rest of the time  we were mostly in traffic and before I knew it the session was over.  He pulled off the track first and I pulled up next to him.  He said I looked good out there and he would bump me.  He also said that he tried to show me some lines through a couple corners, just to show me something different, not that there was anything wrong with the lines I was taking.  He told me to look for him after the next session and he'd get my bump taken care of.  Cool.

Well, I missed the next session because I hadn't gotten my "I" sticker, and I didn't want to ride "B" again.  Eventually I got a hold of the captain and he worked with one of the other CR's to get my paperwork arranged and give me my "I" sticker to place on my bike.  Next session I was out with the Intermediates.  Funny thing was that when the captain told one of the other CR's I was ready to get bumped, he told him the last guy he bumped had just wiped out.  That didn't change his mind.  But when I did line up for my first session I lined up at the back of the grid. I wasn't about to have any delusions of grandeur and end up on my bit in a wall of tires.

So, I got to ride two session in Intermediate, and it was great.  I loved the pace, and it turned out I really wasn't the slowest guy on the track.  I also took it easy on the straights so that if people were trying to get by me they had a chance.  Only a few people passed me so I guess I wasn't doing that bad.

The day wasn't without it's trouble, there were actually six red flags before lunch, and then a few more after. Nobody got seriously injured, but after the lunch break we had a special meeting to try to drill in everyone's heads that this wasn't a race; there were no trophies.  In the afternoon some oil got on the track also, so that took a little while to clean up.  All those stoppages kind of threw of the regular schedule, and some people thought that the "B" were getting gypped on track time.  But I think it went fairly well.

Well, I think there's going to be one more track day for me this year and the season is over.  Wow.  Seems like I was just waiting for it to start and here it's ending already.  Anyway, here are some of the better shots from the session.