National Motorcycle Racer -

AMA Superbike
Round 1

Daytona Beach FL


Series: AMA Superbike

Date: March 9th - 12th

Classes raced and results
Lockhart Phillips
USA Formula Xtreme - 31st

There I was sipping a cup of sugary tea in one of the teams' favourite Chinese restaurants in Daytona Beach, when I suddenly came to realize that a new racing season was upon me. With all the testing, writing, riding and training I did this past winter, it really didn't seem as though the 2004 season had ever ended. However, once the jokes started between the team members (same ones as last year), and the stories of racing glory and gore began (again the same old ones), I suddenly realized how much I had missed the team over the last few months.

As is always the case, I need to thank everyone that played a part in our trip to Daytona, and also need to specifically thank some key individuals. A tremendous thanks to the Meyers family for their amazing hospitality and support. It's simply impossible to put in words just how wonderful this family is and how much we appreciate them. Also, I need to thank Dan and the entire team for all they do. I consider myself very fortunate to be riding for the team I do. Dan, Joyce, Dale, Arnie, Shawn, Jeff, Brad and Cindy - you guys are the best. Thank you. And last, but certainly not least, I need to thank my wife, daughter, and family for believing in me.

When Dan Zlock received word of the new rules for the Daytona 200 incorporating Formula Extreme 600cc bikes and rules for the most prestigious and historic race in America, he gave me a call. Basically, he told me he wanted to run an '04 Kawasaki ZX6RR as he felt they could make a competitive machine for the race starting with that platform, and so it began. Several months later, after dealing with countless man hours, sleepless nights, phone calls, and every other conceivable logistic, the team was ready for Daytona. All that was left for them was a fifty-seven hour drive from the team's headquarters in Washington to the Florida racetrack. They manage to accomplish the long drive with generous amounts of RedBull and chocolate covered coffee beans. Who said being the rider was unhealthy.

Besides the new rules already mentioned, 2005 Daytona 200 was also going to be run using a completely new infield course (see image below) freshly laid by the Daytona management. The new layout was created to reduce the dangers Daytona presented to motorcycle riders by eliminating NASCAR turns one and two which are banked very high speed turns that produced enormous heat generating loads on the tires. (sometimes catastrophic). What this meant for us was a completely new track to learn as quickly as possible.

Notes on practice
With the weather looking threatening the team set me out on the bike for the first time. My objectives from Dan were clear: get a look at the track and get a plan for the new layout, while making sure the bike was operating and running correctly. I set out and got my first look at the new layout, but unfortunately the quick shifter wasn't operating correctly and the brakes were giving inconsistent lever feel so I came after only three laps to enable the team to get everything up and running. With the shifter now fixed and although the brake system issue wasn't completely solved, I went out for a few more laps at the end of the practice session. As is almost always the case Dan and the team had built a rocket ship of a bike, with this one being the fastest 600 I had ever ridden, something that is essential to a successful race at Daytona. As Dan says about Daytona, you need to gear tall, jet rich, and bring power. I wasn't able to put in any laps for the rest of Wednesday as it started to rain bringing a halt to our session., and it continued to rain causing the AMA to shut down the track for the remainder of the day.

Notes on qualifying
Even though we had only spun fifteen laps on the track due to the rain and the nagging issues with the brakes, I felt really confident that I could put something together for qualifying. Once out on the track with a fresh set of Pirelli slicks mounted up, I began to explore deeper entry points and earlier drives while keeping the bike in the right places on the track. Sure enough the times kept dropping taking me to the second fastest time of my group. This was also due to how fast the Zlock ZX6RR was, hitting 171.5 MPH on the banking. Awesome.

Notes on race
Race day came quickly as we spent Friday going over the bike and practicing our pit stops and strategy. Dan planned for a two stop strategy where we would change both tires with fuel each time. In our practices, we managed to get the stops down to twenty seconds, and I felt we were in a good position for the race. I got a mediocre start as the super tall gearing we were running forced me to slip the clutch rather dramatically to get going. For the first lap I played it a little safe as riders were punting themselves off the track making ridiculous moves in almost every corner. From then on I just worked on getting into a rhythm to start putting in good lap times. Unfortunately, I was running about a half second a lap slower than I wanted to. When I worked to push through, it added up to a few "close" moments so I just clicked off the laps as best I could all the while saving as much energy as possible. To give you an idea of how much work a rider goes through in this race, here are some numbers for you to digest: in this race I changed gears over 1,197 times, braked and dealt with braking forces 603 times, and in an effort to be as aerodynamic as possible on the banking, I squatted and hovered over the rear tail-section every lap. Ask me if you need to be in shape for this sport.

Things were going relatively well until our first pit stop when we noticed our transponder had fallen off the bike and we also had a malfunction with the quick change equipment on the front end. Unfortunately this cost us a serious amount of time and I went out in 57th place. Despite this, I just kept on running the laps in an effort to improve on my position. The second stop went much smoother as Dan decided to only change the rear tire and not risk having the front end cost us time again. He had faith that the Pirelli front could make it for two stints. The last session was without a doubt my best. Despite the shagged front, I still managed to put in my best lap times of the race even getting within a few tenths of my qualifying time just four laps from the end. When all was said and done, we had worked our way to 31st place. Certainly not where I wanted to end up, but some days things just aren't going to go your way. Daytona dealt us a little bad luck this year, but I feel good knowing we had the package to do much better. The only thing left to do is to go again next year. Stay tuned.


Please click on images to enlarge

The tunnel

Here we are!

The start finish

Pit lane

[photo: Colin Fraser]

[photo: Colin Fraser]

Dale Zlock & I
[photo: Cindy Gua]

[photo: Cindy Gua]

The start
[photo: Cindy Gua]

Daytona's new layout

All sponsored up!

Our 600

One of my crew Jeff

My crew

My crew

Dan "slaving" on the clutch

Race Reports