National Motorcycle Racer -

Date: July 9 - 11
Location: Laguna Seca

Classes raced and results

AMA Formula Xtreme - 16th

It's Sunday, 10:30 p.m., and we're in the Zlock Racing truck driving north on I-Five, returning from the Laguna Seca leg of the 11-round American Motorcyclist Association's Superbike championship series. The thermometer is reading a desert-like 90F and there is still an unbelievable amount of traffic on the freeway. But, it seems that it's times like this that I can best compose my thoughts on the events of the completed race weekend.

Before I can share those thoughts, though, I need to begin by thanking specific people for their amazing efforts and support. Particularly Dan, Joyce, Arnie, Sean and the whole Zlock team for their race craft and keeping the game fun. Also, a huge thank you to CLS West and Megson Fitzpatrick for their invaluable support towards this specific event and our race season. I must thank Mark, Jeff, Jerry, Kevin, Moose and Josh at Pirelli for coming through in a big way. To all the fans at Laguna who took the time to come by the pits to talk, and to my own personal cheering section at "Camp Chug-a-Lug" on the exit of turn nine, thank-you all; that was great. Craig, Hank, Karin, Peter, Louis, Donna and all the gang, your tremendous support is sincerely appreciated. It really meant a lot to have so many of you come by. And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my beautiful wife and daughter for being the best two partners I could ever imagine.

Practise Notes
Practise at an AMA national event used to mean you actually got in quite a bit of actual practise. However, because the AMA shared the July 9-11 Laguna Seca weekend with a round of the World Superbike series, the schedule simply didn't permit this to happen. The result was that we only had one 20- minute practise session before qualifying. That's 20 minutes to get familiar with the track and get up to a speed with the necessary gearing and suspension changes, while getting the package ready for qualifying. Challenging to say the least. We were however able to get a read on the correct gearing along with a subtle geometry adjustment that we felt was the best for the time being.

Qualifying Notes
We had a solid plan for qualifying. Dan was going to have me scoot around for a few laps on some scuffed tires, get up to speed, come in and grab a fresh set of super sticky Pirellis. I went out, got everything going, and came in a few laps later. Unfortunately I waited a little too long to come in because, by the time I made it back out on the track, there were only a few minutes left in the session. Thankfully the tires were warm and I only needed about half a lap before I could push 100 per cent. I knew that I would have only enough time for two flying laps, so I had to make it count. On the out lap I came out of the last corner hot with a solid drive down the straight. Immediately I could feel the new Pirellis were working phenomenally and were giving me the confidence to run deeper into turn two. The bike responded well and I knew I was on a good lap. I threw it into turn three, got a solid drive and blasted out and through turn four. On this lap I was about five bike lengths behind Alex Gobert so I was really trying to keep with him to get a tow and set up a really fast time. Unfortunately it almost ended in tears as we came up and into the corkscrew. Alex suddenly lifted his hand and I had to check up to avoid a collision. Nevertheless, I wasn't going to give up on this lap. I absolutely pinned the little 600 down turn nine (Rainey curve) got a huge slide and set it up for the final two turns. As I passed the start finish I looked at the clock to see how much time was left and realized this was going to be my last lap for a really good qualifying time. I got into turn two well, but totally blew the apex to turn three. I still pushed for the rest of the lap, but the missed apex in turn three combined with a slide/wheelie/goof-up out of the last turn didn't make it my best lap. I was a little disappointed that I didn't put together the lap together I wanted to, but we did qualify rather well ... all things considered.

Race Notes (First Start)
I got a decent start and actually made about seven positions going into turn two; I gambled and went to the outside, passing several riders in the process. From there it became a knock-down, axe-murderer series of laps. Despite the antics I was really relaxed during the whole race, watching for mistakes from the riders in front of me so that I could make opportunistic passes. Nine laps in and the red flag came out signalling a restart with nine to go. It's in this type of situation that you get to see first-hand just how good a guy like Dan Zlock is. Dan had strategized for red flag scenarios and had several different tire combinations ready and waiting with warmers on. When I pulled in he asked me how the bike was working. We talked about it for a minute while the AMA confirmed the number of remaining laps, and made a decision on tires. Everything was happening as though he planned it. How awesome is that?

Race Notes (Second Start)
I totally blew this one even getting swallowed by the row behind me as I entered turn one. Again I gambled, went wide in turn two, and got several positions back despite being pushed wide by a few riders. I really put my head down during the next few laps, got by a few riders and had a really good battle with Ty Howard. On the second to last lap the rear end came around exiting the corkscrew almost sending me over the bars in a highside. By the time I recovered I had lost two positions but I was still on the bike. I was upset that all the effort we had put into this weekend would be somewhat lost with a little slide so I was hellbent on getting my position back.I got by one of the riders quite quickly, however the other had pulled five bike lengths away as we crossed the start/finish for the white flag. This was it. I had to make it happen. I kept the bike absolutely wide open over the crest of one and set myself up for a braking move into turn two. I knew if I rode the traditional line I wasn't going to make it past, so I tried to slide it in underneath on a tighter line. I dropped the 600 all the way down to first and let the slipper clutch do its thing. Sure enough the bike slid right in underneath and I made the pass. From there I just focused on hitting my apexes with solid drives to keep the position to the checkered flag.

As you can probably judge from the tone of this report, we had a lot of fun during the past race weekend. And as I reflect on it further, I realize that it's not the actual riding that makes me love the sport as much as I do. A great deal of it revolves around the people involved and the friends I've made along the way. Here's to more of that!


Please click on image to enlarge

The crew

The crew

Sean, Arnie, me, Dan


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