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DATE:         5/1/02
REA:           AHRMA Sears Point Sonomafest 2002

Hello all,

It has been another year of NO RACING for me…. AHRMA comes up and I just gotta go race – I have so much FUN! This year’s plan was to go to Sears Point only, riding the Friday practice then racing both Saturday and Sunday on my FT500 in Supermono 1 and Supermono 2.

I of course, procrastinated until the week before the races to even look at my bike so had a BUNCH to do. The poor bike has been sitting since the Willow Springs AHRMA round last year.

I loaded everything up in the van and off I went early Friday morning getting to the track at 7:00 sharp (when the gates open). The clowns at Sears told me to go to the new gate 7 so I did and then waited 15 mins before being told to go up the top of the hill. Once there, I was told to go back down to the bottom and check in. So down I went then was told to go back to gate 1. Once there, I was told to get back to gate 7 once more. Now, I am sometimes a patient man but 45 mins have gone by and as I explained to the guy at the pit, "If I had wanted to be late, I would have gotton up later!"

I told them to get their shit together and to let me in ,, now. The security guy called the track manager and he got there in a flash and told me to "go inside no worries, we are sorry.."

I unload, set up my space, get the bike through tech and out I go. The bike felt REALLY weird. I mean, it used to feel so natural and I never felt anything but comfort but I guess a year of married life has widened the old mid section and I just can’t contort like I used to.

Anyways, We all take off and everyone is going so slow…. I pass about 10 guys before T3 and I get to the top and throw the bike…. On the ground. Wow, THAT was fun! The bike just went away and I slid along like I was sliding into home base. "SAFE!" Not a bit of pain, no nuthin. I was pissed! What a ROOKIE move! DUH! I guess I just forgot that Sears Point is not very grippy at all compared to Willow Springs.. I can go full throttle into T1 on the first lap there..

It took me an hour to sort everything out and repair my bike then I went back out and tried it again. This time, I took it real easy the first several laps. In fact, I took it easy the first couple of track sessions! I was not very comfortable out there and wondered if I was "through" with this racing stuff. Bummer.

Then, last session, something clicked and I all of a sudden turned it up a couple of notches and went reasonable and comparatively fast. THAT felt GOOD!

I packed it all up and went home where I spent a few hours working on the bike, getting things a bit more dialed in. Spooned on new tyres & new brake pads in the front as well.

Saturday got up and it was cold and looked like rain. Never happened though, just big clouds and chilly winds. I got to the track and noticed oil leaking out of my van big time – at the oil filter. Looked like the thing was loose so I tightened up the thing a bit and went about the business of getting ready.

Morning practices went very well and the new tyres and brake pads inspired renewed confidence as well. I felt like a racer again!

My first race is Supermono 2 and there are none of the usual suspects lined up so I have no idea how any of them ride. We get ready and the flag goes sideways. I rev the motor and wait for the green flag…… down it goes and up my front wheel goes. Must have been the worst start of my entire racing career. Again, I am now feeling like a rookie like yesterday. DUH!

I recover gracefully and am around everyone in my class by exit of T1. I get around the guys in the first group (another production class that started same wave but 25 yards ahead) entering T3. I stay by myself for a couple of laps then a guy comes around me exiting The Carousel and I give chase. Max and I had quite the duel for the remainder of the race, dicing and swapping leads several times per lap. I figured out his weak points pretty quick (T1, T3 & T10) so planned my strategy for the last lap.

Everything worked perfectly and I went around him exiting the S’s so got the inside of T10 with a head of steam he could not answer to. I got into T11 first and exited in the lead and held him off to the checkers no worries.

One year off and a race win first go!

Later in the day, I lined up for the Supermono 1 race and felt hopelessly out gunned by the bikes out there. I really don’t mind – it is still good clean fun and I have never come in last and have even won this class a few times. I cruised around by myself between the purpose built machines and the other production bikes like mine netting 7th.

On the way home, I noticed that there was a huge cloud of smoke that my van was making. I figured it was just the oil burning of that had leaked on the way to the track but it didn’t get any better so after 5 mins I pulled over to discover that the oil drip had turned info a small stream. I got out a wrench and gave it another 8th of a turn then started her up again only to this time discover a regular stream of oil that within 20 seconds made a puddle 3 feet across! ARGH!

Lucky for me, there is a gas station a half mile away so I go buy 10 qts of oil and run back to the van. It is nearly 7:00pm and the sun is setting, the wind is picking up. I am tired and cold…. I take the filter and filter adapter off, clean everything up real well with carb cleaner then get out some TiteBond. After reassembling everything, I wait 15 mins top off the oil and off I go. Mostly fixed it turns out – I went straight to a spray cleaner place and steamed off the bottom of the van. Sunday, I notice a slow drip when I am warming her up but figure I can make a good repair after the weekend is done.

I really wanted to bring my Ducati for the show and am bummed that I didn’t have the energy / time to make that happen with the van troubles sat night…. 

At the track, I put on a new front tire and get ready to go. Practice sessions are much faster than the previous days race time and I am feeling good.

Supermono 2 race is up and at the flag I am determined for do my usual stellar start (my previous starts have usually put into the lead into T1) – I have been thinking about it all morning… The flag drops and off we go. This time, I clearly get what I am used to and lead the troops into T1. I came up on the leader of the first group really hot into T2 and about T-bone him - drats! Now I think I have blown the race as I had to hit the brakes entering the corner and see myself sliding into home base once more!

Anyways, I don’t see anyone come up and get around the guy smoothly exiting T2. I nailed 3 perfectly and put my head down for the remainder of the course. T11 is a sharp 180 turn so I can clearly see who is behind and how far back they are… Much to my delight, I am exiting as the guys chasing are slowing for their entrance.

I stayed out front unchallenged the remainder of the race and took the checkers all by myself much to the delight of not only myself, but my father, brother, his kids and my wife who had been watching from the new T2 bleachers.

Supermono 1 was next and well, I could have cared less at the time. I did go out and have fun but my heart wasn’t into it so I just cruised around enjoying myself. I think I finished 6 or 7th again…

This year’s races are more than likely over for me. Not planning on going to Willow Springs this year.. It was just too damn boring for me last year even though I won in both Supermono 1 and 2 there. I would be interested in some endurance races if a team needs another qualified rider (hint hint).

I will more than likely be back to Sears Point next year but am planning on doing more road riding on my NCR Ducati and touring on my new FJ 1200 with my wife.

Oh what FUN it is to RIDE…. Until next time, CYA L8R!!!

THE FROGMAN'S 2002 "outta retirement again" SPONSORS:

AVON Racing Tyres            GALFER Braking Systems
MOTUL Lubricants
WORKS PERFORMANCE         PRO * LAP Race Leathers