Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Masters of the Mountains Round 4 (also a WERA National)

This was a pretty cool weekend.  Because it was as shared weekend with a WERA National event, there were not just a bumch more racers, but some were quite high-level.  There were national level amateurs, as well as some AMA pros on the grid. 

Also, the schedule was going to be much different than a normal weekend:  First, it was going to be a double header for WERA, so they'd have a full race schedule on Saturday and do the whole thing all over again on Sunday--but, our club was only sharing the Sunday event and only awarding points for that day's races.  Second, they were combining our classes with theirs, so in some cases, the class structure was a little different than what we were used to.  Most notable, the Middleweight Superstock class was their premier 600cc race (as opposed to our King of the Mountain GTU).  So, this weekend, the long race with all the top riders was going to be the Superstock race and KOM was going to be a normal number of laps and kind of a side-show.

The weekend started out with a Friday track day that was pretty uneventful.  I had a good setup from the last time we ran the Perimeter course configuration, so I really just went out and worked on trying some new racing lines, perfecting old ones, and refining some specific riding techniques I've been working on.  All went well and I was initially planning on racing the next day (Saturday).  However, the weather turned bad, so I decided to skip it and race only on Sunday.  It was weird to have a full day off during a race weekend, but nice, nonetheless.

Sunday.  Race day. 
We got to the track early so we could get set up and ready for practice.  Again, it went well and there was no drama.  I really just wanted to get the brain up to speed, so I'd be ready for my first race of the day, Middleweight Superstock.

Since this was their premier 600cc race, I was really psyched to get out and race with some national level amateurs and pros.  Because of the full racing schedule, we didn't have qualifying, so WERA was using current championship points instead to assign starting grid positions--I was leading the MOM championship, so I got to line up in the 2nd spot (since it was combined, WERA gridded their championship leader in pole position, MOM leader in 2nd, their number 2 in the third position, our number 2 in 4th, so on and so forth).

I got a good start, but the dudes that invest time and money to travel the country to race usually invest time and money in some serious weaponry (read: horsepower), so by the time we got down the long straight and to Turn One, a few people had passed me.  No matter, I picked quite a few people off in the braking zone and settled in behind a small group.  For the first lap, we all started to find out place in the pecking order.  The race leader was going quite well and began to check out.  I passed a couple more people over the next couple laps and worked my way into a small group of three trying to chase down the leader.  The Canadian, Royce Mclean, that's been racing with us over the past few rounds was in the group, so it was good to see someone I recognized and had experience racing with.  As it became apparent that we weren't going to reel in the guy out front, we started to have some battles amongst ourselves.  It was definitely cool and I had a lot of fun, but part of me was holding back, because I knew these guys had their own championship going on and I was the only full-time racer from my club in the group.  I was in a good spot to extend my lead in my own championship, so I didn't want to get greedy and potentially mess up the WERA guys' race.  For sure, when a opportunity for a pass presented itself, I took it, but I definitely was very "polite" in that race.  I ended up 4th overall, second place of the MOM racers behind Royce Mclean.  Which, I thought was pretty awesome result for a WERA National.

The next race was the 600 Superbike race, which was our King of the Mountain GTU race.  This one was a little anti-climactic.  Scott Decker, Royce, and myself got out front and created a bit of a gap behind us.  It was kind of processional, with no rider really having an advantage to show a wheel and try to make a move.  In the end, Scott won that one, Royce got second, and I got third.  We all finished a couple tenths of a second away from each other.

All in all, it was a really fun weekend.  The racing wasn't entirely special, but it was really cool to have so many racers out there.  And to see some of their race programs was quite impressive--some people show up in huge semi-trucks, extra bikes, banners, mechanics, etc.  It definitely wasn't quite the level of when I did the AMA Pro Supersport race last year, but most of these WERA dudes we're rolling up in rigs about a thousand times more baller than my $700 E350 van.  It definitely put things in perspective for me.  I'm glad I can go out and do OK with my small and simple race program--when we're at the track, we really are just a van, a bike, Carrie, Tarik, and me.  I like it that way and wouldn't change a thing.     

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