Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Heavy Hitters In Lightweight

Friday October 23, 2015, 3:39 PM

This being part XIV of a Racer's Final(s) Diary

Two hours prior I nailed down the first half of my goal: the WERA V5 national championship on my Kawasaki EX500.  With the Alabama afternoon waning and my strength flagging, I must attempt to secure the second half: the WERA V6 Lightweight national championship on my Yamaha FZR400.

My hope is that this will prove an easier task than V5.  I have a substantial points lead over the rest of the field, any finish in the top five will wrap it up for me.  There are two motorcycles/riders that I am going to be very hard pressed to keep up with, let alone beat out there.  The first is Scott McKee on his FZR, a very fast combination that I have yet to best in competition.  The second is someone I have not met that others in the paddock are calling a "ringer", by the name of Ted "Cannonball" Cobb, reputedly an instructor for the Schwantz Racing School.  He will be riding Joe Pomeroy's hybrid, some sort of hot-rod Banshee/RZ motor in an Aprilia RS250 chassis (I think).  I do not expect to beat him.  I refuse to crash trying to keep up with either of them when I am so close to completing the "Spencer" (read about "Speculating the Spencer" here).  It feels a lot like now or never.

The problem with racing two different motorcycles, at least for me, is that it splits your attention.  The EX500 stops making power at 9k RPMs, the FZR does not start making power until 10K.  The brake set-up on the EX provides much more feel, but less stopping power than the FZR.  The FZR top speed is near 140 mph, whereas the EX might hit 120 with a good tailwind at Road Atlanta.  The Yamaha is generally four seconds or more faster a lap depending on the track.  I drag toes, knees and footpegs on the FZR, but other than my knee puck slightly skimming the pavement, nothing touches down with the EX.  All of these seemingly insignificant nuances cost time on the track as you adjust from one machine to the the other.  I've said it before, but it's a lot like having two girlfriends and trying to remember which way each one likes to be touched, get it wrong and she just might scratch your eyes out.

The start of the race proves interesting.  The clutch decides to play grabby and I get a huge wheelie that has me shitting my pants wondering if I will throw the championship away by looping it on the line.  I fan the lever and the front wheel drops, then comes back up again.  This time I ride it out, right into the lead.  I'm sure McKee will get his usual slow start and then come charging up, with Cannonball either in front or chasing him.  McKee gets by on the exit of Charlotte's Web and I decide to hang with him for a bit.  It's not easy, that FZR pulls so much harder than mine, despite both of them having the 489 hybrid motor.  And I know Cobb is back there as well.  I'm not worried about him, if he is as experienced as they say, he will be able to make short, safe work of passing me and I will be left alone cruising around in third by myself.  Then all I have to do is relax and not do anything stupid for eight laps and I can be #1 for the second time today.  At least that's what I hoped would happen......

Leading the V6 race, but not for long.

Me, leading McKee and Kurt into Charlotte's Web

Anyone who thinks that vintage racing isn't close and exciting needs their head examined!

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