Summit Point Final Round for 2011
Written by Cowboy6 Sunday, 04 September 2011 00:00
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AUG 26-28 2011 Summit Point Raceway, WV

This weekend was a big one for the team. It would not only be a weekend with some new faces as company, but it was the first weekend back for the Ducati. If you have read the previous reports from this season, you would know that we have been having more than our fair share of issues and problems with the newest addition to the paddock and what was supposed to be the superstar performer of the team, the Ducati 1000SS. On top of it all, I had been hard at work on a sermon that I was eager to deliver on Sunday.

We had two wonderful young ladies join us this weekend. They were Caitlin and Theresa. These are friends of Cecilia from Grace Fellowship Church in Tunkhannock, PA. Denise did not know these girls very well and I had never even met them. But, this weekend would change all that.

Denise, Cecilia and I arrived at the track around 2000 hrs Thursday evening. There was just enough daylight to get power and set up the RV and basic pit area. I went over and met with Rick Beggs of R&R Cycles to let him know we were there and to get the lowdown on the race school and track day. We were all pretty tired and with the pits a virtual ghost town, we hit the hay.

Friday AM arrived and at 0600, Denise was already over at the pavilion setting up breakfast for the MARRC corner-working crew. There was a bit of an issue with the grill and coffee, so after getting a phone call, I went to help her out. A few minutes later, the grill was warming up, the brand new coffee pot was diagnosed as broken and Simon had arrived to dig out the old pot and get it going.

The rider’s meeting was followed by a ton of bikes coming in for tech inspection. Most of the time, this is just a formality but I found a few problems that morning including a set of brake pads that were to the metal. After tech, I went over to get my bike squared away. I had planned on running only the Ducati this day. With all the problems this season, I really only had a limited amount of seat time on this bike. So, I would get some today. With the SV solid again having the “junkyard dog” between the frame rails, I was determined to either get the Ducati tamed or crash it in the process. If I did go down, I would have the trusty SV to run all of my races for the weekend.

So, out I went, albeit on month old tires with a few heat cycles in them. I had missed the first session due to working tech but then I went out as a control rider for the beginner group. With the racer practice coming next, I just hung out in the cold pit lane and went right out again. The first session was not too bad. I had the bike to 1:24’s the first time out. The bike felt solid and I now had a baseline. Jake had now arrived with Theresa and Caitlin. We said our hellos, and had introductions but it was back to work for now. For several reasons, I decided to bag the beginner group (there were a ton of CRs out there anyway) and just work on sorting out the Duc. This worked well as I eventually had her down to consistent 1:20’s at the end of the day. I knew that with fresh rubber and more time, I could do better but, this did put me in the realm needed to be competitive in Lightweight for the weekend. I was no longer faster on the SV! It may sound simple to you but this was major ground gained! I passed on the last practice session in favor of prepping the bikes for CCS tech. With registration and tech complete, we were ready to start the evening activities.

Friday night was a great one. We, including Theresa and Caitlin, were able to do our walk around and visit just about every pit in the paddock including our sidecar buddies that we only get to see once a year. After an evening spreading encouragement, we decided we were a bit tired and headed for the RV. We all decided to wind down with a movie. Jake had brought one with him so we put it in. Immediately flags went up as the screen was filled with inappropriate images. We had no idea this movie had this in it. Off it went. Cecilia confirmed the inappropriateness via Kids in Mind (something we should have checked first!) and we switched gears to watch Penelope. The girls liked it and honestly, I thought it was pretty cute too. With the movie over, we all called it a night. Cecilia moved to the kitchen table convert-a-bed and Theresa squeezed onto the sofa bed with Caitlin. Jake headed off to the man cave trailer that was more of a walk-in freezer due to the oversized AC unit on the roof.

Saturday morning had arrived. Denise was again up early to prep breakfast for MARRC. As I rolled out of bed, Tori greeted me and I stumbled into the main area of the RV. There I stood looking at three cute little girls all snuggled in covers sleeping away. I felt a strange kind of peace come over me as my eyes teared a bit in recognition of how God has blessed my life. I didn’t have it in me to wake them yet so I just went outside to get things in order.

For first practice I took out the SV. I hadn’t been on it yet and I wanted to get a warm and fuzzy after the engine swap before the first race. Then, it started raining! The forecast was for sunny skies today but the weather people were wrong again. A quick switch of wheels on the SV and I went out on the rains for the first time this season. This race day would be a pain for everyone as it refused to make up its mind what to do. It would clear up and dry out then two minutes later, pour down rain. After the riders meeting, I did the invocation and Cecilia sang the anthem (better than ever I might add), and the day was in full swing.

For my first race, I ended up going out on the rain tire shod SV only to overheat the rear tire on the second lap. Even with the holeshot, Joey Thomas passed me the second time through T9 and that was it. My rear gave way on the exit of T1 and I knew I would not be able to keep up. A dry line was forming, the rain I had hoped would come again didn’t and there were not enough puddles on the track to keep the tires cool. On lap three, I looked behind me on the front straight and saw no one. I had a very comfortable second place and decided to cool it and just ride it out.

The second race for the day was in more dry conditions so out on the Ducati for the first time, I noticed several bikes still on rains. It had rained on and off a few times between races but I felt the DOTs would do better. Of course, it could rain any second, and my chances would be ruined. As we gridded up, the sky stayed neutral. I waved to Jenny in the tower and made ready. I always have had problems launching the Ducati so I was fully engaged in concentration. As the flag dropped, Joey Thomas leaped ahead of me by a bike length. But he wheelied it just as I hooked up. The Ducati leaped forward and roared past everyone and sped me through T1 in the lead! I couldn’t believe it. With the fuel pressure finally adjusted to a good number, the TPO Parts “BeastR” velocity stacks were finally working correctly. This bike was flying! I must have induced a few stress fractures in my helmet from my grin. The bike was working like a champ as we danced our way around the circuit. With the power that I had on tap, I was completely confident that if I led into a corner, I would lead out too. There would be no power mismatch today! This held true and as I looked back after taking the checkered flag and our Ducati’s first win, I saw no one! It had been a walk away as well! Joey was one of those on rains and without a drop being shed during the race, he didn’t have a chance.

The last race of the day was Ultra Light Superbike. This one proved to be a problem because of the weather. The Ducati is ineligible for this race so we had to keep swapping tires back and forth as the weather changed. We ended up with the rains within minutes of the start. Then, it started to pour! Excellent! Not only do I love to race in the rain, but, this surely eliminated any sort of tire question. So, out I went on the rain shod SV. When the flag dropped, so did the hammer. The SV launched with authority and left all in the puddles as we entered T1. As I headed down the front straight to complete lap one, Chaplain Ray Rizzo was at the wall with his arms spread indicating a sizable lead. The second time around was a repeat. The third time, Ray did nothing. I was wondering if the lead ran him out of arm length or if he did not want to discourage me by telling me there was someone on my tail. After the race, it was the former that held true. It was another walk-away win with the entire front straight plus, separating me from second place.

So our day of racing ended with a second and two wins. Not a bad day at work I say. I was very pleased at the Ducati win though. We all have worked so hard trying to bring this bike together. It had all started with a bare frame on a December morning, now, here we were, overcoming all adversity and challenge, to stand on the top box with a win!

Saturday evening it rained on and off and kept everything pretty wet. That did not dampen spirits as this was the first annual August Birthday Bash! Lucy Wesson, of Vondari Racing fame, discovered that there were a very large number of our group of buddies that had birthdays in August. Cecilia and Jake being among them, they were co-guests of honor. We had the cake stored in our RV and Danny Ronca provided dinner via NY Sicilian pizza (to die for BTW). So we all crowded under canopies and dodged raindrops to celebrate the birth of some awesome people.

With the party dying down and the rain not, we retired again to the RV to wind down with a movie. This time it was “The Last Sin Eater.” This is a favorite of mine with an awesome but sometimes subtle story line. After the movie we again retired to our sleeping quarters to regenerate for the day to come. God had answered my prayers with my being given the nod to do chapel service in the morning. I was stoked! Two wins, ok, but now this! We have been praying about our ministry all season and I finally felt I had an answer. This is the reason we are here, to bring the love of Christ to our fellow racers and families. To share His word on Sunday morning with those who would not get to church that day or maybe would not have even gone otherwise. I could barely fall asleep.

Sunday AM was finally here. I again, melted at the sight of the three girls sleeping innocently and at peace in the RV. Denise was out making breakfast, and I had only to help out anyone who needed it and do final prep for my sermon. We had made arrangements to use the classroom for chapel service as the grass area to the Apple Chapel was very wet from the weather, and I needed to bring the Ducati into the service as part of the message. Besides, a bunch of non-racing side car folks had turned the chapel into their own personal campground and would need chasing off to use the facility. I spent the morning working on the finishing touches to the sermon and getting everything organized in the new “chapel.” I had also invited a few people to the service that normally do not attend. After the riders meeting, we headed over to start. To my immense pleasure and glory to Him, two of the special invitees came! I was overwhelmed with joy. It was so good to see them sitting there. Now, I thought to myself, “just don’t mess this up.” I prayed right there again that God would let me speak His message in a clear and flawless manner. It worked out wonderfully. My message was about Charles Spurgeon’s “Wordless Book” that I had turned into the “Wordless Bike.” The original wordless book was only three colors, black, red, and white. These, of course, are our team colors. Team colors that, hopefully, will strike a memory chord with everyone there the next time they see our bikes etc. After hitting my 10 minute mark on the nose, I had indeed done what was needed. I had discussed that black stood for our sin, red for the blood of Christ that washes away our sin, and pure white that represents our sanctified state as a result of His sacrifice. I also shared other passages from Romans and John reiterating the fact that we are indeed all sinners and the wages of sin is death. That the only redemption available is through Jesus on the cross and the best thing of all was that this gift is free for the taking. The team all felt I did a good job as did many who came to me after the service with hugs and encouragement. I only hope that He was pleased with his servant’s work this day.

With chapel complete, I delivered Sunday’s invocation and Cecilia repeated an excellent anthem performance. Now we were ready to pack up and watch a little racing to cheer on our buddies After this, we had to leave a bit early. I had work to complete by midnight for school and we still had a long drive home. Besides the girls were getting calls from parents worried about Hurricane Irene and all. We felt it was just best to get a move on. We of course, stopped by our favorite Chinese Buffet on the way home where I treated all to a filling dinner for their hard work over the weekend. Theresa and Caitlin had truly grown on all of us these past three days. They are two awesome girls who are a joy to be around. I feel like I gained two more daughters, and Cecilia two new sisters. They were and are truly a blessing.

The entire drive home, I was basking in the brilliance of God. I could not believe what He had done this weekend. The team had arrived Thursday with nothing but apprehension and anticipation. We were now leaving with a spiritual recharge, a re-focus for our efforts, new and stronger friendships and some race wins to boot!

VIR is just around the corner. Stay tuned for more!

We have plenty of on and off track work to do for Him!

………….Joe (Cowboy 6) Cotterino

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 23:50

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