Round 6 NJMP Lightning
Written by Cowboy6 Monday, 12 July 2010 00:00
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New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) Lightning Circuit

JUNE 25-27 2010 NJMP (Lightning) – Milleville, NJ

OK, back to NJMP but this time we would grace the Lightning Circuit. We had been here once before during the 2009 season. I had done pretty well so we were looking forward to a good showing, plus, I was doing Chapel service this weekend which always has me in a good mood.

The trip down to the track went a little better than earlier this year but the tolls still stung! We arrived Thursday evening a little behind schedule but not too bad. I would not be running the Friday practice day in order to save some money, so we had all morning to get things in order. After much searching, we finally found our pit spot just across the road from Dale Heck (Continental Dealer) and began to settle in. The Lord knew what He was doing when he led us to our spot and the rest of the weekend would show us why.

Friday morning was upon us. As we set up shop, we invited Dale and a few others over for breakfast. Denise got busy cooking and because Cecilia doesn’t work track days, she was able to help me set up. I had a few items on the agenda to get things ready for Saturday. Having found the paper shop towel in the A bike tank, we had a few final adjustments to make to that bike and the B bike wasn’t touched at all. Once the A bike was done, we had decided to put some better cam shafts into the B bike. We did just that. Very carefully, we changed out all four cams then proceeded to install the race alternator and lightened flywheel. Dale would come over intermittently to help out as he was a bit slow that day. I contemplated tossing in the slipper clutch but decided against it in the end. Once the bike fired, we felt better and were set for Saturday.

Saturday rolled in and we got the bikes ready for practice. The first out was the B bike. I wanted to test out the “new” engine with the mods we did Friday. She ran great. Big smiles here! Now for a practice session on the A bike. I was very eager to feel the bike pull the entire straight without bogging down from lack of fuel. I went out and on the warm-up lap, it ran perfectly! With a huge grin stressing the sides of my helmet, I roared down the front straight to start a hot lap. I tipped the bike into T1 and rolled on the throttle. The front wheel went airborne just the right amount and settled back down as I shifted to 5th. Into another right hander, T2 then making a third right through T3. Everything was feeling great. On the exit of T3 I quickly shifted my body to the left in anticipation of the quick switchback that was coming. As I pushed on the left bar to initiate the turn, the bike started to lean with me already hanging off the seat. I was already in the throttle as the lean angle increased with my approach to the apex. All of a sudden, I was airborne. Flying through the air in shock, I tucked in my arms and prepared for the imminent impact. Oh, did it come! I slammed into the ground and started sliding off the track rolling and bouncing with my head taking a good shot. The bike followed, punching me in the back and who knows where else. I came to rest in a slight daze and hurting already. I ran over to the bike to hit the kill switch then moved behind the wall to watch the rest of practice and to notice that a yellow flag wasn’t even thrown as a result of my high-side crash.

As it turns out, the output shaft seal had decided to stop working and oil had leaked by and wetted the left side of my rear tire for me. Eric Helmbach was behind me for the entire ordeal and he said I scared the poop out of him and he barely missed hitting me himself. Thanks for the skills Eric! He had seen a little smoke from my bike coming down the front straight but could not catch up to tell me in time.

After a trip to the medical center and a thorough looking over by some very nice med ladies, I was released. Dale had stopped by to check on me and with my leg hurting really bad, I had asked him to push my bike back to the pit for me. I gimped my way back to our pit and we started to assess the cause and the damage. Dale immediately offered to start taking the bike apart and made himself an oily mess in the process. Once we found the faulty seal, he immediately moved off to try to locate one for us. No luck. I still had races that day so we had to turn our efforts to the B bike which was now, again, the only bike.

My first race for the weekend was GTL. I was in a lot of pain and my leg had swollen to epic proportions over the last hour or two. I was pumped up on ibuprofen and lying in the middle of my pit with my leg elevated and iced. Once the calls for my race started, I pushed my leg into my leathers and slid a chemical ice pack between them and my leg. This would have to do. I headed out for the warm-up lap in pain but functional. As we lined up for the start, Mark Evry looked over at me. I gave him the thumbs up and he did the same, shaking his head. As the green flag dropped, I had a perfect launch, wheel about 6-8 inches in the air, throttle pinned with perfect shifting through 4th gear into T1. As I tipped it in, I realized I had pulled the holeshot! As the race progressed, my weakness in lefts and in T4 kept me off the pace. But worse than that, the bike started running funny. It became so bad that after 5 laps, I came in because I was concerned with doing engine damage. We worked quickly to try to find the problem. I replaced plugs and started swapping the coils from the A bike as a precaution. Then Brad Fass came over and started telling stories about things that went wrong with his bike. I thought he was just being a bugger to I told him to “shut up and go away” (with a smile of course). But while we were working I got to thinking. One of the things Brad mentioned was the pole switch added to the ignition. I remembered mine had been feeling a bit funny. I checked it and viola, it was broken inside. Some quick bypass surgery and we were putting the bike back together ready to go out for the Ultra-light Superbike race. This was good because the pain was getting a bit out of hand.

In the interim, Lynn Castiglia (Eric Helmbach’s sister) brought us a neat little ice bag thing that I could fill with ice and tie to my leg. It was really neat and worked pretty well. Thanks Lynn!

Ultra-light Superbike started the same as GTL. I was thrilled to pull the holeshot again but my problems in T3-T4 allowed Eric Helmbach to get by. I was determined to hang in there but my leg not bending kept me out of position for left turns. I did manage to hold on to fourth. Not bad considering!

Finally, Saturday was complete and I could settle down. I contacted Ray Rizzo to secure the golf cart so I could ride around and visit people that evening but the cart had to be back by 1800. Well, it was already 1745 so nix on that one. I honestly felt too bad and hurt too much to be walking around so I wimped out and stayed in the RV with my leg iced and elevated for the evening.

Sunday morning broke with continued sweltering heat. Did I mention before it was really hot this weekend? Well, it was really hot! Wincing I suited up for practice and went out. The bike was still running well so I was indeed pleased with the lack of mechanical issues. But, my day was made by the arrival of a dear friend of ours, Kevin Eng. Kevin is the guy who supplied me with my first SV. He is a great Christian man, just married a year ago to a sweet Christian lady. We have done a lot together but our schedules have kept us apart for a long time. It was awesome to see and hug him again!

Now down to business. Chapel service was in my hands this weekend and I had what I felt to be a great little sermon worked out. So, I hobbled over to Ray in the golf cart and off we went. Due to a very low turnout in general and that it was NJ, we did have a fairly low turnout for chapel. There were about 12 people there so at least we weren’t alone! We prayed and I did my part. We prayed some more and everyone departed encouraged. I have a feeling the Lord is trying to get through to me about something but I am unsure what it is. With all of the crashing so far this season, He has been breaking me and my bikes all year! I am a bit thick headed so I have to pray about this more and see if I can get His message.

After chapel was over, I only had to worry about the Lightweight Superbike race. Keeping my leg on ice, and having Kevin in the pit to help out, everything went fine. At the start of the race, I waved to Cecilia in the tower as usual, waited for the green flag to move and off I went. The Lord graced me with my third consecutive holeshot! No one was going to beat me to turn one this weekend! On the final turn of the first lap, Mark Evry and his revitalized 1080cc Ducati, motored by me and on down the straight. My weakness in some of the turns, and his power, teamed up to give him a good margin over me as the laps piled up. But, the good news is, I held my ground otherwise. I had managed a second place finish against all odds!

This weekend had not been without it’s moments. Our little team had encountered adversity on so many different levels with so many different issues. Yet, we all were smiling, and we were able to strengthen friendships and build new trust through it all. My wife was diligent to point out that it was very hard for me to stand back and let Dale work on my bike. I am used to doing all this stuff myself and have never trusted anyone else to do this type of work. It was something that I had to deal with. With my leg sporting a swelled area that puffed off my shin to the proportion of a softball, there was no way I could do it. I had to get off my feet and add ice and elevation. I could not do it myself. The same goes for our salvation. We need Jesus gift at Calvary because we can’t pay the price for our sins on our own. Praise be to Him for loving us that much.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this. I hope you found it entertaining and encouraging.

We are heading to the Summit Point Circuit for the holiday weekend of 2-4 July.

Keep us in your prayers.

……………..Joe ”Cowboy 6” Cotterino

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 00:07