Barber: First for Us!
Written by Cowboy6 Monday, 24 August 2009 00:00
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Barber: First for Us!

AUG 15-16 2009 Barber Motorsports Park - Leeds, AL

The saga continues this weekend. We arrived at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday evening both tired and anxious. It was a long trip and we had also just learned that pets were not allowed. We had our dog, Tori, with us and taking her home was not an option.
As the Lord takes care of all things, it ended up that Barber was not enforcing the pet rule and in fact, my wife, Denise, and Tori were treated to a ride to the dog “business area” in a Barber security vehicle!

Getting a ride in the security vehicle.

Girls that aren't afraid to get dirty are COOL!

I was truly amazed at the roller coaster-esque layout of the track. It was awesome. I had watched on-board video of the circuit to learn it but the elevation changes were not apparent at all. The owner of the track has spent a huge sum of money on this facility. It was beautiful. From manicured lawns and great track surface to the art and sculpture that adorned the entire area, it was a visual masterpiece. Well, a masterpiece in a furnace anyway! It was really hot there!

I was able to complete registration Friday on arrival so that helped with the stress in the AM. After finishing tech on Saturday morning, I was eager to try the track. What a surprise that was! Not only was I amazed at the elevation changes but I was also taken aback by the sheer severity of some of the corners. Downhill decreasing radius turns that slow you to what seems to be a turtle’s pace. Then off you go, grunting up a hill over a blind crest as fast as your bike will take you; all the while trusting that you will have running room on the other side. I was working very hard to learn this track as most of my competition had been to Barber at least once before and some were at the Friday practice, riding all day. I was doing well getting down to 1:41’s by the end of the third and last practice session. But, the bike was acting up, not wanting to start due to all the water in the cylinders. It felt down on power as well but I resolved to just deal with it and race on.

The first race of the weekend for me was Lightweight Superbike. I started at the front of my grid, in the second wave with the F40 boys on 600s in front of us. As the flag twitched, I launched hard trying to beat Mark Evry and his Ducati 1000 to the first turn. I hit second gear then third and fourth. I could hear Mark on my left and another SV on my right as I rolled off the throttle for T1. I turned in and gassed it, rocketing downward into a small valley in the track then up the other side into T2. I did it! I pulled the hole-shot! This may be a good weekend after all! I hugged the sweeping arc of T2 tight enough to force anyone close to me to use the outside and go around the long way. As I got on the gas as early as possible on the exit, the bike squirmed in protest but held true as all available power was focused on that small patch of rubber at the rear wheel. I climbed up the next hill aiming for the apex at the top, holding the throttle wide open as I crested. The front went light but stayed in contact with the track as I drifted wide at the exit to take advantage of my speed. Next came the down-hill braking zone into what seemed like a dead stop 180 left turn than changes into an uphill mid-corner. I took this one to the best of my ability and came out under full throttle, still in the lead. In my head now I was thinking that I wanted as much space between whomever was in second and myself. I knew we would be catching up to the F40 guys soon (we always do) and they would be getting in the way, slowing me down and allowing others to catch up. Then I was into a funky right hand turn near the museum (more on that later) that you need to stay left on exit of the first part. I stayed right too long! Oh no! Here I go again (did this in practice once). The track cut left just over a little crest in front of me. No more asphalt just grass and a huge curb at the end. I stood on the pegs and did my best Bob Hannah impression as I bounced across the grass, over the curb and back onto the track all the while watching Mark Evry pass in front of me on the power! Mark looked back to see if I stayed up, gave me a thumbs up, and sped off. I followed the best I could but I had some space to gain back now. As I headed to the next turn, I saw the first of the dreaded 600 slow guys. I sped through the first slight chicane then the second. I saw Mark get by this back marker from the first wave but I was not close enough to follow. So I became lodged behind this guy for a few turns. Then passed him into the last turn but as we came out of it and headed down the front straight. But then, as always with the 600’s, the guy wicks it up and leaves me behind. Now, into T1, out comes the anchor and I almost hit him as he killed my drive to T2. This went on for most of the second lap until we reached the spot where Mark passed him on lap one. I shot by and was finally clear to resume my chase of Mark’s Ducati. As things were, Mark was now too far ahead to catch and I had to settle for second.

The next race up was LWF40. Now my problems begin. The bike didn’t want to start. After working it very, very hard, it finally lit off but was running poorly. It stalled twice on my way to pit out. At the end of the warm-up lap, I pulled up to my grid position next to Eric Helmbach and he looked at my bike with a strange look on his face. He could hear that it didn’t sound right. I kept a little throttle on it to keep it running and as the flag dropped, it hiccoughed and Eric sped away with me now behind. By T2, the bike was running really bad. T4 brought a strange noise and a reduction in power. I pulled over and everyone sped by me. I knew I needed to make it passed the timing tower just once to get my points so I pressed on. The power came back a little bit but as I made my way down the front straight to finish lap one I could tell I was done. I went into turn one figuring on pulling in this time around but as I throttled on to T2, there was a bang and smoke poured from my exhaust. I pulled over and off the track to wait for the truck.

Back in the pits, my pit partner for the weekend, Leonard Roy, offered to let me take his bike out for LW GP as he was done for the day. I eagerly accepted and made myself ready. He went over a few particulars about the bike and as I left the pits, I assured him I wouldn’t wreck his ride.

Checking my grid position with Leonard.

Getting Leonard's bike ready.

As the race started, I found myself third through T1. I squeaked by Mark Evry in T2 for second place but he got me again on the next lap as he took the last turn better than I did and beat me to T1. I settled in to chase him down again but as I started up one of those hills, with a good bit of right side lean, the front end of Leonard’s bike disappeared and my body followed. My right arm was trapped under the corner of the fuel tank as the bike and I slid across the asphalt. Once we hit the dirt, we separated and I went head over heels more than a few times, slamming into the ground with each gyration. As I was flipping, all I could think about was my last words to Leonard: “Don’t worry, I won’t crash your bike.” The bike stopped before I did and I was a bit slow getting up. I went over to the corner station to wait. After the race finished, the track crew came with the truck and ambulance. With my arm trapped under the bike during the slide, I had ground clean through the leather on my right forearm and into my flesh. There was a nasty road rash that needed to be looked at. Of course, I was worried about Leonard’s bike. The bike and I both arrived at our pit about the same time. My brow was furrowed as I watched Leonard look it over to assess the damage. I felt really bad about it but I was helpless to change the events that had just transpired to bring us to this point. To my surprise, he was in fairly good spirits. I have known Leonard for a few years now but we had never pitted together thus we have not really spent a lot of time getting to know each other. Well, that certainly changed this weekend! There is a certain bond created when you crash another man’s motorcycle. It somewhat resembles voluntary servitude. I struggled for things to do to help Leonard get his bike back together and ready for Sunday. I dug up some parts from my trailer to use in the repairs, cleaned this and that, etc. All the while, Leonard kept telling me to take care of my arm. It must have been comical to an onlooker. Once we had his bike back in working order, Kathy Lomaskin (secret nurse skills) returned and we asked her to look at my arm. Using Leonard’s (again) first aide kit, Kathy patched me up for the night.

Right then and there I prayed. I thanked God for allowing me to escape without serious injury. I thanked him for Leonard, my family, Kathy and everything and everyone He had put in place that weekend. It could have gone really bad.

They are coming for ME !!

That evening, I set out to scrounge a one lap ride to secure my points in LW40 Sunday. There were only two of us entered so one lap would give me second place points. I was woefully unsuccessful and had resolved to race prepping my KLX250S (street-legal dirt bike) to use for the one lap. Then, Alan the tech guy asked why I couldn’t find a Buell. Eureka! I had never thought of that. Jordan Richardson was just up the hill. I knew he would hook me up. Off I went. Sure enough, Jordan had a spare Firebolt (from Jerry Reed) in the trailer that I could use. Jordan and Jerry are both great guys. I knew I could count on them. Unfortunately, with the grids that were posted, I would need to stay out for more than the one lap I originally intended. So, I decided to see if Mark Evry’s offer to use his bike(s) still stood. It did. So, I ended up running three of my four Sunday races on Mark’s SV and the fourth found me with the privilege of running the sweet Ducati 1000 DS that I am usually chasing! Mark and his dad were a true blessing to my family and our team. With their help, we managed to execute some damage control and finished the weekend with 4 podium finishes including 3 seconds! Again, special thanks to the Evry family.

On the borrowed Ducati (Thanks Mark)

Being chased.

Now for my favorite part. On the outreach side of things, we had a great weekend. We were able to offer our sleeping quarters to Kathy Lomaskin for the weekend as well as provide her with transportation home. We were able to feed her and Leonard all weekend as well as spend some good time with John, our friendly Barber security guy. John was very encouraged to see Christians involved in the sport and wants us to come speak at his church. We will have to see if we can work that out. Raymond Rizzo provided a very relevant chapel message about evil doers prospering and the questions it puts in our minds. Ray asked and I gratefully provided the closing prayer. No one was really hurt in any of the crashing this weekend and no one was hospitalized. That is great news in itself!

Cecilia was able to provide her charming vocals for the National Anthem on both days. And we were blessed with John Dodson’s daughter Katie for the entire trip. She was such a huge help in the pits, we could not have done it without her. Both Cecilia and Katie were noticed by the Barber people and there were comments made as to how hard they worked and what great attitudes they had. One older gentleman stated that he had to re-visit his opinion of today’s young people after seeing them in action. He was beside himself in admiration. So was I. I could not ask for better people to be part of our team. Our girls proved their mettle amid extreme adversity this weekend. They are truly awesome.

My wife offering up the hospitality!

"Camping" at WalMart in Alabamy! LOL!

We finished off the weekend with a great Chinese buffet near Birmingham and the night was spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot! This made it possible to go back to Barber to visit the museum the next morning before making the 18 hour drive home. The museum was worth it. It was very nice with awesome history throughout. I found my first street only ride, the1986 Honda Interceptor, as well as a few other immaculate examples of bikes I either did or still do own. The collection at this museum is unbelievable. We really enjoyed the really old stuff with bicycle tires as well as the military section full of side cars with MG34 machineguns installed! Chances are, if you had or have a motorcycle, there is an example in this museum somewhere. It was well worth the trip.

Me with the 500 Interceptor.

A special thanks to Kathy Lomaskin ( ) for the photography.

We are going back to Summit Point for the weekend of 29-30 AUG. Due to the engine failure at Barber, I will be switching back to Danny Riter’s stock loaner. Keep us in your prayers.
……………..Joe ”Cowboy 6” Cotterino

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 00:18