SEP 24-25 2011 Virginia International Raceway, VA
We set out on Friday morning super early to get a jump on things for the weekend. We made pretty good time and encountered plenty of rain on the way. When we arrived at VIR, we found that it had been raining all day and I did not miss any decent track time. We found our pit spot and set up quickly. We still had time to register and complete tech prior to darkness setting in. We were sitting pretty good for the weekend. With many still not there yet, our visitation rounds were done quickly.
Denise kicked breakfast into full gear as she did not have cornerworkers to cook for this weekend. We set about inviting everyone we came across and the food went fast. I went out for the first round of practice with the track still a little damp. I was not thrilled with the lap times but the day was young. Then, by the time the second round came, it had started to rain. Both bikes were on dry tires so we just had to pass.
After lunch was ASRA Thunderbike qualifying. Lucky for me, it was still raining! Cecilia and Jake had the rains on the SV and gas was topped off. I went out with the hope of doing well. Success was ours today. I had a number in my mind that I had to hit based on the USGPRU qualifying time set just before my session. My goal was to beat it. On the third lap, I did so. Then on the 5th lap, I did even better. I was thrilled with the results and returned to the pit lane for weigh-in and to find that I was on the POLE for the race on Sunda
A few more qualifying sessions and the GT races followed then my first race was up. It had stopped raining and it was time to take the Ducati out for this one. I had an awesome start with the front wheel staying airborne for the first three gears. I went through T1 in fourth place and over the next few laps, pulled into third for the finish. Starting the weekend on the podium is a good thing. I wish I could have done better but it was not to be. My helmet was still being forced down over my eyes in corners. I had the hump reduced by Lizzy Leathers (great workmanship btw) but now it must be something else. The distraction of constantly pushing up on the chin bar with my left hand or with my chin definitely slowed me down. I had also been fighting with the steering damper which wasn’t working. I found that the bracket was actually spinning on the fork leg negating any action by the damper itself. Some creative metal work to include the use of a beer can found in the trash, made it tight again for the day to come.
Saturday was coming to an end but Denise had made an arrangement with our neighbors to have a get-together for dinner. So, we brought food to contribute and empty bellies. We had a great meal with great company then, with darkness setting in as well as fatigue, we called it a night and hit the rack.
Sunday morning found Denise up early cooking again. We had plenty of visitors for breakfast and felt blessed to be able to provide it. We had three races, chapel and the invocation ahead and it would be a busy day. I went out for practice and found the damper working now.
Our first event of the day was chapel. Ray Rizzo did the honors and the turnout was decent considering the number of people at the track this weekend. With chapel complete, Cecilia and I headed for the control building where I delivered the last invocation of the year. While I was speaking, it finally hit me that this was it. We would not get to see most of these people until next year. Sure we can keep in touch via the various social network solutions but they are cold and impersonal. There is nothing like giving someone a genuine warm hug or watching the look on their face when you poke fun at them. No one is going to open their heart and tell you their troubles on the web either. That takes a face to face. We are surely going to be eager for Spring.
After I asked God to protect everyone in the off season, Cecilia proceeded with her last, awesome rendition of our National Anthem. She was followed by the usual applause and we walked back to the pits, holding hands and satisfied with jobs well done.
Now, it was time to put on the game face. The team had worked hard all year up to this point. We had changed out engines, sent the Ducati to Duc Pond Motorsports for repairs, sopped up countless quarts of spewed oil, and much more. It was now time to finish well. I have raised my daughter with a warrior ethos. No matter what we do, we will do it to our best ability. Nothing gets left on the table. It was now my turn to set the example. My results for this weekend would mean nothing for the season. We had 2nd place locked up in all three classes and I was too far behind first to make a challenge. But, regardless, we put forth our best efforts and left nothing on the table.
The first race for us was ASRA Thunderbike that we had qualified on top Saturday. I gridded up against some serious machinery but I was confident I would do well. Other than starting quite well, the race was a bit uneventful. With everything working and finally at race pace on the Ducati, I found a bit of a handling problem. I was not pulling the lap times I should have been but I did finish in a lonely fourth place. I found the bike wallowing at the rear under power on corner exit. A quick check with some folks to confirm my solution and I was busy dialing both a bit more preload and some rebound damping on the rear shock. I was hoping we did the right thing as there was only the next race to figure it out.
Next up was the Lightweight Formula 40 event. With the suspension changes made, I was hopeful for a better result. With the drop of the flag, the Ducati leaped forward and into the lead. I held the lead through T1 and was very happy to feel a reduction in the wallowing. It was not completely gone but it was much better. My lap times were down by a full second but still not to where I wanted to be. But, it was enough. I led flag to flag for the second win of the season on the new Ducati.
Last up was Ultralight Superbike. I was very excited to run this race because it had a very large field and I thought I would do well. I was gridded on the second row and while I made a great start, it was not enough to take the holeshot. I ended up 4th through T1. For several laps I held my own, having passed a rider for third. On lap 4, Travis McNerney passed me in T14 because I was a bit lazy. I followed him through the last few turns counting on a good drive from T17 to propel me past him using the draft. I made a slight mistake in T16 preventing me from being where I needed to be so I had to wait until the braking zone of T1 to make my move. Travis stayed in the center of the track after passing start/finish and the kink. I thought to myself “Ah, guarding the inside line are we?” In response, I decided to delay my braking a bit and run up on his left side. The point was to make up the necessary space on the brakes and turn to his inside after he executed his turn-in. The problem was, as I rushed up on Travis’ left, full on the brakes, he swerved to the left to maximize his arc through the right hand corner. This move resulted in us clashing bars, my braking effort being cancelled and going straight off the track into the grass covered run off. This was not my first rodeo so I immediately started to try to slow the bike with gentle pressure on the brakes. My slight pumping was ill timed with a bump and I went down on my left side. After a few flips and a long slide, I came to a stop. That stop was quickly interrupted by my being impaled by a motorcycle. I was rolled over yet again thinking “wow, my bike caught up with me.” But, it was not my bike. It was Travis who had also exited the track. He had not been able to avoid my carcass and had unintentionally used me as a ramp. His front tire had caught me just below my left armpit and he completely ran over my chest. Ouch! Regardless, seeing stars and all, I shook it off and got up and went to my bike. After picking it up and getting it started, I discovered that the shift rod had been broken. I was done. Instead of a hard fought battle and decent result, I had finished dead last with a broken bike. I was happy though that I was not seriously hurt and thanked God for protecting me.
Now it was time for seeing what the crew was made of. Denise had “mama bear syndrome” and would not let me do anything. Cecilia and Jake had to do all the packing up and putting away. The bikes were in the trailer in no time and tied down. The canopy came down and was stowed. The tools were put away and the RV made travel ready. All I did was supervise and direct. Without my help, it did take a bit longer but they did a great job.
We ended up leaving a bit later than planned and it was obvious that we would not make it to our usual dining establishment. The crew was very hungry and we had a long standing tradition of hitting a particular Chinese buffet on the trip home. Because we had such a late start, we would not get to this restaurant before closing. So, about an hour into our trip home, it was decided that we would hit Kentucky Fried Chicken instead. After another thirty minutes of driving we finally saw a sign for one. Once we exited the highway, the sign then said the KFC was over two miles down the road. It was suggested that we get back on the highway but I felt we should just go on and finish what we started. As we headed for the KFC, I spotted a shopping center about 2 miles into our trip. In it was a Chinese buffet and the lights were on. I slammed on the brakes and turned into the lot. Upon entering the facility, our team shirts were recognized by several people at one of the only two tables occupied in the restaurant. As it turned out, the CSBA missionary from Africa, Wim Van Rensburg, was sitting there with a pastor whose church he was visiting (Dennis Nichols and his wife Ellen) as well as Bill Allen (one of the original founding members of the CSBA) and his wife Cindy. I had never met this missionary in all the years I have been with the CSBA. I knew he had come to the US to garner support but I thought he was in Florida. This meeting was not only a blessing for all of us but it was so obvious who created the environment for this meeting.
God does this sort of thing all the time. Many call it coincidence but, the fact is that God creates these situations so that His will can be accomplished by His faithful servants. In my example, God created the environment for us to have this meeting of Brothers and Sisters that had never met before. It was His will that we get to embrace each other in encouragement. A few years ago, my partner, Art Lohman, was injured in an accident in our mission field at Daytona only to end up sharing the Gospel with a sick old man in the hospital. A man he would have never met otherwise.
We sat and enjoyed our meal simply amazed at what God did that night. When we were finished, we piled back into the RV and headed North, into the night. It had been a good year. It was a year of trials and tribulations, as well as victory and disappointment. But, we had faced it together and made new friends along the way. Our team had started over and now was already growing.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 January 2012 00:16|