Tue, 03 Sep 2002 11:18:18
Your Idiot Race team, Team Ika, was grinding parts and pucks this weekend at Spokane Raceway Park.
Pit Betty Lynn and I drove over on Saturday, skipping the 8AM morning practice which was followed by a four hour endurance race. Kind of like watching paint dry. Crew Chief Don Marr was missing due mostly to Cupid's Arrow which is pretty firmly lodged in his butt.
Saturday night was spent trying to hold down the tent in the usual hurricane winds that are the norm at Spokane.
Sunday was dry and windy. First practice was uneventful, with Team Ika running a moderate pace, setting braking and shift markers up and remembering the track. We have never raced here in the dry, so everything was different. The little 160 was running great, with the hard winds blowing right up the front straight which allowed for a full speed run, with the valves floating in fourth, as fast as the little twin will go. We were paying a price on the back straight, with the wind breaking right over the top of the short hills, seriously hampering any back straight speed.
First race was a great warm up lap and then into grid. The lights went for start and Team Ika got its best hole shot ever! This has been a weak point in our racing efforts and it felt good to be out front. Down to turn one, a slight right hand kink at WFO, tucking as tiny as possible on the little Honda, I was in second. Two is a hard left hand which tightens and drops down hill to a blind rise over turn three. All you see is sky. We kept the peg and puck down all the way, trying to get the drive for the rise. Down the back straight, fighting the head wind, we were being drafted by Mike Bateman and Fowler, the two fastest 160 guys. They slipped by on either side and I slipped in behind them. We hit four, a right hand full throttle third gear turn. You just wait for the last brake marker, sit up, shift down and throw her through. Five is a quick left that you just clip across the apex and then set up for six, a hard left hand hairpin followed by a very short straight and a right hand hair pin at seven. These are my favorite turns, technical and unforgiving. It is a great place to late brake someone and slip in underneath. I was holding my own but unable to make time on either of the leaders. Both of these bikes are faster than our team bike and so are the riders. Still, keeping them close is an achievement so on we went. Eight is just a roll on for us and a straight to the nine-ten-eleven combo which has to be dealt with as one turn. It is a hard left-moderate right-to sweeping very, very fast left onto the straight. You can develop a great drive out of these but there is absolutely *no* run-out and no room for error. The run out is a rocky dirt berm at the edge of the track. There have been some serious injuries here in the past. Second lap was hot, with the front end chattering holding the line in two and firing up the back side, keeping the leaders in sight. At the six-seven hairpins, Tim Fowler washed out his front end and slid out of the turn with his bike going another direction, I saw Billy on his big Honda 500 thumper dirt tracking trying not to hit Tim or the bike as I closed on both of them. I discovered a new line to the very inside of seven which, though damn sure not pretty, kept me out of the mess. Tim was out, but Billy managed to get back on the track.
Third lap had the leaders with a solid lead on me. On the front straight, I tucked my head on both sides and realized I had left everyone else far behind. I pushed hard the fourth lap, checked again after getting the white flag and still no one there. With no klingons to worry about, I eased up a bit to make sure I finished the race and got my points. One race down and a fifth place for Team Ika in round One.
I came into the pits totally psyched. This was the best five laps I had ever strung together. Given just a bit more power, we could have closed the gap. Still, the start was great and the finish was better!
After a long wait and a cigar, it was time for heat two. I got a great drive practicing my start on the warm up lap and circled right behind Bateman, the fastest rider. Granted, it ws a warm up lap, but it is a real help to follow the hot guy really close and study his lines. I adjusted a couple of bits, especially a later entry/earlier drive at the first hairpin, number six.
We gridded up and I was ready for a great start. The lights went and I went...nowhere. I had popped into neutral. Flounder, stab groan and finally paddle like Wiley Coyote and we were off, almost dead last. Cripes, here we go again.
Our points are Olympic scoring, so the combination of your two heats is your final placing. A great first heat and a crappy second are not the way to go. Also, if there is a tie, the second heat finish over-rides the first.
I managed a draft off of one of the slower big bikes and made some time up the straight. I had a lot of passing to do. I came into turn two with a determined late braking, threw her down hard on the puck and held on. The inside line was full with Ken and Dan on 160s. I drifted outside and was chattering hard through the downhill section, stayed outside and drafted up and over the rise, getting both of them.
Down the back straight I set my sights on the next victim. Ii ran through a few Sportsman and then cleared traffic enough to see Mike Collins ahead of me. I knew if I cleared Mike, I was into the top group again. With a late start and only 5 laps, I needed some time and I didn't have it. I am faster than Mike through the turns, but he only weighs 135# and is faster on any straight. he had a good lead which I whittled down through 6-7 and again in 9-10-11. I drafted him onto the straight and then started a pass which I knew would be too soon. I pulled up next to him, very close, and then watched him start to walk forward. This was just before the kink at 1. I dropped back into his draft and waited for two. I entered late and wide, slipping out of his draft and easily passing him in two. I knew he wasn't gone, but I hoped. The wind on the back straight was killing me and Mike drafted past me to enter four, but I can easily pace him through the turns. I passed him again at the seven hairpin by dropping inside. We changed leads five times or so, always tight. We got the white flag and I was ahead of Mike but he got me on the front straight, last lap. Mike had a full second on me as we went down the back straight.
I was not going to let this go. It was last lap and a lot of points were at stake. I came into the #4 right hander at WFO, pulled the shift and let her scrape all the way through, flicking left and tucking at the same time to drive into the hairpin. I came in on Mike and a Sportsman on a modern Ninja. They had the inside blocked so I had to stay outside. The front and the back tires were sliding and the Honda was chattering to beat hell but she held on. This time I wasn't thinking of falling, just winning. I came into seven tight and got great drive. Mike had tucked in behind the Ninja thinking he could draft to the checkered. I got great drive down the short straight leading to nine and even hit top gear pushing for more entrance speed.
I was four bike lengths back as we entered nine. I made the conscious decision to pass or crash. I no-braked at nine, just throwing her over and downshifting pulling her up and over for the ten right hand and then hard, hard, hard down on the knee for eleven. I was outside with a huge drive. The front end was chattering and the back end was chirping but the throttle stayed wide open and I just hung on. Team Ika absolutely blew by both John and Mike on the outside and sailed in for the checkered 100yds later. As I went by I could see Mike's face and the "You Bastard" in his head as he knew there was nothing he could do to catch me. It was by far the best finish and best pass yet!
I was ecstatic down the front for cool down lap. As I approached two, I started losing power and had to down shift, still losing power, I nursed it to the pit entrance. After letting my heart rate come back to normal and getting a grip on reality, Tim Fowler and I tried to start the bike, very little compression and the death rattle being the result. Team Ika has a blown engine, although we don't know what species yet.
So, for the weekend, Team Ika was a 5th and 5th for a 4th overall because of some of the other finish orders. Consistency does pay off. That was good for 22 points and puts team Ika into fifth place overall for the season, up from seventh. The blown engine will be repaired before the next outing. While the engine is open, we are going to degree the cam with Mike Bateman's gracious help, fix the shift forks and generally hot the little Honda up. With any luck, a more powerful Team Ika will be at the track in Seattle for Vintage Days on Sept 28th, a Saturday. This is an all Vintage racing program. It will be great. Club racing will follow the second day with Team Ika racing that day as well.
Race Hard, Race Often and Go Team Ika!!!!!!