The last time I raced Las Vegas Motor Speedway was back in April, and I had so little money I had to select my classes for the double header weekend based on how long I could make the previous months race tires last.
And my previous best lap time was still a 1:23.8 around the tight, technical 1.8 mile course.
But this weekend… this weekend … was going to be different! For starters a good friend of mine let me borrow his toy hauler so Cousin Matty and I wouldn’t freeze to death! Well, me anyway… Matty is from Connecticut, so he doesn’t ever get cold. Ha ha ha
To prepare for the races, I went over my notebook and set up a preliminary suspension setting based on my recent improvements, and the way the Classic Course at LVMS flows – get in, get out kind of corners. Thankfully, my suspension education has been paying off, because I wasn’t too far off my mark!
Dale Kieffer of Racer’s Edge hosted a Friday practice day. He was generous enough to let me join in for the last 3 sessions, with the first session being the B Group.
I wanted to ensure my new Cortech suit and new boots were going to work comfortably, and no hang ups. B Group was perfect for a first ride back.
Oh yes… Cortech is a new sponsor, and I’m proud to say the new suit they made me is absolutely fantastic! It’s gorgeous, and the graphics on the patches are amazing! Unfortunately, the suit was a little big in the torso area, but they’re fixing that =)
When I was missing downshifts due to the new boots breaking in, I was very happy I was in the B Group!
The last two sessions in the A Group were fantastic! I found my flow, and made a few tweaks on some clickers. Running in the warm afternoon sun was critical for determining what I may need come race day. The early morning 8am practice sessions on Saturday and Sunday were going to be very cold by comparison!
WERA West Double Header Final
California State Championship “Best of the West” Shootout
I had two days to put together some good performances. My goal was to finish the season top five in the WERA West Open (A) Superstock Championship, and top ten in Open (A) Superbike Championship.
Saturday morning practice was just dreadful. I felt tired, and it was so cold, I was nervous. Second practice wasn’t much better than the first… but I was first race of the day, so … oh well… here we go!
Open (A) Superstock / CSC Open Production
I had a killer row 2 starting position, and when that flag man twitched I launched like a rocket!! AMA Pro Roadracer Jake Zemke was brought out by Honda to win a bunch of races and provide Honda with some press… so he launched off the front row into the holeshot.
Behind him, myself and my pal on his ZX10 battled for who would be first clubracer into T1. I had a killer run down the straight, and from the corner of my eye I could see flashes of forks as his bike wheelied several times!
Sadly, while I had the inside position, I chickened out, and gave up the spot…. Oh man I was mad… I regret that even now =/
I funneled into 3rd place, and lost a position as we went into T3, and another position as we came onto the back straight; and finally settled into 6th position by lap 2. I worked hard to hold that position, but overall I was really disappointed with how I rode.
I felt completely out of control – which is not like me at all – like my mind couldn’t keep up with my riding. I was honestly grateful to finish the race without crashing, or losing another position due to mistakes.
I wrote it off to nerves and not having my mind right.
Tires: Medium/Medium – New
Imagine my shock when my best lap time was a 1:21.7!!!
Saturday Superstock: 5th of 13 racers*
*A racer who finished in 5th to my 6th did not run a transponder, and was thus DQd.
Women’s Superstock / CSC Formula Femme
The women’s class was immediately following Superstock, so I didn’t get much of a rest. Thankfully Cousin Matty was waiting for me with some energy gels and water. My leg was hurting so bad from the Superstock race, I just wanted to survive the women’s race.
I was so mad at my pathetic performance in Superstock, I used the women’s race to work on changing some shift points, and brake markers that would allow the chassis of my bike to be more settled; while I worked on getting my mind right.
Now that I had new footpeg positions, I was able to use my knee in the side of the tank for support – a technique I could never use before due to poor position with respect to the tank. My knee was always too far back on the tank, and it would simply slide over the back side of the tank, rather than lock underneath the “ridge” along the side of the tank – that is designed to allow your knee to lock into place.
Since this technique is new to me, it takes a pretty concentrated effort still. So during the women’s race I worked on that technique extensively! It helped take the load off my injured right leg throughout Vegas’ extensive number of right hand turns!
Huge thank you to Sean Dwyer, and Cousin Matty, for helping to coach me on this technique!!
After the women’s race I felt a whole lot more prepared for Superbike. I won the women’s race by 59 seconds, and finished second overall as the Heavyweight Twins class was gridded in front of us.
Tires: Medium/Medium – one 6 lap race
Women’s Superstock: 1st of 3 girls; best lap of 1:22.3
Open (A) Superbike / CSC Open Superbike
The slipping of my clutch on the start of the women’s race was a warning… when it happened again in Sbk, I realized it was on its last leg.
My start in Superbike was pretty decent, but it didn’t take long to get pummeled by the likes of guys like Jordan Burgess, Reno Karimian, and Jeff Stern.
Mentally, I just wasn’t aggressive; I felt like I wasn’t engaged. However, when I heard that familiar sound of that big Ducati behind me, I dug deep down and managed to hold him off to secure a 9th place finish. Not my best performance, but I did the best I could at the time.
Tires: Medium/Medium – two 6 lap races / flipped rear
Saturday Superbike: 9th / 15 with a best lap of 1:22.1
Sunday morning I woke up feeling considerably more upbeat and alert.
Practice was significantly more energized and engaged. We added some padding to my seat to help with my seating position, and it helped significantly! I felt better in control of my bike, able to get a better cornering position without compromising control.
Open (A) Superstock / CSC Open Production
This race found me feeling my A Game. I felt like I did during the AutoClub races – confident, aggressive, alert and ready to give it everything I had.
My clutch slipped a bit again on the start, but it was another killer start. This time I stuck out my proverbial elbows – I say proverbial because they don’t stick out far enough to actually be useful! – and held my position! I stuck it to a certain Ducati, and told those guys to F off! This spot was MINE!
I latched on to my pal on his ZX10 and ran like hell!!
Pirelli looked me up with the most amazing tire I’ve ever ridden on… and SC0!!! They gave me the run down on the tire performance, and I had utmost confidence in hammering the hell out of that throttle, and using that tire for everything it would give me.
I tail grabbed that ZX10 for the first lap and a half! He usually checks out on me, but he had food poisoning the night before… so either I was going considerably faster, or he was really, really sick still… but the fact we were well into lap 2 and no one had passed me yet gave me the clue I was running damn good.
The ZX10 got a second wind, and was able to shake me from pressuring him, but was just far enough in front to motivate me to work a little harder.
As I took the half way flag, I was elated no one had passed me!!!! Holy shit I must be running good…. Then… in a tight left hander I heard the all too familiar sound of a certain Ducati…..
Oh helllll nooo … you are not taking away my first “podium”….
I was in a solid 4th place, with a certain Pro racer leading up front… so I was the 3rd place club racer… in my mind, this was my first podium spot!
I asked that tire for more, and it delivered. Cousin Matty told me later I was exiting corners like I was launched out of a cannon. That Ducati has a hell of a corner exit, and there was no way in hell I was letting him by. Game fucking on…
Hard on the brakes into T1, the rear end wagging as I slipped the clutch to accommodate the downshift – that’s right… I do not have a slipper clutch.
Hammered the throttle so it slightly lofted the front end between turn 1 and 2, between 2 and 3, coming onto the front straight….
Into the high speed turn 5 – like 130+ high speed! – I asked my Big Boy to go in hotter and hotter each lap to ensure that Ducati didn’t catch us, and he delivered. On the gas into the hard braking double apex turns 6 and 7 off the high speed stuff… deep we went, keeping my head picked up, looking through the corner as I slipped the clutch and trail braked deep into the slightly banked corner.
Then I would hear him behind me in turn 8 – the decreasing radius left hander. Thankfully it’s extraordinarily difficult to pass in that corner unless you have a considerable speed differential.
Launching onto the front straight, my Big Boy would loft his front tire and rocket down the brief front straight as I clicked off two gears; grab the first downshift just before the 3 cone, begin braking as I click off the next downshift. My Big Boy is on his nose now, rear end wagging as I slip the clutch. I get him to settle down just enough to initiate the turn in, still on the brakes… I feel him protest a bit, but as soon as I pick up the throttle at the apex he is settled, and we launch the few hundred feet into turn 2; hard on the brakes again, initiate the quick right hander, and off we go down the brief straight to the tight turn 3.
I hear the Ducati again… and hammer the throttle exiting 3 and go as deep as I dare into turn 4 – a tricky tight, slow entry corner that opens to the super fast back section. Jake Zemke inadvertently showed me the killer line exiting this corner! I went in deep, and launched out of there like we were …. well, being chased by a big Ducati!
I took a defensive line into the double apex off the back straight… this was the last lap!! In the decreasing radius I could hear him again… oh hell no… not today!!
I picked up the throttle so early to launch down the straight away to the checkered flag, I nearly thought I was going to highside myself to the moon… nope… not today… not on that Pirelli SC0!! My Big Boy gave me everything he had and we took the checkered flag to our best finish in Superstock ever…. And our best lap times EVER!
I couldn’t believe it!! NO ONE PASSED ME!!!!! I was the third place finishing clubracer!!!!! I was ecstatic the entire cool down lap!!! It was then I realized my throat and lungs were burning from breathing so hard! I had no idea I was working so hard! My body felt completely relaxed, and the entire race felt like it was all in slow motion. It was so slow motion, in fact, I had absolutely no clue how I was running. I only knew I was running strong because no one had passed me.
I DID IT!!! I was a front running expert in the liter bike class!!!!!! Ohhhhh…. My… God……
Tires: Medium/Supersoft – 3 race+ front/new rear
Sunday Superstock: 4th of 14 racers; best lap of 1:20.4
Actually, 4 of the 6 laps were 20s =D
Women’s Superstock / CSC Formula Femme
Imagine my shock with Dale and Chris Maguire from Pirelli met me at the hot pit wall to congratulate me on my ride!! Cousin Matty was there with energy gels and water … and a big ol smile on his face!!!
I was so exhausted from the Superstock race, the officials allowed Matty to push my bike back up hot pit so I could just roll out onto the grid.
This time, they started us with one green flag, so the launch into the Heavyweight twins class was a bit of a cluster. I navigated around some kids on 125s, and a few novice guys; then fell in behind three other twins riders as we went through turn 1. I wasn’t racing them, so I opted to be cautious, and track them through the first turn, then initiate a safe pass when possible. All I can recall thinking was how incredibly slow we were going though turn one compared to the Superstock start!
While I am incredibly proud of my Superstock race, I felt there were a few areas that could use some improvement. Turn 3, turn 8 (the decreasing radius) and a little bit into turn one. I made the conscious decision to ride about 80% in the women’s class and work on those few areas for Superbike.
I had a bit of a mishap going into turn one on the second to last lap of the race, where I didn’t quite click a downshift and it lodged between gears. I knew I was safely clear of other riders, so I opted to run straight; which meant I had to follow the secondary part of the race track back around and re-enter at turn 2. As I was re-entered turn 2 I looked to see if the second place girl was anywhere around, and thankfully all I saw was the two twins guys I had passed earlier to take second place overall. I fell in behind them, and made safe passes to take the checkered flag in second place overall, and this win meant a complete sweep of the women’s class for WERA and for the Calif State Championship!!
Tires: Medium/Supersoft – 4 races front / one 6 lap race rear
Women’s Superstock: 1st of 3 girls; best lap of 1:21.9
Open (A) Superbike / Open Superbike
Unfortunately, my fabulous SC0 Pirelli rear tire was effectively pissed away in the women’s class because there was not enough time to swap to my old medium compound tire that was about to start its fourth race – here in Open Superbike. My take away from that … arrange a 5 min gap with the organizers to swap tires when you have such a phenomenal tire!
Another unfortunate combination was my clutch giving up completely, resulting in me getting absolutely pummeled on the start. I was bumped and shuffled pretty far back.
Within the first lap, it was painfully evident the SC2 wasn’t going to hold the corner exits like that fabulous SC0 did… oh momma that was a hell of a tire!!!
I rode hard on what I had and while I was frustrated and upset, I still managed to pull off a top ten, and run the entire race in the 1:22s – which was still considerably better than my previous fastest laps.
Wasn’t exactly how I wanted to end the day… but I did the best I could with what I had….. and I’ll always have that Superstock performance!!!!
Tires: Medium/Medium – 6 races front / 4 races rear
Saturday Superbike: 8th / 15 with a best lap of 1:22.2
While I may come across a bit whiny about Jake Zemke running in our races – and running to win – I am glad he was there. He was incredible to watch perform, and showed me some killer lines that helped me perform at my best.
My pals agree that I did earn my first “podium” in Superstock…. So we took my fabulous SC0 tire, and marked it up with the details of the race, and had Zemke sign it =) Making it my unofficial trophy
It doesn’t even matter who was in my Superstock race… I cannot believe the lap times I ran!!!! My good friend, and newly crowned #1 plate for WERA West Formula 1, and Open Sbk; Corey Sarros, has been someone I admired as a rider for a long time. I met him when I was still a brand new rider.
I ran a lap time this weekend that he ran on Friday. This is the first time ever I have run a lap time that he has done. Of course, he went considerably faster during the races… but I was within 3 seconds of him!!!
I accomplished something I have dared to dream about…. Something I hoped would happen, but I really didn’t think it would happen…. Running up front in the liter bike expert class… Holy. Shit.
Chris from Pirelli came by my pit later in the day, after Superstock, and commented that Dale was so impressed with my riding that he literally grabbed him by the shirt, and said “you gotta see this girl ride! She’s holding off all these guys!!!” That absolutely made my day!!!!!
I had several long time pals that had came out with Sarros this weekend, and they’ve known me from the beginning… in fact, one of them used to coach me!!!
To perform so well in front of them just made my day… and to see them so proud of me just swelled my heart with pride.
Funny quote of the weekend…. Cousin Matty was at the time sheets, and overheard some racers … “I couldn’t believe she was going so g*damn fast… those flying pig-tails were really pissing me off…”
In the end, I finished 4th in the Open (A) Superstock WERA West Championship; 4th in the Open Production Calif State Championship; and a clean sweep of both women’s classes.
I missed the top ten in the Open Superbike Championship by one point. =/
Even now, a week later, as I write this, I am in complete shock that I ran top level lap times. I have been slow for so long… in my mind… I’m still that slow girl who finishes at the back of the novice class. To say this is unreal would be an understatement.
I cannot even begin to express how proud I am to deliver these results and improvements to my sponsors and supporters. To Graves Motorsports who built my beautiful 2006 Yamaha R1… to CT Racing and Pirelli for believing in me to give me the “good stuff”… to Cousin Matty for helping me and standing by me, even when I was in tears… to Lenny Albin of Superbike Chassis, LLC for doing so much more than “just my suspension”… to my best pal Jacob Brown of Five-0 Racing who spent the better part of last year cleaning up my mess of emotions… to my best girl friend Kellie Auld for always believing in me. To my parents who are always proud of me no matter what!
A huge thank you to Barry Wressell of GP Susension / KFG Racing to helping me in a pinch with dire need of a rear shock re-evaluation! Picking up the throttle to get out of corners, the front would just push wide. Despite adding more pre-load to the rear shock spring, it kept doing it! I usually work with Lenny Albin, but he was busy at a previous work engagement, and Barry was track side helping my pal Sarros… his generosity helped me figure out that last little bit to get my bike to drive straight out of corners. If it wasn’t for his help, I wouldn’t have been running 20s. Thank you Barry… your generosity to help me in a moment of panic is greatly appreciated.
Suspension guys are the best investment you can make in your motorcycle. There are several really top notch guys here on the West Coast, and I am grateful that at any given race at least one of them is track side.
My new Cortech suit looked fabulous, and we got some killer photos from Brandon Bones of Studio819.
2013 Goals & 2012 Lessons Learned
I learned a whole lot this year in that mental performance is as important – if not more important – than physical performance. Getting my head on right this year has launched me into a stratosphere I never dreamed I would attain, and I feel like I’m just getting started.
For 2013, I hope to get the opportunity to do more WERA Nationals. If that doesn’t work out, then running in WERA West against the likes of Corey Sarros and Jeremy Toye will certainly provide considerable competition. If I was ever able to battle with Toye, I really don’t know what I’d do with myself….
For 2013 I will continue to work on my fitness, now that my leg is healing, and continue to evolve as a rider. I have a clear path of specific weaknesses to refine. These weaknesses are now unique to specific turns at specific tracks. My Big Boy will be getting suspension upgrades thanks to Lenny Albin, and my next investment is a kit ECU.
Thank you … so incredibly much … for your immense support, and believing in me through this journey. I cannot express how proud I am to deliver profound improvement and results to you this year. Like a proud kitty delivering the mouse to the door step!
Next stop – Femmewalla at Chuckwalla!!! An all girls track day that will be a perfect place to test my new suspension and sweet new ECU!
Very Special Thank You…
Graves Motorsports (gravesport.com)
Lenny Albin (superbikechassis.com)
Pirelli Tires (CT Racing – ctracetires.com)
M Racing (mracingperformance.com)
EBC Brakes (ebcbrakes.com)
Scorpion Helmet (scorpionusa.com)
Five & Dime Tattoo (fiveanddimetattoo.com)
Moonstone Cellars (moonstonecellars.com)
STAR School (starmotorycle.com)
Five-0 Racing (five-0racing.com)
Aussie Body Fitness (aussiebodyfitness.com)
Attack Performance (attackperformance.com)
Valley CrossFit (valleycrossfit.com)
Chicken Hawk Racing