Recap from the previous column…
2010… an Epic Year…
WERA West opener at AutoClub Speedway, in Fontana, January 2010…. My two younger brothers, Jeff & Jon, came out to watch the races. I was now eligible for Women’s Superstock, as they allowed bikes up to Open (A) Superstock specs. Open (A) Superstock Novice was the first race of the day, and I took the hole shot, and ran away with it to win by 5 seconds!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! I was only hoping for my first podium, and my first race win is a hole shot with a flag to flag victory!??!?! Un-friggin-believable!!!!
I also took the win in Women’s Superstock Novice, but A Superstock Novice was one for my personal history book…. I was so thrilled my little brothers were there to see it……….
Fast forward to November 2010 – I’ve won Open “A” Superstock a few more times, and took home podiums if I didn’t win it, and incredibly enough, I realize I actually have a shot to win the “A” Superstock Novice Championship… the friggin Championship!!! Are you kidding me?!?!
As we came into the final WERA West round in November, at Las Vegas, I found myself sitting in 2nd place in the “A” Superstock Novice Championship – 2 points behind the leader, with third place 1 point behind me. Given the points pay out for the first 3 spots had our 3 point spread (20 – 17 – 15 – 13…), I had a legit shot at winning the championship!!!
Now, a little back story… the two guys whom I was sandwiched between were best of pals and had been attending every round (I didn’t make every round) but I was able to beat them just about every time I raced against them. So I was confident that I could beat them, it was just a matter of where they finished relative to me, and who else in our races may be a factor.
Saturday Solo 20 lap races on day one are always a good time, but coming into the day I was still struggling to improve my lap times. My previous one time best at Las Vegas was a 1:26, years ago. I was struggling to even hit 1:28 during the Solo. Frustrated, to say the least, but as the Solo went on, my lap times dropped and I believe I hit a 1:27. Either way, I just recall that my lap times were dropping as the race went on, and I was feeling considerably better.
My awesome race pal, Roni Duran, had come with me to Vegas to be my crew chief, and he was working the pit board he uses for his son – 2011 WSMC #1 plate holder – Chris Duran – during that 20 lapper, so I ended the day feeling confident and excited for Sunday.
Sunday…. “A” Superstock is the first race of the day. My practice times in the morning were the same as my best – and faster than – Solo 20 times! I was confident and feeling great! My whole family had come out to watch too! My parents, my brothers, my aunt, uncle, a long time family friend, and my bestest pal from working at GE – Luke, all came out to cheer me on and watch the races.
I took my grid spot on the front row of the novice class and was ready to rock it! Now, since the grids are small for both the expert and the novice A Superstock class, they placed us on track at the same time, with a few rows gap in between. Since these grids were particularly small, they were going to send us under one green flag, rather than give each class their own green flag.
The number one board went sideways, the flag dropped, and I took the hole shot for the novice class! Hells yeah!!! Come get me boys!
I got up in to the tail end of the expert class as I tipped it into turn one and had to slow a bit so as not to hit any of the rear of the expert pack. All of a sudden I felt my bike jerk violently!
The next thing I know I’m riding the side of my motorcycle. OMFG… somebody just f*g hit me!!! As I slid along the pavement, I recall thinking … “well, I’m not on the ground, maybe we’ll just slide, stop and I’ll get up and it’ll be ok”
Then I look to my right and see my wheels (the bike had rotated around a bit), then I look to my left and I see the dirt. The center of gravity of the bike was on my right side. That means the sudden stop of motion in the dirt is going to carry that CG over my head! OH SHIT… “I gotta jump off this thing! I gotta get out of the way! It’s going to land on me!!!!” ran through my head as we approached the dirt. (ah the engineer in me… lol)
Sure enough, my bike flipped twice in the dirt. Incredibly it did not land on top of me. But he did grab a hold of me and prevented me from leaving his side (yes, he’s a boy… a stallion, really… a man… ) The handle bar had slid down inside my crappy boots that don’t secure together very well… my Big Boy was holding me there… when I turned around to see what the hell just happened I realized why he was holding me there….
The racer sitting one point behind me – the best pal of the racer leading the Championship – had taken me out of the race. At that moment I completely lost it… lost it in a way I never realized I was capable of. Venom spewed from my mouth… screaming obscenities at this racer who lay passed out on the pavement. So incredibly angry… throwing my fists as if punching him. All the adrenaline, all the passion, all the buildup…. and I did not even have a chance to compete for the Championship. This racer screwed up his start and knocked me out before I could even get through turn one….. before I even had the chance to become the first woman in the history of WERA to win an open class championship.
I cannot even describe the feelings that poured from my body like the tears of frustration that poured down my cheeks. With no other outlet, I cried, I screamed… just raw emotions poured from my body.
The crash truck guys and EMTs came over to check on me because I had not moved from my bike, despite standing up. They got me unhooked from my bike and picked him up. As I finally had a chance to look him over I was suddenly overwhelmed with optimism… nothing was breached, no structural damage!!! I could re-tech and restart the race… if I made it in time…
The race was not going to wait for me. I had only enough time as it took for them to tend to the other racer, clean up the mess, and the crash truck guys to haul me back to my pit.
Thankfully, the crash truck guys love me! I bring cupcakes to the races (and this weekend was no exception!) so they rushed me back to my pit, and kept me updated on what was going on.
My amazing friends swarmed upon my pit, and they jumped on my Big Boy like a well coordinated NASCAR pit crew. Absolutely astounding… I cannot thank them enough, to this day!
Lenny Albin, Bernie Broderick, Roni Duran, Luke Judy, and Eric DeHaven… thank you…
I was able to make the re-tech just as they were about to restart the race! As I pulled up to pre-grid, a fellow novice racer, who was doing his very first race – and saw the entire incident play out in front of him – looked at me in wide-eyed amazement. He reached out for a handshake and exclaimed… “I can’t believe you’re going back out there…”
My pals told me… wait for the entire field to take to the track before you go out. Just in case more rocks come from the bike, in case something doesn’t work right… just in case….
As I went down the long hot pit to take to the track, I was absolutely awe-struck by everyone cheering for me… it was like a friggin movie scene. And seeing my bff Christie Cooley jumping up and down, and screaming just made me feel amazing. People I knew, people I didn’t know were cheering and clapping as I rode by… utterly surreal experience.
The warm up lap was successful, everything worked as it should, my Big Boy handled as he should, and my body, albeit sore, was also working as it should.
My start wasn’t as stellar as before – my clutch slipped a lot – but I fell in behind the Championship points leader. I was content to sit behind him until I felt confident to push my bike harder. In lap two, another, newer rider came through us and went on to be the winner of the race – that was fine with me… all I had to do was beat the guy in front of me.
As we took the half way flag of the 6 lap race, I decided my Big Boy and I were good, and it was time to let this dude know who’s going home with the number one plate…. In two and a half laps, I put 8 seconds between him and I. I took home second place in the class, and a new personal best lap time of a 1:24!!!! I couldn’t believe it!!!!
As I took the cool down lap, I waved at the corner workers, and they cheered for me!!! It was so great!!!!
But my job wasn’t over yet! Women’s Superstock was up next! I cruised down hot pit and right back onto the track for the warm up lap of Women’s Superstock! I was still in shock over what had just transpired and I spent the warm up lap wondering if I had just won the Championship by one point, or just lost it by one point…
No matter! The green flag dropped on Women’s Superstock, and I took the hole shot! This time I just rode for the love of it and won the entire class! Beat the other novice girls, and the few expert girls!!! And ran an even better lap time than the previous race!!! 1:24.1 =) What a day!!!!
I got back to my pit to a HUGE celebration!!!!!!! Lenny Albin, my amazing suspension guru, couldn’t stand the suspense any longer … so he went up to the tower to talk to WERA co-owner, Sean “Mongo” Clarke, and came back to tell me the news. The smile he was trying to hide gave it away… but here’s what went down.
I was tied for the “A” Superstock Championship! But… per the rulebook, the racer with the most race wins is awarded the Championship. I was the racer with the most race wins in “A” Superstock Novice… and I became the Open “A” Superstock Novice class Champion for 2010!!!
Oh My God….
I started screaming and jumping up and down and hugging everyone – especially my Big Boy who made it all possible!!! My pals nearby could hear me screaming and they came over to congratulate me =) I was making quite a spectacle of myself to say the least… but I had earned it. I won my very first Championship. And… I became the first woman in the history of WERA to win an open class championship. Although I had also won Women’s Superstock Novice Championship, this “big boy” class meant the world to me.
From the lowest low – being taken out of the race, and nearly not making it back – to the highest high of winning my very first championship…. Wow…
I still had one more race to do until I could celebrate the victory properly, and it was at the very end of the day… My body was coming down from the adrenaline, and hurting more and more with each passing hour. My ribs were incredibly sore, I had a large gash on my inner thigh – not big enough to require stitches, but my foot peg had ripped open my suit, Underarmor, and damn near my inner thigh a la Bostrom style, and finally, my right wrist was very painful.
I gridded up for “A” Superbike, and there’s this one guy on an ’07 R1 who’s been beating me every time I went up against him, and I wanted so badly to make him work for it – to have a shot to beat him!
I got a great start, and fell in right behind him. I tried to hang on to him as long as I possibly could, and would you believe it?? I tail grabbed his ass for lap after lap after lap! Thought about attempting a pass a time or two, but soon my body was just done. I didn’t care enough to risk anything… I had won my Championships – this race was mine to do as I pleased and have fun. I backed off just a bit, and finished comfortably in second place – incredibly sore, and incredibly happy.
And that concludes the saga of a glorious 2010…
Fast forward to Jan 7, 2012…
My fab-tastic Graves built R1 – yup, my same Big Boy… but I swear to God, if I didn’t verify the VIN, I wouldn’t believe it was even the same bike!!!!
Lenny Albin had refreshed my suspension, and Graves Motorsports had refreshed the rest of my bike, and I couldn’t wait to ride him!!!
The most incredible machine I have ever ridden in my life.
It just hooks up and goes… I did wheelies exiting corners for the first time – the kind where the bike is still leaned over!
Felt like it was on rails… until my rear tire started to let go – I was on an old set of tires – my Big Boy was just glued to the pavement. I gradually added more and more throttle… and more and more brakes until unbelievably, I was matching the lap times of my fellow fast female racers! After that ride, I knew 2012 was going to be an amazing year… this bike was going to take me to a whole new level…
2012 became the most amazing year in my racing I have ever imagined. Utterly surreal…. And I thought 2010 was amazing! Stay tuned for the next column… a brief recap of 2012 before I post up my season opener for 2013