First up, the 25 minute GTU. GET IT! He got a very good start and was leading the race for a little bit, but Stanislav is an amazing pilot, frequently turning times that would put him high in the results of any expert race, and eventually, put a good clean pass on Rich. The running joke around our paddock is "There's Stanislav, and then there's everyone else". However, although Rich heard another bike near him for a few laps (Turned out to be Darroch Malone, who ended up taking a well-earned 2nd place), no one else had passed him several laps in, and he knew why! The GrrR6 and Rich had "clicked", and the tiger bike was a Maher Motorsports tuned, VP fueled, rocket on wheels! The lap times reflected this synergy as well, with several 1:31's and a couple of 1:30's, new personal bests!
Those laps weren't without some drama though, as thanks to Rich being more aggressive with the bars, the clutch side clip-on rotated back on lap 3, pulling the remote adjuster for the front brakes TAUT, and he suddenly found himself with NO brakes heading into T5! He squeezed as hard as he could and something must have moved a little and gave him the brakes he needed, but for the next 2 laps, every time he was straight up and down, he could be seen banging on the LH clip-on trying to get it moved back into place! It seemed to have worked though, but he was still cautious about pulling too hard on that bar at every turn!
At any rate, Rich had just crossed the line at the halfway flag to begin Lap 8, and was going well. However, as you'll see in the video, he just asked too much of the rear tire as the track started downhill, and with the front tire just skimming the ground, low-sided at a GPS-indicated 76mph. Because he's tall and lanky when at 195-200lbs, his off-the-rack suit has always been a little loose in the arms. At his current 172lbs, it's even more so. As Rich was sliding down the asphalt on my forearm and thigh, the sleeve of his suit pulled back up his arm, exposing his forearm, and earned him some "road rash" there, before sending him for a series of barrel rolls. Thanks to some luck and the Hit-Air air vest from Trackside Parts Club, he suffered no other injury and was up on his feet quickly. The GrrR6, however, ended up coming to rest on track, on the racing line, so we're sorry for the surprise that it surely caused the other racers as they crested the blind T2 before the red flag could be seen! Kudos to the safety crew and EMS who arrived so quickly after the crash and got the track re-opened in what must have been record time!
Back in the pits, John, Misha, and Rich's other amazing pit pals jumped right in, offering their assistance, but the bike wasn't too bad, and we had a lot of time until the next race. Rich's wife/pit boss/umbrella girl went to work, putting her art degree to use with racer's tape as her medium. She patched all the damage, and even re-created the stripes!! With that, we were ready for Formula 40.
Middleweight Formula 40 (combined EX and AM) was up next. Rich again got an excellent start, squirming the front tire under the brakes into T1 to try and take the lead from the start... and did for quite a while, until Jack Guyette caught and ultimately passed him. Unfortunately (for Jack), he had to retire early with a mechanical issue, giving Rich the win with a 5.5 second margin! This was his first career victory, and a great comeback from the day's earlier mishap.
Sunday morning, Race 1 was Rookie's Cup, which combines everything from fire-breathing 1000cc GTO bikes to the Ultralight 300's! Another good start, and he's in the lead again, running strong and in the lead until a red flag on lap 3 caused a re-start. On pit road while waiting for the track to be cleared, Rich's wife got to actually be the umbrella girl that we've always joked with her about being, shading him from the scorching sun (much to the envy of the other racers) and brought water to share amongst them. MANY thanks to Mark Schweber for the sleeved shirt and another racer whose name escapes me for loaning her closed-toed shoes at the last moment so Nicole could be granted access to the hot pit lane!
The re-start turned into QUITE an event! The first wave was released, and Rich's group was given the "1 board", but while they were waiting to be released, a GTO racer's bike shut off in the middle of T1, and he came to a stop right on racing line just after the apex of T1. He tried to re-start his bike instead of pushing it off the track, and the confusion caused by this meant that the GTU and GTL racers were still at the 1 board, which means in gear, head down, at launch RPM, ready to GO!! They waited, and waited, and waited... What should have been 10-15 seconds turned into to 45! The coolant temp on the GrrR6 was at 230 and quickly climbing, and Rich was just a second or 2 away from having to "jump the start" and pulling away in order to save the engine (at the expense of a DQ), just to get some airflow through the radiator. Suddenly, the number board was lowered, the red flag came out, and before he had time to figure out what was going on, he heard people yelling. A look over his right shoulder showed white steam POURING from one racer's bike, grey smoke from another, and then the most dreaded word.. "FIRE!" He looked down to make sure it's wasn't him, but over his left shoulder, the bike to his 7 o'clock had flames quickly engulfing his machine! (Fortunately, the rider dis-mounted quickly and the safety crew quickly extinguished the fire, and both rider and machine are OK and continued racing that day!) Needless to say, the race was re-scheduled, to occur after race 4.
Everything went off cleanly on the next re-start, but Rich was was off-pace and was passed by several riders, and dropped as low as 8th or 9th before getting into the groove and passing some of them back, bringing home a 5th.
Middleweight Superbike was the penultimate race of the day, and everyone was exhausted. Rich played it safe and brought home an 8th place finish, but knows more endurance is needed in the future so he can battle no matter what the conditions!
All in all, it was a successful weekend, and one that it wouldn't have happened without the support of everyone who is making this season possible.. Nicole for her tireless contributions whether it's keeping Rich on-schedule, properly fed & hydrated, getting the bike on & off the stands, helping with repairs, or even providing shade and water - she's amazing. Also, our sponsors Keystoneriders.com, Metric Devil Moto, Trackside Parts Club, Scorpion Sports, PitPosse, Yoshimura, Woodcraft CFM, Vortex Racing, ATech Customs, Team ProMotion, Maher Motorsports, as well as our pit buddies, the amazing CCS staff, corner workers, & EMS who battled the heat this weekend, and EVERYONE who sends positive energy our way.. Thanks for your support, and we'll see you at Summit Point in August!