Another rainy day greeted us at Talladega Gran Prix in Munford, Alabama. As the slow drizzle continued to wet the track we knew it was going to be another slick day of racing. Weather reports were constantly changing as one website would show constant rain through out the day, while another website promised clear skies in the afternoon.
I was fortunate to be able to borrow a set of extra wheels from my friend and competitor, Ed Eberhart, who opted to not race in the miserable conditions. With his Bridgestone rain tires mounted on my Ninja 250 I was ready to hit the wet track in time for the second round of practice.
Now whether or not the tires were super grippy or I had blind confidence in their ability (This would be my first time riding on dedicated rain tires) lead to a great practice session. Being only a couple of seconds off my “dry” times from the previous day I felt great about the afternoon races. As lunch time rolled around the sky started to become a little more clear, and the rain fell a little more slowly. It was the perfect type of weather that would make a racer worry if the track would be too dry for rain tires, or too wet for DOT tires.
My first race in ESS Expert started horribly – right off the line I managed to get a great start until I either hit a false neutral, or blew my shift going into second gear and actually WAS in neutral. The bike was screaming off the rev limiter so I put my hand in the air to let the rows behind me know that I was off to a much slower start than normal. The last thing I needed was my horrible start to end up with me getting ass packed by the novice riders behind me. Once the rows behind me had blown by me I tried again to shift the bike into second and had much better luck. Finally, now that everyone in my class and everyone in the class behind me had made their way into turn one I could start my race. I was able to catch a few riders going into turn two, and made another pass before I hit the two turns called “The 90's”. With a few of the ESS Novice riders behind me I finally was able to turn my attention to the ESS Expert riders ahead. I began to pick through traffic until I was able to catch rider #667 who was in my class. After passing Ben the only person I had in front of me was Lisa Fitzgerald, #67. Lisa is racing in ESS Novice this year, so while she isn't direct competition in my class she is a rider that is very close to my speed and a good friend. I was able to chase Lisa for a couple of very intense laps that had several position changes along with drag races down the straights. With just a couple of laps remaining I was able to get by Lisa and defend my position until the checkered flag waved – I had just won my first race as a WERA expert.
The second race of the day ended up being one of my most exciting races to date. Once the green flag dropped I was able to launch to the front of the FSS Expert class and had a relatively clean track ahead of me – that is until I caught up to the fine folks who were running DSS and Lightweight Twin Superbike. Going into turns two, three, and four I was able to get through traffic with relative ease until I met two Triumph Thruxton 900's with yellow plates that were having one hell of a battle. Not knowing I had put a small gap on the other riders in my class I was riding my ass off to get past the two riders ahead of me. While their bikes were fast enough to put a small gap on me going down the straights the large heavy motorcycles absolutely parked it in every turn they went into.
Normally it wouldn't be a problem to get around a slightly slower rider, but these two guys were having a battle all of their own and the little 250 behind them wasn't much of a concern. As they went two wide into every turn with the occasional bump between them I knew I wasn't going to be able to safely get through. After one desperate attempt to pass both riders in the “90's” that ended with one of the Thruxton's hitting me so hard it knocked a knee puck off I made the decision to play follow the leader and hope the rider's in my class weren't able to catch up. Luckily for me I was able to catch a glance of the rider in second as I charged down the back straight and to my surprise we had put a HUGE gap on those behind us. Settling behind the Thruxton's I crossed the finish line first in class, my second win of the day and my second win as a WERA expert.
WERA Season Opener - Little Talladega 2/21/2015
February 22, 2015
Brad Kline's CAMMRA Video - November 30th/December 1st