2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap – battles royale and surprise finishes

Let’s begin this 2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap with the fact that this weekend kind of snuck up on me. I knew it was a race weekend, but when I went to bed Thursday night, I had done very little to prepare. I set the alarm for oh-dark-thirty so that I could pack up in the morning and head out as soon as I was done.

2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap – the trip

This turned out to be a really great idea. Not so much the packing in the morning, but the getting out of there early. The entire drive to the track was beset with storms, particularly the early parts of it. Google Maps kept warning me that my route my impacted by flood closures! It took me 6 hours to get to Roebling. Luckily, it was dry when I got there so I could get my tent and pit set up before it started raining again that night. I went to sleep Friday night with the sound of rain on my tent.

2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap – Saturday practice

When I woke up Saturday morning, the rain had stopped. The track was wet, and it was still pretty cloudy, so I decided to skip the first round of practice and see what second practice brought.

As the first round of practices ended, the sun came out and the pavement in the paddock was drying. I asked a few other racers who had gone out to practice what it was like, and they said it was dry, so I decided to hit the next practice sessions.

The first thing I noticed when I went out for practice on the Ninja was that while the track was drying, it was by no means completely dry. Last time I went out in drying conditions at Roebling, I crashed unexpectedly. I think I hit a damp patch that I didn’t see and lost the front. With this in my head, I was just slow. I couldn’t find a dry line where I felt confident. I just ended up frustrated.

The final straw was when my hip cramped up on the front straight. I decided that I wasn’t getting anything out of this practice session, so I pitted in. It wasn’t that early, apparently, since I saw the checkered flag at the finish as I was pitting, so I only missed one lap.

At that point in the day, I decided that all I really wanted to do was finish the race, and where I placed was unimportant.

By the time I went out for practice on the Benelli for the mini race, the track had dried completely. That practice session was pretty uneventful, though I did try and show a friend who was new to racing a few lines.

2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap – Saturday Mini race

Now for the actual racing part of the 2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap. My first race of the day was the mini race on the Benelli. We did our warm up, and gridded up.

Before I get to the start, I’d like to point out that I was racing in a Domino’s uniform shirt over my leathers, with Domino’s logos on both sides of my helmet. Have I mentioned that mini racing is a very, very serious endeavor?

As I mention in this 2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap, I raced the first mini race of the weekend dressed as a Domino's delivery driver

I got a terrible start. I couldn’t seem to get the bike to shift, and ended up in the back of a five or six bike pack. One of those bikes was Kyle Liv, who was the only other racer in my class. He and I worked our way through most of the field, though I did have a couple fun battles with Rick Kay on his Grom.

On the mini bikes more than any other class, rider weight matters. At Roebling, you don’t have to let off throttle at all – you’re circulating the track wide open. Other than differences in race line, rider weight is probably the single biggest factor.

I weigh 195 pounds. Kyle Liv weighs somewhere south of 120 pounds. While I was catching up to him in the back section on the corners, he’d just pull me in the straights. If I was close enough to him or another rider I could catch a draft and gain, but I wasn’t going to get past him.

By the end of the third lap, I was a good hundred feet behind Kyle as we went into turn 9, the final turn before the front straight. Just as I hit the apex of the corner, I see Kyle off on the right side of the track with his hand in the air, signaling that he’s coming off the race line. I found out later he had a mechanical issue that left him without throttle response briefly.

I pass him just as I get passed by Rick Kay on the Grom again! We finish up the last lap battling it out. I finally get him at turn 6, and finish the race in front of him. Since Kyle had the mechanical issue, I ended up winning my class.

2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap – Saturday F Superstock Expert race

When we gridded up for the F Superstock race, I was lined up next to Kevin Moore and Paul Pendergrass, a couple guys I know well, and with whom I’ve had some pretty pitched battles, so I knew I had a race on my hands. I was a bit nervous because my practice had been so bad, but I’ve also run a lot of laps at Roebling.

When the green flag dropped, I got a pretty good start, but Kevin and Paul beat me to turn 1, and from there, it was ON!

In the first lap it seemed like Paul and I were both faster than Kevin, but he held the lead all the way through that lap – we just couldn’t find a way around him. It probably didn’t help that we also were trying to pass each other, too. I showed Paul a wheel a few times in the first lap, but I couldn’t get past him, either.

We entered the front straight with Kevin in the lead, Paul drafting off him, and me drafting both of them. Just after the start-finish line Paul started to go left, and I stayed in the draft on the right. It started to look like we were to either going to split on either side of him, or we were going into turn 1 3-wide, which wasn’t going to work for someone.

About halfway between the start-finish line and turn 1, Paul just disappeared! I passed Kevin as we entered turn 1, and never saw Paul again. After the race he told me that he had tried to fix his glove on the front straight and hit the kill switch! By the time he was back on the power Kevin and I were 100 yards ahead, and there was little chance of him catching us.

The next several laps are a blur. Kevin and I exchanged leads at least a couple times. As we came out of turn 9 and I saw the white flag indicating the final lap, I had my head down and the throttle open. All of a sudden there’s Kevin on my left, passing me like he’s got an extra gear on his bike! I mean it was like I was sitting still! He must have gotten a great drive out of turn 9 and the draft.

2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap - I'm in front of Kevin Moore in turn 6

I immediately pulled into the draft behind him, and as we approached turn 1 I pulled inside him, and got him again on the entry to turn 1. All I needed to do was keep him behind me for that final lap! I knew he was breathing down my neck the entire time, so I focused on dropping the fastest lap I could, and I came across the line in first! I also found out later I’d set a new personal best, a 1:29.6.

2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap – Sunday Mini race

I only had one race on Sunday, the Mini race right after lunch. I ran both practices in the morning, but really didn’t do a whole lot. I tried to help a friend with lines again and ran a few laps. I spent most of the morning breaking down my tent and pit and packing before the race started.

One thing that was pretty great was we were the last practice of the morning and then the first race after lunch, and with the rider’s meeting during the lunch hour, it all went by pretty fast.

We gridded up to start, and while I got a good start, Kyle Liv got a better one. We went into turn 1 with him in the lead and me close behind him, but it was a lost cause right from the start. Kyle realized he didn’t have to let off at all in the back section, and with the weight advantage he has, I had no chance of catching him. By the end of the first lap, he was gone.

Rick Kay and I had some fun battles during the race, changing leads a couple times, but the real excitement was at the end. I was in front of him as we entered turn 9 on the last lap for the drag race to the finish line, but he passed me just at the corner exit. I dropped into the draft behind him and it looked like I was going to get by him before the finish.

Just as we’re crossing the finish line, his wife comes out of nowhere on the right and passes us both! We went across the line with her in first, then me, then Rick, but it was all within a couple feet of each other. She told us later that she’d been right behind us the whole race waiting for her opportunity, and when she saw it, she grabbed it!

2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap - the photo finish from Sunday's mini race

With that race, I came in 2nd in my class, so not a bad haul for the weekend, going 1-1-2 with an additional personal best lap. Thanks for sticking with me for a very long 2024 Roebling WERA Race Recap!

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