Motorcycle race recap, race 9. A long fruitless trip and a struggle

This isn’t really a motorcycle race recap. I didn’t race. I could have raced, but I didn’t. Here’s that story.

Preparation and practice

This weekend was endurance racing on Saturday, which I don’t participate in, and sprint racing on Sunday. I spent Saturday traveling to Carolina Motorsports Park. I did the usual setup and then walked the track, since I don’t ride there frequently. Last time I rode here was a year ago almost to the day.

The weather Sunday morning was gorgeous, warm and sunny. A quick glance at the weather app on my phone showed it was supposed to stay that way until about 4PM, when there was a 50% chance of rain. I was pretty sure my race would start before then, so I didn’t think a whole lot about it.

After breakfast I registered, got through tech, geared up, and headed out for practice. The bike felt really good and my confidence was high. There were a few places I knew I could carry more speed, but overall it was the best first practice I’d had in a while.

Second practice went much the same, and I bettered my practice time by about two seconds. The nearest rival in my class was running nearly identical lap times, so we were likely to have an exciting race. After practice I got out of my gear, went to the riders’ meeting, and had lunch. A breeze had picked up, and it started to look a little cloudy on the horizon, but nothing I was too concerned about.

I like to gear up two races ahead of mine so I’m not rushed. My race was race 11, so I figured I’d gear up as they made first call for race 9. Around the middle of race 8, the wind picked up and the sky started to get significantly darker. I looked at the weather app on my phone, and it had changed to 100% chance of rain starting at 3PM.

It was 2:55PM.

Last call for race 9 came over the loudspeaker. I decided to hold offand see what happened. Race 9 started. About a minute later, nearly 3PM on the dot, it started to pour. Race direction red-flagged the race for rain, since it had started on dry pavement and everyone was out on slick tires. A few minutes later they pulled in all the corner workers due to lightning.

I lowered my canopy so the wind wouldn’t take it, and as I sat under it, I pondered my options. While the forecast didn’t look to improve, as long as there wasn’t lightning the races would go on. On the other hand, it was getting late in the day and racing wouldn’t restart until the lightning passed, then they had to get the corner workers back out. I also looked at my points position. There was nobody near me in points racing today.

I was vacillating. I could throw on rain tires on and go, but I didn’t have the desire to race in what could be a torrential downpour. Another factor was the 4-5 hours it was going to take to get home afterwards. Did I feel like waiting around and then getting home late at night? I was really struggling with the decision.

Not really a motorcycle race recap – the decision

As I sat there, Brian from Purple Haze Racing stuck his head under my canopy and asked if I wanted help swapping to rain tires. That was my decision point. I thanked Brian and told him I didn’t like the look of the forecast and wasn’t going to race.

I crammed everything quickly into the Kia and onto the trailer and busted out of there. When I got home, I texted Brian and asked him if any races had occurred. He told me they had, but in a downpour so heavy he decided not to race either. I saw a photo later of one bike on track racing in some crazy rain conditions, which helped me justify my decision in my mind. That’s why this isn’t really a motorcycle race recap.

Should I have raced?

I still don’t know. Racing in the rain can be unpredictable on tracks you know well, and CMP isn’t a track I know well. But I was there, and I was equipped for it, and could have come away with a race win. I really won’t have an answer until the end of the year. If I lose a regional championship by less than a race win, I might regret my decision then, but for now, I’m going to live with it.

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