If you’ve been following our progress, you might be wondering why this race wasn’t on the schedule originally. It wasn’t originally included because the Grand National Finals are an invitational, and going into this season I wasn’t confident that I’d get invited. Well, we made it, so here is the motorcycle race recap!
There was only one race that I wanted to run, and because I was going to be in the 5th practice session of the morning, giving me some time, I decided to drive out to Birmingham in the morning, register and tech, then set up my paddock and prep for practice. I left Atlanta at 5:30AM, and pulled into Barber Motorsports Park just after 7AM Central.
First impression – wow, there are a LOT of people here! I pitted on the fourth level paddock at the top of the hill, as I pretty much had no other option. The place was packed!
When I pulled in and got out of the car, I was enthusiastically greeted by a medium-sized brown and black dog who I later found out was named Mocha. She ran to me like a scene from a romance movie for some love, which I happily obliged.
After getting registered and tech’ed, I set up my paddock and waited for practice. When they announced practice 3 I suited up, got the bike started and warmed, and got my head in the right place. Since I was so far away from track entry, I left my paddock when they made 2nd call, and I was the first one out.
Damn, did I feel slow. Barber is a fast, complex track, and isn’t particularly suited to the wee bike. The last series of corners, known as the carousel, is a fast left-right-right-left combo. Visually, it seems like a complete blank, and I found myself struggling for a visual reference of where to turn into the 2nd right turn. I came out of that practice with serious concerns.
Then I looked at my lap times.
We raced here in July, and my practice time in first practice was the same as my race pace in the July race. If I felt slow, that means there was more to be had.
There was more to be had. I took 2 seconds off my lap times in the next practice. I was ready to go.
One thing about this being a national event is that the grids are huge! Where normally my class grids up 9 or 10 racers, there were 16 in my class, and 30 total in my race. I was gridded up near four other racers who generally ran comparable times, so I knew getting a good start was going to be critical, and holding a line into turns 1 and 2 was going to be the key to a good race.
Green flag drops and we take off! I get what’s probably the best start this season, as nobody gets by me until the entry to turn 1, when Sarah Crowell shows me a wheel on the outside. I hold my line and stay in front of her. I don’t see her again the rest of the race.
The pack in front of me is fast, and I’m not gaining on them, but nobody is passing me, either. I’m essentially riding alone, which makes focusing on fast laps really hard. Looking at lap times, this became obvious as I didn’t break my 2nd practice lap times.
I got passed by a KTM390 on the 4th lap, a woman named Emma who was friends with Kyle Wagner. She had been getting steadily quicker all weekend. I spent the rest of the race chasing her down. I never lost her, but I couldn’t get past her, either.
Overall, I felt like I ran a good race, and we came in 10th in class. Considering I came in dead last when we were last here, and improved, I’m going to call that a good race.
Quick note to followers and sponsors – normally I would have posted and tagged y’all during the day, but my phone decided to misbehave and I was unable to do it.
See you at Roebling Road for the last two of the season!