If you aren’t Trump, Gates or Jobs, you are hurting right now  In times like these, extraneous fun is often one of the first things to go (interestingly this doesn’t seem to apply to vice).  Thus as this year’s track dates were released by organizers, I sat on the sidelines wondering how and whether to place a deposit or two with K@TT.  And yet 13 days into the year and I’ve managed a trackday already.  But there was a catch or two.  One, word of mouth was heavily responsible for my opportunity.  Two, I had to work for it…..literally.

In the years past, I’d actually considered trying to host a trackday.  The way I saw it was garner enough interest to make the event feasible, rent the track, sign up for ambulance service, collect $ from attendees, bust the shins of those who fell through, lunch would be on each individual, and lets ride.  Hah!  There is so much more to it than that.  So instead I now work for a provider.  OK, really I just got to work -once- for a provider.  And I’m hoping I left enough of a good impression to be allowed back.

This past Monday was K@TT’s Customer Appreciation day and it was held at Sears Point/Infineon Raceway.  Cra1g tells me beforehand that they may have need of an additional grid manager.  To make the boring details short, an arrangement was come to with Lance and the cooperation of my manager made me available to go to the track Monday.  Normally this time of year isn’t prime trackday time, weather-wise.  But it’s almost been summer weather lately.  Monday was no exception.  Bright sunshine and pleasant warm air alllllllllll day.

The rider’s meeting (which I arrived well ahead of, for the record), was relatively short.  Lance figured everyone would be good riders.  My assumption is the customer appreciation is for people who’ve spent a pile of money on trackdays with K@TT and hence should know what a track is and how to get around one.  Nonetheless, a couple of people raised their hands when it was asked if this was anyone’s first time at Sears.

After the meeting, Mike F and I worked tech while Cra1g went off somewhere trying to pawn tires on people and such.  After a while we moved tech down to the flag station and climbed the tower to precariously set the countdown timer in place and get it working.  Another worker named Jeremy joined us down there.  Jeremy had the cutest 4 year old black lab/pit mix.  What wasn’t so cute was how much tongue-on-lips interaction I saw all day.   I mean hey, I love dogs like other people do (cats too).  But ….umm….has anyone noticed where else dogs like to lick (e.g. themselves)?  Not my cup-o-tea, but thats me.

I got to tech my own bike, which would have been doubly-embarrassing if something had failed.  I put myself in the A group.  Lance was allowing A and B+ (no B- or C) to swap around some with the agreement that the A rider’s would respect the slower B+ pace.  More on that later but in summary – FAIL.  The B+ (henceforth called B) group came out and I watched Mike K let them out onto the track.  Mike explained various responsibilities to me and so on.  We teched some late arrivals.  Other than that, I just stayed at the flag station, checking for tech stickers and doing tech on more late arrivals.  Being a two group day, each session was “30 minutes” with an actual 27 minutes given (3 minutes leeway to clear the stragglers at each checkered flag).  B group finishes and the A group goes out for their first 27 minutes.  These guys had a different feel or “aura” while waiting on the grid than the B group; this is reasonable since they are faster and have a higher ratio of licensed racers.  They also had less respect for the grid managers.  >:-(    Jeremy asked me if I wanted to go ride.  “no”.

In the 2nd B group session, Jeremy went out and rode.  I suited up, finally agreeing to ride a little after repeatedly being asked by both Jeremy and Mike if I wanted to go out and me repeatedly saying “no”.  I had a few reasons for saying “no”.  Primarily I wanted Lance to see I was serious about helping and being useful to K@TT in some way.  But also, in no specific order: Mike K and Tom were there but in the B group and that’s where Jeremy wanted to ride, I had no other riding buddies out there (Cra1g was working), I was just happy to not be at work -and- be at a racetrack.  I was getting a kick just watching the varying styles and sounds and smells of the front straight at close proximity.

2nd A group session and I go out for about 5 laps.  It was quite fun riding at such a fast pace.  I had one literbike rocket past me on the inside entering T2 but he passed so quick I didn’t have a chance to be anything more than impressed.  A few other very reasonable passes and an overall challenging pace.  After 5 laps I came back in and went back to work.  As the day rode on I started to notice two disturbing trends.  One was that the A riders were progressively passing the flag station faster and faster.  Frankly there is no reason for that.  Roll the hot pit mildly and wick it up on the track itself.  I notified Lance of this today and he says that pisses him off and he has to thing about doing something.  I hope he does.  There’s just no reason for it.  The second trend was the A guys were flying in the B group.   Since Lance was allowing intermingling, I guess they were getting as much track time as possible.  But they weren’t tempering their speed any.  Easy for me to comment on as I don’t have their speed and skill.  It was even more evident at times because there were some D- level people out there (IMO) too.

Speaking of fast guys, I noticed an all-white CBR1000RR in the A group absolutely FLYING.  In time I get a look at the back of the leathers and saw “Parriott” along with sponsor patches.  Could it have been Brian Parriott?  I never found out for sure, but this rider was crazy fast, easily faster than anyone else.  Then I saw him on another bike.  And then on a gorgeous white and powder blue 1098 (__, S, R, it didn’t matter) and still just as fast.  I though Gary Jaehne was fast but in this company it just looked like Gary was relagated to having fun wheelying his ZX10R.  Other fast(er) company was Ken Hill, also on a white CBR1000RR.  I like the CBR1000RR so I enjoyed seeing it represented well by these two.   Later in the day another 1098__ rider was out laying down eye-popping laps.  The A group is fast but these 3 were a notch above.  But again, these fast guys (a lot of the A group I mean) were also out carving up the B group like thanskgiving turkey.  Lance had specifically given permission for A to ride in B so long as they respect the fact that B riders were where they are because they don’t want to ride with A group.  So I didn’t think this conduct was fair.  It’s different when I do it.  Why?  Cause I politely pick my way through, I don’t carve anyone up mercilessly.  I’m not that fast.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  🙂

To add a strange twist to the matter, there was only ONE incident all day.  ONE.  Someone low-sided, I believe, exiting the Carousel.  But they were up and ok and eventually restarted the bike.  That’s it.  Despite the disparity of B group speeds and the blazing fast A riders, the day was very quiet problem-wise.  This was really nice.

I got lunch, met a very nice friend of Cra1g’s, chatted with Mike K and Tom (Q?) for awhile, picked up a spare rear wheel from Mike K, and then watched Spooks in my truck while consuming a chicken caesar wrap.

In the afternoon, more work.  By this point I recognized most of the bikes as they’d enter the track so I’d just give a thumbsup, majority of which would return a grateful wave.  But still there were those ones that seem to think blowing the flag station at 80mph is gonna cure cancer or win them a million dollars or impress some hottie, etc.  Nope, just made me view you as idiots!  Jeremy left at 3pm to go to work so I asked Mike F (who had been riding B group) if I could do a B session with Mike K and Tom.  As things would happen, Mike K and Tom chose that session to sit out, Mike being tired from a day hike.  But they came out anyway and I got to follow them around for 4.5 laps before doing the rest of the session myself.  And that was it for me.  I was happy.

Even though I didn’t completely trust them on their 6th day, the Michelin PR5/PRC combo gave nary a whimper and still look good.  Amazing.  Also I still have a brake problem that hounds my confidence.  The front isn’t firm despite much bleeding work.  Mike F is running Yamaha monoblock calipers on his GSXR1000 and loves it, I hear it isn’t an uncommon modification.  I have an alternative bleeding technique to try as well as a good caliper cleaning and if that still doesn’t get it good, then eBay it is for some monoblocks from the boys in blue.  Still I ran a couple of 1.54s and came away with some reminders which I’m about to address in a few minutes: goals chart.  I wanted (but forgot and failed) to do the following: find more visual turn-in points, work on head and body position more, try more trail-braking.  I can look at this chart before going out and avoid coming home thinking “awww, I forgot to….”

On the last A group session, it was really cool to see instructor Shaughnessy’s wife and kids come into the grandstands and watch daddy blast around doing his thing.  They cheered and pointed when he’d go up the front straight.  It feels great to have family/friends there to support what you do.  I’m gonna get my own cheering section out there too this year, and see if I can get some 2-ups approved in an Aerostitch.  At the end of the day, I helped Mike F dismantle the tech/grid area.  We assisted each other in loading the motorcycles and packing up.  I wandered around a bit to say good-byes and hit the road for home.  It was a really nice day.  Actually it was a great day;  the hit to my pocket was slim-to-none, and better weather couldn’t have been purchased with diamonds and gold.

Best time 1:54.3__ (in B group; 1:54.4__ in A.  What a hypocrite  🙂