VIR, Virginia Festival of Speed.
Written by Cowboy6 Saturday, 09 July 2011 00:00
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VIR, Virginia Festival of Speed, JUN 18-19 2011 Virginia International Raceway

It's funny that it has taken me so long to do this write-up. So many things have happened this year so far. We have had to completely start over with a new team. This meant changing everything over to the new color scheme and name including a new canopy, banners, shirts etc. I am not going to lie and say that it has not been hard to be at the track with my old teammate John either. Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of this all is but I have to trust that God has a plan that I am simply not aware of yet. We had a great trip to the track this time. There were no problems, breakdowns or issues. We made decent time and arrived around 2000 on Thursday evening with plenty of light left to find a good pit spot. We headed toward where we pitted last fall as the bathroom/shower situation is very nice there. We were in luck, there was no one anywhere near the spot we wanted so we simply cruised on in parked the rig and proceeded to set up.

After getting things settled, we took a look around. There were not a lot of people there but we figured they would come in later that night or at least Friday night for the race weekend.

Friday was a practice day. Denise was busy making chocolate chip pancakes for all who wanted some including dear Jennifer Jones (CCS Worker), and some new acquaintances pitted nearby. I would not have taken part in this track day but I did need to set up the new front end on the SV. I ran a few sessions with the old stuff just to get a baseline, then, we swapped in the new Yamaha R6 front end. The bike did not feel that much different (good) but it was surely more compliant over the rough portions of the track. I was pleased. I found that the compression damping will need to be re-valved as I am on the softest setting but it is still a little too stiff. Cecilia was busy still adapting to her new role in the pit. She had a long haul down to Mize Mobile for new tires on the Ducati.

Friday night we walked around a bit but with the track day only people leaving, and only a few racers showing up, we were hoping for an overnight influx. The Ducati was acting up and running poorly. During testing, it somehow broke a front brake line. Luckily, I caught a vendor as he was closing his truck door, hitched up to leave. He only had a set of lines for an ’08 Yamaha but they would have to do. I took them back to the pit and found that only one would work. I ended up using one of the lines I removed from the SV front end transplant and could have used the other one too! What a waste of money! Well, better luck next time. With the brakes repaired, I closed up shop for the night; we moved off to pay visits.

Saturday AM rolled in and I rolled out of bed to find a still sparsely populated pit area. The turnout for this weekend was not good. With both bikes through tech, fueled and ready, we waited for first call. Denise was at it again with the breakfast (fried pepperoni and eggs) and Air Fence Andy paid a visit for some grub as well. I took the Ducati out for practice and it was horrible. It stumbled through corners at part throttle and tried to pitch me off! What an unruly steed! I was tired of fighting it for the weekend so I resigned to run the SV for all three races that day. We had no races on Sunday so this would be it. I was surprised but thrilled to be asked to do the invocation. With not having acknowledgement by CCS as an “Official” chaplain this year, I did not expect it. I prayed for the safety of all and was followed by Cecilia doing another awesome job with the National Anthem. She did not think she would be asked to sing this year so she was as was surprised and thrilled as I. The first race of the day was Light Weight Formula 40. I took my place on the grid and when the flag dropped, took off. I hit turn 1 in first and never looked back. I noticed I had a good lead so I slowed a bit to conserve tires for the rest of the day. I found out later the announcer had me at a 22 second lead at lap 4. It was a pole to pole win, nice! Next up was Ultralight Superbike. This one was the race the SV was supposed to be in and after my recent win, my confidence was up. However, Arnie Hastings (MA #1 plate) was gridded up. He was a fast rider and with Travis McNerney, and Mark Evry there as well, I had a battle on my hands.

When the flag dropped, I again took off. As I broke hard into T1, Travis came along side and we went two wide through the turn just inches apart. I held my line and got back on the gas as soon as I could. It worked, as I pulled away on corner exit and beat Travis to T2. Knowing Travis was right behind me and that Arnie would show up any minute kept me on my game. I pushed as hard as I could (the tires I was on were the same ones I raced here last September!) and used all the grip I could squeeze out of the rubber. Lap after lap I just kept going with a slide here and a slip there. Then the white flag came out. Into T1 for the last time Travis made his move. He tried to out-break me into the turn but I held firm and shut the door. We raced on through the next series of corners. Then into T14 he tried again. I was looking for him here for two reasons. First, Travis likes to overtake at T14 and second, it is really the last chance to pass before the final turn (T17) and the drag race to the checkered flag. If I could hold him here, the race was mine. I watched for his front wheel out of the corner of my eye. Then, I saw it. As soon as I saw him coming, I released my brake a bit to pull ahead and turned in, again, closing the door on him. The corner and the race was won! That made two in a row now.

The third and last race of the day should have been the hardest. It was Thunderbike. I would be taking my little SV650 out against bikes with engines between 1000cc and 1300cc. Rob Buroker was on the grid sheet and he was a good rider on a very fast Ducati. There was also a 749 on the grid sheet that I was unfamiliar with. But, as we gridded up, Buroker did not show! I was gridded next to the 749 and as we bumped fists, I said that I felt a bit undersized for this event. The 749 rider said “well, your bike looks great anyway.” Yeah, well, this is no beauty pageant or bike show. I did know that I would have the advantage over the 749 at the start so I concentrated on that. The flag dropped for the last time this weekend and I took off with the front wheel riding air. As the front settled back to asphalt and I shifted through the gears, I waited for the familiar sound of a larger v-twin bearing down on me. I heard nothing as I hammered the brakes, rear wheel now riding air and turned in taking my third holeshot of the day. Accelerating out of T1 I knew I had this lap until the front straight so I worked hard at a good race line to put space between us in a large enough quantity to prevent his power from overcoming it on the long VIR straight. As I braked again for T1 in the lead, I knew I had done the job. I was still worried though since I had no idea how close he was. Several laps later, as I exited T1, I saw the red Duck just coming past the tree and into the braking zone. I was good now, no worries. I kept up a decent pace though and took my third win for the day and the weekend. Three holeshots and three wins. Not a bad weekend! I had no races on Sunday so all pressure was off. The weather was looking ominous so we quickly packed up our gear. I had no desire to lose my brand new canopy. Matt Sherman stopped by the RV bearing a gift of Dominos Pizza. We all ate and talked for a while. I invited Matt along as we headed out on our tour of the pits and ended up at Danny Ronca’s spot just in time for: more Pizza and benchracing. I was not doing my diet any justice tonight!

Sunday I did take advantage of the one practice session but that was it. Denise fed many in the pits. I again gave the invocation and Cecilia somehow bettered her Saturday performance of the anthem. We watched a few races then headed for the gate. Stay tuned for more!

We have plenty on and off track work to do for Him! ………….Joe (Cowboy 6) Cotterino

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 January 2012 14:58

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