Round 11 : Virginia International Raceway
Written by Cowboy6 Wednesday, 10 November 2010 00:00
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Virginia International Raceway

SEP 25-26 2010 VIR – Alton, VA

It is hard to believe that the season was coming to an end. It seemed like just last month we were taking the checkered flag for the win at Daytona. Yet it was true. In just a few short days, the season would be over. The racers, family and crew that we spent our entire Spring and Summer with, would be gone until next year. We will miss them for sure.

But, exciting things are afoot and we had some racing and outreach to do! The trip to the track was fairly uneventful for once. As usual, the gate folks were very cordial and we experienced no issues with getting in. Being the last event for the year, I parked the RV within a stone’s throw of the restrooms. This made my wife and daughter’s weekend a bit more pleasant. Although I was extremely tired from the drive, I had decided to install the slipper clutch I bought early in the year but never tried. I would use this practice day to test it out. If I didn’t like it or if it didn’t work (it was used) I could easily remove it Friday evening and put the standard clutch back in. So I went to work swapping out parts with Cecilia’s help while Denise tidied up the RV. Once that was complete, we were so tired, we were ready to crash.

Friday morning arrived and we finished setting up the pit area. I quickly took the bike to tech and made ready for the practice sessions to start. I was extremely eager to turn my very first laps with a slipper clutch. I was not disappointed. After a lap or so to reacquaint myself to VIR, I turned up the juice. The action of the slipper was excellent. It really helped me on corner entry into T1, T4, T7 and T14. It does take getting used to and a conscious effort to utilize it to its potential. The day went well overall. I felt very comfortable on the track and really trusted the surface. That was something I had been missing all year. I was also sitting in a good position because all I needed to do was get some points and I would seal the deal on the Mid-Atlantic Ultra-Light Superbike title. All I would need was one good lap and I was in. So, after lap one, I was going to be free to push my limits and go for it. After all, there would not be another race weekend a week or so away this time. I had all winter to repair any damage incurred by a crash.

Denise, Cecilia and I all took a stroll to visit and smile at people. The turnout was a bit light but racing didn’t start until Saturday and people would be arriving all night long. Later that night, I mean really later, John would arrive and set up next to us.

 

Saturday morning brought more good weather and a beautiful day. Denise got busy making her breakfast specials for everyone I could find and invite. I would only have one race today, the GTL. Practice went well and I was pumped because I had brand new rubber on both bikes! As I gridded up for my only Saturday race, I looked around. There were plenty of bikes here. It was nice to have a full grid for once. After smiling and banging knuckles with the guy next to me on the grid, I waved to the spot in the tower where Cecilia would be sitting and then, got focused on the task at hand.

The race went well with my finishing 4th. Joey Thomas on his mighty Ducati and Eric Helmbach ran a great race. I was busy duking it out with the bike that would eventually take 3rd. I have to say that it was very nice to be back behind a Zero Gravity double bubble windscreen again. I had destroyed my last one and the replacements were lost in the mail. During the last race weekend, I found that it put me out a bit and left my head in the airstream using a standard screen again. Thanks to Zero Gravity for shipping my order again to get it to me in time for this weekend.

 

This weekend was a special weekend for a local Boy Scout troop. They had set up camp in the woodline near the pit area and were spending the day checking out the race scene. We met the troop leader and had a really nice talk with him. We made our usual rounds through the pits and had a very special dinner with Rocky and Lucy of Vondari Racing. They had made some awesome steaks along with baked beans and pie for desert. Then, after dinner, we had a talk with a long time racer that we have been friends with for a while now. This person definitely had some questions that needed answered. We discussed a lot of things that night. One question, I did not readily have the answer to. So, I asked if I could research it and provide an answer in the AM. This was agreed to and we parted ways for the evening. Back in our pit area, our buddies across the tarmac had set up a big screen and were watching a movie from a picnic table outside. I sat with them a while and watched but I was too tired to finish it and I had an answer to find. I went to the RV and did my homework, found the answer and headed to bed exhausted.

 

 

Sunday morning found us heading to the riders meeting. I found my conversant from the night before and let them know I had the answer figuring we might talk later. Instead, I was asked to provide the answer right then and there. I did so and was very encouraged at its reception and the mention of telling others that shared the ideas we were discussing! I was happy to simply share the answer but to have others reached by proxy was amazing! I was so very happy that I wanted to skip the meeting all together and run to tell Denise. But, I guess that could wait.

Once the meeting was over, I really did not have much to do as my two races for the day were not until way after lunch. So, I spent the time walking the pits and talking to people. This was a great opportunity because as I said earlier, we would not see most of them again until the following year. In my wanderings, I came across a friend and extended an invitation to attend chapel service. I joked and said I would provide chauffeur services in my awesome borrowed golf cart. For some reason, that worked and an agreement for pickup was made. A few hours later, I arrived and made my pickup, as well as the delivery to where the chapel service would be conducted.

This service was a neat one. Ray Rizzo was preaching and he had asked for some of my wrecked bodywork for props. I was wondering what was up. Ray’s lesson for the day dealt with God communicating with us by putting things in our lives. He used my wrecked bodywork to show how God repeatedly thrashed my bike and body this year to put His message in front of others as well as provide opportunity for me to demonstrate His spirit and determination.

When I made it back to the pits after chapel, I saw that the wind had mangled John’s canopy. It was blown up against his trailer and bent up pretty bad. We ended up having to take it down and put it away. Thankfully, this was Sunday so it did not matter much.

 

 

Eventually, my first race of the day (Ultralight Superbike) did indeed arrive. I was pretty pumped about it as I did the math and only needed a few points to clinch the championship. This meant completing a lap then I could cut loose and go for it. When the flag dropped, I had a great start and pulled the holeshot into T1. I led the entire first lap but halfway through lap two, Eric got by me. I turned up the heat and gave chase. I’m not sure if I just didn’t want to crash or if I was just done, but I could not catch him. I did hang on to second with third far behind. In the process though, I set a new personal best lap of 1:37. Not too bad for a junkyard engine! The bike was handling well and had phenomenal grip from the Bridgestone slicks. With the second place finish, the championship was indeed secured. This was my last and brought the total to six for the season. Not too bad!

I did have one more race to go though. The Lightweight Superbike race was to be a tough one. The grid was packed with 1000cc beasts ready to devour my little SV! I did manage another great start and thought I had another holeshot but as I approached the turn in point for the first turn, three of these thundering steeds pulled up on me and moved me to fourth! Ouch, that hurt! The interesting thing was, they were not pulling away. I was able to hang with them. The four of us circled the track for two laps. Then, the second place bike made a move and took the lead. Then the next bike went to second, and the next followed suit. It seemed the rider that led for two laps was not very good but very hard to pass. I ended up passing him too but the lead three kept pulling away now that they were not being held up. Then Eric passed me moving me back to fourth. I spent the remainder of the race battling with the guy who led initially. I would pass him in a corner then he would pass me again on the straight. We went back and forth but in the end, he pulled by me to the finish line leaving me with 5th place. I did manage to get down in the 1:37s again though. I should have been faster since I was on my good engine. I am just not as comfortable on that bike for some reason.

With our last race of the season complete, it was time to pack up and get on the road. My team had done well this season. We found a nice place to stop and had some pizza for dinner. Then about 5 hours of driving later, I was tired so we found a Wal Mart to park the RV and called it a night.

 

Next up is a riding clinic for the Eastern PA chapter of CSBA. We are looking forward to helping others be safe on the street and get much more enjoyment from their bikes. We are also open to any speaking engagements where you may feel we would be effective. If you would like us to speak to your group, shoot me an email.


Please keep us in your prayers!

::::::::::::::: Joe “Cowboy 6” Cotterino

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 January 2012 00:35