Round 5 Loudon, NH
Written by Cowboy6 Tuesday, 06 July 2010 00:00
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New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS)

JUNE 11-13 2010 NHIS – Loudon, NH

It was fall of 2007 when I had last turned a wheel on this track. My experience that weekend was not very encouraging so we were a bit apprehensive as we once again rolled through the gate.

I was here as a part of the Atlantic series of events organized by the Championship Cup Series (CCS). I was able to coordinate attendance for all 7 events in this series which is the first time since I started racing motorcycles that I have been able to make every event in a series. I remembered this track being very bumpy and in my conversations with locals upon arrival, it had gotten a bit worse in the last few years.

So, we arrived very late Thursday evening as I had not realized two of my four races would actually take place on Friday! Earlier, I had just arrived home after a two hour drive and was contemplating just leaving in the morning. Then I checked the schedule and within an hour, we were on the road for our 7 hour drive. The pit area was lit pretty well so we easily found a spot to set up.

Friday AM we set out to finish unloading and get ready for the morning practice sessions. As usual, we offered breakfast to all in our area and Denise was pleased to be able to serve. Cecilia worked very hard getting things ready and seemed happy to be able to work the pits instead of the timing tower this weekend. Events would try her patience later!

We soon discovered that we had left a few key items behind in our rush to leave home. I was missing a rear stand and the pump to get the race gas out of the 15 gallon drum. We were able to borrow a pair of jack-stands to use in place of the rear stand but it made things a bit awkward. The fuel pump was harder to do without as we tended to spill the very expensive gas all down my arm every time we tried to fill a smaller 5 gallon pail we use to fill the bikes. We made everything work though.

Getting ready

Practice Friday did not go well. I really could have used a day or so at this track to learn it. As it was, I tried my best. The lap times were not good at all but by the end of the second and last practice, I felt a little better. I had worked down to a 1:21 which I was told was great for being what amounted to my first time there. The first race was GT Light and I had plenty of “practice” during that extended race. I ended up finishing 8th but my lap times were coming down. The next race was Ultralight Superbike and I felt better about that one.

Watching T3, looking for a clue...

As I gridded up for Ultralight, I was very happy to be on the front row. My habit of making good starts might just pay off with a holeshot here. As the starter prepped to give us the green flag, I felt somewhat calm and very focused. I felt my left foot moving on my Woodcraft rearset finding its perfect little niche for the start. My left hand released the clutch just enough to feel the plates start to grab. The engine RPM rose a bit and the flag moved! Off I went, dragging the clutch to keep the front wheel down. I was a bike length ahead when I hit second gear. As I turned into T1 I could hear the other bikes roaring down on me like a swarm of bees chasing a bear that just stole their honey. But, none got by, I was first into T1! My joy didn’t last as I was passed by two bikes before the first lap was finished and again by a third after 3 laps. Still, I was in 4th place out of 18 at a strange track with very little practice time. I could live with that. And I was living with that. Lap after lap. I could not gain on those in front but I was holding off those behind. With only two laps left, I crested the hill that follows T3 and wound the engine out to the next shift point. Then without warning, BOOM! A loud bang followed by what sounded like a rolled up newspaper being stuck into a fan rose up from my bike to assault my ears and my dreams of 4th place. I immediately pulled off line into the dirt on the inside of the track. As I dismounted my disabled steed, I looked into the lower fairing. It had done its job. It was full of oil. In the middle of this pool of retained lube, was the starter motor surrounded by other pieces of aluminum. I was done. I stood there forlorn but grateful and watched the rest of the race go by. I was grateful that I had not crashed and that there was no fire as a result of the oil spraying on the hot exhaust system.

Nice hole in the cases.

All the oil was retained, even the starter and aluminum chunks.

After returning to the pit on the wrecker, we unloaded the bike and set to work cleaning the fairly new rear tire that was now soaked with oil due to the bike bouncing around on the crash truck sloshing the oil out of the lower fairing. After assessing the damage, I went online to start lining up a replacement engine because our next race weekend was not far off. I found a few, marked them then went to work cleaning up the bike. Once racing was over, Denise, Cecilia and I took a walk around the pit area to meet some new folks. With us being strangers, I guess not many people were interested in meeting us. Our walk was a bit uneventful.

Cecilia cleaning, and cleaning...

Saturday morning arrived and I ended up missing my first practice. Then it rained for the second. I had no races that day so I was already finished before lunch. Cecilia and I went to work pulling the broken engine out. Once removed, we took a better look at it. The damage extended to the exhaust system that was collapsed when the starter impacted it. Not only was there a hole in the case where the piece of the connecting rod blasted through blowing the starter right off the engine, the case was broken at the rear as well. What a mess. The good news is that I ended up finding an engine at a place only 26 miles away. After talking to Scott Greenwood and dropping his name, the deal was set and MRO Chaplain Ray Rizzo took me to pick it up. Once we returned, Cecilia and I went to work installing the new engine. Denise got into the act as well. By sundown, it was running.

The best daughter in the world!

During the day we had met some folks down the lane from us so we went over to return a light we had borrowed and to talk a bit. With the level of intoxication rising and the conversation going places we were not comfortable with, we headed back to our pit to get some sleep.

Sunday brought clearing skies and a drying track. I went out for a tentative practice only to find that my “A” bike was suddenly running very poorly. It would not run much above 8,000 RPM and was quite miserable all around. I checked a few things and made sure the battery was up but nothing looked out of place.

We headed over for the rider’s meeting and chapel service. There were few in attendance as I had unfortunately anticipated. But Ray proceeded as planned.

I headed out for the ASRA Pro Thunderbike race and soon found my checks and adjustments were to no avail. It ran the same. So, I ran my ten lap race short shifting at 8000 and feathering the throttle to keep it from bogging down. I limped her home to a 9th place finish out of 16. With only one race left and the “A” bike in failure mode, I hopped on the “B” bike with its junkyard stocker engine to give it a baptism of fire. LW Superbike went without a hitch but I finished well down the order in 12th. The new engine was not very powerful but it ran and finished.

In all, the weekend was interesting. We were able to make some new acquaintances and meet a few fellow Christians. Honestly, I did not like the track at all. The transitions from the NASCAR oval to the race track were more like impact zones. There were potholes within inches of corner apexes as well. The surface did offer a great deal of grip, but, without more time, it was hard to blindly trust it.

Post Script: I had made some inquiries about my running problem with the “A” bike. I was unsure whether to chase spark or fuel. With some good council, I decided it was fuel. Then the idea popped into my head to check the tank. Success! I found a fist sized wad of thick paper shop towel clogging the fuel screen at the petcock. Someone must have graciously stuffed it into my gas tank overnight either that Friday or Saturday to extend that New Hampshire hospitality. I truly feel sorry for someone who feels the need to do such a thing. Whoever you are, you are forgiven. Far worse has been done to others far better than me. I will say though, NHIS will always have a “special” place in our hearts.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this. I hope you found it entertaining and encouraging.

We are heading to the Lightning Circuit at NJMP for the weekend of 25-27 June.

Keep us in your prayers.

……………..Joe ”Cowboy 6” Cotterino

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 00:08