Round 2 Carolina Motorsports Park
Written by Cowboy6 Sunday, 18 April 2010 00:00
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Carolina Motorsports Park (CMP)

APR 10-11 2010 CMP – Kershaw, SC

It has come to be that every weekend is not without its adventure. This one was no exception. We left for South Carolina around 2100 (9:00 PM). I had planned on driving 3-4 hours then sleeping the night at a rest stop. But as Murphy would have it, 2 hours into the trip, I stopped for fuel. The trailer felt a little funny and was dragging the hitch a little more than normal. So, I checked it out at the station. Low and behold, the hitch was pretty much on the ground! I looked underneath and saw torn steel on both sides. After fueling we tip-toed the trailer to the back parking area and unhooked it. I took a walk and found a phone number for a truck stop with all night mechanical services. With some restless sleep while waiting, at 0500 we were on our way back to pick up the trailer and move on. The Lord was surely watching over us. It could only have been Him that kept the trailer attached with so little steel intact.

We arrived at CMP with some daylight to spare and it was nice to unload and get things settled while being able to see. We were blessed with 30 amp power because our neighboring Bridgestone guy (DB Motorsports) didn’t need it. This made operating the RV much nicer. We helped a few others get their stuff unloaded and the evening closed with the garage set up and ready to go.

Friday morning found rain pinging off the roof and everything very, very wet. It was also very cold! The weather had shown in the high 80s to 90 all week. Now that we had arrived, we found ourselves looking for long sleeves! Up went the canopies on the RV and Denise went to work on coffee and breakfast for everyone. With being on staff and working this event, Cecilia was going to enjoy this day working as pit crew since it was the only time she would be able to do so all weekend. The rain quickly stopped though and after a bit of time, I was informed the track was dry. So, with slicks installed, I started out. A fellow racer and really nice lady, Katharin (Kat) Zimpel from Florida, asked to follow me around. I said sure, but in this cold; don’t expect any speed this first session. As we went out though, I found the track to be very wet and dangerous for slicks. So, after two slow laps to show Kat the line, I called it a session and went in. As the day went on, it dried out quickly and lap times dropped. Speaking of dropping, the “A” bike became acquainted with the asphalt in T1 due to an oil soaked rear tire. I found and repaired the leak with no further incidents.

Cecilia and Tori

Saturday brought more cold AM weather but no rain. Like Friday, it warmed rather quickly and we got down to business. With brand new Bridgestone slicks (left over from last year) mounted to both bikes, I was eager to see what was up. My first race was GTL. As the calls were coming, I was getting nervous. Everything was prepped and ready but as the final call was issued, the bike would not start! After many tries, I found that the fuel line was empty. We had not noticed the vacuum line had come off while we were under the tank cleaning the oil off the engine and body. I worked furtively to try and connect the line with very little room for my fingers. I heard the other riders taking off for the warm up lap which made it worse. I finally pushed it on and fired the bike. Out I went only to be held in the hot pit lane because I was so late. I was to start on the front row of the first wave but due to my mechanical difficulty, I found myself watching my wave round T1 without me, 10-15 seconds (that seemed like an eternity) the second wave roared by and rounded T1 as well. Finally, I was released to start after them! By the end of the first lap, I had passed the entire second wave and was on my way to chase down my group. By the time the race was over, I had run down 4 of the bikes in my race to finish 7th out of 11. Not too bad but still no good for my points standings! I was grateful for what I did accomplish and that I stayed on two wheels. The next race on Saturday was LW Superbike.

Another good launch.

The bike was now sorted and ready to go. I was gridded on the front row of the second wave this time and I made it just fine. I was blessed with another one of my great starts and I led my race into T1! I knew Joey Thomas was not far behind me on his Ducati 1000 so I was determined to run as hard as I could to build a bit of a lead to keep him there. All went well for 5 of the 7 laps. Then I saw someone on the sidelines showing me that Joey was fairly close. In an effort to eliminate his ability to get by me in T1 I waited a little longer to brake. With the rear wheel off the pavement, I went in too deep. All was good but I was sure Joey was closer than ever now. The next time by start/finish brought the white flag indicating the last lap. Again, I saw the hands close together and didn’t I do the same thing AGAIN! This time, Joey got by while I floundered in T1. I did the best I could but I could not get by him again and ended the race in 2nd. My last race for Saturday was Ultra Light Superbike. Because I had left my other set of air filters in my garage, we had a quick change-over to accomplish between these races. With the help of my lovely wife and pit crew for the weekend, this was managed without drama. Everything was good as I gridded up for the race that I had the best shot at winning. As the flag dropped however, my bike bogged a bit and I was slow off the line. I ended up second through T1. As the race continued, I found that the bike started acting funny while I was in turns. It almost threw me off a few times when it shut off while I was leaned over in a turn then came right back on again. I thought my race was over and that I would be lucky to finish the first lap. But, as I straightened the bike up and headed down the next straight, it picked up and ran fine. This ritual repeated itself in every long turn for the entire seven lap race. I did manage to hang on to 2nd but there was no way I could catch the first place guy with it running like this. When I returned to the garage after the race, we removed the fuel tank and the air filter from the front carburetor. I saw fuel all the way up on top of the slide, boiling. I removed the carburetor and there was so much fuel in the intake port, I couldn’t see the valves. Something was causing fuel to dump into this cylinder. At neutral throttle through the long turns, this was causing an excess fuel build up which was killing the engine and causing my problems.

Saturday evening I resolved to find the problem with the “B” bike and its carbs. I started dismantling the one in question thinking the float valve was stuck. Instead, I found a little piece of white plastic shaving from the new can pump I had trimmed to fit the 15 gallon fuel cans we were now using. It had gotten stuck in there, holding the valve open and causing the constant fuel flow! I checked the rest of the unit for good measure and re-installed it. Then I took the bike for a ride and let it idle for a good while to see if it would build up fuel. All went well and we were ready for Sunday.

Art and me, just hangin'

Joe from Florida goofing off.

With the bikes ready, it was time for some R&R and a walk around the pits. We attended the Southeast Region banquet (held right there at the track in the pavilion) and had a good time talking to people there and cheering for the various winners from last year. The wings and chips were good too, thanks to Matt Sherman for hooking me up with seconds! After the banquet, we walked the track for a bit. The area we covered had been a mystery to Cecilia as she could not see that area from the tower. We were able to see the track made by my bike where I had gone off in Friday practice. It was very peaceful. After the track walk, we moved on to visiting and ended up at Bob Michael’s pit for some pizza and conversation. We were able to enjoy some time with Art who seems like a stranger now that he has moved to Florida. He brought two of his friends (Joe and Alex) from the Daytona area with him and they seemed to have a good time as well. With the turn out so light, things were pretty quiet in the pits that night. Many of the folks there had booked rooms in the local hotels so they were not even in the area. It was nice not to have to turn wrenches all night!

It felt really good to hit the rack that night. So much had happened already in the past three days, and the added anticipation of the final day to come was weighing heavy. I felt so content with the weekend so far. The Lord gave me plenty of opportunity to handle adversity and according to my girls, I did well. I was simply in awe at my situation. I could not believe that my little baby girl was all grown up and singing the National Anthem to the point of drawing compliments from so many people. With a smile on my face, I drifted off. Sometimes sleep just feels so good. But then, the ALARM !!
Sunday morning arrived and with the chill still in the air, Denise got to work making breakfast again. People came from all over the paddock for their bacon egg and cheese on an English muffin and some coffee. When people couldn’t make it, she went out, took orders and delivered! In the midst of all this, she was pitting the bikes! I had her helping with forks, tire warmers, fueling the bikes, rear stands, grids, cleaning up the oily mess the “A” bike made and listening for the announcers to call our races. My helmet is off to her for all her hard work this weekend. I married quite a woman! I think I’ll keep her.

Denise getting dirty Friday night!

The best wife EVER!

The day started with more practice and then Cecilia sang the National Anthem again. Today two of my races are repeated as this is a “Twin Sprint” weekend. This time, the “B” bike was up first in the Ultra Light Superbike race. I had something to prove now with it running well so I went out with a mission.

Asking God to keep me safe.

Tipping it into T4.

Before all this went down though, we had another mission, Chapel service. My partner Art Lohman was blessed with performing the service and as usual, he had a great message with a great delivery technique. He used the rhythmic motions of cleaning your motorcycle chain as an analogy for our constant maintenance on our lives. He explained how we are forever adjusting and taking care of problems as our lives go round and round. But, inevitably, we can’t handle it all or we make a mistake. Then, our hand gets caught in the chain and sprocket. How do we react when that happens? It really hurts and it makes us angry. These “hurts” in our lives include things like being diagnosed with a terminal illness, the sudden death of a loved one, a catastrophic car accident or even the destruction of our marriage. What do we do when we experience these stressors in life? A lot of times, we lash out. Usually this lashing out ends up being directed at the ones we love because they are close and easy. Does this solve anything? It solves about as much as jerking your hand when it is caught in the chain and sprocket. It just hurts more and does more damage. What we need to do is remain calm, back up a little, nurse the wounds properly and move on. When you have God in your life and have your life focused on Him, it is much easier to do this. The world we live in is just not so important with our eternal lives so visible to us. With God, we can get through this, we can get through anything.

I really need to shave more often at the track!

Art delivering his message at chapel service.

Now, back to the track and the Ultralight Superbike race. I was on the front row again but when the flag dropped, I still only managed to come out of T1 in second. I hung close though and plotted my pass. It happened in T11 a tight left hander after the longest straight on the track. I tucked in close behind the bike in front of me as we flew by the kink on the back straight. As we came into T11, I pulled out and beside him and executed the textbook block pass. Holding the bike tight to the apex, I made it stick and then made it my sole purpose to pull away. After a lap or so, we came into traffic from the first wave. I made my way through them pretty well. When I took the checkered for the win, and finally looked back, I could not even see the second place rider.

Back in from a decisive WIN!

Getting ready to make a Buell my mid-day snack!

Just like at Daytona, Eric Helmbach requested my assistance for the Team Challenge event. Again, I was glad to be able to help out. I teamed up with Joey Thomas and his lovely wife to complete the three person crew needed for the event. Eric would be riding his spanking new BMW for this event and it was pretty exciting. After the first ten laps, Eric already stretched his lead to over 34 seconds! Then an awful thing happened. I saw a bike and a body bouncing and flipping through the dirt on the outside of the back straight. When things came to rest, the rider didn’t move. Time stood still as I saw corner workers reaching for red flags but none was thrown. The rider still didn’t move. The red flags went out and the race was stopped. It turns out the rider was a friend of mine Dennis Espinosa. I felt sick. With still no movement from Dennis, we received word that a med-evac helicopter was on the way. Denise and Marea Heck made haste over to Dennis’ pit to make sure his two little girls were OK. Sometimes it is hard to deal with such things as a kid when you are only hearing what is happening a little at a time. With the chopper inbound, we heard about and saw movement from Dennis! Thank the Lord! With the helicopter lighting on the ground, and Dennis saying he was OK, he was loaded and flown off for evaluation. His eyes had blackened immediately and this, I hear, is a sign of bad news for the head. He needed to be checked out. With the bike and emergency vehicles cleared, the race was continued. Eric and Alex (on Eric’s SV) were fueled during the red and only Eric would need a splash after a few laps to ensure a finish under power. Once Alex did a “stop-and-go” to comply with the green flag pit stop requirement, Eric came in, took a splash of gas and went out to finish. With my job done, I found Denise and went to check on the Espinosa girls. They seemed in good spirits so we just chatted lightly with them to keep them company while Dennis’ crew loaded the trailer. It can be hard to know what to do or say in such a situation but this is what friends are for. Denise said it best when she commented how she would want someone with Cecilia if something happened to me and she wasn’t there.

Hard out of the final turn (T14).

The next race was the second iteration of LW Superbike. For some reason, only three riders showed up to the grid. This was a bad deal as with the second place finish I would earn here, I would again be out of the contingency money because of the small grid. This would make the third race out of 5 that this happened just this weekend. In fact, with only three on the grid, I would not get anything even if I won. This was a good race between Mark Evry and me though. He made it by me on the entry to T4 on the second lap. I hung with him the best I could and on the third lap I passed him in the kink on the back straight. We stayed in these positions to the end giving me my third 2nd place finish for the weekend. Talking with him afterward, he said the he was pretty scared through there as his head was pretty much on my tail section and he couldn’t see the track or where he was going the entire time! I did make a point to leave him some room so all was well but I could feel for him at that moment. It is nice to race with someone you trust. While the pass I put on him wasn’t unsafe, it wasn’t comfortable either. I really don’t like to do such things, but I had to get by.

Mark, me, and Marea Heck (with her 1st place plaque in Femmoto)

Mark and I after a tough battle.

In all, it was a great weekend. We found out that Dennis, while very sore and bruised, only suffered a broken pinky, broken toe and a lot of swelling. With Dennis being the worst crash of the weekend, things went very well. Chapel service was an outstanding success, we managed one win and three 2nd place finishes on the racing side of things. We were able to supply breakfast and other meals for a large number of people. This was truly a blessing as we are surely cheerful in our giving.

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

We are heading to the Thunder Circuit at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) for the weekend of 1-2 MAY.

Keep us in your prayers.

……………..Joe ”Cowboy 6” Cotterino

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 00:08