George McConnel's RC51 BLOG

Date:June 18, 2006
Track:Talladega Gran Prix Racetrack
Bike:2002 Honda RVT1000 (RC51)
Weather:Partly Cloudy, High near 91f, occasional breezes
Conducted By:WERA

Track Diagram

Dewayne Henson and Catt Moss were instrumental in getting me through my first day of racing. I can't thank them enough.

Registration wasn't supposed to be such a big deal on this day but it took considerably longer to get registered than on the previous day. Catt speculated it might have something to do with the fact that there was a $2000 purse being put up by Suzuki for one of the races. I'm sure that has a way of drawing them out of the woodwork.

I signed up for three races: Heavyweight Twins Superstock, Heavyweight Twins Superbike and B Superstock.

I was gridded in last place on each start because of my Provisional Novice status. WERA racers are always gridded according to their current points standings. I won't have any points at all until I've completed the two requisite race weekends without a crash and gotten the rest of my paperwork in order. After getting my bike, leathers and helmet passed by Tech I got ready for my first (of two) practice sessions.

For practice I was grouped with 750cc and up Novices. I managed to pass another provisional novice during my first practice session. It was a sweet pass as I just edged by him on the "bowl" cornering around him on the outside at a higher speed. In retrospect this was probably the highlight of my weekend's racing experience.

Here I am easing by another provisional novice.
He was on a GSXR600.

My second practice session was cut short because too many people were wiping out. There were at least two crashes during that practice session. This is doubly unfortunate because there is no need to be so competitive during practice. As the old saying goes, "You can't win practice".

A corner worker rushes over to try to assist one of
the riders who went down during my second practice.

They red-flagged our second practice session after only about 3 laps and called it.

We had the obligatory rider's meeting at 11:10 then broke for lunch.

After lunch it was time for racing to begin. They played the National Anthem as everyone stood respectfully. Then it was time to race. The first race was a 6 lap "Mini" race. It's very entertaining to watch these guys fully dressed in racing leathers, getting into a full tuck on a scooter capable of maybe 45 MPH after a minute's acceleration.

These guys are serious about their scooters.

I was in the next event, so I didn't get to watch much of the scooter race. I was too busy getting my gear on and getting ready for my warmup lap.

Here I am all by myself on Tally turn 9 ("the skidpad").
The "skidpad" is a 270 degree turn with no banking.

The first event I was involved in was C Superbike Expert / Heavyweight Twins Superbike Expert and Novice. Because of time constraints they tend to combine classes together into one race. This was my "Heavyweight Twins Superbike" race. I felt very much owned during this race. I started the race on the 23rd row, part of the second wave of bikes to start. In fairness to myself there were some really good riders out there, but it was an incredible learning experience having these guys blast around me in curves, passing me in places I never would have expected them to have room to do so. On one occasion I made a real newbie mistake and adjusted my line when someone came blowing by me on the inside of a tight curve. No surprise I came in dead last. My lap times during this race started around 1:17 and edged their way into the 1:16's.

I wish I could say these guys were trying to keep up with me.
The reality is that they blew past me seconds later.

My second race was the 12th sprint of the day. Again it was a two class race, combining Heavyweight Superstock Expert and Novice with Vintage class 6 Heavyweight and Vintage class 7 Medium weight. It had gotten cloudy for the last half hour or so before this race, but during the race the sun came back out and things got hot. I was really feeling exhausted by the last two laps and found it necessary to ease off considerably, riding out the race but not riding hard.

I spent a lot of time hydrating and trying to get my energy up for my third race, which incidentally was going to be last race of the day. This was simply B Superstock Novice. I actually managed to pass another rider during this race. Woohoo for me!

On the double 90 two guys blister around me.
This was a really fun race for me.

Most important lesson learned during this race day: Racing is exhausting and requires lots of stamina. I need to lose weight, do some endurance training and overall get in better physical shape if I'm going to continue doing this.

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