|Date:||June 30-July 1, 2007|
|Track:||Road Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)|
|Bike:||2002 Honda RVT1000 (RC51)|
|Weather:||Mostly Sunny, Highs near 95f, occasional afternoon thunderstorms|
|Road Atlanta is a 2.5 mile track with many elevation changes. The highest point on the track is turn 11, which is 75 feet above the start/finish line. The lowest point is at the end of the "Esses", right about that last kink before turn 5. That point is 40 feet below the start/finish line. The back straight (which has two minor bends in it labeled 8 and 9) is almost 3/4 of a mile long, and it is not uncommon for race vehicles to approach 180 or more MPH on that section. From turn 9 to turn 10a you are going downhill. This makes for a challenging situation as racers must judge how to brake without running off the track while maintaining enough speed to keep other racers from passing them at that point. The good thing is there is a long runoff on the other side of turn 10 with lots of soft sand in case you make a mistake.|
I drove down Friday afternoon as soon as I could shake loose from the office. When I arrived at the track Friday night around 10:30 it was gently raining. I had decided to camp at the track this time. This was my first time to a race event with my new vehicle, a Kia Sportage. I planned to use the Kia as my hotel room by folding the seats down and sleeping on a pad stretched from the rear to the front of the car. I had also fabricated a "central air" unit from a small window air conditioner and some duct work to pump cool air into the car all night. The window unit was run from my generator. It actually worked out quite well. Others were impressed at my creativity. The generator also provided some much needed cool air to help cool us down during the extremely hot and humid temperatures Saturday afternoon.
Tom Lees, Dewayne Henson and Catt Moss had ridden down earlier Friday and were staying at a hotel. I got Dewayne to call me at 6:00 AM to make sure I got up early enough to get started, since I had neglected to pre-register for this event. Once I was up and stirring I got things set up as quickly as I could. Dewayne was supposed to be in the first practice session so he went and registered while I was still setting things up. When he got back I borrowed his pit bike to ride to the registration. This time around I finally purchased my personal transponder.
We could barely hear the announcements from where we were pitted, and unfortunately got behind getting ready for my first practice session. I ended up only getting three laps in during the first practice. My second practice was not red-flagged (unlike last year) so I ended up getting as many practice laps as I could muster that time.
When I went to the riders' meeting I got way overheated. I had not taken my leathers off after my second practice and I also managed to get a bit dehydrated. I thought I was going to pass out for awhile but finally got some water and got the leathers off. It still took awhile to get back to feeling normal.
As the race progressed I managed to shave about 4 seconds off my lap times, posting a best lap of 1:54.400, which was my personal best, even including last year. Now that I've had a couple of days to think about some of the lines I took on the track I think I know where I could easily pick up 3 or 4 more seconds and get my lap times down into the 1:49 area.
There were no problems, and I completed the race in last place (5th, for what it's worth).
The next morning I got up a bit later and got ready in more leisurely fashion. Although I didn't realize it at first I was only going to have one practice session. The practice session was uneventful although I wasn't completing laps as quick as I had in the race on the previous day for some reason.
The races on Sunday were "Nationals" races. I was once again gridded in the Heavyweight Twins Superstock (Novice) group with 5 other riders. This time I started in 2nd position on the grid but got off to a horrible start. As usual I finished in last place.
Dewayne had arranged to ride in two races that day so I got packed and hung around watching him complete his races. When we were all done we packed it in and headed back to Nashville.
Most important lesson learned during this race day: Stay hydrated on the hot days and take those leathers off between practice and the race when it's hot.