George McConnel's RC51 BLOG

Date:June 3, 2007
Track:Talladega Gran Prix Raceway
Bike:2002 Honda RVT1000 (RC51)
Weather:Mostly Sunny, some afternoon clouds, high near 100.
Sponsor:My own bad self
Conducted By:Ed Bargy Racing School

Track Diagram

The Talladega Gran Prix Raceway is designed to be run either clockwise or counterclockwise. This weekend's event was conducted in a counterclockwise direction. The redesigned track has been run in clockwise direction once since the repaving, owing to safety concerns.

The Michelin Power Race tires on my bike had only been used in one race weekend at Road Atlanta. Sunday, July 1 was the end of that weekend, Cycle Jam. I had ridden two practice sessions on Saturday and Sunday and done one race sprint each day. Saturday racing at Cycle Jam was for WERA Regionals, and Sunday was for WERA National events. I figured that since my previous sent of tires had been good for three race weekends I'd be able to use these all weekend for one trackday. What I didn't count on was that I was riding a lot faster now and wearing the tires out a lot quicker.

By about 6:30 Saturday Morning, Beast Racing was "Open for Business"

I drove down Friday night and got there in a pouring rain. Although I had arrived about 10 minutes after the close of "gate time", David Upchurch was kind enough to let me in the gate. I selected a good pit area, chatted with Todd Clark for awhile (he and I were about the only ones there) and finally hit the sack. When I woke up at 5:30 Saturday morning I was too excited to be able to go back to sleep, so I went ahead and set up my pit.

Sponsored by the fine folks at "LearnToRide.Org"

The day started off on a sour note as I discovered that someone had stolen my gas can (which had 5 gallons of gasoline in it). I believe this happened when I had parked at a Wal-Mart briefly before going on to the track. I had to make a quick dash to a nearby convenience store to get a new gas can and some gas. Bummer.

Let's GO!

As in my previous track day at Talladega, I chose to ride with the intermediate group. For the most part I was able to pass quite a few people during each session, although I did get passed a few times myself.

Continuing to work on carrying more speed into the corners I managed to work my lap times down to as low as I've ever seen for sure on that track. I've now documented a 1:10, which is a respectable lap time. It's not stellar, especially in WERA circles, but it's the best I've ever managed, which made it special for me.

Getting deeper into the corners...

The Saturday sessions were 15 minutes each, running 3 groups. We managed to get four sessions in before lunch time. After lunch it got really hot, so I elected to ride only two of the sessions during the heat of the day. I decided to go ahead and sign up for the second day's riding.

Sunday morning the rider turnout was really small (not that there were that many there on Saturday). They decided to run only two groups on Sunday, which meant I'd be riding with both Intermediate and advanced riders. Not that it mattered, as I had ridden with plenty of quick riders in real races before. With the very open track I pretty much was looking at an open track most of the time anyway.

With only two groups they held a quick vote to see if the riders preferred to stay with 15 minute sessions or go to 20 minute sessions. Todd seemed surprised to discover that most of us preferred 20 minute sessions, but the way I figured it, by the time I got off the track, got my bike up on the stands with the tire warmers on, got out of my gear and started drinking some water and trying to cool off they'd already be on 3rd call for my next session if each group was only riding for 15 minutes.

As it turned out my rear tire was nearly gone after the 1st session. I decided to go ahead and do one more session, after which I would pack it in. Even at $100, two 20 minute sessions gave me a good amount of track time on Sunday without wearing myself out.

Woo HOO!

But now for the great part about this magical session. For the first time ever, during my 2nd track session on August 26, 2007, I finally managed to drag a knee puck around a corner! This doesn't necessarily mean I'm a faster rider, but it's sort of a mental thing, the fact that I can now do this tells me I've continued to improve my skills as a rider, and that I can continue to get better with practice.

Most important lesson learned during this track day: Just keep it up ... I'm getting there!

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