|Dates:||October 10-11, 2009|
|Bikes:||2002 Honda RVT1000 (RC51) / 2002 SV650|
|Weather:||Cool and cloudy Saturday, Partly Sunny and warmer Sunday. Highs in the mid 60's.|
|Conducted By:||Sarah Cannon Cancer Foundation|
|The Nashville SuperSpeedway is a combination track. NASCAR racers use the outer oval, basically
just a large concrete track with a back straight, two ends and a tri-oval front "straight".|
The road course drops off the tri-oval into the infield, winds through turns 1-6, then exits briefly onto part of the back straight before dipping back into the infield for turns 7-10. Turn 10 is a long non-banked sweeper that exits back onto the front straight. There are transitional seams at each of the four places where the infield road course joins the NASCAR oval. At these points you have to be careful to choose a line that avoids too sudden a transition or you end up getting jarred really hard.
Much like Daytona, races are started from pit lane because the start/finish line is on a steep bank.
A few weeks ago I was at David Bloodworth's BMW
Thursday night - a lonely garage.
I spent the next couple of weeks trying to get the SV650 ready to be on the track.
A pair of beasts, ready for action.
The "Minnie Challenge", sponsored by the Sarah Cannon Cancer Foundation, is the event at which I first got on the track in 2005. This event always includes track time for automobiles and motorcycles. With the small number of riders we had we ended up with only two groups of motorcycles again this year, Novice and Expert. Dewayne and I were going to work with the Novices in both the classroom and on the track.
I got up very early on Saturday morning and was at the track at 6:00 AM. Nobody else was there except Faith Holley and a couple of other people. We went on in and started setting up. Billy Odom and Dewayne didn't get there until 7:00, but I had talked with Phil Wick before that and gotten at least some idea what was expected. I would be working "Tech", which didn't amount to much for sure, just making sure everyone got their lights and mirrors taped up and checking brake levers for telltale signs of needing attention. Well, in fairness I checked chains, tires, etc., and looked for any signs the bike might be leaking slippery fluids onto the track.
Everyone went to the classroom in the media center at first for an introduction to the general game plan by Phil Wick.
Heavyweight riding a Lightweight
I had prepared some material to hand out, including pictures of the various flags they were likely to see and some general principles of track riding. Each point was a single line on the paper and I had planned to elaborate as necessary in the classroom. Actually it was all pretty much self-explanatory, but we wanted to be there to answer questions as appropriate.
Their first session was going to be slow parade laps. I let them know we expected no passing at all during the first session, just everyone learning the track and following each other around parade style. There would be plenty of time for more spirited riding later in the day.
So I took them out for their first session, leading the group
Things are looking much busier now!
I rode very slow the first lap, not even accelerating to probably more than 70 MPH on the front straight. I had told the students that we'd wave at each corner station the first time around so they could all identify the positions of the people with the flags. With each successive lap I rode just a little faster, never really opening it up wide at all. We brought them in at the end of the session, making sure to signal well before pit-in. They were flagging the checker flag at the bus stop chicane, which is probably good as it didn't give people an entire pair of infield sections to forget that they'd seen the checker flag at the end of the front straight.
We brought the group back to the classroom
Special guest stars, Tom and Janell Lees!
We reassembled in the classroom,
Cornering low on the turn two hairpin
Check out the new helmet!
So out we went for our next session. Before we had gotten through the first infield section one of the riders went down behind me. I didn't see it happen, and the guys had been waving yellow flags during our first lap, so I didn't know there was any problem until I looked in my rear view mirrors and didn't see anyone behind me on the sweeper heading towards the front straight. I slowed down, crawling around the tri-oval portion of the front straight and let the group reassemble behind me. By the time we got back around to the infield section they had Karl (the Atlanta rider who had fallen) back on his bike, ready to continue. He joined our group and we continued our next lap. I went ahead and entered the back straight a little slow and high to give the two guys behind me a chance to stretch it out a little. The first one, riding a late model CBR600RR, took off and started gapping the 2nd one quickly. I settled in behind the 2nd rider (Steve), who was riding a very nice Ducati 1099. He had mentioned how eager he was to open it up on the straight and enjoy all that horsepower, so I had promised him he'd get his chance. I had also warned him to exercise caution, as it's easy to get up to speed and sometimes a little scary slowing it back down, especially before you've had a chance to really work on your reference points.
Unfortunately he pressed a little too hard on the
Tom Lees makes a guest appearance
on Dewayne's Ninjette
Everything shut down for probably 20 minutes while the workers pushed his bike out behind the wall. He finally got his ambulance ride back to the paddock, where we met him to see how he was doing. He had broken his collar bone and had a big bulge in the middle of his shoulder where it was sticking up in an awkward manner. He was going to have to go to a hospital to have it set properly. Meanwhile he was wearing a sling. We told him we'd make sure his bike got stored correctly and help him with getting it on the trailer. I didn't see him again after that. His bike stayed there most of the rest of the weekend but eventually I noticed that it and his trailer were gone. I never saw him come get it.
Fortunately, that was the worst event of the weekend injury-wise. We had another rider go down on Sunday, but apart from being knocked out for a few moments he appeared to be in fine condition. His bike sustained little damage in that fall.
After the lunch break we just settled into open riding for the novices. The only rule we had was that passing had to be done courteously
Karl Lemmer takes a spin on the
Beast Racing SV650!
As for me, I really enjoyed having an opportunity to ride the track on my SV650. By the 3rd Novice session I was getting a knee down in several of the corners, and even felt some rear wheel slide on one occasion when I was pushing just a little harder than the bike could handle.
The advice I had received from various people regarding the suspension on the SV650 was spot on. Those things have a very soft suspension
Finally, Dewayne and I ride together on SV650s!
Dewayne and I traded rides for one session, so I got to check out the differences between my bike and his. His bike feels very squatty with the short seat, and I had difficulty tucking my feet high enough to reach the pegs. Once I got the hang of his bike though I was getting a knee down in the usual spots. His engine felt about like mine for acceleration, so that was good to know.
Sunday morning I finally got around to putting the RC51 back on the track. At first it looked like maybe the issue I had with the bike
Didn't I fall down here recently? Not quite as quick there as before.
After pitting in I unplugged the Power Commander and removed it from the equation. The next time I took the RC out I didn't encounter that problem. This gave me to believe that the problem was somehow related to the Power Commander. Some have suggested that I need to put the ground wire for the Power Commander directly on the negative terminal of the battery rather than use a bolt on the engine frame. I'll probably try that to see if it fixes the problem, but I won't know for awhile since it's going to be some time before I get another track session. Probably my next track session will be at Jennings for the FLR Trackday.
Either way, it was nice to put together a weekend of clean riding with no get-offs to get back in rhythm and "back on the horse" after falling off.
Another great thing about Sunday was that Tom and Janell Lees were there. This was the first time I'd shared the track with Tom in a long time, and it was really good to see him on the track.
Most important lesson learned during this track day: It's twoo! It's twoo! Less power (SV650) really still can be fun!