My Personal Race Recap...A Year End ReviewDec 30, 2013
Unless you have been following my weekly column at www.fightfordirttrack.com it's been a while since I sent out a race report. Yeah I know, my bad, and honestly, this is something I scream and preach at a lot of the racers about doing in a timely fashion. I get a little lazy since I have some sort of update weekly, but I know that I should be doing these a lot more frequent. Hey if we were perfect at everything there would be no need for New Year's resolutions right?
This is more of a year end review than a specific race report, but let me tell you, this has been one crazy, strange, roller coaster of a season for me. It all started with the announcement that I would be going full time with Memphis Shades as their director of sales and it's ending up with a whole new outlook on racing. Daytona was a typical Daytona for me. It seems like I'm never able to hit my groove, but this year I wasn't too hurt by not making the cut, as I was just happy to have a day off from working my booth at J&P Cycles! A day off to go ride your motorcycle at one of the most storied venues in all of racing? How can that be much of a bad day?
After Daytona, it was time for me to load up the Memphis Shades rig and head West. I was on my way to work the Laughlin River Run but I was loaded down with every motorcycle I owned. While I was out there I raced the Stockton Half-Mile National. Let me just say that I have NEVER had any luck racing in California and this was no different. I was dead stinking last in qualifying. Dead Last....I have NEVER been dead last. While I knew I wasn't riding that great, I didn't feel that "OFF" and after this things went into a downward spiral. I had some issues in my personal life, the Memphis Shades rig was breaking down on me, I had been on the road 4 straight weeks and it seemed like anything I did just went wrong. I typed out one of the most depressing race reports in the history of mankind at about this point and it turns out that one of the most incredible things happened.
You guys responded. After sending out that report, questioning what I do and why I work so hard at it, I was flooded with emails, calls and texts. I honestly didn't know a lot of you guys even read these reports. You guys gave me encouragement, personal stories of the things that you had gone through and gave me another reason to dig a lot deeper. I was off of the bike for a little while getting the motor refreshed and maybe getting myself refreshed a little too. I showed up at the "Night Before The Mile" race in Indianapolis which is a HUGE outlaw big money short track. With both Pros and Experts sharing a class and 38 entries, seeing myself in the 16 rider main event was beyond a dream. However, an incredible thing happened. I had been borrowing bikes all summer while my bike was down. In Peoria the week before I was on a Zanotti Racing Honda, a bike that had one two nationals and though I made the cut for the heat races, I couldn't get comfortable on the bike all day and was nowhere near the main. Yes, I was riding the best of the best, and still couldn't get the job done.
That night in Indy I was on my own bike. I was at a track I ride a lot, and I was there WANTING to ride. I'll admit, my heat race was the easiest to win, with no national numbered riders in it, but it did have Jake Constantine in it, the same guy who won the Daytona Short Track on night number 2. Needless to say, He's no slouch. The light went green, I got a great jump, and found myself in a shoving match in turn one. I grabbed a hand full of throttle and shot down the back stretch without a single person in front of me. I WAS IN THE LEAD!!!! I couldn't believe it. Honestly, it had been so long since I lead a race, I forgot the feeling. Man oh man is there more room to hit the line that you want! I went on to win the heat race, putting me on the front row for the main. The first thing I remember was seeing Jim Sr. and Jim Jr. from Silkolene standing by one of the concrete barriers with their hands in the air. I rolled past the Zanotti pits to see Dave and Wayne cheering for me. All the way back to the pits, people had their hands out as I rode by. It was for sure one of the most powerful moments I have ever had in racing. I know I'm never going to be the fast guy, the hero, or anything like that, but it just showed me in that moment that you don't have to be the best to have people who care about your racing and want to see you succeed.
In the main that night it was Rob Pearson, Brad Baker, Jared Mees, Henry Wiles, Stevie Bonsey and TYLER PORTER on the front row. I'll admit, I didn't try in the main. That light went green and I botched the start. I rode around that track for 16 laps with the biggest smile on my face that I had displayed in a while. I had a good battle with Jake Constantine again and then Dougie Lawrence came up in the inside of me in the closing laps. I think I was 10th that night...but it didn't matter. I beat the odds. People noticed, people were happy. Mission Accomplished.
The next week we had an All-Star Race on the Springfield Short Track, one of my favorite races of the year. I was still riding a high from the week before and qualified for the main straight out of my heat race and in the main I battled the entire main event. I wasn't going to lay down in the main like I did in Indianapolis, I was there to fight. I felt like I deserved to be in that main. I wasn't gaining any ground until the half way mark. It seemed like everybody got tired about the time I was getting warmed up. I made a few passes in a few short laps and then a crash with 2 laps to go opened up a huge gap for me and I was able to hold on to 8th at the finish. Sure, for most, and 8th is nothing to celebrate, but for me, it was very satisfying.
After Springfield I wasn't able to race a whole lot. Travel for work picked up and when you are on the road for work, the last thing you want to do is be on the road when you don't have to be. I hit up a few local races at the Short Track in Indianapolis, especially the Halloween race where I was dressed as Will Ferrell's character from "Semi-Pro", Jackie Moon. Nothing to really write home about from those races but I did notice that I was riding more aggressive and with a lot more purpose. This afternoon I'm leaving for DuQuoin Illinois for my last race of the season. I have a lot of mixed emotions about DuQuoin because I have been hurt there a few times, so if I'm not feeling it, I will load up. It sounds like a cowardly thing to do, but if you aren't in the running for a win, why make yourself unhappy and put yourself in danger if your attitude isn't right? Live to fight another day is what I say!
Starting January 9th I will be hitting the road once more for sales events. I will keep everybody a little more informed in the coming year so I don't have to write these novels and waste your day. Like I said earlier, I appreciate the support more than you guys know, and there is no way I would be doing any of this without all of the help I receive. I hope you had a great Christmas and all of the best in the new year!
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