Racing Update: Steel Shoe 3 HourJan 24, 2014
Travel does a funny thing to a person. Perhaps it's stress. What ever I'm experiencing right now, my eyes are tired from being covered by contact lenses, my butt is tired of being in an airplane seat but my brain is wide open. I just got done penning the InSLIDE Line at www.fightfordirttrack.com but I realize that I totally forgot to write about the race I did last weekend, the famous Steel Shoe Fund 3-Hour Endurance Ice Race! Most of you know all about the cold snap we have suffered this year in the midwest. They say it hasn't been this cold in over 20 years, but being that I haven't even scratched the 30 mark yet, I can't EVER remember days this cold. The great thing about travel is that especially this time of year, my job allows me to be in some pretty warm climates. For instance, a week ago I was working in LA and San Diego. 2 days after that, I found myself in Campbellsport Wisconsin about to get my kicks on a nice solid hunk of frozen water.
The Steel Shoe Fund Ice Race is a yearly event that raises money for injured dirt trackers. Very noble cause. The Sumner Family that organizes the event seems to improve each and every year and this year, things couldn't have been better. The deep freeze leading up to the race meant that we had over 16" of ice to abuse, but there was enough snow on the lake that the course was easy to see. To top it off, the weather cooperated the day of the race and we were left we temperatures in the 30's! It was a perfect storm of awesomeness. 72 teams showed up to do battle and for the front runners, this race is a source of a year's worth of pride for them. For a guy like me, it's just a fun time on a motorcycle with your friends in a winter wonder land. Last year my bike gave up the ghost in practice, sending my buddy Ion Stear and I packing up and leaving before the green flag ever flew. This year however, George Mack stepped in and let me ride his equipment. We decided that we would field 2 teams, one in the heavy weight class (250cc and up) and one in the middleweight class (201-250cc)
Heading up the teams was George Mack, Grand National Number 23 Jeffery Carver Jr. and myself on the Honda CRF450, and then team two were the same 3 again plus the help of Rob Williams on a CR250. While this is a purely fun event, once the green flag flies, I do get competitive. I try to hurry along the pit stops as much as we can. I like to organize who will go out when, try to estimate fuel mileage and just generally pretend that me saving 5 seconds during the pit stops will help us win our class. What can I say, I like to hustle.
Jeffery Carver started on the 450 and George Mack elected to start on the 250. I took pictures during the first lap and then stayed warm in the van until it was time to trade out. Both bikes came in at pretty close to the same time and Rob wanted the 250, so I hopped on the 450. What a magical ice machine that big red beast was! With the Boughner Racing Suspension on it, tuned specifically for ice, combined with a studded knobby tire instead of the typical dual-sport tire that I am use to was just working flawlessly. On the 6.5 mile course with probably 75 turns in it, it took me a few laps to get a rhythm going, but once I did, I had more fun on that motorcycle than I've had in a long time. The high lines on the track were smooth and that knobby rear wouldn't get clogged with "snow" like my traditional ice tires do. It was also nice to be passing people often during my laps. That's a big confidence boost!
To be honest with you, George Mack and Jeffery Carver did most of the heavy lifting. We completed 17 laps on the 450, and I was responsible for 7 of those. Because of the way the pit stops worked out, I never actually got on the 250 at all, except for practice. That's ok. The 450 was pure money and I was as happy as a camel on a Wednesday riding that thing. Jeffery Carver brought the 450 home while George Mack came to the checkers on the 2-smoker. Poor George Mack had a flat on the 250 and no telling how long it had been that way. We finished 55th overall on the 250 and 29th overall on the 450. Class wise, we were 14th on the 450 in the Heavy weight class and 28th I think on the 250. Not too shabby for a perfect day with some good friends.
We had a great time, and we are already putting things together for next year. This event is so much fun and everybody is just there to raise money for a great cause and maybe earn some friendly bragging rights for the year. Teams share fenders, fuel, wheels, gloves, whatever to help another rider out. It's really what racing is all about. Congratulations go to JR Schnabel who not only won the race, but he did it ALONE...he's the iron man! Thank you all for reading, and thank you even more for the support. Until next time, keep on believing in the sport!
The photo attached is of our pit area. The #80 bike is the 450 and the #84 bike is the 250. Photo by George Mack
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