Here are some pictures and video Alan and Andy took when Randy and I raced Randy's SV-650 in the first Portland edition of the Northwest Endurance Cup race series, a 4 hour event...

Endurance racing is a very different game when compared to sprints, especially at the club level.  Good club level racers at their home tracks can often give pros a run for their money in sprint races.  However, a much broader range of skills are present in an endurance race.  The Northwest series has three classes, Lightweight, Mediumweight and Heavyweight.  The speed difference at the end of the straight between the LWs and HWs can be as much as 40 mph.  And then in the turns, a LW bike will often go around a HW.  This can make for some very interesting racing...

The goal in endurance racing is to finish more laps than the others in your class within the time allotted to race.  To do this, machines close to production specs are most often run, along with harder compound tires that can go the distance for 4 or 6 hours.  Randy's machine was a SuperSport legal SV-650 shod with Pirelli intermediate compound slicks.  We were doing pretty good, despite the 4 red flags thrown doing the race.  But in the last session, about 30 minutes from the finish, I picked something up in the front tire, which caused a slow leak.  After almost crashing for 4 or 5 laps, I came in where an observant Nate found the leak.  With 20 minutes to go in the race, Randy decided to fill it with air, and finish, which he did (even though it went flat quickly again).  We finished 5th in class, 16th overall - click here to see full the results.  33 bikes started, around 20 took the checker flag, which was a lot of attrition, but we were one of the ones that did finish - a very satisfying feeling!

Here are some of the sights and sounds of the day.  Click on the thumbnails in order to view the pictures full size.  The videos are in Windows Media for Video (WMV), click here if you need to download the viewer...  To get an idea of the Portland track layout, click here to see it from space...

Our pit crew... - The critical factor in a race where pit stops are necessary is the crew that man the stop, and who also help with the scoring.  Andy took the first shot as Brook (far right, from Seattle) meets up with Nate, John, Alan and himself at a rest stop south of Olympia.  The invitation was "Come down and help me out - you get to help in 4 or 5 pit stops where all hell breaks loose for around 30 seconds, and then watch guys ride motorcycles around a race track for 4 hours."  Man, what a deal!

At the track, Alan catches Brook (closest), Andy, Nate and John as they get out of their riding gear, and into some regular clothes.  The Charlie Atlas looking guy on the left without a top is Randy - Valentino Rossi, you better watch your ass!  Andy also grabbed this shot of me as I hammer a banana after the morning practice.  Consistent 1:19s, yeah - let's go!

Brook joins everyone else at a rest stop on the way down...

The pit crew...

Our bike...Here, the little SV waits for battle with tire warmers to keep the tires from cooling down before the race.  Funny thing about rubber, the more heat cycles it goes through, the less it likes to stick to the pavement.  Randy and I have already put about an hour on them during the morning practices.  This was the first time I've raced on Pirelli rubber, and I admit they stuck like glue the whole way over, the whole race, well at least until the front picked up some metal...

The SV waits for the 4 hours of abuse to come...

Pit stop activities... - I come in following the second red flag of the day.  Not knowing how long we have, we try to run a quick stop.  Brook handles the fire extinguisher, Nate steadies the front end while John handles the rear stand.  Once the tank is open, Andy will fill 'er up!  I did get around 40 minutes in on this shift, so it was close to our normal time to pit anyway...  This was good, as a funny foot peg angle put my right ankle to sleep - it was dead the last 15 minutes!

Pit stop in action, Tom off, Randy on...

Refueling... - Without a dump can and dry brake, we have to add gas the old fashion way!  Andy, the beefiest of us all, steadies the four gallons or so of fuel we need while Randy, the off-going rider guides the nozzle into the tank.  This can be a very dangerous situation if there is a spill, as the engine is hot, and pit fires have happened in the past.  Randy is working on a dry brake system will allow us to use a dump can in the future, just like the pros.  Using the current method, we can get in and out in about 30 seconds.  This is a bit longer than the 8 to 10 seconds the factory teams do at Daytona, plus they get fresh rubber!

Pit stop refueling...the lo-tech way!

It was like this... - This was John's first day at a race, and I think he liked what he saw.  I had to start my shift from the grid because of the first red flag, and wound up behind many of the faster, but poorer handling machines.  I had to pick my way through the pack before I found some clean track to get my times down.  So I did quite a bit of bonsai passing through the infield to the delight of my friends!  Here John tries to describe his view of the combat while I add the first-hand commentary.  The consensus was that given the situation with power, I kicked some ass!

Pit stop...John relates what he's seen thusfar!

Rider turnover... - Given the the last call to head back out for another restart, I try to give Randy some last minute information before he heads out.  "...Hey man, the bike's running fine, the tires are hookin' tight, so go out and have some fun!"

Alan caught several pit scenes on video (1 meg), which I linked together.  This is a slice of what it is all about baby!

Tom briefs Randy before his shift...

Tom heads down the front straight... - Alan took this shot of me as I head down the front straight.  Portland's straight is pretty long, allowing most bikes to stretch what legs they may have.  While not confirmed by radar, I think we were hitting around 130-135 mph.  The bike was jetted a bit fat, so I think there is some more there to be tapped.  But as is, it pulled the same from 6 to 10 grand, making it much different (and easier) to ride than the FZR-400 I used to race...  Andy took this shot of Randy on the front straight during one of his shifts...

Tom on the front straight...

Randy swoops through turn 9... - Alan took this shot of Randy coming out of turn 9 which leads on to the front straight.  Endurance racing is funny in that at times you're in tons of traffic which can last 10 or 15 minutes if they are bikes in your class, or a few turns if they are faster.  More than once I had the leaders on R1s and GXSR750s come past me on the straight, with me tucking in on the brakes into turn 1, and battling through 2 to 4, only to have them rocket off out of 4 into the sunset!  Then at other times, it's just you and the track, a very Zen kind of situation...very relaxing!

Alan also caught Randy on this video (300k)...

Randy rounds turn 9...

Tom motors out of turn 4... - Alan primarily helped out with the scoring, and also moved around to various points of the track to watch and take pictures.  Here he catches me as I come out of turn 4, a very flat right-hander.  Notice the light colored stripe in the middle of the turn - this is a concrete patch used to control pavement damage caused by the CART cars.  A bit slipperier than the asphalt, this eliminates the really fast line through the turn, making it so you have to go tight or wide, pretty much sucking.  These patches are also in turns 2, 3 and 9, all otherwise really fun turns...

Alan also caught me on video (500k) as I chase someone through turn 4 at a different point in the race...  Andy caught me on his camera (no audio) as I try to chase someone down in turn 3, try to work traffic through turns 7, 8 and 9, and as I motor by myself through turn 4...

Tom leads someone out of turn 4...

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