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
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...
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
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!
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
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
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
Daytona, plus they get fresh rubber!
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!
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!
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...
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)...
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...
Back to Tom's racing and motorcycles...