Friday - Open Track Day...
Track days...an opportunity to take out your rig, and whip the crap out of it
without worrying about the law, cars and all those other hazards that make
riding fast on the street risky at best, and sometimes just lethal. Carl
and Brook stayed the night, Darren was stud enough to haul our bikes out from
Seattle, Andy and myself drive out, and Alan met John in Tacoma, loaded up his
bike, and came out late Thursday night. John came up from Salem, Oregon...
The weather was perfect - high clouds,
mid-seventies for temperature and no wind. After an early breakfast, we
get to the track around at 7:30, and start setting up a pit. Unload the
bikes, finish the prep, add gas, check tire pressures, and out we go.
Having raced at Spokane a few times, I was familiar with the layout - so the
plan was for me to lead the guys around for a few laps to show them the lines and help
them get comfortable with no speed limits, mirrors and the other distractions of
the street. This lasted just a couple laps as not everyone was comfortable
staying real close, and once riders not in our group started getting in between
us, it didn't make much sense to hang around. So I did what any racer does
on the track, I just uncorked my R1, and figured out what she could do!
Spokane is a nice track for an open class
bike - and although it has two tight second gear turns, there are several
stretches where the big bores can run. The front straight seems endless,
at nearly a mile long. With the jump out of turn 11, I snuck peeks down to
the speedo before I back off for turn 1 - several times I break 170, the fastest
I see is 176. Granted, these are off the speedometer, and probably
optimistic, but hey, when that's all you got...
Turn 1 is a fast bend
taken at around 135, it's job is merely to set you up for turn 2.
Turn 2 is a left-hand third gear downhill sweeper (around 75 - 80), loads
of fun! Coming out it's up an incline and over two rollers - each
time easily lofting the front - the second at about 115. It's up to
about 135 to 140 or the top of fifth gear. This constant
acceleration all the time is around a bend called turn 3, the outer verge
of which is off-camber. Next on the brakes hard, and down two gears
to third through turn 4, a 120 degree reducing radius right hander.
Out of 4, accelerate up a gear around turn 5, a left kink, in to 6.
Turn 6 is a wickedly slow second gear 180 degree left hand hairpin.
Enter wide and late apex to come out tight to set up for 7, another second gear
160 degree right hander. Stand it up and pull the trigger, and row
the gears. Simply hold on through turn 8 (fourth gear - about 120),
get into to third for turn 9, a flat left hander. You miss turn 9,
and 20 feet later you're climbing a 30 foot berm! Accelerate in
third through turn 10, a right hand kink, and then sweep into turn 11 - a
lovely left hand sweeper (around 80). Line it up coming out of 11,
and simply row the gears down the straight. That's a lap of
Spokane...click on the thumbnail to the left and follow along.
There were numerous cameras, so pictures were taken by everyone... Click on the thumbnails to view the pictures full size...
trip was the longest... Here he catches his rig before the long ride
up I-5 from Salem to Tacoma. In Tacoma, he meets Alan, they load his
rig into Alan's truck for the 300 mile journey to Spokane.
searches for some racer food (dinner) at around 10:30 at night. He
settles for The Bomb... How will this bode for his riding the next
at around 2:30 in the morning, Alan and John search for the right
hotel... Let's see, racing trailers, this must be the right place.
and Andy head to the track...the excitement builds...
at the track, everyone shows up, and we unload the bikes. Here, Tom
and Carl help Darren prep his rig ('01 GSXR 750)
starts getting his rig ready, preferring to work on it while in the truck,
and tied down. ('01 R6)
we get set up, our pits slowly grow...
progresses on his bike...
left to his own devices, sets the trigger on his smoke bomb. Let's
see, just put two turns on the oil fill cap, that should be just about
brand new SV gets ready to complete it's break-in. At this point, it
has 45 fairly easy street miles on it. Sorry kid, it gets a little
tougher from here on out...
pits look more and more ready... Carl's '01 ZX-9, Alan's '97
YZF-600, the '03 SV-650 race bike, Tom's '00 R1, Brook's '01 GSXR 750...
completes the process of detaching his rear lights, while Brook's GSXR and
Tom's R1 wait in the wings.
ready to go, Tom gives John some tips before heading out...
on the track, Alan comes out of Turn 8...
pounds down a banana as he waits to hit the track...
on the course, Brook follows a racer out of Turn 11...
the first session, John gives us his impression of the experience.
For most street riders, the first time out on the track is a big dose of
reality - yes, the bikes can do a bunch more than you thought...
his Sully School experience, Carl shows us his line through Turn 7...
the first session, Tom checks out the tires to make sure no one is going
out over-inflated...(He also looks for them chicken-strips!)
butterfly, distraught from the senseless destruction of his brothers on
the windscreens of thrill seekers, tries to eat John's front end...
shows us his ability to lean a motorcycle in Turn 7. Hey, why hang
off when you have all of that ground clearance anyway?
shows us his line through Turn 11...
follows John through Turn 7 with Andy close on his tail on the SV...
rails through Turn 11...
leads Brook out of Turn 8...
lunch, we talk about the morning sessions...and the bench racing begins!
shows us his stuff in Turn 11...
pits become busy in the afternoon... As the day wears on, these guys
realize there's a bit of work getting a motorcycle around a race track
comes out of Turn 8...
shows us more stuff in Turn 11...
on the SV, Tom whips it through Turn 11...
leads John, Andy and Carl out of Turn 7... The guy on the RC is
Some Clowns steeds, lined up late in the day...
we get Alan coming out of Turn 8...
closer view of John's style through turn 11...
keeps the trigger pinned on the R1 coming out of Turn 8...
apexes the SV in Turn 11...
good day, no one crashed, everyone had fun. Some Clowns will return
for another day...
of the three spots where it's point and shoot on the R1 - turn 8 was a lot
and Brook had to take off right after the track shut down. The rest
of us put our bikes back together, and head into Spokane for some good
food and spirits. I'd say we also got a bit of sun...
Back to Tom's racing...