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Daytona 200 from my seat.

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  • Daytona 200 from my seat.

    DAYTONA 200...Race Report 2017
    Here is my lengthy and detailed report...
    Our plan was to have a competitive 600 SuperSport racebike ready for the October CCS races at Daytona to field test the bike well before running in the World Famous Daytona 200 in March. The right bike didn't come along in time.
    My long time California Superbike racer friend Carry Andrew posted on Facebook, a 2011 Suzuki GSXR600 racebike for sale at a reasonable price. Although the bike had many proper bits already installed (quick fill fuel system, racing exhaust, crash protection, racing fairing, and so on) it had been sitting for years and was VERY stale.
    Did I mention that it wouldn't run? Modern, fuel injected and computer controlled motorcycles are a bit outside of my wheel house, so it was a struggle to get it running correctly.
    The investment in time and money to revive this bike was a blend of struggle, frustration, and ultimately satisfaction.
    Several (many) purchases on ebay and a couple of sessions on the dyno got it running solidly, but not not the eye-popping HP numbers that I naively expected.
    Front brakes had issues, suspension had issues, and the several folks with experience with this model indicated that it might be reluctant to turn sharply upon command.
    Bill Kowitz and I worked steadily at addressing this things for about 2 1/2 months.
    We built a homemade suspension dyno, tested front brake components, tried different exhaust primary tube lengths, and many other things to make this old war horse the best it could be.
    By the last week we had finished our work and tested the bike at 2 different race tracks...Daytona International Speedway, here we come!
    Last year, the event was a 3 day affair...practice day, qualifying day, race day.
    This year was only 2 days, practice Friday morning and qualify in the afternoon...then race on Saturday.
    For such a big race the schedule is unreasonable if you ask me, which no one did.
    Competitors that have raced their bikes here previously had a great advantage, which is why we tried to get in last October's event.
    We will simply do our best.
    Of course, technology has progressed since 2011 causing us to second guess our choice of motorcycle. Yamaha's R6 is supposed to be faster and handle better, the Triumph 675R has a bigger engine and is lighter, the Kawasaki ZX636 also has a bigger engine.
    This generation Suzuki GSXR600 is reputed to be a bit slower handling, have less power, but have a more rugged engine.
    Once we got into the project, second guessing ourselves would be counter-productive.
    One of the lessons to be taken from religious lore, courtesy of Lot and his wife, is that looking over our shoulder may cause us to turn to regrets here.
    Although I hate to admit it...with a slightly dated bike and being 67 years of age, I wondered if we belonged in this big time event.
    Let's find out!
    Morning day one.
    First time on track, and first lap..fuel splatter in my face. We re-routed the fuel tank vent hose to the catch tray under the engine. Ok now.
    Both front and rear suspension set ups were very close to perfect, directly from our homemade devices...Great job, Bill.
    Simply a few clicks of adjustment made it ride just right. We tuned the chassis to minimize any reluctance to turn in. What little issue existed was no problem for me, as I have extensive experience racing a much bigger, heavier, and more clumsy vintage Kawasaki Superbike.
    My technique is quite simple...muscle the son-of-a-bitch and show it who is boss.
    HP numbers from dyno testing can be misleading due to differing dynos, torque curves, and throttle settings. The real test is side by side racing. After all we are racing motorcycles, not dyno charts.
    It didn't take many laps around the famed Daytona high banking and long straights to learn that this bike is FAST! our efforts were rewarded.
    I know the Daytona road course and the bike is working well. Only a couple of practice sessions to select gearing, set shift points, braking and turning references and get comfortable. Years of experience helps.
    Afternoon day one, Qualifying.
    It is very windy, as usual at DIS in March. Over 70 racers from around the USA and the world have brought their best and it showed. My qualifying times were only OK. Better than last year by 2 seconds, but not to my expectations. We qualified 52nd out of the 69 who did qualify. Our starting position was middle of the second wave. I hate starting a race behind like this, but will do my best, nonetheless.
    Race Day, morning warm up.
    Ah, the enthusiasm of youth. Several of my competitors seemed to think that awards were to be given out after practice, so they risked all...resulting in crashes and various detours from the asphalt track.
    Ok with me.
    The Speedway hosts a "Fan Walk" for an hour right before the race. Every fan in attendance is invited to visit the hot pit road, get autographs, meet the racers, and take photos. This is very cool. Many family, friends, and fans I have never met came by to wish me good luck. I love meeting the fans.
    Time to wipe the smile off my face and get down to business.
    Motorcycle racing elbow to elbow at 170 mph for 200 miles takes a measure of concentration few can imagine.
    Race time!
    We take a sighting lap, grid up, and the first wave takes their green flag. Off they go in a roar!
    Merely seconds later, the starter raises the big "1" board, turns it sideways, green flag!
    A great launch off the line for me, I make an aggressive move outside of 2 other riders who thought they were on the outside. Grabbing gears with the electronic quick-shifter shoots me past several others into turn one. Traffic is thick and chances are being taken by all.
    Before we can complete the first lap, crashed bikes and riders on course dictate a red flag...race is halted for clean up.
    A few minutes later, we re-grid in original positions and start again.
    Another great start...I am starting to really feel it now. Weaving my way through thick traffic I once again pass several others within the first few corners.
    It is gonna be tough to catch anyone in the first wave, I am thinking..but it is a 200 mile race.
    Wow, as we approach the exit of the infield section of track and prepare to climb the wall of NASCAR one, red flags fly again!
    Right in front of me is a Kawasaki laying in the middle of the track, nearby, also on track, is another bike on fire!, completely on fire!.
    One of the downed riders is dragging the other by his arm away from the burning bike, which is only a foot or so away. Such drama. whew.
    Obviously, another red flag.
    Another restart. every time we restart and go to original grid position, I lose the positions earned before the red flag. Oh well.
    Another good start by me, this time the entire field completes a lap making the race officially underway.
    Through some traffic in the infield I can only gain a place or 2, we exit the infield course, onto NASCAR one, I am now into the draft of 4 or 5 others as the banking flattens out onto the long back straight toward the chicane. Time for a move. muscling the clip on handle bars against the wind and speed so that my bike pulls out of the draft to the left. This positions me for the inside entering the chicane.
    Whoosh...past 4 in a bunch. Playing a game of chicken with another to see who backs out of the throttle first...side by side at 170, staring at the approaching corner.
    He cuts his throttle! I move over in front of him...punch down 3 quick gears and crush my front brake lever.
    It has been said that this sport requires the grip of a block mason and touch of a safe cracker.
    Diving across the yellow rumble strips, hard left, instant right, across another rumble strip and twist the throttle hard...wheelie over the third rumble strip onto NASCAR three, driving high up the wall.
    As I said earlier, this is a fast Suzuki.
    Speed builds fast here as the easterly ocean tail wind helps our engines wind out. This thing is screaming!
    Sitting on a platter before me is a group of 5 riders who started ahead of me. I hold the low and tight line off NASCAR four to shorten my run at this pack... I reach their draft before the tri-oval, and pass the whole bunch in one swoop.
    At 170 mph, the vacuum created by a pack of bikes is amazingly strong causing my bike to be sucked sideways. As I complete this pass and cross the finish line, A plume of blue smoke appears on my right, leading for a few hundred feet down the track. Red Flag!
    Someone had blown and engine and laid a ribbon of oil on the fast place on the course, causing another rider to crash hard.
    This red flag period took a while, as the oil needed to be cleaned up.
    This time, since the race was underway, and the field was thinning, all riders will be starting in one wave...yeah baby!
    Attrition and my riding efforts have put me well up into the grid for the restart.
    Whatever uncertainty I may have had about my bike and my own skill has been replaced with the realization that I am going to meet this challenge. I cannot wait to restart...bring 'em on!
    Yet another restart, but now among the faster part of the field...these guys will be tougher to pass.
    Sign sideways, green flag...roar!
    Into traffic I go, measuring my aggression to survive the first few corners, which are hectic.
    Riding with the faster group has gotten me into a fast rhythm that is agreeing with me...Really feeling it now.
    Over the years, many of my competitors have mentioned to me that I am always a very good rider, but sometimes when whatever mood it is strikes me... I am a great rider, and I am in the mood!
    This is too much fun!
    (sorry for the over use of !... but I can't help it)
    Leaning waaay over with my body hanging off the inside of the bike, I dive out of the infield toward the banking, twist that throttle, OOOPS, the bike slide out way to the right, and tries to throw me off. In less than the blink of an eye, I adjust and pull it under control.
    Hmmm, was it my enthusiasm?...too much rear tire pressure with the heat of battle?...or is something wrong?
    I reluctantly back down my aggression a notch to test the traction. it slips again, and again. sigh.
    I signal to my crew that I will be coming in for an unscheduled pit stop.
    We had planned to refuel and replace the rear tire later, but this as to be done.
    I race down pit road (which by the way has no speed limit in this event) and to my crew. They quickly find fuel getting onto the left side of my rear tire. A quickie fix (I hope will work) and a new rear tire takes a few minutes. this costs us 3 laps. sigh again.
    Back onto the track, and to a fast but cautious pace until I trust the traction.
    Seems OK for now, but it is in the back of my mind. Survival instincts.
    Up to speed now, in a pack of riders going down the back straight toward the on!
    170mph, grab the now very hot front brakes, down 3 gears, an emphatic turn to the left to scrub speed, then very quickly across the rumble strips to the right at about 100 mph...
    WHOA!! right in front of me is a yellow bike going about 20 and in my path.
    Apparently broken and foolishly still on course, he is about to get kicked into the next county.
    My only option is to run off course into the grass.
    This takes me toward a concrete wall that is still a bit away.
    Hot racing tires have about zero traction on grass. Do not touch the front brakes...we will crash.
    Gently apply the rear brake...the pedal "goes to the floor". no rear brake.
    I am cool under fire, and gingerly take a curving route away from the wall and allow my speed to wane.
    As the song goes, "Ya gotta know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em"
    Bike is still in one piece, I have had a good time...and still alive,
    I'm more for me today.

  • #2
    Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

    Really nice "from my seat" commentary. Very cool! Thanks for posting.


    • #3
      Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

      Stellar stuff, Arthur.
      KN, this ride's for You.


      • #4
        Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

        My palms were getting sweaty reading that. What a blast!
        “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”...Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


        • #5
          Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

          Thanks for the write up Arthur. sounds intense. I tuned in with about 7 laps to go and then lost feed for the last two laps.


          • #6
            Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

            Great write up Arthur!


            Wish we could have been there
            I have neither the time,or the inclination, to explain myself to a man, who rises and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner, in which I provide it. I'd rather you just say 'thank you' and go on your way.


            • #7
              Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

              Arthur, thanks so much for taking us along. Been a lot of years since I waited on the starting line for the green flag to drop. You reminded me again of what that feeling is like. Pretty much nothing else like it- as you well know!

              "The Price of Speed is Eternal Vigilance" 2015 ZX14R 30th, Four Kids


              • #8
                Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

                That is way too much fun at 67!

                Sent from somewhere using Tapatalk
                "You don't get slower with age, you just get more cautious." Michael Rutter

                06 Ocean Blue ZZR1200, the coolest colour.
                99 Yamaha R1


                • #9
                  Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

                  Great report, Arthur!!

                  While I am master of my sword, I shall never think any man greater than myself.
                  ~Eumenes of Cardia

                  I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth. ~Steve McQueen

                  I work over by worlds of fun. ~JimmyMac

                  My photo album -


                  • #10
                    Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

                    What a read about an incredible ride! I'm sorry to hear that you ended the race early but handled it well by avoiding a direct crash.

                    My ol' ZZR1200 pics:


                    • #11
                      Re: Daytona 200 from my seat.

                      Way to go Arthur. Wish it could have ended better for you, but a big HATS-OFF to you for GOING FOR IT. Was there for the race, watched from the grandstands down by turn 1. Take away the wrecks and it was a fun race to watch. Was somewhat saddened when the bight yellow wheels stopped rolling by. But happy to hear that your stoppage did not involve a crash.

                      Next year?


                      • #12
               last Daytona200 coming this March.
                        I'll be ready!


                        • #13
                          Great write up Arthur. Tnx for taking us along for the ride.

                          "I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it!"


                          • #14
                            You're an inspiration, Arthur.


                            • #15
                              God that's fun to read. Gets the heart rate pumping.
                              Thanks Arthur for being a part of some much that we have the chance to viciously enjoy.
                              On a side note - been going to the gym regular twice weekly since last summer and started on an improved meal plan to drop some weight this year - 11lbs in January. Motivation is to be capably in shape and ready to Monkey by April should there be a chance to do so. GP