Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wanna Go Racing? Tight Budget? Got a Dual Sport Bike?


Hey Everyone and welcome to another fabulous post to the San Diego BMW Motorcycles blog! Today I'm going to highlite this past Sunday's events held in the Qualcomm stadium parking lot.


First a little background:

A close friend of San Diego BMW Motorcycles, Cesar Gannod, owns and runs Fastkeys (www.fastkeys.com) a key, locksmith and engraving service right around the corner on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. We use Cesar exclusively for his key cutting services on our exceptionally tricky BMW ignition and luggage keys and locks. Cesar it turns out is an avid Supermoto (or supermotard) enthusiast with friends throughout the motorcycle industry in San Diego and beyond. Cesar rides a Suzuki DRZ400SM that he's tricked out with all the right toys. We mentioned to him that we were building a G450X into a proper supermoto bike for our race team and track days. Needless to say his interest was peaked and he's kept steady tabs on the project's progress. The bike is near completion completion but a few suspension and brake components still needed some tweaking so the G450 was out of the picture for Sunday.

Enter the greatest dual sport bike man has ever created! That's right kids, I still had a Bridgestone Trailwing 21 inch front tire and a Bridgestone BT45 Spitfire 18 inch rear mounted on the mighty G650X Challenge from our Buttonwillow track day last month. Saturday night I loaded the SDBMWMC pop-up, some water and my leathers in the shop truck. Sunday morning 0800 I met Cesar in the "pits" set up at Qualcomm stadium.

The races are organized by the San Diego Karting Association (SDKA). The kart guys have been using the stadium parking lot one Sunday a month for the last five years since El Cajon speedway was closed. The SDKA invited in the supermoto bikes 2 months ago as a trial run to curb some of the massive costs associated with using the Qualcomm parking lot and insuring their racing. These karts I'm talking about are NOT the typical go karts you see at family fun centers across the country. They are purpose built racing karts with zippy little 2 stroke engines rocketing the drivers around the 1.1 mile course in just over a minute! That's about a 60MPH average speed. There are small children that pilot the 50cc machines, medium children that pilot what looked like 80cc machines, and large kids (in their 30's, 40's and 50's) that shred around the track in 100 and 125cc machines. The racing is pretty spec'd meaning the karts are all VERY similarly built which provides for some really tight racing action. Between the races competing drivers scurry about the pits offering tools, parts and a helping hand to their competitors! It's a real sportsman type environment which also keeps the "intimidating" feeling for newcomers like myself to a minimum. After signing up for the street legal class and a quick riders meeting where to explain ho things would run we retreated to the shade of the pop-up. Local photographers, kart drivers, bike riders, spectators, children and passers by all circulated through the pits and stopped to say hello.

At 0930 the street legal bikes got to take our first of three 5 minute practice sessions. We all pushed out bikes to the staging area and once the grid boss waved us onto the track it was legal speeding for everyone! The track is marked by chalk and cones which takes a little getting used to at first. Once I figured out how to leave the cones in my peripheral vision so they'd sort of melt into an orange line at speed I was fine. But on the initial 2 laps it must have looked like I was practicing the slalom out there. Something like this:
Left turn, Right turn, Tight left turn, CONE! Sweeping right tu...CONE! Straightaway, left turn, CONE, oops...hit that one...oops...almost hit that other rider...CONE!
But after 2 laps the course markers began to make sense and I was cruising around very comfortably on the parking lot tarmac.


We got another two practice sessions over the course of the morning followed by a break for lunch. The first heat race was at 12:50. Each rider pulled a number out of a hat and this was your starting position for the qualifier. Your finishing position in the 10 lap qualifier determined your starting position for the 15 lap main event. My number put me exactly middle of the pack on the start. Cesar was lucky enough to draw the absolute last spot on the grid...jokes were made.

The starter held the flag up in the air, waited a second, then dropped his arms and we were off. I got a great launch (ok, most of the field was riding bikes 450cc's or less) and was 3rd going into the first turn. As we shot down the front straightaway Pete, Cesar and I lead the pack in that order. Over the next 6 of 10 laps Pete gapped us a bit while Cesar and I traded positions countless times. The G650 was quicker getting out of the turns and down each of the 2 straightaways but Cesar is BRAVE on the brakes! He was able to grab the binders later in essentially all over the hard braking zones. This, from my vantage point, was awesome to watch. These more skilled supermoto riders go into the turns as fast as possible then at the last second sit up, drop the bike 2 gears, dump the clutch and SLIDE the bike crossed up into the turn. So you can imagine as I'm setting up for a direction change Cesar comes flying past on the inside, handlebars at near full lock the wrong direction, smoke and dust trail coming up off his rear tire. It took some mental doing to not target fixate on his "controlled crash" of sorts every time we rounded a corner. This cat and mouse routine last till about lap 8. I settled in behind Cesar on his DRZ and as we rounded an off camber chicane at the far end of the track I saw a bit of smoke further up the track out of the corner of my eye. A second later Pete was in view laying on the ground having low sided his DRZ. "Hey! I'm in second place!" my brain shouted inside my helmet. Out of another chicane and across the start finish line on the fastest straight on the track. I tucked in behind my locksmith friend as we rocketed south. Again I sit up before Cesar and begin hauling the BMW down from 80MPH. This time though he started his deceleration just a little too late and after sliding, locking up and sliding again he overcooked the left hander and missed the turn threading the needle between 2 cones as he exited the track. I'm in first place now! Cesar meanwhile saw the track was clear over his shoulder and re-entered but with only a lap to go there was not time to pass me again. The might G650 and I had won the 10 lap qualifier!

In the cool down zone there were congratulations and fist bumping going all around and I was phyched. We walked our bikes back to the pits were Pete was checking out a couple new scratches on his DRZ. We took a minutes to make fun of him throwing away what would have been a sure.victory. We took a few more minutes to make fun of the new scratches on his bike. Then a few more minutes still to re-make fun of throwing away the victory.

So at this point it's 2:30pm and our main event (which I and the mighty G650 have pole position for) is not until 5:15pm. It's Sunday and I've been at the stadium since 0800. Hmmmm, there were a few things I wanted to do today. Well, I live 4 miles away in North Park SO:
I traded out my leathers and boots for shorts and flip flops, hopped in the truck and headed home. In the two hours the kart guys were finishing their qualifiers I did a load of laundry, gave my hound dog a bath:

Stopped at the grocery store to pick up steaks for dinner and headed back to Qualcomm. You can't do THAT from Willow Springs!

Once back I put my leathers back on and about 20 minutes later it was time for our main event. I lined up on pole as the others fell in at their respective starting positions. Once again the starting official raised his flag then threw his arms downward sending us drag racing to the first turn. The G650 motor once again pulled me to the first turn in first place but as I exited turn one both Cesar and Pete shot past on the inside. This was shaping up a lot like the qualifier. I settled in behind those two hoping for a repeat of my earlier fortune as it was evident there was no way I was going to be able to play the late breaking game with them. Unfortunately, lady luck was busy elsewhere this race. Pete and Cesar battled back and forth for the first 10 laps or so while steadily pulling away from me. On lap 12 Cesar over cooked a turn which allowed Pete to check out. Then, on the last lap, just as I was putting the final touches on my podium speech from inside my helmet Ross from San Diego House of Motorcycles came out of nowhere and blew past me on the inside of turn 5! I tried frantically for the rest of the lap to get back around but no dice. I think he was sand bagging the earlier moto's!

So, all in all, I had an absolute blast. 75 bucks very well spend. We got a ton of track time, I made new friends and people were pretty impressed with the mighty G650. Huge kudos to the SDKA for bringing us moto guys on board and taking every opportunity to make sure we were happy with the way things were running. SDKA really catered to the supermoto riders and were outstanding hosts the entire day. I'm 100% in for next month. Also huge thanks to Jon Litchfield for taking all these great pictures:
http://www.wix.com/DirtyhuckerPhoto/Litchfield_Shutter_Works
Facebook/dirtyhuckerphoto






and Matt Finley, matt@amusingscribe.com, www.amusingscribe.com:


In keeping with tradition photographer snaps a picture of me making a really dumb face:





-Thanks for reading,
Sean DeAngelis

7 comments:

  1. Great story! I was the one on the bone stock engine Suzuki DR650 (complete with CA emissions still intact). I had a blast out there and hope we get more riders to join us next month!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent write-up! Congrats to Cesear on his win and to your for your outstanding effort. I'm looking forward to mixing it up with you both next month. Once again, Great Job! -Brakelate- #43v SDKA-SM

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  3. Nice work De!! Love the write up. I'm in for this month. Cam

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