Monday, March 09, 2009

Hello Again!
I know that the 2009 season will have many challenges both on and off the track, but I am ready. I am ready because past obstacles and hurdles mage me strong, and I know that 2009 will be conquered just as past seasons were. Through perseverance, passion and belief in BMW Motorcycles, along with the freight train with no brakes that of BMW riders and others that support me…WE WILL WIN.
The 2009 season started this past weekend. Yes, I am racing BMW Motorcycles. The opportunities that have been knocking went unanswered due to my belief in the “conquest” to prove the true performance of BMW Motorcycles.
I entered and raced four races at Daytona International Speedway. With a first, second, third and fifth place finish, my equipment let me know that they were tired from never being freshened up. That, though, is the true measure of my BMW Motorcycles race bikes. They keep running; they keep going regardless of the relentless pressure of staying up front versus sky-high revving Japanese and Italian competition.
Robbing parts from the trusty R1200S to get the HP2Sport right was the answer in the epic race of the weekend – the 600 Grand Prix race. Starting 17th for the 6-lap race, I knew we had our work cut out for us. With a great launch and a rather nutty pass here and there, we were in fifth starting the second lap. At that moment going into Turn One, we were 4.1 seconds off of fourth place, and in a four-way battle for the lead. Briefly it crossed my mind to settle for how tough it was to get to fifth, knowing they (top four spots) will draft themselves away from me. I put my head down and did what I knew I could do better – crush the infield section and show that we were not just going to roll over and settle for fifth without trying.
With my single HP2Sport and no back-up HP2Sport (nor parts), I decided to hand that bike its own ass. I rode it as hard as I could. Making up ground over the next 2 laps, I drew closer and closer until I caught a whiff of the draft on the exit of the chicane. We then passed for fourth and now the leaders were right in sight. That was enough to send me into overdrive. With this 600 Grand Prix race of seriously modified 600’s that rocket around the high banks, our seemingly big air/oil cooled Boxer was hauling the mail! The only places I knew I could get by was truly “The Long Way Around” on the outside of Turn One, on the brakes. That is a nutty pass; it is using the small part of the tire due to heavy lean angle, coming from top of 6th gear down to 2nd (2nd due to the ultra tall 2.54 final drive ratio) gear.
I committed to going up to the wall and not shutting off until the one marker I made the pass on the outside and at that moment we were 4 wide into one. First, second, third and I headed hard into the left handler and being on the outside was truly the WAY long way around (Ewan has nothing on this). With the final slip of the clutch, backing my way into second gear. The driveline hooked up into a nice slide while re-engaging on the small part of the tire, all the while with my knee planted and sliding across the asphalt, I was on a fine line with the front brake well on and the rotors wanting to pull me down into the ground. For every hop of the front wheel, the front end tucked then caught, tucked then caught, due asking too much of the front contact patch (asking it to turn, hold weight of bike up, and slow down). I rode the final line trailing that deep into Turn One. This was the only way to let them know I was coming.
After easing off the lever and lowering my center of gravity to the point I was resting my elbow on my inner-knee, the bike kept turning and heading into Turn Two and I was now in third!
From there the infield was the best point of taking the lead. We were all over them because that easy part is riding, the banking was the tough part coming up, lol. Without a safe pass and knowing I should not be leading at Daytona on the last lap, I sat back. I sat back a hair too long going into 6. The rear tire was already going off and not giving me the optimal drive any tire should give you after only 6 laps. Well, our rear shock has three hard seasons on it and no budget to rebuild it. I tucked for all it was worth and turned it to the stop. The HP2Sport’s flawless shift assist was beautiful and at the line we were 0.5 seconds from the win. Settling for third was a better feeling than the and second place (by 0.001 seconds in the National ASRA Pro Thunderbike) later that race weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

... at Barber Motorsports Park.
Barber Motorsports Park has always offered a mix of challenges, but there is one very strong point for our BMW racebikes. With the tight corners that do not agree with our wheelbase, there is one turn that is the strongest for us on the whole circuit. Turn 4 is a very fast, uphill right-hand turn that levels off as you crest the turn flat-out in 4th gear. Due to our superior telelever and paralever suspension coupled with the longer wheelbase, we can hold the throttle wide open here while the rest of the field (in any class) has to close the throttle for stability. This allows us to shoot out of T4 with close to a 5mph advantage over 600s, 750s, and 1000s! This weekend was comprised of 6 races; one of them being the National ASRA Pro Thunderbike class that we currently lead.
This race is special every year because of the amount of BMW riders and dealer/club support. We entered our Boxers in five sprint classes: Supertwins (The fastest litre Twins on the market), 600 Superbike, 600Supersport, 750 Superbike, and CCS Thunderbike.
The weekend started off with a win in 600 Superbike against some talented riders on ultra-lightweight, high-revving 600s. That set the tone and from then on the level of energy amongst the BMW fans was sky high! The next race was 750 Superbike. On the warm up lap I realized instantly that I pulled a bone-head move. In all the excitement, I forgot to put on new knee pucks as I took the old ones off. I had a decent start and was running second coming up to T5 and I felt it was time to take the lead through our massive Brembo Brakes on the BMW HP2 Sport! I got in a little too hot on the brakes going for the lead and realized it was not going to stick. For the left-hand turn, the bars were fully lock up against the frame, countered all the way right. I was still hard on the brakes, trying to re-engage the drive-train through the clutch after two down shifts into 2nd. I stood the machine up and went straight off into the grass. We were able to stay in it hard enough to scrub off a lot of speed before the grass, so the save was not too spectacular. Once I got the bike stopped and turned around in the grass, I fell back to 15th position in the quick five lap sprint. From there, I put my head down but realized I had no knee pucks, which made it very difficult to carry the corner speed neccessary while trying to keep my knee from dragging and ruining the race suit. Regardless, my head was down and we charged our way back to 4th with only a few bike lengths behind 3rd place at the line! It is still so much fun and we are proving our BMW can do it!
The 600 Supersport was a battle for as long as we could keep the gap small on the straights at Barber. We settled for a commanding 3rd place finish, not on the strong HP2 Sport but our R1200S Thunderbike! Then came the CCS (regional) Thunderbike race. This was a pre-game warm-up for the National Thunderbike race the following day. I heard a noise coming from the left cylinder on the warm-up lap that I realized was louder since practice that morning. With the drop of the flag, I never looked back. Knowing there was a battle brewing behind me, our team was able to cross the line on the R1200S Thunderbike 15 seconds ahead of the competition. There was still a gnarly noise coming from the bike, but no loss of power, luckily. With Jim Doyle's help (a proud customer of Engle Motors in Kansas City, MS), 2nd Lt. Alex Deseta of Charleston, SC (US Army), and Ralf Wilkowski of San Diego, CA., we were able to find the problem and make the neccessary changes for the next day’s ASRA National Thunderbike race. After pulling the left valve cover off of the R1200S, we noticed one of the four massive studs holding the rocker arms sheared off. The big nut on the end of the stud was flying around and the rocker arm was smashing the valve cover the whole time I was racing. With no noticeable power loss, we still won the race. Amazing reliability! With that found, my pride and joy in my National Championship-leading "A" bike was down and we need to get to work on switiching the suspension over to the "B" bike. The electric shifter is such a bonus on the "A" R1200S, so back to getting it done manually! The new day started and the "B" bike went .4 seconds faster than the "A" bike and we were ready! BAM, we were off and as I ran it into T1, I never looked back. Team checked out with a five second win in the ASRA Pro Thunderbike class, further extending our points lead with two rounds to go!
Thank you tremendously to Jim Doyle, Ralf, Alex, the BMW MC Club of AL., BMW MC Club of GA., (love you guys),, Atlanta BMW MC's, Engle Motors, Mortons BMW, and! We are on our way to a National #1 plate that all BMW motocycle owners can wear and share! N8! Kern
Round 7 of the National ASRA Pro Thunderbike series headed to Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. This is the fastest track on the circuit; yes, faster average speed than Daytona. With the national championship getting closer, I knew this would be a pivotal round. Getting ready for the race weekend was tougher than I realized. I rented a truck from Enterprise and loaded as much as I could into the 6 ft. bed and I was off. Arriving 17 hours later (at 1am), knowing I needed to be at the track by 7am, really set the tone for the day. No worries, I knew Jim Doyle from Kansas was coming! Jim has selflessly helped me from Topeka, now to Road America, and onto Barber.
There was so much riding on that weekend that I could not have done it without him. To top it off, a USGPRU race team based out of Nova Scotia called RAT (Remote Access Technologies) was ultra helpful with the pit space and canopy we could not fit in the truck. I met them at the Summit Point round of ASRA and we all clicked really well and had fun.
So, feeling rather sluggish and cramped from the straight drive, I did not expect much, lap-time wise. We got one of the R1200S's ready and went out for practice. To my surprise, I was 0.3 seconds (1'29.7 in 2007) off of my fastest race time from the season before. That really made me feel better and it was on from there. With the National Pro Thunderbike race as priority, I knew there would be two opportunities to race my top competition, Factory Buell racer extraordinaire Dave Estok. Dave is a great racer and pushes me and the BMW R1200S pretty hard. There would be two CCS Thunderbike races, one Supertwins, and the National ASRA Pro Thunderbike.

Not to bore youse, but all I can say is - it was on! Dave was ready and so was I. From the start, the first CCS Thunderbike race came down to the line, with a draft pass for the win with under 0.1 seconds separating us.

The second race was the Supertwins race, where we ran our Thunderbikes again and Dave got the better of the battle by exactly 0.1 seconds at the finish line...this time.

The second CCS Thunderbike race was rather uneventful, due to Estok's bike breaking on the warm up lap. We won by a wide margin.

Now it's time for the ASRA National Pro Thunderbike race. We wanted it. I was on pole, with Estok on the front row also. The flag dropped and this 10 lap sprint on the huge 4.1 mile track was a barn burner. The most ferocious braking battles took place in T1 and T5, drafting and side-by-side corners all throughout the race. We swaped the lead four times on one lap. With a way shorter wheelbase, Estok was able to pull about 4 bike lengths each time from Canada Corner to the front straight. On the last lap, we had a braking battle into T5 from top of 6th gear down to 2nd gear as fast as we could. I won, but then he came down hard but under control into Canada Corner, hoping to pull a bigger gap with 3 turns to go. I really put my head down and made sure I optimized contact patch for traction off the corner, through more body position off of the bike and less lean angle. The center of gravity we are keeping off of the top of the bike by hanging off into the direction of the corner allows the bike to keep turning, but having the bike more upright allows us to get on the meat of the tire sooner and pull the trigger/throttle faster, while clearing the cylinder heads over the raised rumble strips.
Off of the last corner the gap was not nearly as big as previous laps and with a perfect draft pass, Team nipped the competition at the line by 0.09 seconds!

Thank you BMW riders that rode from all over to witness and share in the fun! One race closer to that # 1 plate that all you BMW riders deserve.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Teammate Richard Cooper and I had a tremendous showing at the Virginia International Raceway (June 21-22) during the ASRA Pro Thunderbike and CCS Thunderbike races.
I managed to grab four first place finishes on both the BMW R 1200 S and the new HP2 Sport race bikes. I also set the all-time ASRA track record time! Cooper not only grabbed two podium finishes, but also set the qualifying track record time at the VIR.

For me, the biggest thing that stands out is that how the BMW R 1200 S never lets me down. It gets faster every time I race it. The R 1200 S is so versatile.

I got the top honors at the ASRA Pro Thunderbike national race on the BMW R 1200 S, while Cooper finished in the third position, and then I did it again in the CCS Thunderbike regional race while still on the R 1200 S, with Cooper achieving the second position.

Cooper and I have such a great relationship; it is the highest level of team work and sportsmanship that I’ve experienced. This was Cooper’s first time at the VIR, so I tried really hard to get him up the speed as soon as possible because I wanted to see two BMWs up on the podium.

I set the ASRA track record of 1:31.9 in the ASRA Pro Thunderbike race, while Cooper set the qualifying track time of 1:32.4 during qualifying for the same race. We could not have been hotter on our BMWs that weekend.

Cooper and I were blown away by the level of support from so many BMW riders at the VIR that came from all over.

I changed my bike to the hot new track-ready BMW HP2 Sport in the CCS Supertwins to finish first again. The number two spot crossed the finish line 8 seconds later. I also grabbed the top finish and crossed the checkered flag four seconds ahead of the next racer in the CCS 750 Superbike class, which features some of the best 600 and 750cc racing motorcycles.

I really credit the awesome support from the BMW community for the great showing with Cooper at the VIR. The BMW riding community is strong in the US and Cooper was surprised by the level of support that we get at these races. He said he realizes why I keep going faster every time.

I think we're well on our way to this year’s ASRA championship!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back in the Republic of Georgia and for sure I am still riding high from this past Monday's trackday! The opportunity to ride with our West Coast friends and BMW riders was something I could not pass up. About 7 months ago via email Ralf and I spoke of a BMW trackday in Southern California. Its was simple to me - you get the track Ralf, and you bet I will be there. After we hung out and spoke further at the IMS show in Long Beach, it was in stone for me.
So June 9th was the date and man, it came quickly. Logistics would be tough as to how to we would get a bike there. BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas made sure the R1200S they have for me to race would be available.
This whole event at Buttonwillow (Bumpywillow) Raceway was the work of one man, Ralf Wilkowski. With very quick commitments from BMW riders all over Ca., this event was shaping up. I flew out to Ca. and spent some time this past Saturday at Ralf's local dealer, San Diego BMW Motorcycles. Rack another one up, another dealer that "gets it!", meaning that they understand the value of relationships first and naturally the numbers will come. With San Diego BMW Motorcycles' involvement the day was even better.

This is a great time to share a really cool story. An R1200SGS rider from Norfolk, Va., named Jody was riding in WV at a trackday when I met him in 2007. We hit it off instantly besides the fact that he was on a BMW motorcycle. We kept in touch and hung out at Morton's BMW Motorcycles open house and then at the D.C. IMS show in Feb. That is where Jody informed me he would see me in two years. He is a career Navy Officer and being stationed in Japan. His wife and kids would be joining him there later this year. Well some divine intervention landed Jody and his ship, the USS George Washington, at the San Diego Naval base due to a fire while en route to Japan. Fortunately, none of his crew was badly injured. I found this out because he showed up at the San Diego dealership while I was there hanging out with their customers. It was really cool as he said he heard I was going to be there.
I told him that the trackday was Monday and he knew nothing about it. From there I just inquired to see if there was a motorcycle he could potentially ride on Monday. San Diego BMW Motorcycles was beyond generous and made sure he had a bike to ride and gear head-to-toe!!!!! Just awesome! Jody was speechless and still in disbelief. Later on Sat. I got the best tour of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. Even more love and respect for our United States military personnel. Amazing ship and jobs everyone has to keep us safe!

Sunday rolled around and oh yeah, I sat next to a great couple on the flight out named Mike and Trisha. Mike is a Navy Medic (E-6) and after the 6 hour flight we found out we had alot in common. I ended up going to The Rock Church with them Sunday morning before we headed out for the track. Thank you guys for that awesome experience. Around 2 Ralf, Jody and I set out for the track. The drive through some mountains and then into this very flat valley was awesome. No wonder its so expensive to live there; the scenery is great. We checked in the hotel and then met up with some great members at the Willow Ranch BBQ joint for some grub. Many faces were put to the screennames and throughout dinner we all just had a great time. I sat next to Eron and, man!, the guy really knew his track stuff and it showed the next day on his BMW R1100S!

Finally Monday June 9th came and we were off for the track. Buttonwillow Raceway is a track in the middle of the valley and very flat. Some man made eleveation changes, but ultra-bumpy. It was the perfect training ground for the "real world" riding motorcyclist encounter off the track. Off camber, blind hill turns, and bumps were some of the fun we learned to tackle together. I had so much fun and was blown away by how much these riders really wanted to learn. I knew with the mix of BMW models there and my experience with Boxers and K bikes, we would have a great time. After chatting a bit with each rider and then riding together, we narrowed down what the riders wanted to work on individually. From there I used the San Diego BMW Motorcycles R1200S for two up rides (taking passengers) around the track. That was just an absolute blast!!! Then to see the riders go out and apply what they learned first hand was even better.

There is so much more I could say, but I dont wanna drag out one of the best days I have ever had on two wheels. I cannot wait for the next time!

Packing up this evening for the XPLOR Blue Ridge ride this weekend. This will be total fun and a chance to see and hear what people want to know about BMW motorcycles. From there, Richard "Mini" Cooper will be flying Monday to get ready for the following weekend's ASRA Natl. Pro weekend. Two Beemers again flying in formation and for sure Richard wants to reverse the outcome from Daytona in the ASRA Pro Thunderbike race. Friday we will be practicing (20th) and then we go racing Sat. and Sun. Dont miss the chance to see a very, very talented and fast racer at VIR.

Thank you everyone for you comments that are piling up in the email in reference to the posts here. I have tried to get the Blogger issue cleared up and get them on here, but it's hit or miss. Sometimes it goes through and sometimes it doesn't. So Jason, Kevin, Tarci, and others... apologies for not being able to publish them.

Ok, off to the range to train and blow through a couple hundred rounds. Will be at BMW MC of Atlanta tomorrow and then off to Va.!



Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The 3rd round of the National ASRA Pro Thunderbike series headed to Summit Point, WV.
Going into that round I knew the competition was hungry and for sure did not want a repeat of what happened 3 weeks previously. The BMW HP2Sport still has not changed from its showroom stock condition. I felt the need to keep stock and prove what it can do, as if a customer just bought it. The shocks have not been revalved and/or resprung, which is the most necessary upgrade for racing.
With a win in 750 Superbike (Heavyweight Superbike) that shocked all the spectators and riders alike at Summit Point, our BMW HP2Sport did it again! This time I was blown away by the lack of sportsmanship as I found out, almost the hard way, on the warm up lap. This past race weekend was the first time I have ever left the HP2Sport out under the canopy over night. I did not practice on it, as I knew what it was capable of from the day before. Due to limited budgets, I wanted to conserve tire wear and race fuel. On the warm-up lap, the machine about spit me off every time I pulled the trigger. Something was terribly wrong.
As I gridded up on the front straight to start the race, I hopped up and down on the seat and man, did it feel like crap (rear shock). I reached down for the compression adjuster and found that it was completely turned all the way out. That left me in total disbelief. No time to check the rebound. 2 board, 1 board, BAM nailed the holeshot into T1. With the lead now I had a dilemma - lead it and stay out front knowing I can't get the power down safely/efficiently, or just go for some good points and bring it home?! The latter quickly faded away, as I was livid! We ended up winnning the race Monday (Memorial Day) morning.
Backing it up a day to Sunday. The Morton's BMW crew and members who volunteered the time and effort to put us up front, had some work to do. Morton's BMW brought the R1200S that Mini Cooper rode at Daytona. The bike was the heaviest and dynoed good power, so that was my choice weapon for ASRA Pro Thunderbike's 4lbs. per HP ratio class. Qualifying was a game. It always is. No one wants to give the seemingly "old man's" BMW a tow down the straights for a good draft. That ever-precious draft at Summit can start a really good lap going. So, I put my head down and did what I could. Came up .3 seconds short of the pole and qualified 2nd. I was not happy at all with that because I went .8 seconds faster in practice that morning. Oh well, time to get ready for the CCS Thunderbike and 600 Supersport race.
The same players in the Natl. ASRA Pro Thnderbike were in the CCS Thunderbike so it was a big pregame warm up. Less than stellar launch, but was able to outbrake everyone into T1 due to my Telelever front suspension. I have never experienced the ability to go so deep on the brakes on another motorcycle. From there I ran 4 laps with .3 seconds of each other and was able to pull away for the win. This turned up the heat for the next day. The competition was now even more fired up.
The 600 Supersport race was awesome! We led the first 2 laps and then Robert Jensen, who I feel is the best privateer in the country, came past on the brakes to start lap 3. I put my head down and wanted to show that our BMW HP2Sport does not just run past good riders, but can hang with great ones! At the line we finished a strong 2nd, just over 1 second behind.
So back to Monday, Memorial Day... a day that I know personal friends of mine who are serving and everyone else who knows someone serving our country keeps in the thoughts all day. This day was going to be a great showdown. I had to forget about the mysteriously and drastically changed rear shock that found my compression and rebound adjusters backed all the way off. Hmmm... Just added more fuel and rode stronger. So now the ASRA Pro Thunderbike race is gridding up. The top 4 spots were only seperated by .4 seconds. Another crappy launch but repeat on the brakes into T1. With the lead going into T2 I was energized. I started to calm down and just hit my mark. With no draft and decent headwind down Summit's long straight, the pack was leap-frogging each other closer. Finally I had a front wheel shown to me. That made me think I needed to push a bit more there. The 10 lap race had a just an awesome lead change around 7 to 8 times. 3 laps to go and a Factory Buell racer and another rider who I know is ultra- talented, Dave Estok, ran down the the side of me into T1 but no worries, we both stayed up. It was pretty early in the brake markers so I was not expecting it. Dave ran wide and fortunately stayed up. What I did not know was the Morton's BMW R1200S I was racing still had the heated grips hooked up. I would later find out why I was swallowing my tongue and having trouble with my fading melting brain for the last 3 laps, as the high position was on! So here is where it gets interesting, especially for anyone who has EVER raced anything under the sun...
Last lap was a jugg-dragging fest. I have never ever dragged the cylinder heads for a whole lap, everywhere. Every corner, not due to going blistering fast, but due to brain melting. Literally, I was thinking, man it's only 80 degees and a great day for racing, not the 100+ we are used to at Barber. Last corner T10 is a fast 4th gear (for me) right-hander onto the front straight. As I drive off the corner, I see the checkered flag waving about 200 meters down the straight. NATURALLY what would any racer do knowing they are being drafted to the line?! This is where I found out the direction some racing is going.... I took a look over my left shoulder, while wide open on the gas, and I could see the 2nd place rider drafting me. He dips left, so NATURALLY as I look forward I dipped left, then right, and we crossed the finish line. I took the hard fought win in the Natl. ASRA Pro Thunderbike race.
Well you know, when I heard, "Nate Kern to the scoring tower", I didn't think much of it. Boy, did I think alot when I left, though. I was penalized 10 seconds onto my race time and dropped to third. I was accused of "blocking". I simply replied "I was just racing", the same way any other series and or race comes down to the last lap being drafted. In this series, regardless of the situation, last lap or not, you have to just hold your line and let the next rider draft by you. So all in all we still lead the natl. championship, but 9 valuable points were lost.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back in Ga. after 5 back-to-back race weekends. From Atlanta to Jennings, FL (4hrs.), then back to Atl., a few days later to Carolina Motorsports Park in SC (4hrs.), to pack up and head over to Barber Motorsports Park (3hrs.), and from there straight to Topeka, KS (15hrs.) After a great weekend of racing in Topeka, I started the trip (19hrs.) to Summit Point, WV.

The first three race weekends were close enough to where I call home that I could recharge. The drive to Kansas on my own was SO boring, I was annoying myself! The break I took from driving when I stopped at the BMW MOA office in St. Louis was great, though. Ray, Vince, and the gang were busy as ever doing all they can for us MOA members. Knowing that the race in Topeka was pretty far west and the budget is what it is, I found myself without my full time techs. That's where Engle Motors of Kansas City, MS, stepped up. I really didn't think there was another dealer out there that could rival the genuine and amazingly warm welcome that Morton's BMW in Frederickburg, VA, offers to everyone. Well, there is, and their success comes from those principles. Everyone feels like they were just invited over for dinner when they walk through the doors. Ok, so no home cooked meals everytime but the same great feeling of family and friends that go along with it! That makes me think of something new to write about... food! Man I'm hungry thinking about home cooked dinners.... lol

With support from Mike Jones and his service dept. at Engle Motors to a long time and very loyal customer Jim Doyle, the 2nd round of the ASRA Pro Series was better than I would have expected. Now I am not at all happy with 2nd in the ASRA Natl. Pro Thunderbike race, but I was content with being on the pole and leaving with the championship lead. Spending time with BMW riders and future ones was really my highlight. Call it what you want for those that read this with their own agendas and opinions, but we are all motivated by different aspects. Mine is people. The more the better, and it brings the level of energy to your riding. Try it sometime, you may see a difference....! Thank you Engle Motors for giving me the support that showed our strength on the track!

I know I am not getting into too much of the actual on-track fun I have had showing what our BMWs can do, but I will say I am loving that BMW HP2Sport more and more! The R1200S's still have the duties of going for our Natl. Championship, but the HP2Sport is giving us even more credibility with wins in the 600 and 750 Superbike/Supersport classes within the regional CCS Pro races.

I was really looking forward to getting back to Summit Point Raceway, surprisingly. It's really not the track itself, but the awesome turnout we always have of BMW riders and families of BMW riders. The club out of DC and Morton's longtime support was, for sure, a great mix for another successful weekend. Little did I know how fast we would go!!!!!!!
With the newly repaved circuit, we were all expecting better feel. The place is bumpier than ever and the "cages" (cars) were let on too soon after repaving and have pretty much ruined many of the turns. Oh well, that actually suited our 3-inch plus wheelbase! ;) Right away we were in the hunt for classes I did not think we could win with a stock suspension setup. All I can say is, neither did the competition! With wins on the HP2Sport against very, very good competition, we can only go better with the right set-up. 750 Superbike, 750 Supersport, 600 GP, and Thunderbike were the wins of the weekend. 600 Superbike and 600 Supersport netted a 2nd and 3rd place finish!

There are 2 stand-out riders everyone knows in that neck of the woods, Brain Stokes and Mike Himmelsbach.

Shoot, be right back...

BACK, friggin days later, ok so this will be a bit short. There is a lot to do to get ready and head back up to WV for the ASRA National. Rather short handed this season and with a limited budget, but we are still out to prove we can get it done! The BMW family of riders have been ultra-supportive each season and this year it is even more appreciated. With some great tracks coming up, be sure to come hang out with us and enjoy the sound of the Boxer going flat out against some of the best riders/ machines around!

I did want to mention some names if youse do not mind. BMW MC of Atlanta, Morton's BMW, Jerry Duke, Kevin Weber, Tom and Gerry from, Engle Motors in KC, MS, out of DC, Jim Doyle, Ralf Walkowski, and so many others have and are making this season a front-running one! Thank you!

June 9th will be a stellar day ripping around the track on the West coast with some great BMW riders and enthusiast. Ralf Walkowski from the board has put together an awesome trackday at Buttonwillow Raceway (still some space available). Then from there, I look very forward to riding with everyone who can make the event in VA., it is a ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains and I am going to break out the streetbike and enjoy some roads and lunch with everyone! (Also, a few spots have been added, as it is a full event!)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Good morning fellow BMW riders and race fans. Our 2008 season kicked off at Daytona and went pretty great. My BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta-prepared racebikes were flawless as usual and making great power! I started the season opener instructing in the prestigious Team Hammer School and helping riders learn their way around Dayton Intl. Speedway. Our CCS sprint races were a good warm-up with top 5's and a win before the Natl. ASRA Pro Thunderbike race.

Former Boxer Cup competitor/European Superstock winner/World Endurance rider Englishman Richard Cooper came over to ride one of my R1200S's under the Morton's BMW flag. The Frederickburg, Va.-based dealership has been ultra-supportive over the past few seasons and wanted in on the fun, too. I knew Richard was looking to ride the BWM again and I knew I had another bike as a back-up there. So a few phone calls and prep work on the bike, and "Mini" Cooper was at Daytona with us with all covered! Cooper and Austrian racer Thomas Hintereiter were on hand to race with me for Team BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta in the Sun Trust MotoST series opener (Daytona 300).

Our MotoSt bike was my "B" bike from the '07 season just basically outfitted with a quick fill gas tank for faster pit stops and that's it. The bike was perfect and the rider line-up was dubbed a podium team for sure. Tragedy struck as Thomas was sent out for some seat time in a CCS sprint race, though. A four-bike crash exiting the chicane, caused by a chain coming off a Ducati 1098 that wrapped around the countershaft sprocket took Thomas with it. Thomas had nowhere to go and badly injured his hand. The Team BMW MCs of Atlanta's R1200S was destroyed in the crash also.

From there on the mood was somber. The Natl. ASRA Pro Thunderbike qualifying was coming up and we had to be ready. Cooper and I went out Boxer Cup-style and pulled each other around the track with big drafts. We went one-two on the front row, with Cooper 2nd and I managed a pole position out of it - until we went to the post-race scale and dyno inspection. At a certain weight I was allowed to make 108.3 RWHP on the ASRA dyno and, well, I made 108.4!!! "You have got to be kidding?!" I thought. So Mini Cooper went to the pole position and I was moved to 4th on the grip, still front row at least. Come race time, Richard and I checked out from the start. We were not separated by more than a few bike lengths for the whole race. Cooper would draft by me on the banking, I would outbrake him into one, then he would outbrake me into the T3 "Intl. Horseshoe". I tried every possible combination of draft and line on the banking I knew and always came up half a bike length short at the stripe.

Not until the second-to-last lap of the race did I miss a shift and that backed me up about 8 to 10 bike lengths. That was enough to get a major draft and run on him to the line, though. Starting the white flag lap, (last lap) I made sure he lead through the infield; I did not want to even have a chance of leading into the chicane on the last lap. Exiting the chicane for the final time, I rolled off and on the throttle quickly to give me that gap I needed for a good run on Cooper. It payed off and I was able to slingshot past him to the finish line for the win. The biked passed post-race tech no problem due to the added weight we put on the bike so we would not dyno over the limit (4lbs. per HP).

Ok, I have to go unload from this past weekend's races at JenningsGP (CCS SE), where I can say proudly I got my **lls back in the wet! It rained all weekend and we were able to pull off some podium finishes.... Will finish Daytona weekend and our "Cinderella story" MotoST finish, AMA Daytona 200, then Jennings this past weekend.


Finished up some logistics for this weekend and new changes for the rest of the season today. In a nutshell, Daytona was great. The MotoST race was put together by BMW MC of Atlanta. We decided to use my "B" bike as our platform. With the new rules for the spec fuel we had to use (lower octane than last year) and higher HP limits, we were already feeling the disadvantages. To our surprise, with the great mapping Zach is always able to build, we were within 1.5 HP of the legal limit with ZERO motorwork. The eight was also within a few lbs. of the legal weight limit. So, we were ready to go with "Mini" Cooper and Thomas Hintereiter. With Thomas's terrible injury and knowing how this all came together within 2 weeks of Daytona, we decided to use my stock street bike (BMW R1200S). So while I was racing the rest of the CCS races on Saturday, the team was taking all of the lights, license plate bracket, ABS, mirrors, and such off to make the bike close to being track-ready. With no pit stop practice, we headed into the MotoST hoping for the best. With a major weight disadvantage and the stock telelever arm that does not allow the bike to turn as quickly as the RT arms we fit to our racebikes, we worked hard. That payed off as we managed a podium finish on a stock BMW R1200S! Hats off to the BMW MC of Atlanta rookie crew!

From there, the Factory BMW German team came over to debut the new HP2Sport in the AMA Formula Extreme Daytona 200 opener. With some set-up and a few practices we all qualified very well, considering. The day of the 200 had a description of "Hurricane force winds"... go figure! No big deal, as we all had to deal with it. The AMA kept pushing back the morning warm-up, thinking the 50+ mph gusts would calm. They didn't. Once we took to the track, we were having a handful with the wind on the banking. No worries, again we adapt. Well, nothing could help me other than going slower, which is not an option, for the gust that came into T3. Right at the lowest point of the corner (apex) a gust came in as I even thought about picking up the throttle. With the cool surface temps, SC3 rear (hard compound), the perfect gust as I opened it up for the drive off the corner.... well she just spun up the way she always does, but the wind unloaded the contact patch enough to really break it more loose than ever. As it reconnected the typical monor highside, not all the way over the bars, but staring into the oil coolers. I felt as if there was a moment of saving it, but as I looked up from my over the windshield Six Flags ride I saw the metal armco wall with no protection on front of it. I let go. The bike stayed up and just ghost rode almost to T4 and lofted peacefully on it right side and didn't even crack or scratch anything, due to falling in the grass. The initial impact shot a serious pain through my right hand. After a quick visit for Xrays but no MRI, I received a bunch of Novacain shots and hurried back for the warm-up lap. I almost missed the warm-up lap for the 200, due to not being able to get my glove on my hand. I rolled out and did the warm-up lap. I could not feel the brake lever and could not tell if I was all the way off the throttle a couple of times. I made the toughest decison of my life. I rolled onto pit lane and realized today was just not my day. Trying to be a hero could really hurt someone else, my bike, and myself. Pride hurt more than my hand. After the MRI I had a partial tear of a tendon in my right hand and ligament crap too, but as it has been healing I have been rebuilding the strength in it.

Alright, more laundry and stuff to get ready for CMP this weekend.