MRA Round 6 at High Plains Raceway (West Course), September 8-9

The entire weekend felt very mediocre. I struggled to find a good pace, my confidence was low, and made practically no passes. While I didn't do poorly, I didn't take any podiums, either.

Saturday, Novice GTU (finished 6th)

After struggling with body position all day on Friday, my left leg started developing a sharp pain on the outside of my ankle. Practice on Saturday morning only served to aggravate the issue. I went into NovU with low confidence and high anxiety from not finding a stable platform to support myself mid-corner.

I started on the inside of row 2. Got a great start, securing 2nd place behind a distant #614 Tyler Weaver (who had a FANTASTIC start). I struggled to keep up with Tyler for the next lap while he built up a few second lead on me. Trying to make up some time, I came in a little too hot in T1, not even coming close to hitting the apex: #808 Dan Spurlock passed me handily on the inside.

Over the next 6 laps, I started making mistakes (partly from the distracting pain in my leg and frustration left over from practice). I lost 1 more position each lap. #746 Jon Renk, #999 Lukas Vaznonis, #412 Christopher Jaech, #807 Philip Takahashi, #178 Nate Pike, and #128 Bobby Mills all got past me, pushing me to 9th place by the end of lap 7.

I finished in a disappointing 9th place, almost 32 seconds behind Spurlock and Renk. At least I only dropped 1 place in championship points (5th to 6th).

Saturday, Novice GTO (finished 15th)

After getting way too frustrated with my performance in NovU, I almost skipped NovO. However, my pitmate and sage mentor, Mister Doctor Andrew Schrems, suggested that I should just go out and have fun, not worrying about position or points. Especially considering that I'm already 15th in points in NovO (from missing 2 races), I thought this was a good idea. I took a deep breath, decided to not let any mistakes bother me, and just went out and have fun.

I started from the 3rd row. I got an okay start, finding myself mid-pack by turn 1. I kept myself calm and focused on making good lines and not worrying about laptimes or position. I got passed a bunch, but had a much better time (despite my ankle still hurting every time I made a right turn). Finished in 15th place with mediocre laptimes, but I got some much-needed practice in the new T8-T9 West Course section.

Sunday, Amateur GTU (finished 8th)

After raising up my left footpeg a bit, my left leg was feeling much better. The pain was pretty much gone and I got through Sunday morning practice without issue. I also took some time Saturday night to really check my mindset. I needed to step back and take a deep breath. I was starting to take this a bit too seriously. I felt in a much better mood on Sunday morning.

For my first race on Sunday, I started from the second row, with a clear path in front of me (after #110 Nick Kaplan crash out of his endurance race the previous afternoon). #224 Jim Hinton and I both had really good starts, getting out front of #48 Jared Dear. Jim, however, managed to stay out front of Jared while I slid into 3rd place for T1.

I kept up as best I could for a while, maintaining 3rd place for the next lap and a half while Jared and Jim battled it out for 1st. At the end of my second lap, #808 Dan Spurlock made a clean inside pass in T8, pushing me back to 4th.

The race was about to get very interesting. Coming down the back straight, I could hear another bike pretty close behind me. I could tell someone was nipping at my heels in T4 and T5. Knowing that other riders often try to dive in too early for T6, I took a very late turn-in and apex to hold onto my drive out of the turn. Smart move; sure enough, #22 Mick Derner passed me on the inside, taking an early apex. I passed him right back, though, since his line (and being in the wrong gear) killed his drive out of the corner.

Coming up the hill for T7, I knew he was right behind me, so I tried to run defensive lines to keep him at bay. Coming into T8, I thought he may try to do the same thing he did in T6, so I turned in late (taking the fast line). In hindsight, I should've turned in earlier for a defensive line: as I turned in, he was coming off the brakes on the inside leaving no room to slow down before 'lightly' hitting me. His front tire hit my leg, and his nose scraped my tail.

Thankfully, this is the slowest corner of the circuit and neither of us went down. Unfortunately, though, #614 Tyler Weaver was able to take advantage of the situation and passed us both on the outside of T9 while we regained composure. Mick passed me on the brakes coming into T1, waving an apology. Still slightly shaken up, I left too much room on the inside of T2, letting #746 Jon Renk get past me, dropping me to 7th place.

A few laps later, after getting held up on lapped traffic, #807 Philip Takahashi made an outside pass in T9. I almost passed him back coming into T4 (since he had braked pretty early), but I couldn't make up the distance in time. I finished 8th, about 1.5 seconds behind Philip.

Sunday, Amateur GTO (finished 9th)

For AmO, I started on the inside of the 3rd row. I had an okay start, finding myself in 9th by T3. One of the big-bikes got in front of me in the straight, and I found myself in 10th.

Two laps later, on the brakes into T1, I made my first and only pass of the weekend, securing 9th place for the rest of the race. However, #808 Dan Spurlock was right behind me the whole time. I managed to keep him at bay, though, by trying to run defensive lines and get as good of a drive out onto the straights as I could. I finished in 9th place, 0.2 seconds ahead of Dan.

MRA Round 5 at High Plains Raceway (North Course), August 11-12

I had a pretty good race weekend overall, though I feel I could've done better. I struggled with bike setup all day Friday and Saturday, and fatigue on Sunday. All things considered, I placed well, bringing home another trophy with a 3rd place finish in Novice GTU and finishing in the top 10 in all my races. I also broke my lap record from last year by over 3 seconds (1:20.264), but could not break 1:20 not matter how hard I tried.

Saturday, Novice GTU (finished 3rd)

My first race of the weekend (and my most competitive race) was NovU on Saturday morning. After struggling with bike setup all day Friday and during Saturday morning practice (mostly rear traction; I later discovered that my tire pressure gauge was inaccurate by 4psi!), I wasn't particularly confident in my bike. However, I did what I could with what I had, and performed fairly well.

I started in the second row and had a great start. I got out ahead but #614 Tyler Weaver took the holeshot into T1. I was right on his tail, though, and passed him on the back straight, taking 1st place.

I held 1st for the rest of the lap until #746 John Renk passed me on the brakes into T1. I kept within a second or two of him for the next couple laps, but between him consistently pushing 1-2 second faster laptimes and a couple of minor mistakes on my part, he was able to build a pretty big lead on me.

I maintained 2nd place for a while, until lap 5: trying to make up time, I braked a little later for T4 and ended up coming in way too hot. I kept it under control, but ran really wide and lost my drive out of T4. #808 Dan Spurlock took advantage and made an easy pass on the inside, creating a ~2 second gap while I recovered.

For the rest of the race, I did my best to close the gap, but Dan and John were able to put down laptimes just fast enough for me to not be able to catch up. Coming out of T15, I lost my drive onto the front straight after getting caught up in lapped traffic, letting Tyler pass me on the brakes into T1 for our last lap. However, I got a better drive out of T3 and passed him back on the main straight. I pushed hard and tried to ride defensive lines since I knew he would be right behind me.

I finished in third place, 14 seconds behind John and 9 seconds behind Dan, with Tyler and #457 Randy Hopper finishing less than 0.3s behind me.

Saturday, Novice GTO (finished 8th)

I was gridded in the 5th row, due to having missed so many NovO races (I was 15th in points). I got a decent start, ending up in 7th place by T2, right behind #807 Philip Takahashi. I was able to get past him on the back straight, taking 6th. On the next lap, I passed #121 Tommy Darmstedter on the brakes into T1, taking 6th, but only briefly. #353 Dylan Welch passed me coming out of T4, going on to later take 2nd place.

I ran a very consistent 1:21 laptime for the first 6 laps, holding 7th place every time we crossed the line, with some position exchange in between. However, at the end of lap 7, I got caught up in lapped traffic and #457 Randy Hopper passed me on the inside of T13. As I was able to clear the lapped traffic coming out of T15, #614 Tyler Weaver and I were neck and neck down the front straight. He outbraked me into T1 and T2, but I was able to pass him on the back straight, finishing in 8th place with a 2.9 second lead on Tyler.

Saturday, Ultra Lightweight Endurance (DNF) (crash excerpt) (crash photos)

After having SO MUCH FUN riding my wife Sophia's Ninja 250 for a session during Friday practice, I borrowed it for Ultra Lightweight Endurance on Saturday afternoon (with her permission of course).

This was my second time on this bike, and I was still getting used to the differences in riding style between a 600 supersport and a lightweight, underpowered, 250. However, I was having a blast.

Having never raced this class before, I was gridded dead last, in the 16th row. I had a decent start, passing #669 Cuiting Zhu by T1, ending up right on the tail of #314 Dan Parker. I got a good drive out of T3 and was able to pass Dan on the back straight, ending up behind #725 Parissa Azarvand. She ran wide in T11 and I got in front of her on the inside. However, she got around me on the front straight into T1, but I got back around her coming out of T2. For the next 5 laps, Parissa, Dan, and I exchanged many passes and a few rubbed elbows.

However, on lap 7, I was coming up the hill out of T11 and tucked the front end at T13. The bike and I slid out into the dirt at approximately 60mph. Both the bike and I were okay, with only minor injuries. The bike suffered a bent footpeg mount, which was easily bent back, and I suffered a crushed left heel, which didn't start hurting until Monday morning. We got the bike cleaned and repaired within an couple hours and Sophia raced it the following day in Ladies of the Rockies and 250 Production Cup.

Sunday, Amateur GTU (finished 7th)

My first race on Sunday morning saw me gridded on the inside of the third row. I had a crappy start; I lost my drive after popping a wheelie and backing off to get it back on the ground. I ended up in 7th place by T2, trying to regain my composure.

#807 Philip Takahashi passed me coming down the hill into T10, pushing me back to 8th place. I struggled to keep up, fighting fatigue and some good riding on Phil's part. I maintained 8th place for the next 3 laps, slowly managing to catch up and setting a new personal best laptime: 1:20.264. I passed Phil on the straight in lap 5, taking back 7th place.

With a huge gap ahead of me to the leading group, I put my head down and focused on just putting in consistent laps to keep my position. I held 7th place for the remaining 4 laps, finishing 10 seconds behind #614 Tyler Weaver and the rest of the leading group.

Sunday, Amateur GTO (finished 10th)

My last race of the weekend was Sunday afternoon: AmU. I was gridded on the inside of the third row. I had an okay start, falling in line in 6th place for T1, just behind #15 John McKown. I found myself in 8th by T2 after the starting traffic worked itself out. #242 Randy Throckmorton took a diving inside pass into T3 pushing me back to 9th.

I kept 9th for the rest of the lap, but #301 Joseph O'Donnell highsided coming out of T2 leaving his bike on the race line and exiting the track in an ambulance. He was conscious and walking, but hit the ground pretty hard. The race was red-flagged shortly after and we returned to the pits so the track could be cleaned up and Joe could be tended to.

We restarted the race in our original grid positions and this time I had a much better start. I pushed up to 4th entering T1, but McKown passed me on the outside, dropping me to 5th. I kept up as best I could with the lead group (mostly 1000cc bikes) while #152 Mark Helvig used his extra 80hp to pass me on the straight and join his fellow liter bikes.

At the end of lap 1, two more big bikes passed me on the brakes into T1, pushing me back to 8th place. Over the next 7 laps, I focused on putting down consistent laptimes to keep whatever positions I could against the bigger bikes while fighting fatigue. My riding was getting pretty sloppy, but I managed to run 1:21 laps for the rest of the races.

I finished in 10th place, less than 1 second behind #808 Dan Spurlock.

MRA Round 4 at Pueblo Motorsports Park; July 21-22

TL;DR: had a fantastic weekend, took another podium finish in Novice GTU, and had a great time learning the track.

This was my first race weekend at Pueblo, having only done a dozen laps or so during an open lapping day two months prior. Sophia and I decided to come Thursday night so we could get a full day of practice on Friday to learn the track. Good decision. I was able to get my lap times down to 1:42 by the end of Saturday morning's practice sessions and I broke 1:40 with a 1:39.164 by Sunday morning.

The afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday brought some light rain and high winds which complicated some races, but overall it was a good weekend.

Saturday, Novice GTU

Definitely the most exciting race of the weekend! Fantastic 4-way battle for the podium, lots of clean passes, and I ran VERY consistent mid-1:40 laptimes (all within 0.4s of each other).

My first race (and first ever on this track) saw me start in the third row. I had a great start, entering turn 1 in third place, behind #614 Tyler Weaver and #121 Tommy Darmstedter, with #301 Joseph O'Donnell right behind me. I was right behind them for the next 2 laps, until O'Donnell got a good pass on me in turn 4 taking fourth place.

Over the next few laps, the four of us exchanged passes, keeping within a second of each other. Coming into lap 4, I had a really good drive out of turn 10 onto the main straight; I drafted Darmstedter and passed both him and O'Donnell taking 2nd place coming into turn 1. However, O'Donnell made an inside pass on me in turn 3 pushing me back to third; he made an inside pass on Weaver in turn 7, taking and keeping first place.

I was hard on Weaver's tail throughout the last sector, trying to find a place to pass. Coming into turn 9, I found myself on the outside of him but carrying a little more speed. Weaver braked a little earlier than I expected and I found my front wheel rubbing side-to-side with his rear wheel just before we turned in. Once we got back onto the main straight I was able to make another dafting pass, taking and keeping 2nd place. O'Donnell had small lead on me for the last lap, but extended that to almost 2 seconds after I got a little caught up in lapping traffic.

Saturday, Novice GTO

For my second Novice race, I was gridded in the 6th row. I had a fantastic start, making me momentarily think I had jumped it; everyone seemed to react very late. I weaved my way through the grid pushing up 7th place by turn 2. After finding good drive out of turn 9, I took and maintained 6th place for the next 2 laps.

Coming out of turn 10, I got a great drive onto the straight, passing #301 Joseph O'Donnell and just barely NOT passing #121 Tommy Darmstedter. O'Donnell got back around me on the inside of turn 2, blocking me from passing over the next 2 corners.

As we headed down the hill into turn 5, Darmstedter's bike decided to throw a valve and he disappeared into a dense plume of smoke from a locked-up rear tire, leaving a small trail of oil on the track (outside the race line). Luckily, he was able to keep his bike upright and ended up in the dirt on the outside of turn 5. Not luckily, #391 Ben Bridgewater was able to take advantage of my distraction and push me back into 6th.

On the next lap, I mis-shifted, finding a false neutral while downshifting for turn 1. I was able to make the corner and get it back into gear, but not before losing a position to #808 Dan Spurlock. From there, I maintained and finished 7th place.

Sunday, Amateur GTU

Sunday morning, Novice/Expert mixed class for 600cc bikes and under. I started from the 4th row, pushing up to second place by turn 1, just behind #48 Jared Dear. However, #110 Nick Kaplan out-braked me and passed me on the inside, taking 2nd.

Jared disappeared, as usual, finishing in 1st place with an almost 13 second lead. I kept pace with Kaplan for a lap or so, but eventually fell behind once #301 Joseph O'Donnell passed me on the inside of turn 2. My pace slowed a little as the race went on, with O'Donnell and Kaplan running about 2 seconds per lap faster for the rest of the race. While I had dropped about 10 seconds behind them by the finish, I did end up keeping 4th place the rest of the way.

Sunday, Amateur GTO

AmO was a bit of a disappointment (both in terms of my performance and the race itself).

I started in the second row, right behind #48 Jared Dear. I had an amazing start, motoring past Jared and very briefly taking 1st. It only took a few moments, though, for the extra 40-80 HP that the 1000cc bikes have to show its worth. Jared and #152 Mark Hellvig outbraked me into turn 1 and we found ourselves in 3rd, 5th, and 6th, respectively. I was focusing too much on Mark and not enough on my lines and ran wide in turn 3, running off into the dirt. I managed to keep it upright and re-entered the track in 15th place.

I got back into race-pace and did my best to catch up with the pack. I was only a couple of seconds behind when #691 Zachary Vasquez crashed out in turn 2; the race was red-flagged. We returned to the pits, and waited on the call to restart the race. It took a while, but they got Vasquez loaded up into the ambulance, hospital-bound, and cleaned up the track.

The race was restarted and shortened to 4 laps in an attempt to beat incoming rain (we do not race at PMP if it rains). Unfortunately, it started to rain on our warmup lap; the race was red-flagged again and eventually cancelled. Oh well. At least everyone equally lost out on championship points meaning I am still in 5th place in the championship.

MRA Round 3 at High Plains Raceway; June 30-July 1

This was my first time actually competing on the full course at HPR. The last time I rode it at all was almost a year and a half ago at my race school.

Friday practice was very useful for [re]learning the track, and I made steady progress with my laptimes all the way through to Sunday. My previous lap record was 2:13.055; I had gotten that down to ~2:05 by Friday evening, 2:02.862 by Novice GTU on Saturday morning, and I broke 2 minutes with a 1:59.922 in Amateur GTU on Sunday morning. I broke my record again with a 1:58.601 in Amateur GTO later that day.

Overall, I'm very happy with my riding this weekend. Although I did not finish any races on the podium, I feel I made fantastic progress with my riding and racecraft in general: I was braking much later, trail braking much deeper, accelerating sooner in the corners, and worked out gear selection for corners 6-11 which greatly improved my drive and laptimes.

I can't wait to race here again!

Saturday, Novice GTU

I had a decent start for my first race of the weekend, moving from the outside of row 3 to 3rd/4th place in turn 1. #808 Dan Spurlock passed me on the outside in turn 2, pushing me down to 5th place to the end of the back straight. From there, I maintained 6th place for another lap, but dropped to 7th until the race was red-flagged in lap 4.

For the re-start, we were gridded in running order (with me on the inside of row 3 this time). I had a good start, pushing up to 3rd by turn 1, but dropped to 6th after making the mistake of shifting into 3rd WAY too early, losing my drive out of turn 1. For the rest of the race, I struggled with picking good lines on the relatively unfamiliar track, dropping to and finishing in 8th place, 11 seconds behind #587 Tyler Hollman and #807 Philip Takahashi.

I'm not happy with how many positions I dropped in my most competitive class, but considering I had only ~20 laps of practice on this track configuration before the race, it's understandable. On the upside, I did get my laptimes down to 2:02 by the second-to-last lap.

Saturday, Novice GTO

I am much happier with my performance in NovO; it was one of the more exciting of my races over the weekend. As I accumulated seat time, I began to learn the track and started figuring out where I could cut time.

Starting from row 2 of the second wave (about 15 seconds after wave 1 left), I easily got the holeshot into turn 1. In turn 2, #807 Philip Takahashi passed me on the inside, but I got a better drive out of turn 3 and passed him on the back straight. I was then passed by #203 Chris Brown on the inside of turn 4 (he later pushed sub-2:00 laps, finishing in 2nd). Over the next half-lap, the three of us managed to catch up to the first wave, but I got caught up in the traffic while working through the pack and lost sight of the two of them. I eventually pushed halfway though the first wave up to 13th place. After a rider crashed in front of me in turn 13, I maintained 12th place until #178 Nate Pike passed me in turn 13 on the last lap. I finished 13th, just 0.3 seconds behind Nate.

Sun, Amateur GTU

My first race on Sunday, mixed expert/novice class. Started from mid-grid, inside of row 4. Had a decent start, took turn 1 in 6th place. I found myself in 8th place by the time the pack sorted itself out in turn 3. I kept right on the tail of #601 Matt Kirizakis until the end of the first lap, dropping to 9th just before the chicane. On the back straight, I got a good draft on Matt and passed him before turn 4. I kept a lead on him until passing #807 Philip Takahashi's crashed bike in the middle of the track between turns 6 and 7. The race was red-flagged shortly after.

We restarted in our original grid positions for a 4-lap race. This time I had a much better start. I pushed through the first three rows to get right up on #48 Jared Dear's tail, settling into 7th place at turn 3. I got a really good drive out of 3 and onto the straight, and I caught up right behind #88 Rob McNiel. I dropped to 8th place by turn 7, maintaining that position for another 2 laps putting down my best time yet, 1:59.922. My pace slowed slightly (to 2:00) for the next two laps, dropping to and finishing in 11th.

Sunday, Amateur GTO

I was gridded on the inside of the 3rd row, right behind #15 John McKown and #48 Jared Dear. I had a fantastic start, pushing up into 2nd place, just ahead of Jared and behind John, for turn 1. However, Jared snuck around me on the outside and took second place before turn 2. While McKown and Dear took off and easily secured 1st and 2nd place, respectively, I managed to hold 3rd place for almost 2 laps against much more experienced racers (some of whom are on bigger bikes).

By the end of the next lap I had dropped to 6th place after being passed by #242 Randy Throckmorton, #110 Nick Kaplan, and #152 Mark Hellvig. After another lap, #746 Jon Renk took a good inside pass on turn 11 catching up to the pack ahead of us by the end of the race. I finished 7th, 10 seconds behind Jon but with a solid 13 second lead on the next racer.

Over the whole race I maintained a VERY consistent lap time (within 0.5s on either side of 2:00), and posted a new personal best on my last lap (1:58.601). I had greatly improved my technique, lines, and braking since showing up on Friday.

MRA Round 1 at Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway; May 5-6, 2018

Had a GREAT weekend overall. Got my second podium, and placed well with the experts in the Amateur classes. I also nearly tied my lap record from last year (1:01.866 vs 1:01.859). My bike feels so much better with the new fuel and throttle maps (thanks to Mike @ Quikcycles for the dyno work!), and after switching to Pirelli tires, I'm feeling much more confident with the rear in corners; they're much more predictable than I'm used to.

Saturday, Novice GTU

What a shitshow... Race was red-flagged TWICE due to rider crashes. The first red flag was within the first lap. The second was after 2 more. I took the holeshot on all three starts (starting from the second row for the first two, and the first row for the final start). However, each time by turn 3, #808 Dan Spurlock got past me and took off. I maintained 2nd place for the remainder of the race, finishing 7.4 seconds behind Dan. My first 2nd place finish and second podium overall!

Saturday, Novice GTO

I missed NovU like an idiot. I wasn't paying attention to the announcer calls (not that I could hear them very well from my pit anyway). I had just put on my rear wheel after getting the tire flipped and noticed a bunch of novices going out. By that time I had realized they had just made third call for NovU, but it was too late. My tires were cold, I was not suited up, and they were at pre-grid. I decided to not rush trying to get on the track; instead I prepared myself for Middleweight Endurance.

Saturday, Middleweight Endurance

This was my first 30-minute endurance race (though it was abbreviated to only 20 minutes). It was fun! I started in the fifth row, and had a decent start, securing 10th place by turn 3. After a brief run in 9th, I ended up finishing 10th overall. I was tired, but I had a great time! Given the length of the race and my relatively poor endurance, my lap times were a bit all over the place, ranging from 1:06.652 to 102.580.

Sun, Amateur GTU

Started in the fifth row (13th place), got up in the top 10 by turn 1. By turn 3 I had gained 8th place. After a little position flux at the end of the first lap, I started a short lived, but fun battle with #601 Matt Sizairik, securing 7th place by the end of the second lap. I finished in 7th place, 18 seconds behind #110 Nick Caplan and only 0.7 seconds ahead of #301 Joseph O'Donnell. I ran a VERY consistent race, running 1:03's for every lap (all within 0.6 seconds of each other).

Sunday, Amateur GTO

Starting from the outside of the fifth row, I had a great start, pushing up to 5th place by turn 2. I dropped to 6th on the back straight because, like a dummy, I forgot I was in third gear and hit the rev limiter for a second before realizing I needed to be in fourth gear... I managed to keep pace with the second group of the field, posting my best lap times of the weekend (mostly 1:02's with a few 1:01's thrown in). I finished in 8th place, 2.3 seconds behind #808 Dan Spurlock.