Suzuki Snapshots

Kris (Krash) Larivee

Krashman and SuperZooke Battle the Dying 302
Posted by Krash on March 5, 2003

The trouble started early, in fact the first hill we tried to ascend had the poor, overloaded vans motor coughing and spitting and threatening to die. It was an 85 Ford Conversion van with 144 grand on the odo, but Zooke assured me it was a strong runner. What reason had I to doubt him? Figuring it was water in the fuel, our brave heroes stopped at the first gas station for some Dry-Gas. Soon it was apparent that this wasn't working and it was time for plan B. But was there a Plan B? Not really. We just put the hazard lights on and crawled up the mountains at 35 mph, listening to the tired engine sputter and puke what seemed to be it's last breaths. The problem would come and go, sometimes the thing would run fine, then suddenly almost die. Zooke felt it was a vacuum leak, I didn't know what to think, except that I was having visions of last year's Daytona disaster (see the archives). Finally somewhere in the rural, poor backwoods of Georgia the intermittent problem became unbearable and we pulled into a boarded up gas station, about 4am. At this point our heroes nerves were wearing thin, very thin. Bleary-eyed and angry we both stared into the dark engine compartment looking for a sign. Zooke kept futzing with the vacuum lines and I kept having waking nightmares of the 302 tossing a rod right there and leaving us stranded in 'good ol' boy country'. Granted our skin is white enough to avoid a lynchin', but I had my Confederate Flag tattoo removed a few years ago after completing my detox program and Zooke currently hailing from Virginia might not be enough for rejects from "Cops" who were still fighting the Civil War. Ok, that might be an overstatement, but you get the point.
As I gazed at the aging V8 and Zooke poked and prodded with every line and wire I could have sworn I saw a jumping spark. When I asked my partner he told me he had replaced all the plug wires and was sure our problem lay somewhere in the tangle of tubes and hoses jutting out from the carb. Too tired to argue I retreated inside the van to cry. Well, I would have cried if my eyes weren't so dry and bloodshot. I could see an even bigger SNAFU than last year, the very real possiblity of missing out on an $80 practice loomed on the horizon and who knew what else? Was my friggin' luck ever gonna change?

Zooke was feeling the pressure as well, but he took it much better than I did, attempting to eliminate the variables one by one in a seemingly futile search for the source of our trouble. We hit the road a half hour later and made it a good 35 miles before the damn thing started it's shit again. Needless to say, Zooke and I weren't doing a whole lot of talking at this point. The sun started to rise on our puttering little caravan as exhaustion and hunger set in, just to the left of our mutual frustration. I was beginning to hate the entire world and wanted to crawl into some hole and die. I can't vouch for Zooke, but his mental state was somewhere in the ballpark. A few more hours of the on again off again engine performance brought us to the border of Florida and to the doorstep of a Ford dealer, who promptly refused to help us, muttering something about not having any technicians on duty (except for the three or four we saw hanging out in the bays smoking cigarettes). Don't kid yourself man, customer service is dead.

With forty miles left to go to Jennings GP I began to care less about solving the problem of the ailing 302 and just getting our asses to the track and trying to get in some damn practice. I hadn't ridden a bike since October and was just a bit nervous about getting back in the saddle. Without much further hulaballoo we pulled into the sandy wasteland that is Jennings GP, paid our gate fees and looked for a suitable place to set up shop amongst the hundreds of other racers that were already bivouacked there. A two-stroke GP bike was being warmed up in the paddock, the smell of race gas and synthetic Klotz in the air and the hair on the back of my neck is standing up, a smile on my face. I shake the cobwebs from my brain and all the weariness falls from my shoulders. I am home, I've been gone too long. We made it.

The heart of the matter.
Posted by Krash on March 9, 2003

Zooke and I set up shop quickly and rushed the bikes through tech. My GP bike starts and idles well enough, but this will be the first time I've ridden it with the Crook's Squish Heads and Zooke's super-secret porting. He made me sign a confidentiality agreement before even letting me look at the cylinders and I am also under threat of death should I reveal any Sundial secrets! I find out where pit-out and pit-in are, suit up and head to the track, more anxious than a virgin on prom night. I remind myself to take it easy and bed the new motor in before doing anything stupid. I wheelie away in second gear and take my first tentative lap around the superb Jennings GP circuit.

I say superb, and I truly mean it. The course is a little over two miles, with coarse new asphalt, and plenty of sandy runoff room, with no walls or other obstacles to collide with, (knowing my "track record" many of you will agree this is my kind of place!). The track is a motorcyclist's dream, with fast sweeping lefts and rights, many right to left chicane-type flicks and 100 mph kinks in the straights, and absolutely no damn cars allowed! I soon learn that with the excellent pavement and lack of debris on the outside of the corners, you can put the bike just about anywhere in the turn and make it work. The bike is running sweetly and within a few laps I'm starting to push it a just a bit. The difference the Crook's heads make is amazing. Corners I would have to scream into in second gear to keep the power on last season are now a breeze in third, with torque much lower in the rev range pulling me out of the corners. The bike feels more like a four-stroke single than a two-stroke twin. I'm passing slower riders and loving it.

On the last lap of my session I come in hot and kill the engine to do a plug chop. It's a pain in the ass pushing all the way back to our pit, but necessary. On Zooke's insistence I am running K&N filters, which is a good idea considering how sandy the paddock is at Jennings GP. Much to my disbelief, even with the filters and the new porting, the jetting is still spot-on, as evidenced by the beautiful tan on the plug, the kind of tan that two-stroke tuners see in their dreams. The new Avons are working well, (110/80/18 front and 130/650/18 rear), and aside from some front end chatter in the two fast sweepers the bike is handling well. Even when pushed hard the Avons will slide predictably without doing anything silly. I am having a blast riding this thing. It's never run so well! Other than some difficulty finding neutral and an occasional missed shift everything is good. Zooke and I mess around with the clutch in-between sessions but it's hard to find a happy medium, too far one way and the thing slips like a b###h and too far the other and it creeps on the line with neutral harder to find than an honest politician. Practice ends without a satisfactory solution to the clutch dilemma, I hope to take care of it after the first practice session in the morning. Just as the track closes for the day, the rain starts and it downpours all evening, alternating between a steady piss and a cats and dogs affair. I have a damp night in the cab of Zooke's trailer, but sleep well, confident that the bike will go well in the morning. My first race is Formula Two-stroke, a bump-up class that will have me running against 85hp liquid-cooled RZ350s not to mention the usual contingent of bloody RDs that make my life so miserable. It will be the first time the new motor is tested under combat conditions, but my faith in Suzuki over-engineering and Zooke's careful tuning are unwavering.

I'm gridded somewhere in the middle of the pack, and as much as I would love to win this race, I know that even finishing in the top ten will be a job. WERA has the best flagman in the business and he's in pure form this day and I get a great start, running sixth into Turn One. If you've never fired a T500 off the line at a racetrack, you're missing something really amazing. You'd have to be a complete idiot to get a bad start with a Suzuki Titan, it's just a locomotive at the flag. People think I have some god-given talent for getting off the line, but it ain't me, it's the bike. Of course once the faster two-strokes get their legs under them, I know they will come wailing by me like a swarm of angry bumblebees. Apparently my arms and elbows stick out in the corners and this keeps many guys from getting around (a left-over habit from my dirt-bike days, no smooth tucked in style for me!). I want to put spikes on my elbows but the tech inspectors told me no. Scott McCain finally gets by me on his "streetfighter" black RZ and I am apalled at how the thing accelerates. My T500 is no slouch, but those RZs are friggin' rockets. My only salvation is the Titan's tractable power coming out of the corners that lets me get on the gas sooner. The race ends uneventfully and I finish in 8th place, very satisfied with the bike's performance in our first race of the year. The clutch is still slipping a bit and I had two false neutrals during the race, one which happened mid-corner, causing a bit of a fright for me as I ran dangerously wide, but managed to save it. I return to the pits and decide to have a look at the clutch before my next race.

Zooke has unfortunately forgotten his gaskets in Virginia, so it becomes necessary for me to be very delicate with the clutch cover gasket so it can be re-used. I tip the bike over on it's side to save the $6 a quart Gear Saver oil and get to work. Finding no wear on the fibers and no blueing on the recently bead-blasted (thanks Zooke!) metal plates, I re-assemble, adding a spark plug washer to each spring on the clutch to increase the preload. A slathering of Three-bond and it's back together. Careful re-adjustment of the free-play and changing a clutch lever housing that has a hairline crack in it and my hopes are high that the problem is solved.

Zooke and I are both gridded in the next race, due to some rulebook mixup. His proddie racer really does not belong on the grid with full fledged GP bikes, including some wicked RD400s (maybe I don't either, come to think of it). Zooke still manages to bring the Sundial bike home in tenth place after a terrible start. I came from the back of the grid after a rocketship start and finished sixth, showing the way home to a few of those RDs. The clutch was much better, but still slipping at high speeds, very annoying and possibly costing me a spot or two at the finish. But that's racing and Zooke and I are very happy with our respective finishes and there's still one more full day of racing, now with AHRMA. Tomorrow would be the real test, as the level of competition would be even higher than it was today. And of course still looming in the background was the sick Ford Van which still had to get us home. At least we weren't as bad off as HcW3 and his buddies who almost turned their motorhome into a submarine, then had to remove and replace a transmission at the racetrack, hats off to their mechanical abilities and intestinal fortitude in the face of a situation that would have reduced lesser men to tears (namely me). See elsewhere on this site for his excellent story My parents, who had bravely come to watch me/Krash race, and I went out to dinner that evening. Later Zooke and I spend the rest of the night playing Superbike 2000 and generally having a good time. We survived today intact, so tomorrow was like a bonus.

Read the final conclusion as our superheroes do battle on the Jennings circuit once again, will Krash live up to his name, or finally finish a weekend on two wheels?

What's in a Nickname?
Posted by Krash on March 12, 2003

I awoke early the morning of our final race day at Jennings. I never sleep late when at the track. A combination of excitement and a tent that wouldn't soundproof a mosquito fart. At their hotels, many racers are still sleeping, snoring away until their wake up call. You feel closer to everything sleeping at the track, almost as if staying there keeps your mind on the racing. The corners call out in the darkness, "Think you can get me right tomorrow?". Many racers are drawn to the track in the morning, as if to see it first might give them an advantage. They stand about pit wall, coffee mugs in hand, two-day growth, wearing sweat pants and sandals. You couldn't tell them apart from a guy on his front porch, stooping to pick up the Sunday paper. Unless you look in their eyes.

This intensity was seen in the faces of men long ago surveying the battlefield. It's with the same single-mindedness that racers inspect the track. To an observer they seem casual, sharing a joke with a competitor even. Underneath is a taut bundle of nerves submerged in a cauldron of bubbling acid, kept at bay by only the steely resolve to do what must be done. Make no mistake, these men are fierce opponents, who take victory (and defeat) very seriously. That is why people are drawn to motorsports. They remain one of the last venues where a man may test his skill, feel the thrill of risk, and go head to head with his fellows, an arena to test your mind, body and character. The sublime beauty of racing is that to defeat your opponent, you must merely pass him, and stay in front. You needn't brain him to death, or slice off his appendages with a broadsword. You just need to be faster than he is, and stay upright. Yet it affords the same satisfaction as winning a battle, even better, because if you did it right, nobody got hurt and you can sit and tell stories about it later. The very essence of "sport", all the more noble for it's subtlety, derring-do and utter lack of physical violence. Most live in a comfortable world that is too safe, predictable and involves way too much TV. Racing is the eternal challenge, a bar against which to measure oneself, and a way to find out,"Have you got it in you?"

I'm hoping this morning that I do, judging by my queasiness, I may not. The warm weather has given way to a damp chill and I emerge from the trailer to realize I spent too long waxing nostalgic about racing and nearly missed the rider's meeting. I jog over to the tower. It's the same as a dozen other rider's meetings I have been to, but there's always a piece of information to be had. Subtle differences in the flags, a slick spot on the track, variations in start procedure. I find out that I'm in the first practice group. The track is wet and the threat of rain is very real. There are many new riders here today and the feeling in the paddock is an anxious one. Or is it just me?

I tool around the track at a decidedly pedestrian pace, which soon has me bored to tears. I wick it up a bit and the fun factor increases. These bloody tires are great in the wet, (they're English man, why wouldn't they be good in the rain), and my confidence increases. The bike goes well and I come in happy. The only real complaint is that I now have to wait several hours before my two races. That much waiting and I may forget which way the track goes. The weather remains overcast and cool, but dry. I eat some lunch to give me something to chew on other than my fingernails. I go over the bike and re-check everything I already checked, snug up the motor mounts and top off the oil. I'm amazed at the guys who don't check this stuff between races. I am tightening spokes and checking triple clamp bolts while others are lounging about, watching races and gasp, enjoying themselves!

My parents are here to watch me race again. I give them alot of credit for coming out, as they never quite approved of me riding around on two wheels. I don't know how much of it they understand or if they enjoy it all, but it's still cool. The only downside is that it puts extra pressure on me not to crash. Combine that with the strange feeling I'm getting in the pit of my stomach as my race approaches and it can put a damper on the old spirit.

The Formula 500 race finally arrives. The bike lights on the first kick. I line up behind the forty or so other bikes and attempt to find neutral. I can't get it. After several futile attempts one of Zooke's friends, Thad comes over to inquire about my trouble. The bike has stalled and my kickstarter is back in the pits and there's no damn room for a pushstart! Thad offers to push my bike the rest of the way to the pre-grid while I run and grab the kicker. We get the bike fired and Thad leans over and tells me what to do. "Wait till everyone else goes out for the warm-up lap, then put it in gear and head out. As you come to the last turn before the grid, starting fiddling around for neutral, once you get it, just paddle your way up to grid position and don't put it in gear until the one-minute board goes sideways."

With that I scream off onto the track for my warm-up lap. I goose the throttle in my anger and the bike answers with a wheelie. The front wheel comes back to earth in time for me to make turn one and I'm off. I may not be able to find neutral, but at least the stupid clutch isn't slipping. I'm thoroughly pissed at this situation, but the anger is good for my racing. I coast around the last turn, toeing up and down repeatedly for that sacred spot above first and below second. I let the clutch out several times only to find it lurching or screaming. I'm getting panicky. By some miracle I get the shifter into that magic spot, about 60 feet from my grid position and paddle up to it. It's a two-wave start, with Formula 500 being the second group, so I'm on like Row 13, with a bunch of freakin' Yamahas in front of me. The first wave is off and it seems like a lifetime before our one minute board goes sideways. I drop it into gear and wait for another lifetime before the green flies. I'm off, with a nice wheelie in first and a little one as I bang second. Another great start as I head into turn one in third spot. I don't stay there long as an RD scoots by as the corner opens up. I tail him for a bit but he's out-pulling me on the straight. I run hard for another lap in fourth, so hard that my eyeballs are bouncing from the chatter. Suddenly another Yamaha overtakes me, this time it's Chris Spargo, last year's Daytona winner. Something inside me snaps and I decide to follow him with everything I've got. The RD is faster on the straights, but I find I'm able to reel him in on the twisty stuff. I brake stupidly late for a few corners and throw the pig down on her side, knees dragging all over the place. I get on the gas sooner and pull Spargo coming out of the corner. I may not get by him, but I'll at least let him tow my ass around the track. We start catching up with slower riders. Just a straggler here and there. If Spargo goes by on the inside, I'm right there on the outside of the rider. We split a couple of guys like this, whenever the door closes and I can't use the line Chris did. I know I'm pushing it pretty hard because I've had a couple slides out of the Avons, had both of them drifting one time. That RD still hasn't managed to get away, although it does seem doubtful I'll get by him. Everytime I get close enough, Chris gets back on the throttle and smokes me. I'm cursing and spitting inside my helmet, my eyes full of blood. Just stay with him, I tell myself, maybe his bike will break. I follow him around like a puppy for a few laps. I come around the long, fast right-hander just before start/finish, just a few bike lengths behind. I'm watching his tail section as he hits the apex just a second before I do. I look to my exit and find all routes blocked. I'm in fourth gear wide open at nearly a full lean, running somewhere around eighty miles an hour and find myself on top of a gaggle of five riders from the first wave, going about 60 mph. Spargo finds a hole and squeaks through. I make for it just in time to have the door shut by a very slow rider. What happens after this point becomes hazy. I may have tried to force the bike down even further to tighten the turn, or I may have touched the front brake to scrub off some speed. Whatever I did washed the front end out and the next thing I knew I was skidding down the track on my head, listening to the shusshh of leather tearing away from my body and wondering when the #### I was going to stop. My legs hit the sand on the side of the track, and I pole-vaulted into the air, landing on my neck and thoroughly wrenching it, not to mention several of my ribs. I finally came to rest somewhere on the side of the track. I'm on my feet quickly and looking for the bike. I find a 650 Yamaha that is definitely not mine, with a seemingly unconscious man lying beside it. He is not moving and for a second I think, I've killed this poor man. Then I get back to the task at hand and locate the Titan. I check for damage. It doesn't appear too bad, but the front brake is somehow locked on and one of the K&Ns is AWOL. I find it in the sand. The whole bike is covered in sand. The crash truck arrives and we drag the beast onto the trailer. The ambulance arrives to cart away my latest victim. I can feel the blood running down my leg, my helmet is utterly ruined as are my gloves. None of this matters, just that I get the bike ready for the next race, which will be in about 45 minutes. My parents and Zooke are freaking out, people keep asking me if I'm ok, but nobody seems as interested in getting the bike back together as I am. I feel no pain, no fear, only the burning desire to get back on the track for the final race. Adrenaline is high. Have I got it in me?

The Never-Ending Saga
Posted by Krash on March 13, 2003

Maybe some explanation is in order. Following a nasty tumble, such as the one I took that day at Jennings GP, most sane, rational persons would have retired to the pits to lick their wounds, after being thoroughly checked by the on-track medical personnel. I was neither sane, nor rational at this time. I was in the grip of a wonderful drug called adrenaline, which was being secreted into my bloodstream during the race, and dumped in, in copious amounts after the crash. I yanked the bike off the crash truck by myself and pushed it back to the paddock with the front brake locked on, screaming for people to get out of my way. At least six persons asked me if I was alright, to which I kept replying, "I'm fine, just ####ing pissed off, these assholes think this is a Sunday ride out there." I pulled the top half of my leathers down and saw my bloody, grapefruit sized elbow. I can remember thinking, that's gonna hurt later. Somebody asked me how the other guy was and I snapped, "How the hell should I know, I've been busy pushing this piece of shit back here by myself!" (I just found out he broke his arm and a couple of ribs in the crash. I feel bad that he was taken out by my sliding bike and hope that he makes a full recovery)

I ranted and raved for a few minutes about what a bunch of poke ass riders were doing out there five wide in a turn riding like they were in Grandma's golfcart, ect. ect.. Much of my other b###hings are unfit to print. Later reflection would lead me to the conclusion that this crash was, as Kurtis Roberts put it, "a racing incident". In the heat of it, these things do happen, and to try to assign blame is pointless. I could argue that slower riders are always told to leave space on either side to be passed by faster ones, then you could come back and point out that as the overtaking rider, it was my responsibility to make a clean pass. Both are true. One could even go so far as to shift some blame to AHRMA for gridding two groups in the same race with such a disparity in speeds. No purpose would be served by any of these arguments. You know the risks before going out on the track, at least you're supposed to.

I grab a few cans of brake cleaner and begin hosing down my bike. The entire machine is covered in sand, and as it turns out that's what was keeping my front brake handle stuck. Brett from Pro-Flo brings a pressurized water squirter thing and we go to town, leaning the bike on it's side to drain . The clip on (a Pro-Flo item) is hardly damaged and doesn't even appear bent. The kill switch, however, is smashed beyond all repair. No time to fix it now. The gas tank has a huge fist-sized dent in it where it came down on my right hand. The throttle is working, and other than some scratches and gouging the fairing and windscreen are ok. Most of the time is spent trying to get the damn sand off the bike. Everyone is trying to help, but those tiny grains are everywhere, in every crevice. My spare helmet is pulled from it's bag and it's back to tech. Gordon Smith, chief scrutineer, does the once over on my machine, and whispers in my ear, "Take it easy out there man, your tires are covered in sand."

The loudspeaker announces first call for my race. We're bustling around in the pits trying to get ready. Zooke is out on the track just finishing up his race, which I would find out later he won, with Keith Sutton on the other Sundial bike following him home in second. Dave Crussell, an Englishman that races a quick and authentic H1R is helping me duct tape my hands to cover the holes in my gloves and the tear in the right leg of my leathers. "Just like a boxer, mate.", he says with a smile.

I wait until third call to make my way to the pre-grid. My parents are still nearly in convulsions over my little mishap, Zooke has calmed them down a bit. I pay particular attention to the bike on the warm-up lap. Brakes fine, motor feels good, tires good. I give it the gas on the straight and the bike goes nice and steady without a hint or a wobble, nothing seems bent. I find neutral easily in the final corner and paddle my way to my grid positon, row 5 in the middle. Having looked at the grid sheets earlier in the day, I know Gary Nixon is just in front of me and Jay Springsteen is just behind. That's decades of racing experience fore and aft, and it's well known that Nixon would run over his own mother to win a race. The flag flies and we're off. I run into the first turn in fourth spot. This race is called Formula Vintage, it's a catch-all for just about any bike that wants to run. I'm out there against real Harley roadracers, 750 Hondas and a slew of impressive machinery. And I know they are coming for my piddly half-liter Suzuki. Sure enough they come by me on the straight. I run around in sixth spot for a while, but the adrenaline is wearing off and the pain is setting in. There's also a breeze on my right foot, and when I look down I see a half dollar size hole in my boot, something we missed. There's no way I can afford to crash again, so discretion gets the better part of valor and I finish the race in seventh spot. I come back to the pits and everyone is smiling, happy that I kept the rubber down this time. I'm happy too. It's been a good few days, with three top ten finishes, a bike that worked great and some truly amazing people. Much thanks goes out to Eric Kalamaja, Thad, Brett at Pro-Flo, mom and dad, my sponsors who include:


and anybody else I forgot. Thanks.

Re: The Never-Ending Saga
Posted by JA on March 13, 2003, 5:12 pm, in reply to "The Never-Ending Saga"

your are one heck of a story teller. But at the very bottom of the norm as a vintage racer. I understand that you are a "newbie" to racing and that's very exciting. We have this problem with most new (plastic rocket)riders out here at our track. And we had to impliment a "board of riders" to keep everyone safe. Each crash is examned and an attempt to allieviate the cause. The "PR" (plastic rocket)guys think they will be the "new" Nicky Hayden and do all sorts of stupid stuff. Club racing is the first stepping stone to the big time, if that's what you are going for. Even if you are not, the same rules apply. Ride safe, not over your head and keep your cool.

And vintage racing is even more difficult. You are not only racing 3 decade old machinery, but with the new tech tire, tuning and suspension available, you are pushing the old frames past their designed parameters. Then add in decade old parts and motors and you get massive doses of the "aggravation" factor. As you know, last year I went wwwaaayyy into credit card hell to get to Daytona. The day the bike was supposed to leave for Florida the crank went in practice here. I didn't throw a fit (or helmet.... ;-) I found the problem, sent the bike off and sent off a crank to be rebilt and sent to Florida. I picked up the bike in Deland and proceded to take it to my cousins garage for a full bottom end tear down. I wasn't thrilled, but that's vintage racing. Got it all buttoned up and trailered it out to a secret test road to break in and jet some. Of course it started raining and I got soaked. Then as I was loading the bike, the trailer tilted, and the bike fell on me, a couple of curse words later I got out from under it to ascess the damage. New paint scratched, 90.00 bubble busted up, foot peg broken off and a few other niggly things to be straightened. So off I went to fix the bike, again. I make it through tech (few things I was worried about), riders meeting and talked to you guys for a bit. Finally race day comes, I am really pumped. First practice scares the hell out of me, and was frigid cold as you remember. Halfway through the next practice, the new crank goes again. I just pull off the track and push the to the pits. Work a couple of hours thinking it might of been a seizure. But it came to be the crank. So I carefull reassembled the bike, very unhappy but no "fits". Thousands of dollars spent, lost race fees, busted up bike that I put a year into, and no racing for me. What can one do, the Daytona bug bit me good. I spent the rest of the day watching races, and bench racing with Zook and my other buddies. Then packed up and went to my cousins.

My very long point is that there is a great chance of things going wrong in vintage racing. And most of the guys there are older and are out to have a fun day of racing. It is also "club" racing which means no money, no chance of getting a factory superbike contract, and in the end a piece of wood if you finish in the top 3. And being a vintage club AHRMA has to combine classes. There just aren't enough riders. Add that into not having Expert and amature classes you have a wide range of speed even in a single class.You knew that going into the race.

And even though "blood in the eyes" and "drugged up on adrenalin" make for a great read, lets look at the facts. You were riding over your head trying to keep Spargo in your sight. Then in your "adrenal drugged state" you not only came barreling up on a slower group of riders, you krashed and took someone else out. And on top of that, you left the other rider laying there only thinking about your bike. Yeah, that piece of wood is more important than a rider you hurt. Add yelling at people in the pits to get out of your way, and that comes up to you being a total self centered a$$hole. Now because of your decision to be a manic on the track, you are bruised, one trashed helmet and gloves, torn-up leathers and boots, busted up bike, and a guy that was out for a fun day of racing, will be hurt for weeks with broken bones, hospital bills, maybe lost work and a trashed bike, again all for maybe getting a piece of wood. He had a right to be out there as much as you did. If you had done the righ/safe thing, you would of let Spargo go, slowed down till you could of passed safely and everyone would of had a good day. If you had krashed like that at our track, you would of been banned for 2 races. Yes racing is very dangerous, we all accept that. But what you did, was just plain stupid.

I hope you really think about this, and get your priorities straight. if you can't control yourself, you need to find another hobbie that when you get the "blood in your eyes" and can't see straight, that you won't be hurting others.

I'm not singling you out, a few guys here have been repremanded for the same unsafe riding. And I probably do sound harsh, but it's very important to me and everyone racing that the other guy is in control and can make good judgment calls, because we have each others lives in our hands. And that's way more important then one little race for a piece of wood.

Ok I'm off my (wood)soapbox.

In Defense of Myself Part 1
Posted by Krash on March 14, 2003

I believe that JA and X6er may be reacting to some of the embellishment I like to put in my stories. All the events I describe are true, but I am sometimes guilty of using storytellers license to spice up what would otherwise be run of the mill race reports. I wanted to give non-racers a view into a world rarely seen other than on SpeedVision, from someone who had lived it firsthand. I also do my damndest to be brutally honest about what I am thinking or feeling at any given time during the story. I'm sorry if that causes some people to leap to many erroneous conclusions about the type of racer and person that I am. If you will be so generous as to allow me a few moments of your time to clarify and, apparently, defend myself, I think we can all understand each other.
We have a good time here on the board and even at the track calling me Krash. Hell, I even started using it as an on-line name. It's a nickname I have been given (earned?) through a small number of incidents and mishaps, some of which are ABSOLUTELY MY OWN FAULT, others that are not entirely my own, and some that may be attributed to just dumb luck. I have been gracious enough to share these incidents in great detail with the members on this board, again in the most honest manner I am able. Therefore I do not mind being judged or criticized for what I've flung out there into cyberspace, with mostly a warm welcome, it comes with the territory. However, I will not sit idle while my remarks are being misconstrued and assumptions made about my character without totality of fact.

First of all, I am not an unsafe racer who rides over his head trying to be the next Nicky Hayden. I ride well within the limits of ability and reason when I'm out there, and I am always thinking clearly. My mindset may be in the "intense" mode, but I use that as a tool to help my concentration. It narrows your focus and keeps your head at the racetrack. It's very easy make a mistake through a mental lapse if you aren't prepared. I prepare by emptying my head of the non-essentials and making the race a primary objective. To ride as well and as hard as I can. Not to go and fling it down the road taking out everyone in my way. I have over-exaggerated this state by describing it as 'the blood being in my eyes' or something to that effect. A literary device gentlemen, not a point of fact. Every decision I make out there is calculated and level-headed. I do not take stupid chances, but I have made mistakes. My goal is to learn from each one in my quest to become a better rider. Ask any number of people I've raced with, they know what type of rider I am, able to race closely, but safely as well.

Secondly, I have been guilty of throwing a helmet or two in my day, my temper has gotten the better of me on more than one occasion. I know too well the frustrations that vintage racing can dish out, and I think it's admirable the way that JA stoically soldiered through his repeated heartbreaks at Daytona last year. I do not deal with things the same way he does. I curse, rant, chuck a helmet, make some noise. Most people just ignore me. Yeah I look like a petulant child when I do it, but it vents it to the outside atmosphere, like a bad fart. It stinks for a few seconds, but is soon gone on the wind. I don't run around beating people up or anything, I save it for inanimate objects as they are much less likely to defend themselves. I find, though, that this is happening less and less as I grow as a rider, now I am not waiting for something to go wrong to piss me off, but instead I am preparing ahead of time to lessen the chance that something will go awry. Still, even those preventative steps will not safeguard against everything. Emotions run high in the pits and it's easy to succumb to them.

Thirdly, and perhaps most important, the incident in question. There were certain details before and after the crash that did not make it into my story, and new information has come to light that I will share with you. The facts are these, as I understand them. I was chasing Chris Spargo for a couple laps of the race. I was not riding over my head trying to stay with him, his bike may not have been running 100% or he may have been going easy with it and this is probably what allowed me to remain close to him. Let's be honest here, a race tuned RD400 will smoke the pants off a T500 any day of the week, and Spargo can ride to boot. I was happy to be hanging with him, being towed around by a faster rider. I knew barring a mistake or mechanical trouble I wasn't going to get by him, I mentioned this in my first story. I made the decision to tuck into his draft and follow his lines until he got away. Does that sound like the thoughts of a glory hungry, dangerous, testosterone addled youngster? I think not. When we came around the final corner before the crash I made an error that seemed small at first, but upon further reflection I see that it probably precipitated the chain of events. I looked too long at Spargo's tail section, was too focused on following him that I didn't look to the exit of the turn early enough and lost the valuable split second that would have allowed me to see the group of riders sooner. That much I am guilty of and accept full responsibility for. It's called "target fixation" and in the brief moment I committed that mortal sin of motorcycle racing I became the key antagonist in an event that would leave one person hurt, (although I wouldn't find this out until well after the fact, and after the story was on the Internet). My second mistake was one in judgement. I was closing fast and leaned over, at these other riders, but there was a hole, which Chris Spargo, only a second ahead of me had gone through. In that instant I made for the same hole (wide enough for at least two bikes), knowing that I could not brake leaned over or risk washing the front out. As my front wheel was about halfway past the bikes, the two riders I was going between suddenly closed ranks, unaware that I was there. The only thing I could do was hit the front brake, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Hindsight, of course, is 20/20 and I should have been ready for the possibility of the riders coming together as I went through. There was no "out" for me at that point. Had I continued on with the pass, the three of us may have collided with even more disastrous results, or we may have swapped some paint and continued on our merry way, it doesn't really matter. I made the best decisions I could with the information I had available at the time, with rotten results. I lost the front end and this poor guy who never knew I was there got taken out by my sliding bike, at least that's what we think happened. I'm still not sure where he was on the track, or if he was one of the riders I was overtaking or not. I do know that while I was still on my bike, I NEVER hit another rider, so it seems highly probable that as the bike slid to the outside of the corner it became tangled up with this gentleman and his machine, location and identity still unknown to me. When I got up after my long slide down the tarmac, I thought I had been involved in a ONE BIKE accident, not knowing there was another rider down. So of course the first thing I did was look for my bike, which took me a few seconds to find. I saw the crashed Yamaha first and then it's rider lying beside it, when I had the thought I mentioned in my story, 'I've killed this poor man.' Then I saw my bike with it's still spinning back tire, running on it's side. Being closer to the bike I ran and hit the kill switch and started to head to the guy on the ground. The crash truck beat me to him, as we were right near the Start/Finish line, and I could see the rider moving on the ground a bit. The race officials motioned everyone to stay away as the ambulance was making it's way to the scene. Knowing I could be of no further assistance to the downed man, I went back and picked up my bike and it was loaded onto the crash truck. Obviously my adrenaline was high at this point, any conscious human beings' would be. But I was also still in "race mode" and getting the bike back together was a priority. I knew I couldn't play Florence Nightingale to the other rider and I also knew that he was getting excellent treatment for what I was told were very minor wounds. In fact I was told that the gentleman was OK, just had the wind knocked out of him. So I put it out of my head and proceeded with fixing the bike, with the intentions of finding him later and making sure everything was allright. Still, the bike was my primary concern, the incident "non-essential" at that time. If that sounds callous, so be it, but why should I worry about something that was no longer in my control, or even my abilities. When I heard he just "had the wind knocked out of him" I ceased thinking about it at that moment, what else could I do? I learned just yesterday that the non-injury status of the man was wrongly reported, that he had indeed broken his arm and a couple of ribs, but that he was going to be fine. This information naturally changed the color of the crash in my mind and had I known this at the writing of the story it would have changed the tone of the article to be much more serious. It's one thing when everybody walks away, you shake hands and make amends, but it makes you feel downright shitty when somebody gets hurt, because of circumstances I was in part responsible for. I don't feel guilty about it, because I know I didn't do anything wrong, or foolish. That's why I described it as a 'racing incident', not to try and shift the blame to anyone, or away from myself, but because that is, in all truth, exactly what it was. These things happen on the track all the time, and if you're going to race, you'd better understand that. If I misrepresented it in my story, used a few too many enthusiastic adjectives, then maybe I need a few courses in journalism, not in the ingestion of humble pie as seems to be the feeling of a few here. My thoughts are with the rider and I hope he has a speedy recovery.
Lastly I want to comment on something else mentioned in one of the posts. I will never apologize for being serious about racing or for riding hard when I'm on the track. When I'm out there, it's to compete, plain and simple. Too often people want to soften the image of vintage racing into a few parade laps on old bikes with number plates. Frankly, that stinks. I know this isn't World Superbike and there isn't a factory ride waiting out there for me, but why shouldn't we take it seriously? If we want to show the masses that vintage roadracing is real and not the joke we keep trying to turn it into, then we need to act like it. New riders and those who like to circulate at a brisk pace without pushing too hard are a big and necessary part of vintage racing, but why is it so common to chastize someone when they want more than that? It's like we keep telling the up and coming guys, "Well buddy, we sort of race here, yeah it looks like it and we put on a good show, but at the end of the day if you're pushing harder than we like, you're an asshole." Almost as if the illusion of racing is enough, and I guess for some it is. But have no illusions about this: for a small minority of us, this is "real" racing and we will continue to treat it that way.

 Okay, I'm done.


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