Randakk Cycle Shakk Racing Adventures 2014 Round 2 With Hanni Berger
Hello everyone! Being a newbie to racing I thought writing about my experience would give a different perspective about the race weekends than you might get from Chris, a very experienced racer who I’m glad to call a mentor.
I started riding street bikes 6 years ago. Did the MSF Riders’ course and bought a 2007 Suzuki GS500. I thought it was a great starter bike which I had for 4 years. I now ride a Ninja Z1000, a touring friendly street bike which you can have a lot of fun with in the corners. The last two years I did a bunch of track courses with California Superbike School and learned a lot about cornering on their BMW S1000RR…an amazing machine.
Anyway to make a long story short I was introduced to Chris and before I know it I have this amazing opportunity to get into racing. AHRMA and Vintage racing have a lot of benefits. First the people are amazing, just like family and secondly you are going at somewhat slower speeds than on modern bikes, which is probably a good idea for a newbie like me. I’m riding a 1982 Honda FT500 Ascot, a legend in it’s class (Vintage Lightweight Superbike)…Thank you Randakk!
So this was my 2nd race weekend (first was Roebling Rd) and I’m amazed by how much I learned. Every experience is a new experience. It definitely requires some focus.
Friday at NOLA was the practice day but as luck would have it, it rained all day making practice pretty impossible. For us newbies this creates a bit of anxiety. I’d never been on this track so knowing if you have a left or right turn coming up would be pretty good to know. For the experienced racer that’s not a problem. In fact Chris never really uses practice time before doing the race. I don’t know how he does it…one day. At the end I got in two laps two times heading back to the pit because of heavy rain…grrr.
Friday night while I’m tucked away at the Candlewood Suites 2 miles away from the track I wake up to a crazy thunderstorm and torrential downpour. It’s the kind of thunderstorm you experience a handful of times in your life. I could only imagine how bad it must be for the campers at the track. And that’s exactly the picture I found Saturday morning. Many tents were damaged and it certainly was the topic of the morning. This experience might be one of those “were you there that year when the world came to an end in NOLA?”. With the storm out of the way we were awarded with pure sunshine and perfect temperatures for the rest of the weekend.
Finally I get to go out on a practice run on wet pavement. I really like the NOLA track. It’s smooth, wide and I like the layout of the turns. The practice run unfortunately ended with a crash with some valid mechanical concerns that put a definite damper on my confidence. Chris and I talked and agreed that I should call it a weekend to make sure that the bike was completely fixed before going back out on the track. But longterm friend of Chris’ and my new BFF Rick Richter with R3 Racing came to the rescue. Rick fixed the bike within a couple of hours and knowing that he felt confident with my Ascot I did too. Chris left the decision to race to me as he could sympathize with either decision. I realized that my confidence level would be at its lowest by the next race weekend if I didn’t get on this bike today…so I decided to go for it.
Having had unintended wheelie issues at a previous start in Roebling Rd I made sure to roll on smoothly. It worked well but I still ended up at the end of the pack. Every lap felt better and I started to relax more. I even overtook somebody (but I think the bike was in a different class..ha!!). Then there it was, the checkered flag…YES! I was ecstatic to see it and although far behind the others I went through the finish line with a fist pump!
Sunday was another gorgeous day. I hung out in the sun aware to not get too hot headed…but it was just so beautiful. Chris wins his race in Vintage Middleweight Superbike…by a mile. It was amazing to watch what happens when Chris puts his mind to it! My Sunday practice run and race felt both really good. I’m mad at mylaps.com right now for not sending me my reset password so I can see my lap times. I want to know if I improved from Saturday!!
So last but not least I thought I share with you a list I put together of things to do before going out on the track. I’d be grateful if you vets out there can add to it. If you are a newbie like me maybe this helps you too.
1) Refresh your memory on the different flags
2) Register for race/practice (don’t forget member card and transponder number)
3) Go through tech inspection
4) Ensure you got gas in the tank and check tire pressure
5) Put transponder on the bike
6) Know where to pit out and in
7) [for me only] Remember that you have a choke…ha!
8) After practice check times sheets to ensure your transponder is being picked up
As a born Austrian I say ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ and hope to see you soon back here.