View Full Version : Know your track ahead of time ...

03-27-2007, 02:15 PM
I posted this in another thread -

And at Thunderhill, make sure you downshift and take a hard left in turn 5 ...

Care to expand on this?
No, not really ... :o

Okay, in hopes that it will help other first time track day participants, and for the amusement of the forum in general, and great embarssment of me, here it is (Kevlar got a good laugh out if it, when I told him a few weeks ago) -

It's summer, Thunderhill, I made it through tech inspection and the riders meeting. Feeling pretty good, a little nervous, but hey, I've got the one piece cow suit on, along with all this other gear. And besides, the first session, the slow, beginers group is just supposed to follow the leader in groups of three, so it should be no problem. :relax:

I'm coming up the side straight away on my fancy, new Superbike, and I'm at the back of the pack. Getting ready to slowly coast to a stop, I see the head guy wave me around to follow the two bikes entering the track at the front (apparently, they figure this guy on the fancy bike knows what he's doing :whistling: ). I start out about 50 feet behind, and soon I'm over a hundred feet back in turn 2.

Well, the last thing I'm going to do is run wide in a turn on the first lap, so I'll just dial it back a bit, and keep an eye on things (I'm also riding like I'm on the street and using half the track, as I've never been on one before :bang: ). I round turn three and start into turn four. I see I'm headed up a fairly steep hill, and turn five takes a good left.

I roll off and am going 30+, preparing to take about a 50 degree left hand turn. I'm taking that turn, and as I'm going over the top of the hill, I see the track below me taking an 80 degree left hand turn! :eek: :scared10: :eek: F^%$*&%*&^*&^CK!!!!!

So, I'm flying through the air on my 999, headed for the grass and/or dirt. My brain says "You are most likely screwed and about to go down!" But, then the pissed off, adrenhaline fueled part of my brain screams "Not without a fight!" :ninja:

The bike lands smoothly and I start to go for the front brake :Fighting2 , but fortunately I was paying attention in the pre-ride meeting when one of the instructors said "If you get off the track, whatever you do, do not use the front brake. I guarantee you will go down!" So, I back off my right hand fingers.

Now, I'm cruising down the other side of the hill which is pretty much a steep U shape, and it comes up half as high on the other side. I find myself rolling down it and things feel pretty stable. I flash back to my childhood BMX bike, and this is just like one of those, but on steroids. :happy57:

The shape at the bottom is U enough, and smooth enough, to roll over. This is good because I don't really have any choice. As I'm approaching the bottom. I see about a foot of pavement that appears to be grated the same as the hillside, but I can't tell for sure. Now, on the uphill without another plan, I pray that it is, because the bike is going straight and I haven't figure out what else to do.

Fortunately, it's smooth enough and I find myself back on the track, rubber side down and upright! :wohoo: :happy64: :riding:

I'm now doing my best to pretend nothing happened. :whistling: (I wish I could have seen the faces on the riders behind me! :foflmao:)

At this point I'm going really slow, wondering how many more of these blind turns are left on this course. :happy57: Riders are flying by me on both sides. Fortunately, a control rider parks himself in front of me, and motions for me to follow him very closely :listen: . I happily and immediately follow. :bowdown:

Bong and his friends tell me they were worried about me, because a the truck went out to pick someone up early in the session, and they were afraid it might be me. :whistling: Instead, one of the control riders had run out of gas. :rolleyes:

Needless to say, I spent the next forty minutes studying that track diagram very closely. :D I was glad I didn't go down for many reasons, especially because this track day organization had a "no crash" policy. You go down and your day is over! That would have been one long, depressing day.

Instead, I received tons of instruction and improved all day long. By the end of the day the passes were much fewer and farther between them. Part of this was due to my improved skill :riding: , as well as the fact that it hit 115 :scared10:, and people were slowly disappearing all day long (I don't know how you guys rode down there before there was an air conditioned building :confused: ).

Obviously, I now look for diagrams, video, video games (which I used to think were a waste of time) or anything else that will improve my knowledge of the track before I set foot or rubber on it.

I have to say that this probably wouldn't have been a problem at most tracks, beacause they don't have turns as blind, steep and sharp as turn 5 at Thunderhill. I hope you can learn from my embarassing and humorous tale ...


03-27-2007, 02:26 PM
The only track I've ridden is Mid-Ohio, and it definitely has a couple sneaky sections. I looked at Thunderhills map and aerial photo and can see the challenge of turn 5, that had to be a real Oh Scheeeet moment. I can only imagine what the Corkscrew at Laguna is like the first couple of times. JD - where's the butterfly smilie when I need one?

03-27-2007, 02:43 PM
Moral of the story - follow the leader and don't lolly gag:p

03-27-2007, 03:50 PM
That's exactly right. The Corkscrew at Laguna is a huge leap of faith, literally and figuratively.
The first time over the top for me was in 1997 AMA National, 750 Supersport practice, Friday morning. I'll never forget it. I was pitted next to two locals and had been asking questions about the layout. As we were going out, one of them yells over to me, "Hook on, we'll give you a tow for a couple laps!" Thank God!
Well, we come up the hill and over the rise and I'm thinking "They'll back it down any second now..." Nope. I just braked where they did, stared at their tires and turned when they did, and WHOOOOSH!! Off The Edge Of The Earth We Go! Haul on the bars to get it turned right, pin it and two very quick upshifts later your in Rainy curve, scrambling to stay in front of everything. But your brain is still at the top of the Corkscrew! I've yet to see a video game that captures it.

But it's really no tricker than the blind sections of Mid-Ohio, or turn one at Brainerd. Now THERE'S a learning curve!:eek: The old Gravity Cavity at Road Atlanta..another elevator ride.

All the good old tracks are neuterd now.:(

Mitch, that was a freakin great story!! You had me in stitches...having been there more times than I care to recount...I was reading along and pulling for ya, brother!! Nice job!!

03-28-2007, 12:35 AM
Aside from being rear-ended by a car, it's definitely the biggest oh sheeettttt moment I've ever had on a bike. I hope to experience the corkscrew in person some day myself (it looks like I'll at least be viewing it in person in July :) ).

Thanks Bong. :bitchslap:

Thanks for the support Chuckracer, I hope to meet you in person before you head out of town (I'll have to visit www.Ducati.ms. more often, I used to see your posts up there all the time).

05-21-2008, 09:33 PM
The powers to be, need to take this spamer out??

05-21-2008, 09:55 PM
The powers to be, need to take this spamer out??