I had a great time at the Salem Speedway indoor flat track season opener this last Saturday. The night is a blur and it all went by pretty quickly. But I talked with a lot of people, took some pics, shot some video, raced the Elsinore 250 and stayed upright, but ultimately broke down in the second race.
I wore my GoPro for both of my races in the Vintage 250 class. I think that the “Vintage 30 Plus” class was also mixed in with Vintage 250. Hey – both classes work for me.
The first race had a yellow then a red flag after the first few laps. Not sure why – maybe a reader has some insight. I didn’t have my camera on for the practice laps we got to do before the first heat – but by the start of the first race I was pretty stoked on how the bike felt and how sticky the track was.
On the friday before the races, I broke my rear spring preload adjusters and had to swap out the springs for a shorter pair that I dug up at Cycle Heap. The shorter suspension mixed with the Shinko SR241 18×4.00 on the front wheel made a world of difference. I really felt the traction in the corners and could go in a lot faster than I anticipated. The bike just stuck and accepted all the throttle I would give it.
This confidence was also bolstered by the hot shoe that I was able to borrow from Eddie, who is one of the racers at Otto’s track and and overall great guy. Eddie stuck around and helped me suit up, gave me great advice and showed me that having a skid shoe can be a real game changer. HUGE THANKS TO EDDIE! I didn’t really have to think about my foot as I went into the corners — I could skid it along the track surface without the fear of it catching something and tearing me off the bike.
My boot was jammed into the hot shoe, strapped in and taped down so it wasn’t going anywhere. The same couldn’t be said about Brandon’s hot shoe on the second start of the first race. Watch at 2:00 in the video to see his shoe come loose and shoot backward.
After the first heat, I was pumped. I felt like the bike was fast in the straights and was happy in 3rd gear as long as I kept up the RPM’s in the corners (something I’m still working on as you can hear in the video). The bike felt entirely different to me than the bike I had started with at Otto’s track just a few short week prior, but I felt in complete control.
My girlfriend Julie had the camera and snapped some pics, but I didn’t really set her up with the right lens or settings so a lot of the shots came out as blurry. It’s probably because we were all going so fast, right?
There was a long wait between heats, and Julie and I watched a few of the Pro classes and walked around the pits. Those guys rip and I’d love to get on one of those faster bikes eventually. Big thanks to my buddy Aaron who showed up with a BBQ and hot dogs and fed everyone in between heats. I hadn’t eaten all day and that Hebrew National was the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten.
I was stoked. The long break between heats had me hyped to improve even more on this one, and the bike was running great. Visions of 3rd place danced in my helmet.
The bike had a solid idle and I didn’t have any of the gas delivery issues that I was experiencing at Otto’s track. Watching the video, I know I need to work on my launches and really keep an eye on that green light, but the bike is quick and I’m the only thing holding it back.
Well, that and a surprise electrical failure.
After the first lap and into corner one I felt the bike lurch and die. You can hear it hiccup at about 5:15 in the video. After fiddling with the bike for a minute I just watched the rest of the race from the my front row seat and pushed the bike back to the pits where it was confirmed to have zero spark. I’ll dig into that in my next post.
The entire night was a little hectic but I had such a great time. I wish I met more people, and now that I know what I’m doing (a bit), I can relax a little more and be more social between races.
If you see the big orange Chevy truck and a beat up Elsinore, come over and say hi!