The Salem Speedway Flat Track races on January 20th were probably the hairiest of the season. Almost every class had a wreck or a tangle, and the Vintage 250 was no exception.
I started on this whole racing shebang with the intention of buying and fixing up a cheap bike and making it to the end of a few races without tasting the track in any catastrophic fashion. So far, so good. However, the crash in the Vintage 250 class during the last race has me getting a little more serious about my bike, other racers and the “run what you brung” idea behind the vintage classes.
What crash, you say? During the main event, a real ring-dinger developed in turn 4. Luckily, Todd Marella was wearing the GoPro for the main heat and captured the chaos:
The full video of the 1st Heat and Main Event are at the bottom of this post.
I asked Korry to recap the wreck from his perspective:
Coming out of turn 4 with three guys just ahead of me, Robert got sideways and pulled it back in, only to catch the front tire of the rider behind him. That caused the rider to high side in front of me. It all happened so quickly, I couldn’t avoid the bike on the ground so I stood up on the pegs to pull the front wheel up and hopefully just ride over it. I gave it a little too much throttle and landed on my back wheel with the gas still on. I ended up looping it into the fence and wedging the bars into it. The motor was still revving out, so all I could think to do was get up and out of the way of that spinning rear tire. I landed on my ass pretty hard and thought maybe I broke my tailbone. I just needed a minute to stand there and shake it off. Checking out the damage, there was no way I could make the restart. The tank had flown off, my bars bent back, and the worst of it, my expansion chamber split in half. So I ended up watching the restart from the center of the track.
I didn’t even realize there was a wreck as I went into the second lap. I had been concentrating on keeping up with Corey Churchill, who had passed me on the outside of turn one, setting me up for what I thought was going to be a 9 lap game of catch-up. I saw the red flag at turn 3 and when I came around to the start I saw Korry’s bike down by the wall, along with another bike stopped beside. I figured they got tangled in turn 4 because I had trouble on that turn, too.
Well, it was my turn-trouble that precipitated the entire crash. When I washed out on the turn it swung my rear out wide enough that I felt like I was going to lowside it. I don’t remember how I recovered from it — I think I let off the throttle and goosed it once I straightened up, but I had lost speed and Churchill passed me on the first turn.
I didn’t feel the hit to Paul’s front tire but it was enough to send him down and create the ramp that Korry would launch himself from. Even after the race I was pretty surprised I had anything to do with the wreck, but the proof is in the pudding:
And this is where we get down to the responsibility part. I talked to the guys and everyone came back with a response of “hey, that’s racing.” I think I’d feel the same way if I was the one to wreck, but I still feel bad for sloppy racing that caused a crash.
I’m still running the dual-sport tire I slapped on the day before my first race at Otto’s, which I put on to replace the knobby that would have torn up his track. I’ve slipped a bit in the corners on previous weekends but chalked it up to the track conditions. Now I think I’ve been overdue for something that grabs a little more in the turns: a rear Shinko SR241 to match my front. (Got hooked up at Cycle Heap, as usual)
I appreciate the “run what you brung” mantra of the Vintage 250 class, but I think once you are racing aggressively enough to fight for position near the front, you better make sure your equipment is up to the task. I didn’t and mine wasn’t, so my apologies go out to Paul Welsh and Korry Fitzpatrick.
We restarted the race and everyone did well. Paul Welsh had a pair of bent up bars but continued to race anyway. Corey Churchill ended up taking 1st in Vintage 250, TT and Mad Dog. I watched Todd and Corey fight it out for first and I hung back firmly in third.
Korry went home with a messed up bike and a little sore, but no major injuries.
Overall it was a great night, but it’s all fun and games until someone gets taken out Excitebike-style and becomes a ramp. I’m glad no one was seriously injured and I’ll be providing many drinks and hotdogs to pay my penance at the One Moto Show races on Feb 9th and 10th. With a new rear tire and a brand new hot shoe (more on that soon), I feel like I’ll be a bit more prepared.