Monday, June 4, 2012
The Wilmington Mile - Race Report
I left Detroit in the cold gray rain after work on Friday, arriving in Wilmington under clear blue skies and a near full-moon. Passed out in Gene's trailer in seconds - dead tired. Saturday morning was spent registering and getting through tech - a chore on my own. This kind of racing (probably any kind) requires at least one extra set of hands and eyes which I did not have this trip due to a food born illness in my main crew chief (Greg's feeling much better now - still love you brother). These old bikes seem to always provide in one way or another and this trip proved the theory. While pushing my bike (a mile) up to the line for my first run I met Butch and his mega polite grandson Eli who offered their hands if needed. I could not have bumped into two nicer people if I searched the entire state of Ohio. Butch owns a couple pans and shovels and Eli loves hanging out with Grandpaw in his shop tinkering with the old iron. The perfect guys for the job! They both ended up crewing for Gene and I the entire weekend and what a help they were - THANKS you guys!
So we made a few warm up (read embarrassing) runs on Saturday getting the bike dialed in. Shifting is definitely a problem due to my 6'1" frame crammed into a space more suited for someone half that size. A jet change and a fuel starvation problem between 5K-6K rpm sorted out we watched the sun set on Saturday hoping for one good run the following morning. The entire weekend we had a steady 15-20mph head/crosswind that kept the top speeds most of us run out of sight. Sunday was no different. The winds continued to blow - some riders with fairings were deciding not to run due to the spookiness of the conditions. Just as I was getting into my leathers I heard a modern bike scream by at about 180mph without letting up. He rode deep into the breaking area never touching his brakes, eventually riding off the track at full throttle. Unfortunately he did not survive the run. The details about what happened are sketchy and still remain so. It was one of the heaviest moments I have ever experienced and all I can say is I'm assuming he died doing something he really enjoyed doing verses rotting away in some hospital bed which in my mind is a better hand. Racing was delayed a few hours while the officials (graciously) handled the fallout from the accident. It was announced that those who still wanted to race could do so. So after a prayer for our lost competitor we got back in line. We made a near perfect pass at 125mph which I was stoked about knowing that the lack of wind would have gained us at least another 5-8mph more. Although not as fast as our 131mph run last month still enough to get us another record. So I put it in the back of the truck with a little pride and a heavy heart - thinking about the cost of doing what you really love to do.