Rispoli: A Day at the Beach; Grove City Mile
NEWS August 20, 2009
It was hot, I mean real hot. I pounded down the liquids to keep hydrated, stayed consistent throughout the day's qualifying, heats and main event and got out of there all in one piece gaining another three points toward the championship.
The place; Grove City Ohio. The venue; Beulah Park mile and what a mile it was. This is the second year that the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship raced here and this time it looked like the rain would stay away and the sun would shine, shine, shine. If you asked me I think the track took more water during the day than is found around a small Caribbean Island. I mean the water truck seemed to always be on the track. Officials and crew did their best but the sandy-beach like surface broke apart and raised the dust level to new highs. Ruts would develop in only a few laps and it was hard to see a 12 or 25 lap main run successfully on the track. But somehow they got the race off and I made it a point to be out front, out of the deep roost and away from the mayhem of the pack rats looking for glory.
My Weirbach racing Honda was my weapon of choice this weekend and Dick did a great job of getting things set up so out of the box we were almost right on. Since no 450's ever rode the track we were guessing at gearing. I made my choice during the week and told Dick what I felt we needed. I ran this track last year on a basic twin Aprilia and had an idea what we needed. We were right on from the first practice.
I went second fastest in the free practice, third fastest in the first timed practice and fastest in the second time practice. Each time out the track got a little slower. The last time out was a mess. The track was really rutted, super dry and super bumpy. The front wheel was off the ground in the turns causing you to be on the edge of washing out several times a lap. While I set fast time I came in and said I was hanging it all out just to go a second slower than my first qualifying time. And, that was a lot faster than the second place rider. It was crazy for a mile track for sure.
I won my heat by a good margin but it was the second heat and the track was already rough. A rider went down on the first lap so I knew I couldn't get fast heat so I settled for just going for the win. We watched some of the expert heats and I was glad I wasn't in those. They didn't water or treat the track between heats so the second and third heats were racing in a dust cloud. I watched bikes coming off of turn four and just fish-tail their rear wheel all the way down the straight, fronts plowing sand and bumps entering turn one. I waited around for our time to go out for the final and it was still really hot. I was a bit upset that they didn't drag the track for our class. Seems even though we put on a good show we get the short end of the stick when it comes to track prep, especially when the time is getting short.
In the final I had second pick on the line and thought I would get a good start like I was all day long. Unfortunately my rear tire hit a rut, pitched me sideways and caused me to be 4th going into turn one. When I exited turn two I put my head down, secured the third spot and was just short of making a move on the second place rider. It took me around three laps to finally break away but by that time Vanderkurr was already rocking out the place. Steven and I had the only times in the 44 second range in the final and I had to settle for second place overall. It was a good race and I kept the bike on two wheels to collect another three points on Baker. This was not where I wanted to be but I was OK with now only being three points out of the lead. I learned a long time ago from Chris Carr that winning is great, but it is consistency over a long time that wins championships. I never forgot that.
One last thing I wanted to tell everyone. On my way back from California with my west coast buddy, we had a terrible accident in his van. The good news was we walked away with almost no scratches on Friday morning two days before the race. It was clearly a miracle since the van hit a tree when we went off the road and flipped several times coming to a stop on the side of the highway in some tall bushes. The airbags went off and we had our seat belts on and both did their job. It was our own fault for not getting enough rest. This was a huge lesson that I want every racer to make sure they listen to. Please, if you are tired, pull off the highway and go to sleep. Pushing it will only lead to something you will be sorry for later. We both lived to tell the story and race two days later. Someone up above was watching over us.
I am heading to Peoria this weekend and hope to at least finish out Indy and Springfield before I end the season. It doesn't look like we can do Pomona so I will catch some last road race venues to close out racing for 2009.
Till next time...do what I like to do GO FASTER...
James "the Rocket" Rispoli
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