RISPOLI: I Love My Life
NEWS December 13, 2010
What a fantastic year I had in 2010. You wouldn't have thought it would turn out that way if you knew how the season began. I was always taught you never, never, never give up, and that's what I remember most of the season. You see, my season started with my dad being diagnosed with health problems that required several trips to the hospital prior to Daytona and eventually major surgery in May. It was the first time I did Daytona without him being there and it was tough. We have been traveling to races since I was seven years old and now that I turned pro I wanted him there more then ever. Typical dad, he continued to encourage me to focus on my job of calling sponsors, training in the gym and on the track, as well as preparing for the crazy race season that was about to begin. I did exactly that; I had a great season and my dad ended up by my side mid-season, which was awesome!
I hooked up with three programs for the season, so it was going to busy for sure. It started with my mechanic, and best friend, Dustin Say working his tail off to help get two new 09 450’s up and ready to go at Daytona. I had engine help from Leo of Vadnais Machine and Charlie from Cycle Dynamics. Both bikes and engines ran great all season as they were prepared specifically for miles, short tracks and TT’s. We also worked with a new electronic company Bazzaz, primarily a sport bike company that wanted to transition into the dirt market, and I was the first in dirt track to use their products and help with their marketing. Their products worked flawlessly all season long and were really easy to use especially with their auto-tune. Add to that my great suspension from Boughner suspension, my high performance K&N’s and the awesome exhaust systems from D&D Performance, and we were ready for action. I didn’t know at the time I raced Daytona how many races I was going to participate in since I didn’t have any budget for Road Racing at the time, and my Flat Track budget was minimal at best. But good things came from Daytona. I made it up on the podium, and a sponsor heard my thank you speech and started to talk to me about sponsorship. The sponsor, Ant Racing, eventually came on board after Daytona and wanted me to represent the company in AMA Pro SuperSport. This turned into a great relationship, and I was able to make it to all the AMA Pro SuperSport races on the East Coast, as well as the major race at Laguna Seca during the MotoGP weekend. The race schedule conflict caused me to miss (6) AMA Pro Flat Track races overall, but I still managed to pull out a 4th place overall for the season. Not a bad showing for a part-time effort.
On the SportBike side, the folks at Ant Racing Motorsports were on board after seeing me race AMA Pro Flat Track at Daytona. They came in to supply a road race tire budget, helped with other expenses and eventually managed the team for me around mid-season. Ant Racing owner David Ashi did a great job of working with my primary road race mechanic Ryan. My Flat Track mechanic Dustin eventually came to help on that program as well. Our bikes were not totally up to race spec early in the season, but we eventually got that figured out and again by mid-season we had our two GSX R600 working great. I have to really say thank you to Lenny Albin at Race Tech for all the suspension help. Lenny worked his tail off for me all season and I learned how important having a suspension guy really is. Each time we worked together we communicated better and our results on the track showed. I also have to thank Michael Tjon for his expert engine help. Michael got the most from our engine and it allowed us to concentrate on suspension and geometry. Together we made a lot of progress all season long and while the Yamaha’s of Rockwall and LTD Racing were stronger, overall I learned to be more aggressive on the brakes and make up for sheer straightaway speed by being a little quicker in the turns. Learning this strategy didn’t come easy and I relied on Jason Pridmore for lots of encouragement and help during the season. JP would review my split times with me, address each area and help encourage me to continue to stay positive even when I was being pulled down the straightaway by several bike lengths. It worked. I managed two podiums this year, one of which was a WIN at New Jersey, a track I have never ridden on before. It was a perfect storm for me and my team that day where I had quick lap time in the race and was on the gas everywhere. I only won by 0.71 seconds and it was the sweetest wins of my young career. Being a New York kid, the New Jersey fans were all about it. I did a couple of crazy burn outs and dedicated the race to my mom who passed away suddenly a couple of years ago. My dad was at the race and it was cool to see him in the crowd from the top step of the podium.
I ended the season in 5th place overall, missing three races and having two costly DNF’s. I know I could have been fighting for a top three position, but I intend to go for it all in 2011.
Bonneville Land Speed
This was the second year in a row that I went to Bonneville and it was awesome as ever. Charlie from Cycle Dynamics built a new bike using the Kawasaki 650 engine as the base platform. This time he reworked the engine for 750cc so we could go after two additional records. Like last year it was a marathon event where we just finished the Indy Mile and had to head immediately to the airport in St Louis for our flight out to Utah. Dustin, my mechanic, flew out with me, and by the time we arrived we were ready to go. Charlie was already there when we showed up but the first day was a bust since it was raining in the morning. We made best use of that down time by sleeping in. The salt was a little off and slow the first real day and I came really close to a new record. The following day the salt dried out a little more and the course was also a little faster. We landed one record and then chased another. It was so cool! Dustin had a great time since this was his first Bonneville run and he vowed to do it again with me in 2011. I’m excited to see what Charlie comes up with next year. I know one thing for sure, it will be a super cool bike and a record we could crush with a little hard work and lots of luck. It was fun time and can’t wait to do it again.
As you can see, my season was awesome. I challenged in three different disciplines, walked away from the season with two land speed records, completed a 4th and 5th place overall in AMA Pro Flat Track and Road Race series, and landed some new sponsors that will take me into 2011 to fight for the next championship. I’m so blessed! I can’t thank my sponsors enough for all their support. To my friend and sponsor Dave Ashi, I can’t say enough about how you helped me grow this year. While your company’s support was awesome, it’s the sincere caring about my program that really made me realize that you are something special. And then there is my dad, who without his help, guidance and support I could never have made it this far. He continues to be by my side and I love him for that. And last, to my mom who gives me the courage to face each day without her, knowing she is looking down smiling and loving every minute. To all my fans, family and friends make sure you follow me into 2011. I have every intention of working my tail off to better my position and make everyone proud of the support you provide me. I’m off to California on Friday...heading to my first road race session in preparation of the new season. Can’t wait to learn, have fun and be me!
Happy Holidays everyone!
James “the Rocket&