Rispoli: Wrapping Up Second Place in Pro Singles
NEWS September 23, 2009
What a crazy weekend it was at Springfield. I arrived at the Springfield short track and mile after capturing a AMA National Land Speed record a the Bonneville Salt Flats. My dad and I flew into St. Louis from Utah where we were picked up and made our way to the track about an hour and a half away. When I arrived I immediately went to the track to see the amateur race so I could see the layout of the track and the conditions of the dirt. Things looked in order and I was getting excited about racing there the next night.
On Saturday, the skies were threatening with rain but we still made our way into the pit area for set up. There was a huge crowd and with the combined expert and pro classes there were record amounts of races and team participating. It made for a long trek into the pit area for set up which started at 7AM in the morning. We had our practice sessions on time and then the skis started to spray a little water on the track. Initially it wasn't too bad and AMA Pro and the IMDA worked hard to rush us through our qualifying. We managed to qualify both classes and then played games with the weather and the track prep from 8PM to after midnight before they cancelled the race. It was the most frustrating and tiring day I had in a long time. The main reason was I needed to compete in both races that weekend if I was to have any chance of closing in on the 10 point gap I had with Baker for the championship. Missing another race because of rain like we did in Sturgis was really going to hurt my chances since time was running out. The only saving grace was that we had a rain date for Monday so my chances were still alive.
With the short track behind us for the time being we woke up to headed down to the mile track to see what we could do there. Unfortunately the rain caused the mile track to be too wet to even cross with the big rigs so we were all on hold for a good portion of the day waiting for the old mother nature to do its thing and dry the track out naturally for a while. It was well after 1PM in the afternoon before they put a truck on the track and with the mile track without lights, it was clearly going to be a challenge getting the race in if they could even get the track to come around. I guess it was around 2:30PM or so when they started to let us in to set up but it was really getting late. The decision was made to set up and run the expert program all the way through and then if there was time run the our pro class. I was already starting to get bummed because I couldn't afford to have both races cancelled with only one race on the schedule left to gain points.
Time was running out on the day as the expert program was rushed to get complete. Darkness was already falling when the last racers came off the track and AMA Pro was now frantically calling for all the pros to get to the line. It was actually a little bit ridicules. There were no loud speaker announcements, it was all word of mouth to run and get ready. We all rushed to get ready and get to staging and if it was any other time we all would have been sent to the back row for being late which would have been pretty funny. It was getting dark for sure but at that moment I didn't care. I wanted to get on the track and take a win home and those extra points.
I could tell my dad was getting nervous about the amount of light left and I knew he was up to something. He saw Brian Smith coming off the track who is a rider rep and asked him what he thought of the track for our class. He told my dad it was dangerous and I could see my dad race up to Steve Moorhead and I knew my chances of racing was doomed. Apparently Steve was going to not let us race due to the light, but still kept the dash for cash running to end the program. I was fit to be tied for sure. I didn't want the mile cancelled, I surely didn't want the short track rained out and now it was starting to feel like the door to the championship was closing even further. I was not in a good mood at all and decided not to go back to the hotel but to stay and help load hay bails and then go to dinner with my friend Corby Sherb just to clear my head a little.
The next day we were headed back to the short track but the conditions were horrible to the point where we couldn't get the rigs down into the pit area. We waited on line from 7AM to after noon before they started letting us in. I was happy they were letting us in because that meant we had a good chance of racing, and race we did. The track turned out to be awesome, even better than the qualifying we did on Saturday night. And, the track seemed to be getting faster as the day went on. There were a lot less riders since many of them who were not in any points chase decided to go home and celebrate with a barbeque instead. For me my qualifying times were good putting me second and third in the 13 second range. I was happy and looked forward to my heat. My heat had Carver in it and he is a really excellent short tracker especially on Springfield dirt since he practices in the area a lot. I knew I could beat him if I got off the line well but all I wanted to do was get to the front row for the main. I managed second behind Carver in the heat but it was slower than the heat Baker was in so I was going to get fourth pick on the line. Now this was not the best place to be on a short bull pen track like this, but I knew I could get a good start and that was my goal. Our first start was red flagged so we lined up again and this time I nailed it. I was out in the lead and actually starting pulling away from both Baker and Carver. I lead ten of the twelve laps when I was starting to feel some pressure from Baker. I made a mistake and started to protect my line and I knew better but had to win this race at almost any cost in order to have a realistic chance at the championship show down in Pomona. Unfortunately Baker got around me on the outside while I protected the inside line and eeeked in front on the white flag lap. I knew I had to put on the charge of my life and I did. As I exited turn two I cut to an inside line where I planned a bump pass move going inside out. Baker left me plenty of inside room as he took a slightly outside line sticking with the moisture of the track. For a spit second I saw daylight and like in a video game I took it. Baker at the last second closed what little door was open and instead of looking around the corner to the finish line I look right at his number plate and knew I was doomed. I banged into his foot peg and high sided over the top and hit hard. In the mayhem, Carver had no where to go and he was taken out by my fallen motorcycle. I layed on the floor in some pain but more disgust knowing I just gave the championship away. I was not a happy camper. I congratulated Brad and went over to talk with Carver. Jeffrey was really upset with my move but I told him he would of done the same thing if he saw what I saw and was in the position I was in with the points.
Overall I have no regrets with the season. Dick Weirbach stood behind me 110% the entire time. I also learned some valuable lessons too. Things like loyalty and commitment are important. I didn't achieve my goal of winning the Pro Singles Championship and ended up 2nd overall nationally but still had a fantastic year overall. I was able to provide my sponsors some unprecedented exposure with three radio broad cast shows and tons of media attention. Racing at Laguna Seca and Road America notching up two fourth place finished in the new AMA Pro SuperSport class was special too. And to top it all off, I went and competed at the Bonneville Salt Flats for the first time and came home with a new AMA National record. Not too many racers had such a successful season like I had racing three different disciplines. All I can say is AWESOME.
I want to thank first and foremost my dad and family