The “Daytona Grind” is troublesome to elucidate to anybody who isn’t intimately concerned within the sport of flat observe. To many it would appear to be we put together extra for the opening spherical of the American Flat Monitor collection than the season as a complete. The week earlier than Daytona, my dad used to have my sister Shayna and me working alongside him within the race store each night time till 2 a.m. Then we’d rise up at 6 a.m. and begin once more. I’m not the best mechanic and I used to be even worse then, so mainly all I did was sweep the ground and hand instruments to everybody else. Sounds simple but it surely was exhausting. I bear in mind being so completely happy to go away for Daytona, extra so to sleep on the journey all the way down to Florida than to really race.
My spouse Amber, five-month-old son Cruise, and I made a visit to Florida a number of weeks in the past to start making ready for the 2018 American Flat Monitor season. Over time I’ve developed numerous habits I discovered from my dad. One in all them isn’t stopping on the best way to a race. His sport plan was to modify drivers each gasoline cease whereas the opposite individual slept. He repeated that course of till we obtained to our vacation spot, even when it was on the opposite facet of the nation. The truck by no means stopped transferring except there was a gas-pump nozzle caught within the facet of it. Now that we now have been blessed with a child boy, it’s a complete totally different ball sport. Each couple of hours we cease to feed him, change his diapers, and all that enjoyable stuff. It’s been a endurance tester, however I’m adapting to this new way of life. The Shayna Texter-sponsored race van has 270,00zero miles on the odometer, so driving extra slowly and stopping steadily might be a good suggestion.
Once we obtained to Florida, we went proper to work placing collectively my 2017 Honda CRF450Rs and testing them on the Pensacola Filth Monitor. Once I hopped on the motorbike for the primary time, I used to be slower on it than on my trusty 2010 CRF450R, which was irritating to say the least. I feel the largest purpose is as a result of I had such excessive hopes for these new bikes. Every little thing I’ve heard or learn concerning the ’17 Honda had been constructive. It threw me off that I used to be slower on a brand-new motorbike than I had been on my bike that was constructed seven years in the past, sporting worn-out tires, and in dire want of an engine rebuild. I liken it to buying and selling in an outdated telephone with a cracked display screen that has been nothing however dependable for an improve. The brand new telephone is shiny and has all the most recent know-how, however you may’t determine work the factor.
With numerous assist from Durelle Racing and D&D Cycles, we made enhancements to the brand new bikes. After weeks of testing, I’m lastly assured to start out the season. The facility is unbelievable. Throughout one night time of testing, I obtained off my 2017 Honda and rode Jarod Vanderkooi’s ’10 mannequin for a few laps. Each bikes are bone-stock and the ability produced by Jarod’s bike felt like a CRF250F in comparison with that of my ’17 450. I’m keen to suit my bikes with new S&S Cycle exhaust pipes and tune them with a Dynojet Energy Commander to see what sort of numbers we will give you on the dyno.
I’m nonetheless within the strategy of ending my advertising program. I nonetheless don’t have a title sponsor locked down. It’s not for lack of making an attempt, that’s for certain. Crunch time is upon us as I watch for solutions from potential companions. I’m torn between being affected person and sending an SOS—“Hey, guys. We’re working out of time!” The best concern is having sufficient time to handle the promotional wants for the season. My leathers have to be made, autograph sheets and workforce shirts have to be printed, press releases have to be despatched out. The checklist goes on. The work continues to stack up with every passing day.
As I discussed in earlier posts, I can’t imagine how a lot flat observe has grown the previous few seasons. Proof of this success might be seen inside the paddock by what number of roadracers are constantly lining up with us. Once I was about to show skilled, everybody instructed me that I might solely be capable to make a profession in motorbike racing if I began roadracing. A lot of my amateur-racing friends made the transition to pavement. With AFT’s rising TV protection and elevated company sponsors, a lot of those self same riders are transitioning again to the blue-collar self-discipline. Not solely does flat observe get extra publicity than roadracing, it’s additionally cheaper to take part. I’m huge fan of MotoAmerica and have many mates who compete in that collection. I would like it to succeed as badly as anybody else, however for years many swept flat observe below the roadracing rug. The grass isn’t at all times greener on pavement. In reality, it grows higher in dust.
That mentioned, most flat-trackers nonetheless aren’t making some huge cash. Other than the manufacturing facility riders and some others who race for big-budget groups, most racers have common jobs. Whereas it’s attainable to make a profession on this sport, it’s important to make numerous sacrifices. All eight manufacturing facility riders from the previous two seasons have one factor in widespread: They’ve been absolutely dedicated to flat-track racing their total lives. Are the late nights within the storage, early mornings within the fitness center, and numerous days away from household value it? That relies upon who you’re as an individual and the way badly you need it.
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Because the opening spherical of the AFT collection at Daytona Worldwide Speedway approaches, I can’t wait to see how the season unfolds, each as a rider and as a fan. Regardless of which facet of the fence you’re on when the flag drops, you’re in for a deal with.