If this weekend was going to be remembered for anything it was that it was so hot rubber melted. Yep, the motorcycle tires seemed to literally be melting when Blake came off the racetrack.
Saturday’s Motorcycle Practice
Blake went out for his first practice on Saturday with the tires from his last race weekend. For the second practice he and Mike decided to put on new tires. When he came in from that practice the tires were destroyed! Roebling Road Raceway is known for having a rougher surface, that is hard on tires. So, you expect to go through tires a little faster, but this seemed crazy. But, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Formula 2 & D-SuperBike Motorcycle Races – Saturday
The first race Blake entered his Kawasaki Ninja in was the Formula 2 class. After a pretty uneventful motorcycle race, he got third place. For D-Superbike, Mike told Blake to be careful because the tires didn’t look the greatest. He took first place even though he felt like he didn’t have any grip; the tires were just too wore out. The tires felt good but didn’t make for a very exciting motorcycle race.
D-SuperStock Motorcycle Race – Saturday
D-Superstock was his last race of the day, Mike put a new rear tire on for this race. Another racer, competing on a SV650 motorcycle, got a better start than Blake, and was able to put a gap between them. Slowly Blake was catching up and about halfway through the race was able to pass him. However, that motorcycle having so much more power would get by Blake on the straight. They played cat and mouse this way for a bit, until Blake was able to get through the corners faster and faster, getting too far ahead for the SV650 to get by him on the straight. Blake took 1st place in his class and first overall also which made it super exciting. Saturday night, Blake hung out and feasted for dinner with his Black Hawk teammates and the Force Race Team. The heat had exhausted everyone, and it was a quiet, early-to-bed kind of night.
Sunday’s Motorcycle Practice
After Blake’s first Sunday morning practice, Mike thought he would try to beat the heat with a new approach on Blake’s motorcycle tires. He had a new front and a harder compound tire put on the rear wheel. Blake tried it during the second practice and wasn’t too crazy about it.
Sunday’s Motorcycle Races
That hard compound tire is what Blake had on his motorcycle for the Formula 2 race and he got a third place finish but, said, “No more.” Mike then switched the rear back to an old one and made some adjustments he thought would help with tire wear. That seemed to help how Blake felt on the motorcycle, as far as his tires grip. For his last two races of the weekend, D-SuperStock and D-SuperBike, he finished in first place in both of those. But, they could see the tires literally melting against all that heat in the pavement. Georgia is known for its peaches but there was nothing “peachy” about the heat this weekend. Mike said he would have brought a bunch of old tires and used a rear for each motorcycle race Blake had this weekend had he known how the heat would mess things up. Oh well, I’m sure just the experience benefited both Blake as a motorcycle racer and Mike as a crew chief.
Two 1st place finishes both Saturday and Sunday in D-SuperBike and D-SuperStock and 2 thirds in Formula 2 means he was on the podium all weekend. Not too shabby. His podium speeches are a work in progress. He’s always really good about thanking his sponsors but we are working on not starting every speech with, “It was a good race.” But, hey, it’s true! WERA has no motorcycle races scheduled until August 17th and 18th. Those will be at the Talladega Gran Prix Raceway. Until next time…
The Davis family has grown! June 22nd, our oldest daughter got married; Blake has gained a brother-in-law and become and uncle. Needless to say it has been very busy around the Davis household. Then, the following Saturday while we were racing with WERA at Barber Motorsports Park there was a wedding and Blake was the ring bearer. Yes, the ring bearer. Wearing motorcycle riding gloves as he passed off the rings. It was quite appropriate for the setting! Last weekend Blake did a track day with N2 TrackDays organization at Road Atlanta. To welcome his new brother-in-law, Blake invited him to come give it a try. Hopefully Blake didn’t scare him off! All that busy has kept me from sitting in one spot for very long, hence, making writing difficult. So, here’s my go at catching up on Blake’s race report.
WERA’s Regional Motorcycle Races
Both Saturday and Sunday’s motorcycle races were for points in WERA‘s regional competition. Saturday’s practices were cut way short because WERA was co-hosting a vintage competition. Blake got his motorcycle, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 out on the track, for the first session and made one more lap around and then the session was red-flagged after another rider went down. His second practice session was only four laps. Needless to say, he couldn’t really gauge how he and the motorcycle were feeling.
Saturday’s Formula 2 Motorcycle Race
As the calls were being made for his Formula 2 race, clouds were starting to roll in. Blake was so frustrated. The last couple of race weekends there has been a lot of “in between” weather; raining here and there trying to decide between rain tires or slicks. Blake did not want to go through that dilemma again. Well, he didn’t have to, as the racers gridded up there was no rain. The race got started, and pretty quickly, so did the rain. Blake was doing good, he was in second. He and the other racers were on slicks which would make for a slippery race in the rain. The spectators could see Blake slow down which, made sense but, then it seemed he was slowing way down. Now, there were two SV 650’s, an FZ-07, and a 250 GP motorcycle were in front of him. You know, I have lots of knowledge on the track (cough, cough), and was getting anxious because I thought Blake was being too cautious and was going to miss the podium. However, somewhere out of sight two of the three racers in front of Blake slipped in the rain and crashed and another motorcycle went to the pits, allowing Blake to take second. What do you know? He actually knew what he was doing.
Saturday’s D-Superbike Motorcycle Race
Blake’s next race was D-Superbike. He said, “the track was nice” for this race. “What’s a ‘nice’ track?” I asked. He said it was dry but not too hot; that when the track gets too hot it gets oily/greasy and becomes slippery. The kind of start Blake had in this race, I guess it was a “nice track”, because it was amazing. He ended up being passed by a faster motorcycle, raced the rest of the race all alone, and took second.
Saturday’s D-Superstock Motorcycle Race
Blake started in the second group of motorcycles for the D-Superstock race. He got through his group off the start but was caught up in some of the back traffic of the front group. While Blake was working through the traffic it allowed two in the front to pull a gap on him. He worked his way up and caught the racer in second but didn’t have enough to get by him before the race was over. He finished 3rd overall but, he did get first in his class.
“I Do’s” at the Race Track
As I mentioned earlier, there was a wedding at the track. Blake quickly got a shower and served as ring bearer for the marriage of Jared Trees and Heather Syzmanik and that is how we spent Saturday night.
Sunday’s Formula 2 Motorcycle Race
Of course, there was motorcycle talk Saturday night also and Mike and Blake decided to change Blake’s sprocket and put on new brake pads. His shift points just weren’t quite right and who doesn’t like to stop hard and quick? By the second practice Blake had his times down to his race times Saturday. So, things were looking promising.
That is, until he started the Formula 2 race. He had a bad start and had to work hard to try and catch up. Apparently his brakes weren’t “seeded” well (I think that’s like they hadn’t gotten or been made snug yet) which was really bad when Blake went into turn 5 and ran off track. Now, he was all the way back in last place. He didn’t let that shake him. He was determined to get back up front. By the time the race was over he was behind fourth place; what a comeback! Blake finished fifth in that race.
Sunday’s D-Superbike Motorcycle Race
D-Superbike didn’t go as planned either. You see, one of Blake’s crew members (me or another Davis family member) puts a piece of tape on his gas tank so he knows where he is supposed to grid up at the start. Well…one of us forgot to do this so, he gridded himself in the back. But, as usual it motivated Blake to push hard. He worked through the racers but first and second place were able to pull ahead and Blake pretty much raced by himself and took third.
The clouds were looming all day. Every once in a while a sprinkle or two would happen scaring everyone but nothing too bad. But, then, the officials saw lightning which puts a mandatory hold on the races. Once they got started again, the WERA officials chose to shorten the races to 4 laps to get all the racing in before the end of the day.
Sunday’s D-Superstock Race
Four laps isn’t a lot of time to get much done but Blake sure did try. Off the start of the D-Superstock race, Blake pulled away from his class. He worked his way through many of the bigger motorcycles in the class ahead of him. Then, the second place guy was all he had to catch and that racer was going pretty good; it took Blake a half a lap to get by him on his Ninja 400. He was catching up to the overall leader when the race ended. Blake took second overall and first in his class.
The Wrap Up
Ring bearer duty, running off the track, and rain all made for a good time. Blake got 1st in both of his D-Superstock Races, a 2nd and 3rd in the D-Superbike races and a 2nd and 5th in Formula 2.
This weekend Blake will be racing with WERA at Roebling Road Raceway down in Savannah, Georgia. It is going to be hot! After that there are no races for a month. So, Blake will stay one week with a cousin in South Carolina and then the next week he goes camping with his grandparents. I’m sure he will find somewhere to do a track day after that. Until next time…
Thursday night we arrived at Road Atlanta and met up with the Black Hawk Motorcycle Racing Team who has graciously included Blake and our family. As we pulled in to set up, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw a full-fledged hot tub sitting there in the pits. Yes! A hot tub! Josh Booth (a Black Hawk racer) is all about getting everyone together and he thought what better way than a hot tub! Of course, Blake thought it was a great idea too and was hoping he could get in. Well, Josh helped him out with that and tossed him in! We unloaded Blake’s motorcycle (Kawasaki Ninja 400), set up the camper, and got to bed.
This was WERA’s Cycle Jam weekend and they offered Friday as a practice day. All motorcycles got 5 practice sessions. Blake didn’t go out for the very first one because the warmers hadn’t been on the tires long enough. But once he got out there, his lap times were in the 1:44’s; which was pretty awesome. But, it frustrated him at the same time because as the day went on he couldn’t really get his lap time any lower. He did have fun playing around with some of the Suzuki SV650’s and liked getting pulled in their draft making his motorcycle go even faster. It also helped him to see what his competition was going to be like for the races on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday night Edwin Cosme from the Black Hawk Racing team hosted a good ol’ Louisiana style craw-fish boil. With full stomachs and a good time had Blake hit the hay.
Saturday’s Regional Practice
The layout of Road Atlanta requires a lot of hard braking. Saturday Mike made an inquiry to Fast Bike Industries then added some preload to the Nitron suspension to make sure Blake wouldn’t bottom out. Blake said it felt good other than he wasn’t getting good traction. But, since he was on old tires, Mike didn’t make any adjustments, knowing Blake was going to have a fresh new set of Dunlop’s on the motorcycle for Saturday’s races.
The motorcycle races that counted for regional points were Saturday. Blake had his new tires and felt good in both of his practice sessions.
D-SuperBike Regional Motorcycle Race
D-SuperBike was the first class Blake got to race his Kawasaki Ninja 400 motorcycle in this weekend. Once the green flag flew he got off the line quick but got caught behind a big line of Suzuki SV650’s. He managed to get to the outside to get around them and got up to fourth by the top of the hill and plucked off another going down into four. Jerry Blackwood was in his sights now and Blake passed him on the outside of turn 12 but, didn’t stay ahead long with that front straight allowing Blackwood to motor on by Blake. Blake was stoked after he passed Blackwood in turn one and managed to pull a small gap but, it wasn’t enough, Blackwood got by him on the back straight. Blake wasn’t giving up, flying down the hill into turn 10 Blake waited, waited, waited, hit the brakes and was able to break free from Blackwood, leaving a gap between them.
However, while Blake was enjoying his battle, the two overall leaders were able to pull away. So, the rest of the race he was by himself. He said he tried to pace himself by the leaders since they were all he could see. Blake tried to make sure he was going fast enough to not lose sight of them on the back straight. He did finish third overall but he took first in his class.
D-SuperStock Regional Motorcycle Race
Blake’s second race was D-SuperStock. He started in row 9 but knew he had the same pace of the guys in row 1 (yes, a bunch of SV 650’s). So, his goal for the race was to catch up with them and see what he could do. But, he got stuck behind a group of 3 Suzuki SV650’s and, as we’ve seen all season, Blake would pass them in the turns and they’d pass him in the straights. Blake worked to split up the group until they couldn’t all pass him down the straight. It worked and Blake was now able to pluck them off one by one. Unfortunately, there were only 2 laps to go. He could see Russel Masecar up ahead and that’s one of the motorcycle racers he originally wanted to try to catch and race with but just didn’t have enough time to catch up. But, Blake was able to finish first in his class.
Formula 2 Regional Motorcycle Race
Formula 2 rounded out Blake’s motorcycle racing Saturday. He and John Wilkens are battling for points in this class. Off the start Blake passed Wilkens on the outside of 1. Blake waited, and tried drafting John on the back straight but that didn’t work out so well; John pulled an even bigger gap. So, the next lap Blake planned on passing before the back straight. Meanwhile, John Crawford had gotten in front of Blake and by the time they got to turn 6 Blake passed them both! But…yep, you know it. They both got him on the straight. Blake got Crawford in 10 but couldn’t get by Wilkens in the front section, Wilkins is good at the top of the hill. So, Blake waited for 6 again and tried but couldn’t do it and they were able to pull about a 2 second gap. These SV650’s were in his class this time, putting Blake in third.
There’s a motorcycle team that races WERA and all of the guys are from Brazil. Saturday night they grilled steak, some Brazilian sausage, and chicken hearts. Yes, chicken hearts. Hey, don’t knock it ’til you try it; they were really good. The Black Hawk Racing team and our family all made sides to go with their delicacies and we all had another fun night together.
Sunday’s National Challenge Practice
Sunday’s National Challenge practice was uneventful. Blake used it to get in his groove, he did some stretching, went to the Race Line Ministry chapel service, and was ready to get on his motorcycle and race.
Lightweight Twins National Challenge Race
First up was the Lightweight Twins SuperStock class. Blake was gridded up front and was first off the line but Tyler Freeman on his SV650 wasn’t having it and got by Blake going into turn one. Blake was pushing to keep up with him but Tyler was going really fast; laying down lap times in the 1:41’s. He pulled a huge gap and was out of sight. With no one close behind Blake said, “It was a lonely race.” and finished in second.
Formula 2 National Challenge Race
Formula 2 was his last motorcycle race of the weekend. Blake started in the front row and again, got off the line first. This time he was able to keep the lead until he was coming out of turn five. Then, both Tyler Freeman and Keith Burress also on a SV650 got by Blake on the straight. Into turn 6 Blake was able to get by Freeman for a bit but couldn’t hold him back. Then, in turn 10 Blake got by Burress but on one of the straights motored by. Blake was able to keep up for a little while but by the next lap Burress and Freeman had increased the gap they had in front of Blake. Leaving Blake by himself the rest of the race; having to settle for third.
I asked him if he felt lonely. He said no, like I was crazy. I reminded him he just told me he felt lonely in the previous race when racing by himself. In all seriousness, he explained, as long as people are in sight, he knows he’s going to catch them (that’s the thinking of a boy who NEVER gives up) and he’s not lonely.
Re-Cap & Upcoming
To recap, that was a first in the regional D-SuperBike and D-SuperSport motorcycle classes and a third in Formula 2. Then, for the National Challenge series he finished second in the Lightweight Twins SuperStock class and another third in Formula 2. Those podiums along with the good times with Black Hawk Racing team made for another good weekend.
Next up is a N2 TrackDay Endurance race along with WERA’s National Challenge Series at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex, June 15-16. I don’t think I’ll be able to go since Blake’s oldest sister is getting married the next weekend. But, Blake will be there with SuperLex to win the endurance race, of course and see what he’s got against those 650’s again. Til next time…
Blake loves being on his motorcycle and he loves motorcycle racing. Unfortunately, this month the schedule was looking pretty light. WERA only has one race weekend for him and it happens to be on Easter weekend. Easter is like Christmas for our family; we cannot miss Easter. And you know Blake just can’t get rusty so, Mike found a race. It was one of Florida Motorcycle Road Racing Association’s (FMRRA) rounds being held down at Jennings GP in Jennings, Florida. Blake had been to the track once before when Josh Herrin came and worked with him at a track day. But, we had never raced with FMRRA. Mike and Blake said it was great; it was well organized, registration was simple, there was a podium, and the awards ceremony was quick.
Blake had a Spring Break he won’t soon forget! It was full of friends, family, motorcycles, training, and racing; all the things he enjoys! Last weekend we went to a family wedding in Alabama. Before coming home on Sunday, we drove to Georgia and dropped Blake off to ride motorcycles with Ashton Yates. Blake and him did a lot training on his Honda xr 100. Based on videos they’d send, they’re was a ton of fun happening too. Originally, we planned to pick Blake up Thursday on our way to WERA’s second round at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah. Josh Booth, a friend and fellow racer, offered to pick Blake up as he passed through. That would save us 3 hours and we’d all get to the motorcycle track about bed time. That was until about 8:30 pm. On interstate 95 there was an accident and we literally put the truck in park and did not move until 3:45am! Besides it just being a bummer for us, Blake was at the track and we weren’t! But, with an awesome motorcycle family, we made a few phone calls, had several people offer beds for him and thankfully Josh took him in for the night.
INTRODUCING BLAKE’S 2019 KAWASAKI NINJA 400
Okay, okay, I know all of you motorcycle fans want me to shut up and move on because this was Blake’s first time on his new Kawasaki Ninja 400! Blake hadn’t even sat on the motorcycle since Mike was able to get all the race parts on; which included an M4 exhaust, Dunlop slicks, Nitron suspension (that Fast Bike Industries sent already set-up), Woodcraft clip-on’s and rear-sets. We didn’t even have the Armour Body-work on yet; just had some primer gray back-up bodywork that we picked up off a friend. So, when Blake went out for his practice session Friday, Mike told him to check out how the motorcycle felt and just take it easy. Apparently, it felt pretty good, because as Abby and I watched him through turns 4 & 5 I asked her, “He knows he’s not racing, right?” Blake came in grinning and during his second practice session he was at his fastest Yamaha R3 speed, and by the third session he beat it. Needless to say, the “breaking in” of the new Kawasaki motorcycle was going pretty well. Saturday, he got two practice sessions before the motorcycle races. The track was cold and chewed up Blake’s tires making for a lot of tire changing. Even so, Blake said the grip of the Dunlop’s were awesome especially with such a cold track.
Saturday: Motorcycle Races for Regional Points
The first race was D-Superbike, they were racing with the Lightweight Twins SuperStock class. That class was gridded first, then a 5 row gap, then Blake’s class. He started on row 13. By the end of the first lap, Blake had passed a bunch of motorcycles. By the end of the second lap he was racing back and forth with the overall leader from the other, faster class, Tracey Church. As the race went on, Blake knew he was going to get passed by Church and his SV650 on the straight away, every lap. But, he also knew he could pull a gap through turn one and again through turn 4. Blake’s idea was to get those gaps wide enough so the 650 could not catch up to him, on the straight, before the finish line. However, 3 lapped riders threw a wrench into things. Blake knew he had to get by them fast and in turn 5 he got by one motorcycle on the inside and 2 on the outside all in one sweeping pass. It was awesome! Blake managed to stay ahead and finished first overall! With another big grid, the D-Superstock (the only class really intended for Blake’s motorcycle) race got under way. There was some action going into turn 2. The racers had their motorcycles leaned over and, like a domino effect, something went wrong for one racer causing the one beside him to set his motorcycle up onto the racer beside him, which happened to be Blake. Blake got pushed over into the grass, and saw a motorcycle sliding towards him, he gave his motorcycle gas, kept it on two wheels and got back on the track. Looking behind him he saw a racer lying on the grass and then the red flag. The race was re-started. Again, Blake started in the second group, behind another class. Blake worked his way through the motorcycles, getting in front of the some of the SV650’s but there were 4 of them he couldn’t catch. So, he kind of rode the rest of the race by himself. He got first in his class and 5th overall. Not nearly as exciting but we’ll take it! Blake’s last race Saturday was Formula 2. This time Blake started on the front row and he was racing against some crazy fast motorcycles. Chris Parrish on his SV650, caught up and passed Blake right their on the front straight. But, in an awesome chain of events Blake passed Parrish going into turn one. Of course, Parrish (who won the MotoAmerica Twins Cup Championship last year) got back in front of Blake soon after. Blake did pretty good staying close for a bit but after another lap or so he was pretty much riding by himself. It started to sprinkle in that race. When a raindrop hits a racers visor, it can give a racer an exaggerated fear of the track condition. That must have happened to Blake because his lap time was a lot slower the lap the sprinkles started. With the fast motorcycles ahead of him he managed to pull a pretty good gap on everyone else and finished fourth.
Sunday: Motorcycle Practice
The sun set and rose and it was Sunday morning. These races were going to be for points in the National Challenge Series whereas Saturday’s races were for regional points. In the first practice session, Blake was coming into turn 3 and crashed. He had 5th gear pinned, hit a bump on the track, lost the front end, slid on his stomach, and started rolling. After taking a tire to the face, he finally stopped near the sand berm. The Black Hawk Racing team invited us to join them in their garage for the weekend. When seeing the crash truck return with Blake’s motorcycle that whole team, along with Jared Trees, and Blake’s sister Abby, all jumped in helping to get the motorcycle back together in time for the first race.
Sunday: Motorcycle Races for National Points
And it happened! Blake was on track in time for his first race, Lightweight Twin SuperStock. In another battle with Church, Blake chased him down. With a lap time of 1:18:7, Blake caught him! He went for the pass and Church shut it down hard, blocking Blake. Church tried again in the next turn but Blake got by him on the outside of turn 8. He passed Blake on the straight a few laps later, but Blake was able to use the draft to get by him in turn 1. One lap, Blake noticed Church didn’t pass him on the straight. He thought, “I got the gap big enough; gotta keep it.” He did, and he won the race. Off the start of the Formula 2 race, Blake got stuck behind Jared Trees and then another racer got by Blake, putting him in third. On the outside of turn 3 he got by one and passed the other on the outside of 4. Unfortunately, they both passed him back on the straight. In turn 1 he got back by Trees but the other guy got a little bit of gap. Blake has a very fluid style when riding his motorcycle. You could really see it when it seemed like every lap he was passing that other racer coming out of 3 into 4. It was so smooth; he made it look effortless. That pass would help Blake to get the edge he needed to cross the start/finish line before him. It didn’t work for the last lap though. That super-bike crossed the finish line first, putting Blake in second place.
All in all, Blake’s inaugural weekend on his Kawasaki Ninja 400 was great! He finished with three 1st place finishes, a 2nd place, and one 4th place finish.
Now, to get the motorcycle all finished up. The motorcycle will get painted and Mike will do some fine tuning. Then, we’ll get to sticker her up showing thanks to our sponsors! Go get ya’ some… *LUCAS OIL * MOTOLIBERTY * RS TAICHI * DUNLOP * SHOEI * N2 TRACK DAYS * HARRIS TIRE * COMMERCIAL STEEL * SELECT AIR *
MotoAmerica’s race at Road Atlanta is coming up April 5-7. Blake will be there working with the younger kids doing demonstrations with the “Mini’s at MotoAmerica “. Can’t wait to get there and see some good racing!