Four Days of Racing!
Four days of riding his road racing motorcycles is a dream for Blake and thanks to N2 Track Days, WERA, and Pittsburgh International Race Complex (Pitt Race) that happened this weekend. Friday, N2 Track Days Organization hosted a track day, allowing Blake to get some practice on his Yamaha R3 motorcycle.
N2 Track Days’ Friday Track Day Event
N2 Track Days Track Event Blake had practiced at Pitt Race on his Yamaha R3 one other weekend. He was supposed to race also, but in the first lap he crashed out. So, this track day was giving him some time on the track he wanted. As it seems, he has gained experience because his first session out he went faster than he did previously and by the end of the day he had done a 1:59:7 which was incredible! Right off, Blake’s rear tire was coming off the ground when he was braking so Mike adjusted the front suspension. Blake’s times were improving but he wanted Mike to adjust the gearing as well. Mike knew that would not be good, but wanted Blake to feel how the change would affect the motorcycle. Blake went out for another session and Mike saw that Blake was right, the gearing change was necessary. Once again, proving that Blake is “one with the motorcycle”.
N2 Track Days/WERA Endurance Races
Saturday N2 Track Days along with WERA hosted their first round of their Endurance Series. Blake and his friend Owen Fairbairn entered the 2-Hour Ultra Lightweight class as team “Herrin’s Hooligans”. The Herrin Compound is where Blake and Fairbairn spend a lot of time racing, training and having fun and wanted to give credit where credit is due. They were going to be racing Blake’s “B” bike, the 2015 Yamaha R3 motorcycle.
At 9:30 that morning the Ultra Lightweight teams got a 30 minute practice session. They chose to do 15 minutes each and when they switch riders they would practice a mock pit stop to make sure everyone knew what to do. Fairbairn thought the motorcycle felt great whereas Blake was having some front end issues with the suspension but not bad enough to make any changes that might mess Fairbairn up.
The race started at 3:30, Blake was going to be the first rider. The green flag flew and Drake Beauchamp was ahead of Blake. Blake was hanging fairly close but could tell Beauchamp was slowly inching away from him. About 10 minutes into the race, Beauchamp pulled a gap after navigating around a lapped rider easier than Blake.
“Herrin’s Hooligans” had an incredible pit crew, their dads. They got the chance to prove themselves half way through the race. Blake came into the pits, got off the motorcycle, Fairbairn got on, the dad’s re-fueled the motorcycle, and Fairbairn was back on the track and in the race. That lap was only 45 seconds longer than their other laps. What a pit crew!
Fairbairn kept the team’s momentum and put down the fastest lap of the race. Now, in an endurance race the checkered flag waves when the time is complete and your finishing position is calculated by how many laps your motorcycle completed at that point. Team “Herrin’s Hooligans” were not catching up to Beauchamp, who raced solo, but did lap the 3rd place team when the checkered flag flew. The race was over, but before Fairbairn could make it back around the track to the pits the motorcycle ran out of fuel. The pit crew had calculated what they thought was the perfect amount of fuel to complete the race and well I guess they figured it just right.
Thankfully the crash truck got the motorcycle back to the pits because Blake and Fairbairn were the only team in the winner’s circle with no motorcycle. The dad’s were quick to put a little fuel in the motorcycle and get it to the boys at the winner’s circle before the awards were given.
That evening a bunch of motorcycle racers and their families were hanging out at the track and got together to play a game of kickball. Mike and Blake weren’t on the same team which was fine with Blake since his team won by three points giving him the chance to give Mike a hard time. To keep the 2018 race weekend tradition, it started raining. It didn’t dampen anyone’s fun; they kept playing and had had a blast. After a shower, Blake got into bed to get rested for WERA’s National Challenge motorcycle races the next morning.
WERA’s National Challenge Series Races
Sunday, the “lightweight” motorcycles got first practice out. Blake got his speed down quickly, running in the 1:59’s. Mike was pleased that Blake didn’t take all the practices to get his times down. That’s what they’ve been working on.
Sometimes in one race there is more than one class racing. There were several classes in this race but you’re only competing with those motorcycles in your class. The SV 650’s class started in front of the E-Superstock class Blake was competing in, the SV’s pulled a gap off the start. Then, Jared Tree’s a fellow E-Superstock competitor beat Blake to turn 1 but Blake managed to get by him right before the braking zone into turn three. At that point, Blake put his head down and broke away from the rest of the field. His fastest lap was when he was out front all by himself. Eventually, he did see he was coming up behind the SV 650’s and passed the novice’s, some of the SV experts, and finished 5th overall. Wow, that was amongst 650’s and he’s on a 320! However, for where it really counts (in his class) he finished first. It’s just cool to see how much ability he has when you compare his riding to motorcycles with twice the power.
For the Clubman class Blake got the hole shot and pulled away. And again, with no motorcycles in front of him to chase, he still was able to stay motivated and got his lap time down to 1:58 flat. He won seconds in front of 2nd place!
D-SuperStock was his last motorcycle race of the weekend. MotoAmerica’s Jamie Austudillo beat him off the start. She couldn’t keep Blake behind her, going into turn 3 he passed her on the brakes. Blake put a lot of space in between him and her and caught up to the Formula 2 class. He saw Greg Reisinger on his SV and Erica Muse on her R6 (with a FZ07 motor) and caught up to them. The three of them did a little back and forth passing which Blake thoroughly enjoyed. I suppose that competition got him really pushing himself because he managed to get down into the 57’s. His fastest lap was 1:57:7; Mike couldn’t believe it! You see, Blake raced 6 races at WERA’s Road Atlanta event and did the N2 Track Days event on Friday on the same set of tires. Stickboy Racing was sure to get Blake new tires to him before this race weekend. Mike intended to put them on for Blake but didn’t. Makes you wonder if he could have been any faster had he had new tires. The way his motorcycle handles is amazing Fast Bike Industries sure hooked it up with the suspension.
The motorcycle races went long Saturday, so long that they flew checkered flag early on the last race because of time. Mike and Blake began packing up but then decided to just leave in the morning instead of driving back so late. While they were packing, a lady from N2 Track Days came and asked if Blake would like to stay for a track day on Monday. The event was actually put on for or by (not sure of the technicalities) Miller’s Motorsports, Barnes’ Bros. Motorcycles and Yamaha Northeast who allowed it. That’s how Blake got his fourth day of riding motorcycles and boy was he excited.
Yamaha Northeast Sponsored Track Day
All weekend Blake had been on the full course at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. However, Monday’s track event was on the north course. This gave him the opportunity for a new layout and more track experience. A friend who had raced motorcycle’s on that layout said Blake should aim for doing 1:10 lap times. Blake was able to meet and surpass that goal on his first lap out with a time of 1:07. Mike called to tell me they would probably leave before the last session to head home but, in typical Blake style he hadn’t gotten his fill of motorcycles and they stayed through the last session. Blake was the only one on the track when the corner workers waved him in to be done. It was probably a good thing the day was over he was really starting to slide around with those worn out tires but he did manage to get a fastest lap of 1:05.
Mike was trying to take some pictures of Blake on his motorcycle when the Track Marshall allowed him to get closer. Throughout the day when Blake would see the Yamaha NE representatives, The Barnes Brothers or Miller’s Motorsports guys they were all kind and encouraging. Everyone was so hospitable.
The next race will be at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama June 30th and July 1st with WERA. That is one of Blake’s favorite tracks. I really like that track because you can see almost the entire thing from the tower’s platform. I can’t wait to see how he will do there.