WERA’S 2019 Cycle Jam @ Road Atlanta

June 1-2, 2019

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.

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Friday Practice

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

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Keeping Cool on a Hot Day

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

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PC: Sara Chappell Photos

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

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PC: Highside Photo

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

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PC: Platz Productions

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…