We snuck away after school on Wednesday, March 9, and headed to Florida. It was Daytona Bike Week which is when the annual Daytona 200 takes place. It is as big to motorcycle enthusiasts as the Daytona 500 is to NASCAR enthusiasts AND Blake was going to be able to race. Not in the 200 (he’s not old enough) but ON the infamous Daytona Motor Speedway.
Thursday was spent loading everything into the garages and prepping for Friday’s 200 practices and one of Blake’s races. Saturday, was the Daytona 200. It was fun watching everyone getting ready. The hot pits were busy; there was a fun “buzz” with so many people running around getting everything prepped and in place. The race is 57 laps, it’s basically an endurance race. The racers and their crew have to strategize their pit stops, when to change tires, when/how to conserve fuel.
The short answer, A LOT! But first, let’s do a little re-cap of last year.
Re-Cap 2020 Motorcycle Race Season
We all know Corona threw a wrench into everything and so it did for the MotoAmerica season as well. Some races were canceled, some postponed and all had to be overhauled to meet various locale’s mandates. By the time Blake’s 14th birthday rolled around (making him eligible for the Junior Cup), there had already been 4 races. But, that didn’t stop his friends and fans from giving him a huge welcome at his first race in Atlanta. In addition to that, N2 Racing and SWG Motorsports allowed Blake to pit under the N2 Racing canopy. Blake not only had moral and technical support but, he also looked like he belonged in a pro paddock and could really show off his sponsors. Blake finished 9th in the 2020 Junior Cup Championship.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a legendary track, no doubt. We read about its history before we got there and Blake had the chance to kiss the bricks and walk the track. It is cool that MotoAmerica brought motorcycle racing to Indianapolis especially during a pandemic and that Blake could be a part of it.
Motorcycle Qualifying 1 & 2
The weekend didn’t start out too bad. Blake did well in practice and had the 7th fastest lap time in the first qualifying session. But, in Q2, he tucked his front end in turn one and, as it happened, another rider came onto the track from pit lane and was taken out by Blake’s motorcycle. Unfortunately, Blake missed the rest of the session and would be 11th on the starting grid.
Motorcycle Race 1
Right off the start of the first race, in turn 2, Blake got pushed wide and when he looked to his side to get back into the race line, he saw someone flipping towards him. He managed to squeeze by, dodging the crash. The race was red-flagged and restarted. Blake was glad to have a chance to regroup and hopefully get a better start. But, it was a repeat, he got pushed out again in turn 2and lost a tow from the guy in front of him. Blake finished in eleventh. He said that he and the motorcycle were not “quite right” but, he couldn’t figure out why.
MotoAmerica at Barber was an exciting weekend of motorcycle racing. Blake loves being with people so, when fans are allowed at the races; the weekends are so much better. Blake got to see old moto-friends and made new ones. He had two exciting races AND added members to the BEAST Team!
BEAST Team Additions
Cap-It has super high-end tire warmers for cars and motorcycles, they have heated clothing and some kind of industrial heating blankets. But, the tire warmers are what we use and they’re great. Now, they’ve joined the BEAST Team. Meanwhile, BetterInvesting, a nonprofit organization, helped one of our moto-friends learn about investing. Now, they have “extra money” and wanted to be a part of Blake’s BEAST Team. TWO blessings in one weekend; we are so thankful!
Motorcycle Qualifying 1 & 2
Barber Motorsports Park repaved the track last year and it is nice and smooth. So smooth, Blake said it’s hard to feel what’s going on with his motorcycle. He was trying to get a feel for the track in practice and in qualifying. In the first qualifying session, he was way back, I think 12th. His times were consistently dropping and the same for the second qualifying where he gained a couple more positions.
Motorcycle Race 1
Blake gridded up for the first race, and had a good launch and got by two motorcycles. By the end of lap 1 he was in 6th place and trying to tag along with the motorcycles in front of him. One thing, I heard the MotoAmerica commentators saying was that the Junior Cup riders need to learn what is more important, passing the guy right in front of you or waiting to catch up to the group ahead. While trying to catch up to the 5th place guy Blake got passed and passed back but, the back and forth allowed the top 5 to get further ahead. But then, two of those top 5 crashed out and Blake found himself racing for 4th for the second half of the race. With one lap left, the crowd was cheering, I was so excited, the motorcycles went out of sight back by the museum and when they reappeared Blake was in 7th; what happened!?!? (Later I found out he got pushed wide.) He had a gap to close, and did, as they went into the back section. He was right on the back of 6th but, didn’t get enough drive onto the front stretch and stayed behind him, finishing in seventh.
Motorcycle Race 2
Race two started off with excitement when someone went into turn 5 trying to outbreak a group of motorcycles and tucked the front, taking out the racer right in front of Blake. It scared him a minute but he got around it but, stuck in the back of his pack. As they were getting closer to the front group Blake was making his way through the pack and finally got out front. Now, he could concentrate on catching 5th place up ahead and boy did he work hard putting down the 3rd fastest lap of the race. He got slowed up by two seconds once the pack drafted back up to him (something he’s struggling with) but was still in 6th coming onto white flag lap. Turns 2-4 are basically one really long right hander (and out of sight from the tower), mid-turn Blake spun up his rear Dunlop, and the motorcycle kicked him up and he saved it. But, he did get passed. Well, I’m watching from the tower, cheering for my racer and when he comes into view with motorcycles in front of him I apparently groaned and said, “Aww man” out loud because the crowd laughed, and when I looked, they were looking at me and saying, “It’s ok, he’s got it.” Shortly after that, a racer crashed and the motorcycle race was over. The scoring goes back to the last lap; giving Blake a 6th place finish.
MotoAmerica has never held their motorcycle races at The Ridge Motorsports Park located an hour and half west of Seattle, Washington. There were a lot of racers who had never been there, including Blake. He loved the track layout and said, “There’s no corner on the track like any corner at any other track.” The last sector, turns 13-16, was the hardest part of the track for him to master but, he can’t wait to go back next year and ride again.