Grand National Finals
Blake was invited to compete in WERA‘s 2016 Grand National Finals at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Invitations are given based on criteria met throughout the race season. It’s designed to determine the best of the best in the country.
Thursday and Friday were National Final practice days for Blake. He was only able to practice on his Honda RS125 although he planned on racing his Honda Grom and Honda RS85 as well. For the Grand National Finals he entered the Grom Class, Mini Class, and the Formula 2 and Formula 3 classes for both Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday was race day; it was sunny and windy making it a little chilly. During his first practice Blake was on his RS85 and he took it easy because the track was so cold he didn’t want to take any chances of sliding off. After his practice session on the Honda RS125 Blake told Mike that he was having some chatter in the front end and his shift points didn’t seem right. Blake’s friend Dave at Fast Bike Industries, made some adjustment to his suspension for him to help with the chatter. Then, Mike changed the sprocket to help with the gearing and shift points.
Saturday’s Honda Grom Race
The races began and WERA decided to combine the RS85 & Grom race. Blake hadn’t practiced on the Grom at all this weekend but decided that racing on it would be more competitive than on the RS85 and he wanted to do some battling. The race began and Blake got a good start, moving his way through the pack. Damian Jigalov was in front and put a significant gap between him and the rest of the racers. The battle ended up happening between Blake and Travis Richards down the final straight to the checkered flag. Travis was gaining on Blake and at the line Blake barely beat him, finishing 2nd. Honda gave prize money for that race and Blake won $175! Thank you Honda!
Saturday’s Honda RS125 Races
The next race Blake had was Formula 2 on his RS125. Blake started in the back of the class with bikes that were much larger than his; most being SV650’s. When the green flag waved everyone took off and Blake was slow getting going however, he finished in 7th place even against those bigger bikes. He was disappointed in his finish but a friend (retired pro-racer) gave him a little pep talk reminding Blake that he was only 10 years old, on a tough bike, and racing against big bikes. That was so thoughtful.
When the Formula 3 race rolled around Blake was ready to go, not letting the last race bother him. He had another slow start having to make up some time but moved his way up. Blake ended up getting 2nd behind Matt Wallace. (Mike and Blake both were thankful for Matt and the pointers he gave them on how to tune the RS125. Let’s see how Blake does next year against Matt!)
Saturday night we went to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse with a bunch of our racing “family”. It was a fun dinner but we quickly got back to our hotel room to be sure Blake got plenty of sleep for the races on Sunday. He and Mike also talked more about his races that day and decided they needed to change the sprocket on his Grom and again on the RS125. But, the chatter was gone thanks to Fast Bike Industries!
Sunday’s Honda Grom Race
On arrival to the track Sunday Blake and Mike got busy making the changes. Apparently they made the right decision because Blake’s first race was on the Grom. In that race Blake had the fastest Grom lap time of the weekend at 2 minutes and 11.4 seconds. I believe that set another track record beating the one he made at the 2015 GNF. Go Blake! However, after starting on the back row he wasn’t able to catch Damian Jigalov and Blake finished in 2nd place.
Sunday’s Honda RS125 Races
Formula 2 was a tough race again for Blake on Sunday. However, the sprocket change on his RS125 must have been a good idea because he cut his lap times down and finished 4th. His fastest time on the RS125 for the weekend was 1:42:1.
Formula 3 was his last race of the National Finals and probably the most fun to watch. Blake’s start had him way behind the rest of the racers but he worked his way up passing his friend Damian with a nice pass and caught another friend Nate Minster. Blake went to pass Nate and Nate closed the door on him keeping Blake in 4th place. What a race!
Another highlight of Sunday’s races were that Mike raced his Yamaha R3 in the WERA/Yamaha Cup Race. The top 3 in both the expert and novice classes would be receiving prizes from Yamaha. Blake’s friend Jackson Blackmon won the expert class and Yamaha gave him a brand new R3 motorcycle and another one of Blake’s friends, Ashton Yates, got 2nd in the expert class. Mike got 3rd in the novice class and won a nice, huge Yamaha canopy.
2016 WERA Season
Blake raced his Grom and RS85 as much as he could with WERA in their 2016 season and got 2nd at Nationals this weekend. After turning 10 in July Blake was able to race his RS125 for the first time in August with WERA at Little Tally. After that, he had one track day at VIR, another WERA race at NOLA and then got finished 2nd in the nation at the Grand National Finals! I would say 2016 was another good race year for Blake.