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!