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.
Kyle Wyman was riding for N2/BobbleheadMoto and was the defending champion. He was doing great battling amongst the top 3 when he crashed. The team was able to get his motorcycle back together and he reentered the race but was too far behind to catch up. Kevin Olmedo, racing the other BobbleheadMoto/N2 motorcycle had been doing well, running in 6th when he came in for his pit stop. Mike was part of his crew they had a nice, smooth, fast pitstop. Olmedo got back on the track and the team realized he was falling further and further behind. The clutch was done, he had to limp the bike along to the finish. It stunk that the N2/BobbleheadMoto teams weren’t able to show off their skills. But, the guys up front sure gave us all a great show. Brandon Paasch took home the win for the 80th Daytona 200.
Blake Races at Daytona International Speedway
CCS is an amateur motorcycle racing series that held races all weekend in conjunction with the 200. Blake had his turn on the track. Yes, he won his race on Friday. He finished first in 2 of the 300cc classes and 4th and 6th in two 500cc classes. Blake will always have the memory of winning his first race at THE Daytona Motor Speedway!
I questioned Blake about his first time at Daytona and here is what he had to say:
-Why were you so eager to race at Daytona? “It’s a really famous track that I have always heard a lot about.”
-What stood out to you about racing there? “I was on my practice bike; a stock Yamaha R3 and the track is huge. So, it was a huge draft battle pretty much the whole time.”
-What was it like up on that steep banking? “It was weird feeling extra pressure even though it wasn’t much since I was on my little bike.”
-Did anything stand out about any of your races? “The really big draft battles with four plus people.”
-What were your highs and lows of the weekend? “Getting to run with a big group was fun. The low was being on a small motorcycle. It would have been better to be able to go faster.”
MotoAmerica Motorcycle Test Days
I headed home Sunday while Mike and Blake stayed and left Daytona Monday headed to Talladega GP Raceway with the N2 crew to test His MotoAmerica motorcycle. It looked like it was going to be a wash. Huge rain storms rolled in, putting a “damper” on things. (Did you catch all those puns?) But, another team from the MotoAmerica paddock offered their shop for the team to work on motorcycles as they waited on the storms. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the motorcycle community?
They finally made it to the Talladega GP Raceway. Shiloh Salopek is Blake’s crew chief for N2. She would send Blake out for a few laps, call him in, have Mike make some adjustments on the motorcycle and send Blake back out again. The goal was to get a good base set up for the motorcycle and make sure everything felt good to him. Mike thought the test time was beneficial for him too since he will be the mechanic working for Shiloh. It gave him and Shiloh a chance to work together in their “official capacities”.
The boys got home early Saturday morning and Blake got a few hours of sleep in and woke up to a couple of packages that had been delivered. One was a new seat from Robem Engineering for his endurance motorcycle. Another, was his new Shoei helmet and one was his custom RS Taichi leathers! This is first set of custom leathers and he was so excited to look like a pro! What a week–one Spring Break to remember!
Racing season is coming quick. April 24th is the first endurance race at Carolina Motorsport’s Park, the event is hosted by WERA and N2 Track Days with Dunlop throwing in a ton of cash prizes and they just announced one class has a grand prize of a new Yamaha! Blake will be racing the 2-hour endurance race by himself, but the 4-hour endurance race he will do on a team with Damian Jigalov and Jackson Blackmon. We are all ready to get the race season started!
Til next time…