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"The Great American Motorcycle Race" - Daytona 200, 2024


Spring Break was full of travel, fun, motorcycles, and more travel with our main goal being to help Blake do well racing in the infamous Daytona 200.


We started the week off with fun; Yamaha was generous enough to provide our Daytona 200 crew with tickets to the Daytona Supercross race on Saturday, March 2nd. We were team blue and cheered for all the Yamaha racers. It was a good time and a late night. Afterwards we drove north to Roebling Road Raceway, arriving there about 3:00 am. I tried to get us there, but sleep was going to win, so I had to tag Mike in. Thankfully, he got us there safely and was still ready to explore Savannah, GA the next day.





DUNLOP TIRE TEST @ ROEBLING ROAD RACEWAY


Dunlop Motorcycle Tires takes the Daytona 200 very seriously and rented Roebling Road Raceway Monday and Tuesday for anyone racing at Daytona to get some practice. We were lucky enough to have Blake’s Crew Chief and Mechanic (Shiloh Salopek and Emerson Amaya) helping us with Daytona. They and several others from our Daytona crew were there to help with adjustments and preparations for the big race. 


Dunlop had technicians there working with Blake and the team to figure out the best tires and pressures and whatever else tires need–it was super helpful. Blake was also able to get a few sessions in on his N2/BobbleHeadMoto backup bike as well. 


Shiloh is a wizard with the data and electronics so she was glad to test them on both motorcycles. It was definitely two very productive days. Wednesday we woke up early and headed back down to Daytona to get moved into the garages at the Daytona International Speedway.


Yamaha motorcycle tool box


DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY


Before I get into the events at Daytona, let me try to explain a few things: 


  • “The Great American Motorcycle Race” - The Daytona 200 has occurred annually for 82 years!

  • MotoAmerica began hosting the Daytona 200 a couple years ago. However, it is a stand alone event and does not count towards their Supersport Championship.

  • Blake won the MotoAmerica Twins Cup Championship in 2022 and 2023 aboard a Yamaha R7. Making the move up to MotoAmerica’s Supersport class the next logical step. He will race aboard the N2/BobbleHeadMoto Yamaha R6. 

  • For the Daytona 200, Blake raced on his Biothermal/Blake Davis Racing Yamaha R6 with the help of his personal friends and sponsors.


PRACTICE & QUALIFYING


Thursday morning Blake had a practice and then later in the day was the first qualifying session.  Although his lap times weren’t that fast in Q1, he felt really good in the infield section. He said he wished he could have worked with someone on track for drafting. 


You have to factor in the draft at Daytona. I would guess it is a part of every racers’ strategy. One year at Daytona I saw the front pack almost to the finish line when suddenly the 5th place rider caught the draft, it sucked him in super fast , and he passed everyone in front of him winning the race; it was incredible!


Prior to Friday morning’s qualifying session Blake talked to a couple racers about taking turns drafting each other so they both could get some good lap times, but no one was interested. It’s ironic, because everyone wants to draft someone but nobody wants to be drafted. The racers fear people following them might learn something they can use on the track and do better. Oh well. After Q2, Blake was sitting in 11th, making him eligible for the Time Attack.


MotoAmerica has a “Time Attack” session for the 200. They take the top 12 racers from the previous two qualifiers and give them a 3rd qualifying session. Those lap times determine their starting position for the race. Blake came out better in the Time Attack, finishing with the 7th fastest lap time. 



The team tinkered on the motorcycle Friday evening, but really didn’t have much work to do, then practiced pit stops. Everyone felt really good about how things were looking and confident Blake could do well. We all sat down and ate dinner together and got into bed at a decent time. 


THE DAYTONA 200


Blake Davis on Yamaha at Daytona
PC: Racer X Photography

Saturday was the big day! The racers took to their starting positions and turned their engines off while photographers and other media people took pictures and did interviews. Meanwhile the commentators talked about whatever they do for TV and the National Anthem was sung. The opening ceremonies lasted 45 minutes! Oh my goodness, the wait was torture! 


The supermodel/actor, Tyson Beckford, was the Grand Marshall and once he had the racers “start their engines” the race finally got started. Blake had a great start and was anywhere from 6th up to 2nd position for the first few laps. Then, on lap 7, going into turn 6 (the turn that leads onto the banking), he was too fast, used too much of his SBS brakes, and tucked the front wheel of the motorcycle. He and the motorcycle went sliding, the bike hit the air fence and he slid off to the side, jumped up and got back on his motorcycle.


He rode his bike back to pit lane where his mechanics made some quick fixes, added a splash of fuel, and got him back in the race at which point he was one lap behind. Originally, the team planned for 3 pit stops. Now, the plan was to push the 2nd pit stop later, hopefully giving Blake the chance to make up the time he lost. We knew pretty early on, if there were no red flags, Blake was not going to make it back to the front. 


THE RESULT


The race began with 62 racers and on a banged up motorcycle, Blake fought to get back through them. He didn’t make it to the front; but finished 19th (someone was later disqualified, making 18th his official finish). He knew he had the crew, the motorcycle, and the ability to battle up front, making this one a very tough loss. But, you know what I love about a team? All the different personalities, ideas, and abilities each person brings to the table. 


After the race a few of us were solemnly walking back to cold pit when suddenly, a crew member came around the corner on his scooter, slid sideways to a stop in front of us, with a huge smile and yells, “Woo Hoo! Did you see that? Blake went from last to 18th!” It lightened the mood, made us laugh, and reminded me to be thankful Blake was safe and if nothing else he has a bit more experience.


Helmet Leathers Bible Quote

The next morning Blake had an opportunity he wasn’t expecting that certainly erased any leftover emotions of the day before. The opportunity came from Dunlop; they invited him to stay and do a tire test. It was just Blake and two other racers. At times he got the track all to himself. Imagine after the kind of day he had the day before, he now was riding the high banks of Daytona as fast as he wanted, a great picture of not allowing the past to hold us back and keep working hard to achieve our dreams.


WHAT'S NEXT


Blake will be testing a couple more times and attending a N2 Track Days event at NC Bike before the first MotoAmeria Supersport race at Road Atlanta. That race is April 19-21; hope to see you there!





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