Dirty Girl Motor Racing goes Vintage! A 'Rookie Season' in the VRRA
Dirty Girl Motor Racing's Rookie Season in the VRRA
The Bike: NS 250 F - Honda 2stroke V-twin liquid cooled street bike converted to racing specs for the VRRA by Ken Livingstone. Racing number 418
The Rider: Andrea Goodman - rookie road racer
The Story: A Rookie Season in vintage road racing - the Canadian Vintage Road Racing Association VRRA 2005 Season
So what's a first weekend of racing like for a rookie?
Week before: Panic, buy stuff - equipment, tools, supplies, flamable, expensive and toxic fluids of all sorts. (is there anything non-toxic that goes into a motorcycle?) Panic, find stuff - camping equipment, tent, sleeping bag, mat, stove etc. Panic, figure out a way to get all this stuff to the track. This was much, much easier when I rode my bike to the track for trackdays and only had to pack what I could fit in a tail bag.
Day before: work, pack all that stuff, remember at the last minute I need not only consumables for the bike, but also maybe food for me - get food. Leave hours behind schedule, spend 1/2 hr playing with the fuse box on the 4-wheel vehicle, arrive at the track, find a pit in the dark (narrowly avoiding a small lake of mud I might add) pitch tent, wash up and go to bed.
Saturday: Panic, up early, get bike unloaded (thanks Fernando) roll to tech, get sent back to remove stand, add 3rd number etc. Get to registration (early, the only thing I did fast all weekend!) hand over my money, zip back to try again with bike/tech. Blur of panic, 2 practice sessions 15 minutes each, managed to make it to the grid for both.Bike stalling, more panic. First heat race, panic, needed a bump start, got to the grid barely on time. Never done a standing start before, opted to start from the back of the grid. Started last, finished last.
Sunday: Practice session early morning, race near end of day. Watched some great racing in between. Took my spot on the grid, now master of one standing start - didn't do me any good, I was at the back by the first corner and managed to hold onto last place. 'Suck it up Buttercup', you have to start somewhere, looks like it's going to be somewhere at the back.
Update from the Quinte TT - Shannonville round of the VRRA Races.
Racing. Well, sort of. It would be easier to call it racing if I were going faster. The bike is new to me, seemingly a complete mystery. The most basic of it's functions appeared to elude me the first weekend racing it. Shifting without discovering a neutral hiding between each gear for example. Finding it's tiny and illusive powerband. People would ask me how my bike was running and be quite startled at my blank and anxious expression - 'how would I know' I'm thinking to myself - then I would struggle to come up with a more conversational answer. Vintage racing seems quite welcoming to rookie racers, I had lots of help from my pit-neighbours. I get to wear an orange vest for my rookie season so people know I'm a pylon, I mean, so people know I'm new. Although I did rather seem to be determined to impersonate a pylon that first race weekend.
Summary: So far, I panic faster than I race :-)
READ MORE: First Race Weekend Report
Update from Mosport Vintage Festival VRRA ENDURANCE Race
Endurance Race Friday August 19th - Team 'Dirty Girl Motor Racing' (which was, as far as we know, the first all-women team to enter the VRRA's endurance races) was all ready to ride.
We had pre-registered for the endurance race, and we went to registration Thursday night. Somehow our team registration forms had resulted in a great deal of confusion, and we spent an hour or so running to and fro in registration getting our team registration, VRRA membership, RACE licences, and event registration all sorted out. Having navigated the perils of registration we felt braced for Friday's endurance race.
Barb and Michelle shared the practice time in the afternoon, after getting the bike's silencer welded back on in the morning (thanks Kyle!). Our crew helped us set up the team trackside pit in the afternoon before the races. Karen, Max, Tammy, Christine & Jean-Guy, and Jeff all helped out with our pre-race arrangements, equipment, transport etc.
The race started well, Michelle riding first as our 'standing start expert'. About 7 laps in the race was red-flagged, restarted (Michelle got the hole shot!), and then called on account of the weather. Weeks of planning and preparation, forms and money, arranging supplies and equipment and team strategy... to have it cancelled so early in the race was a huge disappointment. We sat in our team pit and sulked for a good long while, but as the rest of the trackside pits cleared out and we found ourselves alone next to a waterlogged and closed track we slowly concluded 'that's racing'.
Team Dirty Girl Motor Racing would like to thank the following people for their help in our endurance racing efforts: my co-riders: Barb and Michelle, Team Transportation: Jeff and Aliki, Crew: Karen, Max, Tammy, Christine, Jean-Guy & Jeff, Welding at the Track: Kyle the sidecar racer, Bike Preparation: Ken.
READ MORE: Second Race Weekend Report
'Team Dirty Girl Motor Racing' at North Bay, September 2005
The North Bay circuit is a temporary installation at a working airport, which makes for a really exciting venue for racing and a very challenging track too. Riding down the runway straight you could look up to see a landing airplane descending towards you, and rather hoping it knew which runway it was aiming for.
A great deal of work goes into this venue, and those who made the journey enjoyed an excellent weekend of racing. I arrived in good time and Registration and Tech went smoothly for me, and I had time to walk the track before dark. I spent a fair bit of time pacing back and forth in the one corner that changed surface 5 times, wondering what my tires would make of it.
Saturday's weather was beautiful, after a cold Friday night. I was looking forward to seeing the track from the on-bike view in the practice session. It's a challenging layout with a tiny 180 hairpin as well as faster corners and run-way straights, and some lovely (but bumpy) s-shaped combination corners on the taxi-ways.
READ MORE: Third Race Weekend Report
Vintage Road Racing Association: www.vrra.ca
Photo by Flair Photo
2005 Season Photos
After some time for reflection, some thoughts on my 2005 Rookie Season in Vintage Motorcycle Road Racing...
Learning curves; the more you learn the more you realise you need to know. I learned a great deal in my first season, but when it's stacked up against all the things I discovered I need to learn, it seems insignificant. I was going faster at the end of the season than I was at the beginning of the season, and I cling to this as one of very few tangible signs of my progress. My one and only chase and pass at Mosport remains the hightlight moment of my season :-)
Daunted by the seeming impossibility of learning enough about 2-strokes to work on my motor over the winter, I've headed off to welding school instead. Since I've never owned a bike that didn't eventually need welding, and my vintage bike seems to need it regularly, it seemed like a worthwhile skill to acquire. And I'm nurturing my 'inner racer' with some indoor go-kart racing over the winter. But those are only two tiny pieces of the puzzle. I need to gain mastery over such diverse skills as trailer loading and unloading, suspension setting, 2-stroke mechanics, care and maintenance of my new leathers, etc. There is so much more to learn about racing, motorcycles, 2-strokes, and all the ancilliary skills needed for racing; bike loading, trailering, etc...
I guess you could say I've been somewhat humbled by my first season of racing. After 13 years of motorcycling on the street, 4 years of track schools and track days, I thought I was ready. I discovered I still have a lot to learn. I also had a lot of help - please visit my 'Thanks' page to see who helped make my 2005 Racing season possible.
While the learning curve of racing has proven to be challenging for me, I like learning new things, and I enjoy a challenge. Learning to ride a motorcycle didn't come easily for me, I had to work hard to get good at it. Now I guess I'll have to work hard to get good at racing motorcycles too. If it was easy it probably wouldn't be worth doing :-) I'm looking forward to the 2006 season already!
ps - Please visit my 'Thanks' page to see who helped make my 2005 Racing season possible.
2005 Season: Rookie Season - First Race Shannonville - Second Race Mosport - Third Race North Bay - 2005 Season Photos
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