MosportEndurance Racing at Mosport, on a Vintage Motorcycle. It just sounded so thrilling an idea; a world famous track, fast and wide, and my personal favorite. My vintage race bike is a converted street bike, it should be able to withstand the demands of a three hour endurance race. I started pouring over the rules and finding 2 co-riders.
I first convinced Michelle Ractliffe, who rides a similar two-stroke in the same class I race in to join 'Team Dirty Girl'. I know she's faster than me :-) Finding a third rider for the team was harder. Angela Hiba the pro 125 racer was a natural choice, but she's still recovering from racing injuries from earlier this season. Amongst the women I teach rider training with, few qualify for a RACE license, and all of them are really busy this time of year. It took a lot of convincing to get Barb Piatkowski to join 'Team Dirty Girl' but I finally talked her into it. A very experienced rider, she quickly adapted to the bike; mastering the uniqueness of 2-stroke much faster than I did.
Team Dirty Girl just needed a crew - Karen, Max and Tammy all volunteered to complete our 'All Women's' team. I began assembling supplies and equipment, materials and spare parts, and extra supplies of all the exotic and expensive fluids that 2-strokes require. We also recruited a team mechanic - Jean-Guy, Michelle's Dad and brilliant Sidecar racer. Jeff helped out too, with team transportation and logistics.
Thursday night before the race Barb, Michelle and I all met up at the track and had a brief team-riders meeting before navigating the bewildering process of registration. Many forms and waivers later, we emerged baffled but registered to a cloudy and dark Mosport night. Too late to walk the track, we decide to meet up at the 8am rider's meeting.
Friday morning is rainy and gloomy, and the rider's meeting entirely drowned out by the noise of rain on umbrellas. Our first task of the morning is to have the silencer welded back onto the bike's exhaust. It had come off the bike quite undramatically on Thursday at Shannonville, and we were trudging about in the rain on Friday morning begging welding services. Kyle did an awesome job getting our exhaust welded back together for us so we didn't go deaf during the course of the 3 hour race - thanks Kyle! We made it to the endurance race rider's meeting, with clearing weather making the afternoon look promising. We managed to determine our team's pit box number and grid position and aquire a transponder.
We had a brief time window to get our supplies and equipment up to the track-side pit area, and we were a bit scrambled and disorganized. Several trips jogging from the paddock to the pits in leathers probably reduced our teams pre-race curb weight! We nearly forgot our fire extinguisher, which could have got us disqualified. But at the end of our frantic flurry of disorganization we found ourselves ready, trackside, for our big adventure in endurance racing.
We had decided that Michelle had the most experience with standing starts, so she'd be our first rider out. She made a good start and managed well in wet conditions. The race was red-flagged after about 6 laps. Eventually the race was restarted and Michelle made a brilliant hole shot when the flag dropped, but the race was cancelled just a lap or two later, called on account of the weather, thunder and lightening. It was hugely disappointing to end the race early after all that time and effort on the part of so many people. We made a good first try, and I'm really hoping we'll be back to try endurance racing again next year.
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.
Mosport Vintage Festival, Saturday Aug. 20 and Sunday Aug. 21After the disappointment of the cancelled endurance race and a very soggy night in a partially submerged tent I was feeling quite disheartened by Saturday mornings riders meeting. The weather brightened up a bit, and I enjoyed my practice session in the morning. My heat race was exciting, I started all right, but I got passed by most of the pack in corner 5, worked my way back to last place, 28th out of 28 bikes to complete the race. I thought I had that corner 5 (Moss' corner) figured out, but clearly not.
Sunday's practice session went well too - I felt comfortable on the bike and enjoyed the track. One very close pass from another rider motivated me to test the brakes rather vigorously, but we both made it out of the corner upright. Some of the early period riders were very slow, giving me an opportunity to practice passing as well as a false sense of speed. My lap-timer didn't work properly but the laptimes I did get seemed to indicate I wasn't going as fast as I'd thought. Passing was slowing me down, not speeding me up.
My final race Sunday was at the end of the day. It felt like an eternity of waiting actually, keeping an eye on the weather, wondering if it would be a wet or dry race. I'd discovered earlier in the weekend that my rain gear doesn't fit over my track leathers, but at least my DOT tires were well suited to rain. As it turned out we had a dry race
I made the beginnings of a very good start, moving up through the pack but I couldn't hear my bike for all the other bikes, and I got so excited in the process I didn't get 2nd gear in time, and lost all of my 'good start' before corner 1. By corner 4 only 1 bike was still in sight, so I put my head down and chased him hard.
I managed to close the gap but couldn't figure out how to get by. A few of the leaders lapped us in the last few laps, opening a gap between us, but I closed the gap again, still trying for a pass. I couldn't figure out a safe way past in the corners, so I waited for the back straight and got past him on the last lap.
It was only the battle over last place, but it sure was exciting. :-)
2005 Season: Rookie Season - First Race Shannonville - Second Race Mosport - Third Race North Bay - 2005 Season Photos
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