Things were shaken up quite a bit for Team Johnny Killmore this blistering hot weekend. High winds would plague us during Saturday practice at Willow Springs Raceway, but there was an unusual calm for the race on Sunday.
With only six machines on the grid I sat in the middle of the three rows, wondering how I would hold anyone off. I only had to wait until my shift to 2nd gear to realize I wouldn’t have to worry. After a great launch I missed the shift and was nearly eaten alive by the two fast machines behind me. However, the #3 Bad Cat Racing machine in front of me suddenly slowed and I saw a puff of smoke from their rear wheel. Oil? Tread separation? Suddenly, their drive chain came flying out from underneath. I darted to the right and still ran it over with my front wheel, but by staying on the throttle I managed to fall into 2nd place behind Hans Shultz #69. I drove up to the left of him but was afraid he’d nudge me off the track as he set up for turn 2. Tucking in behind him I realized my mistake as he took a very tight entrance to the corner. Turn 2 sweeps long and fast uphill. I drove around the outside of him but encountered bumps at the top of the exit, spoiling my drive. I should have made a move on the brakes, but thought it better to wait and pass him in turn 6.
Sure enough he missed a shift or caught a fuel problem and I easily motored by him on the back straight. I was expecting the two fast bikes to blow by me but I didn’t hear them. Ditto on the front straight. Now I just put my head down and charged. I felt a raging heat on my left leg and started to worry the radiator had let go and was spraying back on me. I glanced down for as long as I dared and saw nothing. The machine was running so hot the air passing through the bike was like a blast furnace. I tried to put it out of my mind but it was getting painful as my black leathers absorbed the heat.
Before I knew it I saw the half-way flag and knew I only had three laps to go. With no one behind me I kept charging as hard as possible. The bike was sliding all 3 wheels in several spots but I dare not slow down knowing somewhere back there 2 extremely fast machines were closing on me. As I entered turn 8 I finally saw a purple blur in my mirror. I knew it was points leader Wade Boyd. Diving into high-speed turn 9 a little too early, I hesitated getting on the throttle to drive out onto the front straight. I knew right away I blew it. Flying by me on the left came Wade Boyd and, passing him, Bill Becker. I knew I was fast into turn 1 and decided not to give up, this being the last lap and all. Wade was diving inside Bill as the pair tried to out-brake each other. This caused them to slow down more than I anticipated. I actually pulled up so close I thought I was going to hit them and I moved slightly to the outside.
Just then they both accelerated away and I popped the bike up on 2 wheels. I tried to tighten my line and give chase but I was too far back to do anything. I came screaming into turn 2 and the bike drifted out. The rear wheel was spinning from acceleration, the front sliding from side-force. With the chair wheel the only thing planting us in this long right turn I simply pinned the throttle open and hoped for the best. The leaders only had about 6 lengths on me as we closed in for turn 3, a major braking area. I did a good job but lost a little time as I dragged the exhaust and fought to keep the chair wheel down. I was only 2 lengths back as we started down the hill.
It was all over at this point as I got a poor drive from the next corner, which led onto the long back straight. I had a good show to watch though, as I was only about 10 lengths back from the leaders as they made a run to a photo finish. Wade was leading but as he set up for a wide entrance into turn 9, Bill Becker poked inside of him and made the pass. Wade used the momentum his wider line afforded him to pull alongside Bill’s machine on the front straight and a drag race ensued. Officials would later determine Wade had taken the win by just a few feet.
Having led the race for a good portion I was disappointed to not put up more of a fight, but as I’ve constantly stated previously, I have no business doing as well as I’ve been doing with the antique engine and out-dated suspension I have. To be on the podium and take my 2nd ever sidecar trophy is something special. It’s just a piece of plastic, but the fight I put up is what I’ll remember whenever I look at it.
Next race will be in Portland Oregon June 20-21. Vanessa will not be able to come along, so I will be heading to a track I’ve never run, looking for a passenger I’ve never ridden with. Hopefully I can at least pull out a decent result that will keep me in the points. Currently I have to convince Bill Becker to go, as he transports my bike in his team trailer. I may end up trying to rent a Uhaul, but then the budget gets very tight as my van doesn’t currently have a trailer hitch. But don’t worry, if there’s a way, I’ll find it.
Now would be a great time to remind people that I am taking offers for sponsors. The chance to be associated with someone crazy enough to do what I do may be just the right kind of exposure you need. Sidecars are unique, and I surely don’t need to say they draw a 2nd glance… just look at the photos.
That’s all for now,