Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Race report by the Rocket.
It was hot, I mean real hot. I pounded down the liquids to keep hydrated, stayed consistent throughout the day's qualifying, heats and main event and got out of there all in one piece gaining another three points toward the championship.
The place; Grove City Ohio. The venue; Beulah Park mile and what a mile it was. This is the second year that the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship raced here and this time it looked like the rain would stay away and the sun would shine, shine, shine. If you asked me I think the track took more water during the day than is found around a small Caribbean Island. I mean the water truck seemed to always be on the track. Officials and crew did their best but the sandy-beach like surface broke apart and raised the dust level to new highs. Ruts would develop in only a few laps and it was hard to see a 12 or 25 lap main run successfully on the track. But somehow they got the race off and I made it a point to be out front, out of the deep roost and away from the mayhem of the pack rats looking for glory.
My Weirbach racing Honda was my weapon of choice this weekend and Dick did a great job of getting things set up so out of the box we were almost right on. Since no 450's ever rode the track we were guessing at gearing. I made my choice during the week and told Dick what I felt we needed. I ran this track last year on a basic twin Aprilia and had an idea what we needed. We were right on from the first practice.
I went second fastest in the free practice, third fastest in the first timed practice and fastest in the second time practice. Each time out the track got a little slower. The last time out was a mess. The track was really rutted, super dry and super bumpy. The front wheel was off the ground in the turns causing you to be on the edge of washing out several times a lap. While I set fast time I came in and said I was hanging it all out just to go a second slower than my first qualifying time. And, that was a lot faster than the second place rider. It was crazy for a mile track for sure.
I won my heat by a good margin but it was the second heat and the track was already rough. A rider went down on the first lap so I knew I couldn't get fast heat so I settled for just going for the win. We watched some of the expert heats and I was glad I wasn't in those. They didn't water or treat the track between heats so the second and third heats were racing in a dust cloud. I watched bikes coming off of turn four and just fish-tail their rear wheel all the way down the straight, fronts plowing sand and bumps entering turn one. I waited around for our time to go out for the final and it was still really hot. I was a bit upset that they didn't drag the track for our class. Seems even though we put on a good show we get the short end of the stick when it comes to track prep, especially when the time is getting short.
In the final I had second pick on the line and thought I would get a good start like I was all day long. Unfortunately my rear tire hit a rut, pitched me sideways and caused me to be 4th going into turn one. When I exited turn two I put my head down, secured the third spot and was just short of making a move on the second place rider. It took me around three laps to finally break away but by that time Vanderkurr was already rocking out the place. Steven and I had the only times in the 44 second range in the final and I had to settle for second place overall. It was a good race and I kept the bike on two wheels to collect another three points on Baker. This was not where I wanted to be but I was OK with now only being three points out of the lead. I learned a long time ago from Chris Carr that winning is great, but it is consistency over a long time that wins championships. I never forgot that.
One last thing I wanted to tell everyone. On my way back from California with my west coast buddy, we had a terrible accident in his van. The good news was we walked away with almost no scratches on Friday morning two days before the race. It was clearly a miracle since the van hit a tree when we went off the road and flipped several times coming to a stop on the side of the highway in some tall bushes. The airbags went off and we had our seat belts on and both did their job. It was our own fault for not getting enough rest. This was a huge lesson that I want every racer to make sure they listen to. Please, if you are tired, pull off the highway and go to sleep. Pushing it will only lead to something you will be sorry for later. We both lived to tell the story and race two days later. Someone up above was watching over us.
I am heading to Peoria this weekend and hope to at least finish out Indy and Springfield before I end the season. It doesn't look like we can do Pomona so I will catch some last road race venues to close out racing for 2009.
Till next time...do what I like to do GO FASTER...
James "the Rocket" Rispoli"
OnTheThrottle's Dave Williams goes through Aaron's lines and speeds at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Very fun little video where you can also spot AGV's Neil Hodgson and Dainese's Geoff May and Steve Rapp.
Another small gem by the OnTheThrottle.com crew with this interview of one of our most succesful privateers in AMA road racing, Shane Narbonne.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Aaron sporting his Dainese gloves during the kart race on Thursday.
First pics from Friday practice.
Geoff May's pits
Working on Blake Young's bike
Steve Rapp getting ready to hit the track for the Daytona Sportbike practice
Thursday, August 13, 2009
For Immediate Release
August 13, 2009 Southport, NC –Cycle Dynamics chooses young gun James “the Rocket” Rispoli to pilot Bonneville Salt Flat bike.
Owner and fabricator Charlie Benton, has always wanted to go to the
Bonneville Salt Flats with a bike he built from the ground up and take home a world record. Charlie, a veteran tuner relies on his experience and knowledge that dates back to the glory days of NASCAR where he operated the machine shop and designed heads for the legendary Cale Yarborough. Charlie uses the same competitive spirit when working in his own full on machine shop at his Southport race facility. In 2007 built and tuned the race bikes for the Pair of Nines Moto-ST race team of Hall of Famers Gary Nixon, Jay Springsteen and Jimmy Felice. Later that year he started his own team with at that time 16 year old racing Phnom James “the Rocket” Rispoli and Kevin Schwantz racing school instructor Ted Cobb to race the Moto-ST of Daytona. On March 2, 2008 Benton ’s team of Rispoli and Cobb took home first place gold at the legendary speedway. Now Benton sets his sights on the 650 twin land speed record and feels the now 18 year old Rispoli is up for the job. Benton
“I’m excited about what we built and the test runs prove the bike will be stable at speed,” said Benton who was concerned about safety first during the build process.
went on to say, “Now with the airport speed trials behind us we can concentrate on the final details of the build and preparation for the Bonneville run. I am also really happy to be working with James again. I have followed James over the last two years and he has really been showing very strong potential not only in his native Pro Flattrack racing but his debut Pro Supersport racing this year as well. His determination, grit and can do attitude is exactly what I want on the salt with me. We should have a great time and have a very good chance of coming home with the record.” Benton
“What an unbelievable opportunity with Charlie and his Bonneville bike,” explained Rispoli. “Just look at the thing, it looks fast just sitting there,” he continued. “I have been to the salt before where I was part of a crew that brought home a stock car record. But now I’m there to actually pilot Charlie’s radical new 650 twin for a record run and that is just awesome.” In addition to the Bonneville run, the team will also run the Maxton Mile in September looking to secure the pavement record as well.
Cycle Dynamics will be on the salt August 30th – September 3rd. James will race the AMA Pro Racing Indy Mile Dirt Track Mile on August 29th and fly back September 4th to Springfield Illinois for the Legendary Springfield Mile.
A very good in depth feature on Dainese's Blake Young.
Blake Young on SpeedTV.com
Blake Young on SpeedTV.com
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
So far what a trip its been. Yep I left Attica NY with my left coast buddy Chad Cose to travel to Sturgis, the Mecca for motorcycles the first week of August each year. This was to be my first time heading there and I was going to chase several races leading up to both the AMA Hot Shoe and AMA GNC half mile in Rapid City South Dakota to earn a little money and test out a few new things on my bike. It also was my first road trip as a 18 year old and both Chad and I intended to be on the road for two weeks until we made it back to Ohio for the AMA GNC mile event August 16th. The initial trip had us traveling around 1,100 miles to the Black Hills but on the way we were stopping off for a short track and TT just over the boarder in South Dakota to earn a little cha-ching. I was able to enter three classes, for the short track and TT running my Weirbach Racing/Bettencourt Suzuki. I manage a 2nd, 5th and 8th place finish on a slick one line groove track. I lost to some locals but still managed to make some cash to support my two week road trip as well as gain additional track time on the slick groove tracks that make up the South Dakota dirt track market in preparation for the AMA Pro races coming on the following Monday and Tuesday.
After our racing there we loaded up and headed out to make it to Sturgis for the AMA Hot Shoe event and stopped to sleep in the back of a Burger King parking lot. We arrived at the track at around 11 AM, unloaded and started to work on the bike changing tires, prepping some gearing and making sure we were ready to rock when practice came out. The track was a cool track and in the first practice I was like 5th fastest.. We made an adjustment to the gearing, wire brushed the tire to deglaze it a little and changed the air pressure and went out for the next timed qualifying runs. In the heat race I had both Carver and Texter and I got a great start. Carver and I did a little bump and grind in the first corner but I came out in front and led the entire heat race. There were two heats with identical overall times of 1:24.008 so in the final I was given first choice on the front row. In the main event I got a smoking start and led pulling away while running the bottom groove. Unfortunately the groove down there was drying out and was getting really slippery. I was moving around to find some traction when Baker caught up to me. I made a huge mistake coming out of turn two and drove it way too hard into turn three and four to make up time and ran it wide on the tenth lap slipping the groove . It was a drag race to the line but Baker got me going into turn two when the red flag came out and ended the race. I was given the race win when the reverted back the one lap and that was awesome. This was my first AMA National race in Sturgis and my first Hot Shoe this year and to take a win here was really special. It was special because my good friend and fellow Coolskunk rider national #64 Aaron Creamer was killed in Sturgis at a race 5 years ago. I thought of Aaron while I was out here and I know he rode on my shoulders taking in the great view from the front of the pack. I dedicated that race win to him.
With the hot shoe under my belt I was hyped to race the AMA GNC half mile the following night. I was going to change bikes and ride our Weirbach Racing Honda and I was pretty confident we would run up front again. I met Dick Weirbach at the track the next day and we checked over the bike and had a spare bike with my number plates ready as a back up. The track looked like it was going to be good and in practice I was like second fastest. The gearing we choose was good but my rear tire was spinning really bad. I discussed the situation with Dick, and even called my dad to see what he thought. We made the adjustment and went out for the final qualifying where I was clearly in the hunt. We got ready for our heats but we were questioning our tire pressure the whole time. I had dropped it significantly and while I was able to hole shot and run up front, we were a little afraid the rear tire would heat up too much and start the loose traction. That's what happened. I had the lead but was caught by Chebultz. He went by me really hooked up late in the race when my tires were starting to fail me. I learned a huge lesson in that race and was going to be much better prepared for the final. But then the rain came! It poured and the race was called. We ended up qualifying but all of received (1) point so no one gained any advantage from this race. It was too bad because I really felt we could have won that race too it it went the distance.
So we headed out of there with half our purse winnings and saddled up the next day with another half mile race that Del Shelsted was promoting. I only had my Suzuki and I knew it was going to be a challenge since the yellow bike is set up only for short track racing. The engine is in the 50 HP range and that plus its lightning fast handling make it ideal for slippery or cushioned short tracks. I knew on the half mile I would be giving up a lot of straight away speed. And, that's exactly what happened. I qualified 2nd but on the straights was getting pulled (2) bike lengths. I made up all my time in the corners driving it in realllllllllllly deeeeeeep and was squeeeezzzzing the rear brake a lot to hold it on the groove. It was working but I was really pissed how easy riders were going around me down the front and back straight. After the race national #4 Chris Carr called my bike a "turd" like I needed to be reminded. I was just glad this wasn't a national. In the final 15 lap race I worked every angle on the track that I could and I ran it in as hard as I could as well. On the last lap I came in really hot and got under like three riders and managed to jump off the corner to take the last podium position which was mad cool. The position paid better a lot better than getting paid third at the national so it was a sweeeeeet race to play at. I also remember why we never race the "yellow-one" on anything bigger than 16 second lap time!
With the Sturgis races gone it was time to make our way back home. But we had a little twist. Chad wanted to head to Lodi California because there was a race this weekend August 8th. I was OK with going along since my bike and gear was already packed in his truck. I called dad, let him know the change of plans and next thing I knew we were on our way. We arrived at Chad's house on late Wednesday and on Friday we took a ride to see some sponsors, Motion Pro and A&A racing. It was really cool to head over to the Motion Pro guys since they have been great sponsors for me for years. I got to sign a life size poster I sent them of me on the Aprilia Twin on the Springfield Mile as a thank you gift at the end of last season that they have hanging up in their warehouse and that was so cool. The Motion Pro folks are so cool and it is awesome to finally see their facility and they were so pumped I stopped in while I was making a pit stop on the West Coast. It was equally cool to stop in to see Ray and Rochelle at A&A since they are now distributing the TOP ONE OIL we have been sponsored on for a couple of years.
Anyway, my trip is only half way over and Saturday night August 8th I race the famous Lodi Cycle bowl again. From there Chad and I head back across the country where we will stop at my motor builder in Michigan and then off to the mile race in Ohio.
Till next time...do what I like to do GO FASTER...
James"the Rocket" Rispoli