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How did I get into this?

We get to do it

   Darrell, our mechanic, made the first runs on Sun. Mother's Day.  He says that on Weds. nights the track has open practice, T & T (Test and Tune) and anyone can ride.  John says we're going.  We'll take turns riding.  Huh?  I hadn't thought about actually doing this.  It had been just been about owning an interesting bike, and until less than a week ago, it wasn't even running.  Now, first-person drag racing?

Am I ready for this?

  We arrange to meet Darrell after work and all of us will bring the bike to Lebanon Valley using Darrell's mini-van and enclosed trailer (he's got this all worked out).   It's $15 for each of us to ride.  The bike goes through tech inspection no problem since Darrell seems to know the track guys and the bike was just there on Sun. and has his race number and bracket time still on the rear plastic.

  While John is getting his leathers on, I get a gallon of C12 gas and at least get to ride the bike and try to get used to the bars, the seating position, the pull of the clutch, the hand position on the throttle and the longer wheelbase.  All of this is way different than my very smooth and quiet ZX11 which has a hydraulic clutch.

  Darrell gets the first run since he's the one who knows what he's doing and is our mentor.  Then John gets his first ever drag strip run.  


Darrell gets the first run

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John staging for his first run

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My first time

   Then it's my turn.  By now, it's nighttime. There are lights illuminating the track and the staging lanes but it's till plenty dark.  I am very keyed up from the waiting.  Have to remember to hook the cut-off tether to my left hand glove and make sure the gas is turned on.  Darrell is checking thinigs out for me and that's reassuring.  I can't put my glasses on because I'm sweating so much in my leather jacket.  (No full leathers for me).  Darrell coaches me to skip the burnout box and how to line up at the trip lights in the staging area, lighting the top double lights and creeping forward to light the second pair.  He tells me to just concentrate on getting a smooth launch and ignore the other lane.  My face shield fogs in an instant if I flip it down.  (But I have to remember to lower it when staging or I'll look like the newbie that I am).  The bike is super loud.  A blip on the throttle wipes out every other sound.  This is it. This is something I never imagined doing and now I'm preparing to launch a 27-year old, big bore, no suspension, no muffler bike for my first drag strip run.  There are people watching from the stands.
  There's a guy on a Hayabusa in the right lane.  That's way out of my class but I'm not really racing him, just learning how to do this without doing anything stupid.  I pull around the water patch and ease forward feeling the friction point of the clutch and getting used to the sound of the engine revving.  We set the lights.  The lights start down and I launch before the green light but have a fine enough take-off and shift decently through the gears, the bike pulling hard.  This is WAY cool.  I can't tell where the 1/4 mile finish is and I don't trust the mushy brakes that much anyway. But there's plenty of room to slow down at the end and turn on to the return lane and retrieve the time slip.   The bike sounds great and runs great, though my time is a sorry 15+ sec. @ 92.93 mph.  The Hayabusa guy is long gone when I get my slip.  I cruise back past the bleachers to the lineup area feeling totally pumped up by the experience. 

   It wasn't too tricky and didn't seem dangerous, and not all that punishing to the bike.  Let's do this again!

  We get 6 runs.  Two for each of us.  There's a long wait between rides since all of the cars get to go before the next time the bikes run.  Too much time standing around waiting.  And I have to wait for Darrell and John to get their turns.

  Darrell says the gearing is too tall.  The bike should have a larger rear sprocket and a real drag slick to replace the Avon tire.  Those will be the projects for next week.


Art, John Darrell

May 16, 2001





1 Darrell 13.13 105.73
2 John
3 Art 15.34 92.93 My first time (redlight the start)
4 Darell 12.39 108.25
5 John
6 Art 15.05 95.43 Getting the hang of it

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