Thursday, June 4, 2009

Time To Catch Up A Bit...

On a positive note... My first 2 laps today were over the minimum qualifying speed of 113 mph. That means that I've made the show. My best lap was 113.9 mph, so we were just shy of the 114 mark. My qualifying is now officially over, and I have one more day of practice left. Hopefully I can pick up a few more mph tomorrow, and we'll be all set for the 6 lap Superbike race on Saturday.  The team reversed the changes that had been made yesterday, and the bike felt reasonably good. Once again, I went out for practice side by side with my teammate Craig, but this time he was on his 600. That was definitely a huge help. With every lap around this place I get a bit more comfortable with it. I'm slowly starting to learn the proper lines through the kinks and bumps, and things are just now slowly starting to gel.

On a funny note... After my first 2 laps, I was out of fuel and had to come in for a pit stop. I came in, relaxed for a few minutes, drank some water and swapped helmet visors. The crew refueled the bike, got it turned around and sent me on my way. I rolled up to the start line ready to go put in 2 more solid laps. The starting official tapped me on the shoulder to signify that it's my turn to take off, and off I went. It took maybe one and a half seconds before I felt something wet in my lap. I looked down to see fuel spilling out from the gas cap and splashing all over my abdomen and crotch area. I briefly let off the throttle, reached down with my hand and slammed the fuel cap shut. It looked shut at the time, but sometimes they need a good hit to actually lock in and seal. After slamming down on the fuel cap, I once again got on the throttle and started to accelerate, only to find that fuel was still pouring out. At that point I had to make the decision to either pull in to the pits, or continue on my with my 2 laps. I chose the prior. As I was making my way into the pits, I started to feel a slight burning sensation... on my privates. Nothing was actually on fire, however when you spill fuel on sensitive areas of your body, it starts to burn... alot.  I pulled up to my crew shouting for someone to take the bike, and to get that damn newcomer safety vest off of me so I could get out of my leathers. We eventually got the vest off and I started immediately pouring water down my leathers. Rob was actually able to get pictures of the whole ordeal. I then ran off to the trailer so I could get out of my leathers, and then I rushed to the shower. I took a quick shower, and was once again left standing there all wet with no towel handy. Go figure. I was able to use the backside of the t-shirt I had been wearing underneath my leathers to dry off, and I then ran back to the trailer to get suited up in my other set of leathers that had not just been covered in fuel. The thing about the other set of leathers is that I had thrown up while riding in them just 3 days before. Sometimes you feel like you just can't win. Anyway, I was able to get back on the bike just in time to do one more lap. And that lap is what leads us to the next subject...

And now, on a serious note... I went out for my last lap and came across a waving yellow flag at Union Mills. A waving yellow flag means, slow way down because there has been some sort of an incident ahead. As I rolled through, I saw debris everywhere. It looked like a huge bomb had just went off. In the midst of the debris I saw a rider laying there surrounded by marshalls. He was laying on his back, with his hands folded across his lap. After riding through that, I thought to myself "wow, that person is dead, and I'm happy that it's not Scott or Critter". I tried to push that to the back of my mind and I continued on to finish my lap. I pulled in to the pit area and everyone just looked at me. Craig asked if I had seen any yellow flags, and I said "yes... Someone crashed in Union Mills and it didn't look like they were gonna make it." He then told me that it actually WAS Scott Jensen. I didn't believe him at first, so I ran to the race office. All they could tell me was that Scott had retired from the practice session. They couldn't tell me where it was or anything. I started running around looking for his crew, when I came across a few of the "right" officials. They asked me if I was ok, and told me that it was in fact Scott that had gone down in Union Mills. After running around a bit more, I was able to find out that Scott is the luckiest man on earth, and was able to get through that horrific crash with only a broken arm. I was absolutely relieved when I heard that.

Already, this event has been a life changing experience for me, and we're not even halfway through it. Scott and I had a long conversation yesterday after practice about this whole event, and if we were actually cut out to do this. It's just so intense. There really is nothing like this on earth. Another rider crashed yesterday during practice in a really fast, bumpy section of the course. It definitely messed with both Scott's head and my own to see someone laying on the sidewalk limp like that. It's hard to see, because we know that as long as we're out there on the course, either one of us could be a split second away from the exact same thing. It's really hard to not let things like that bother you. That was what Scott and I talked about the most. If we actually had what it takes to get around this place quickly. It's so easy to sit on the sidelines or behind a computer and judge the riders, what pace they're doing, and if they are any good on a motorcycle or not. I know because I've been doing just that for years. Things are just so much different when you actually get out there and start riding. Scott is a perfect example. He is one of, if not THE fastest american road racer to come over here, and he was struggling to get to qualifying times. It just goes to show you that this place is so very different from any other place on earth,  and that it can do an absolute number on your brain.

In the end, I'm actually starting to feel a bit better about things. Other than Scott's crash, and my unfortunate refueling incident, today went really well. The thoughts about not being cut out to do this are slowly drifting away. The fact that I've qualified shows that I am here, I am doing it, and if I weren't cut out for it I wouldn't have gotten this far. Sorry for all the rambling today, I've just had quite a bit on my mind. I definitely want to thank everyone again for supporting me in this whole adventure, and I can assure you, I wouldn't have made it this far without all your help.  

Tomorrow will be here shortly, and we will continue to just let the speed come to us instead of trying to force it. If we can continue at this rate, we should be just shy of the 120 mph mark by the end of the event! 



  1. Jimmy,
    You have a great deal of wisdom and discernment about this whole thing. You are achieving one of your dreams and you will be the better for it. Enjoy the moment and know that you will be okay. Good luck on Saturday and stay in touch. We all think of you every day. Love Mom p.s. sorry you had to resort to a t-shirt again but it sounds like you made a good decision..
    Love you,

  2. I told you to watch out for stuff that would give you firecrotch! Maybe next time you'll listen!!

  3. I'm praying to St James and Christopher to keep you safe from injury. Find some alo vera for your hot spots! Jason and I are keeping up with the events and are so proud of your progress. I'm getting addicted to TTLive Radio! Cindy,Jason,Tia

  4. Jimmy, you're my hero this week...really! I always wanted to do what you're doing right now, and I never got it together. You're damn right you're cut out for're doing it! You're making everyone here proud...keep it up!


  5. Now you know how I felt at Road Atlanta when you dumped half a gallon of VP U4 gas in my crotch. Hurts doesn't it. BTW I stayed out and did a full stint, crying most of the way as I remember. I'm relieved to hear you talk about the danger in sane and balanced terms. As racers we often avoid this subject, to our detriment I believe. You have come a long way both as a competitor and a person, I have been fortunate enough to see it first hand, you undoubtedly have the talent to do anything you aspire to on a motorcycle, and the temperament to decide what is best. Andrea and I are thinking about you much of the day, lately. Be well and savor the days there. Dan