(It's not as bad as it seemed- it just seemed really bad)
The racing, however, was great. The guys didn't really have many people in the stands but it sure was cool. Former World Superbike Champion, Ben Bostrom, won the 'Sport race by a mere .012 seconds over his teammate Josh Herrin. It was a great start to the season for Yamaha, Ben and Josh. Aaron Yates took the Jordan Suzuki to the winner's circle in 'Stock, but not without a fight from the kid Blake Young on his Emgo Suzuki. That, too, was a very close race with the margin of victory of .112 secs.
Looks like Supersport and Superstock will be where all the excitement is for this season. Too bad the Superstock class will be going away with the rules change next year. Speaking of next year, Looks like I was right in that essay I wrote a couple of months ago. What caught me off was the actual deal itself. Instead of AMA leasing rights to DMG (the group headed by Roger Edmondson and the France empire), DMG bought the entire Pro Racing outfit off the AMA. DMG will keep Superbike under it's wing and lease the rights to Flat Track, Supermoto, Hill Climb and all the others to promoters that are best qualified to run the series they chose to take on. So, I was more right than not right on the subject and feel the need to do a happy dance for my good call. Hopefully, after the Barber race I will be allowed to enter another essay on what's happening now and in the future for Pro Racing.
Back to Daytona. Friday was trash. I got up early and headed to the track. Because Friday was deemed an off day the track was a ghost town. Riders were hiding out in their RVs with there families and friends and the areas that were once open to most were now closed. Teams were practicing their pitstops but riders were as difficult to catch as a gull on the beach. Just about the time I got close enough to get the attention of someone interesting I got brushed off. I was so disgruntled I left the pit/garage area and went to look for a buddy of mine working as a corner worker for the weekend. As the day droned by with disappointment we did manage to sit at the campsite as powerful storms (with full on tornado warnings) rolled through. It got bad enough at one point that the guys I was with went to the "tower" (race command) to hide out. I left for a local gas station and sat for hours waiting for the rain to let off enough to ride back to Cocoa. Once again, a completely wasted day. Even more so than Thurdsday when you think about it. At least, Thursday I got to get pics of bikes on the track.
To recap, one day riding down, two days at the track and absolutely nothing positive accomplished. I was pretty mad by 8:00pm on Friday night and ready to bolt. The 200 (which I'd never seen live in person) hadn't even ran but that didn't stop me from looking for an exit plan. I called Todd and had him wire me money to get home (remember, he was supposed to be with me) and went to eat at Corky Bell's Seafood. Corky's was the first actual meal I ate since Wednesday morning. It was fried, really bad for me, but completely awesome. I got back to my bunk and started reading about the day's events on Superbike Planet and Cycle News. The rain was so bad that I never figured the Supercross race would be ran. The reports were simple and to the point: It was a mud pit- according to my friends at the track. Seems the race was run in that very mud pit and Kevin Windham pulled off the win when Chad Reed's bike started jettisoning parts. Sorry Chad, but I'm a Windham fan, anyway. After the race news was read it was pretty late and time to sack out for my early departure.
At 7:00am I loaded up the bike and prepared to leave. Overly disgruntled and slightly miffed because the weekend did not go as planned, I left Cocoa and headed north. It was a tough trek. The winds blew constantly at around 30-35mph and I was all over the road like a drunk sailor on a weathered bar wench. I stopped to get gas at the Destination exit and was almost tempted to turn around and go to the track. The wind was so strong that I talked myself into thinking that the AMA would postpone the start or even run the race on Sunday. Since I was convinced that the AMA would do the "right thing" I soldiered on. It was terrible out there and I was in the middle of it. Riding at speeds between 80-90mph I had one goal: GET HOME. As I road north the winds may have died somewhat, but the gusts were still bad. While traveling, with my fuel light shining brightly, through the Osceola National Forest I watched two different riders on full dress Harley's get blown completely from the roadway. No injuries to riders but the bikes both tumbled a bit. Thinking about those poor guys brought me back to reality and I started to worry about my gas situation. I kept thinking to myself "How long is this stretch of I-10?", as I'm patting the tank of my bike whispering in my helmet that I can make it to the next exit. I read once in my maintenance manual that the tank was 4.2 gallons and knew I was near the end. As I exited and coasted (out of said fuel) into the gas station relieved that I didn't have to actually push my loaded bike I did, in fact, find that my tank will hold 4.206 gallons of gas. Whew! I've managed to brave the wind and now comes the cold. The next stop was in Valdosta and it was truly 20 degrees colder than from wince I came. It was down right bitter, as a matter of fact. I was skwunched (my word Mr Editor) up on that bike for the next 180 miles or so. I couldn't put enough layers on me. Yet, I soldiered on. Before I know it I was at the GA 16 exit and feeling like the next hour or so of my ride I was virtually sitting in the hot tub drinking an ice cold beer.
What did I learn on my trip to Daytona this year? 1- ALWAYS try to get the cool Media passes because you get better access to everything. 2- Realize that being the "new" reporter in the pits won't get you that cool interview with Scott Russell, no matter how nice you are to the mechanics. 3- Get a Hotel. Camping on the floor of a friend's house is cool when you're 20- not 40. 4- Make sure your riding partner (and boss in my case) is actually going to be able to make it. 5- Learn to be a better story teller. That way people aren't laughing at you when you tell the adventures of your trips and ramblings.
Is there a moral? Yep- karma's real and it follows you. Be prepared and be able to adapt when things change. You'll save your sanity.