Another AMA round Pikes Peak #5

Another AMA round Pikes Peak #5

This journey started the same as the rest. Drive, drive and then drive some more. We're off to Colorado Springs for the 5th round of the AMA, Pikes Peak, 25 hours. One way.

We left, (Karen, Julian and myself) on tuesday morning, we had to pick up Chris at the Denver airport on wednesday at about 3:00 p.m. (we don't like Chris missing school, any more than he does)

We drove most of night to get to the airport and as were driving up to the airport, our faithful Motorhome broke down, just feet from the airport. Two women in an airport authority vehicle drove up and asked if they could help. I asked them to pick up Chris, so they did. Thanks ladies.

Then with another stroke of luck, there was a repair shop at the airport, go figure. What are the odds of that? I had been on the phone with a buddy who owns Classic Truck in Calgary and he diagnosed the problem over the phone, a broken fuel pump. The garage agreed, but couldn't do the work that night, so we rented a vehicle with a trailer hitch. Apparently your not supposed to tow trailers behind rented vehicles, so it was tricky to ask for a car with a trailer hitch, so Karen and Chris cruised the rental parking lot and found the perfect vehicle and asked to rent a blue Ford Expedition. That worked out.

Anyway back to racing.
Thursday morning we got the bikes set up and practice started.
The elevation at Pikes peak was 5000 feet above sea level, I thought that might cause a problem with breathing while racing, but the problem was with the bikes. They overheat like crazy, we hadn't thought about that at all. Apparently at those altitudes there's no air for the bike to breath and it cause all kinds of problems, one being horsepower we only have 100 horsepower to begin with and it went down to 76 horsepower, the only good thing is that it happens to all the bikes, not just Chris's bike, as a rule most bikes lose about 25%.
Every weekend I do this tuning thing, I think this weekend will be easy, everythings all done, I should be able to drink beer all day. It never happens, I work like a dog till dawn.

I was scrambling around trying to find out what everyone does and most people just said, "pray it doesn't overheat on the front or rear tires." Thanks.
The other problem was, it was 102 degrees outside temperature, that didn't help.

Chris went out for the first practice and the bikes was running about 120 degrees, then when he came in, it jumped to about a 125 degrees, when it was stopped.
At that temperature the water starts to boil everywhere.

I asked Kevin Erion when is the engine going to blow up and at what temperature, and he said, " the engine blows up when the engine is to hot" I said, but what's the temperature when that happens? He said, " it blows up just after the engine is to hot" OK, I get it, who knows. I guess, it may happen at any time, depending on the wear and tear of the engine.
Then I asked the tuners and they told me that last year the F4i's were running at temperatures of 125 during the race, so I figured I was safe for awhile.
I found the old fan and hot wired it to the battery and it helped enough. The new water and cool down and water wetter helped. We got the temperature down to about 107 on the track. Not bad.
We should be able to race safely.
Last year, the bike we had, lapped at about 57.2 best time in 2002.
Chris knew he had to get the bike down to those time to be competitive. Last year the same bike had a 115 horsepower. We've been racing the bike for 7 weekends on the same engine, the horsepower's dropped to 100, so that was going to be hard task for Chris.
I didn't believed the bike could do the sames times.

After thursday, he was lapping at 58.02 , so he was getting closer, after only one day.
By Friday he had broken the 58's and was running in the high 57's
By saturday qualifying, he got the bike down to 57.5 for a 16th position on the grid.
Last year, he would have been 5th on the grid with his times, so using last years bike with 15 less horsepower, he did fantastic.
In the 750 qualifier he did about the same times and qualified 16th also, these times are against 750's. The funny part is the 600 times are faster overall than the 750's. Weird.

In the 600 race, Chris got a really good launch and tried to push his way passed Picotte for a 8th place into corner 3, but Picotte wouldn't have that and he squeezed out Chris.
Chris found himself after 2 laps at, 12th. He maintained his position till about lap 10, then he saw what appeared to be a rad blow-up in his face, he wasn't sure if his rad blew up or the rider in front had just blown up,. This caused him to slow down for a second and Stouffer got around him. He finally realized his bike was still working and he put his head down and went for it. The whole time he was chasing Roger lee Hayden around the track he was running times of about 57.10 after his hesitation he picked up his times to running about half a second faster than Roger and was on his rear the whole time. Unfortunately, he never did pass Roger Lee and finished on Rogers back tire. 2/1000's of a second. For a 14th place.
Chris would lose his gap at all the fast parts of the track and catch Roger in the infield, he just didn't have enough horsepower to stay ahead of Roger on the back straight.

Chris got his times down to where, if he had done those times last year he would have been on pole.
I should point out that every bike ahead of him has at least 20 - 25 more horsepower. Quite remarkable.
The 750 race went the same, he finished 14th just ahead of the Factory Valvoline Suzuki, with Chris Ulrich riding.
Chris rode so well that the whole Erion team came over and congradulated him.
The team knows that Chris's bike was down on horsepower and he rode it faster than it had ever been ridden. They were very impressed.
Another interesting thing happen, I was working on the bike and a fellow wearing a Suzuki shirt came over and was asking how things were going and I was telling him about the heating problems and yak yak stuff. He started asking about Chris and said how impressed he was with his riding and how fast he was cornering, all the nice flattering things you want to hear. Then I looked at his shirt to see his name (I always take my glasses off when I work on Chris's bike, even I, can't stand to see what I'm doing ) I look at his shirt and I've been talking to Kevin Schwantz, 500 World Champion. Pretty Cool.

Chris is now 15 th overall and still top privateer in the AMA 600 class

The next road trip is to Calgary for the Canadian Nationals, #2, this weekend, June 8th 2003