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ENCORE PERFORMANCE & FABRICATION: A licensed Hyosung Dealer
2929 North Highway 89
Prescott, AZ 86301
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Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 to 5:30 MST
Cup Series - Round 7
Arroyo Seco Raceway
Encore Performance Racing - Sept. 30 - Oct. 1
RACE (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
PICTURES (1) (2)
Round 7 saw the EP Racing crew heading off to the "Land of Enchantment" for a weekend of racing. The track is located near Deming, in southern New Mexico. The bike was running good so changes were minimal. I had been running a Medium/Soft front tire and a Medium rear, mainly because they were the least expensive. After doing a little research on the Michelin website I discovered that they did not recommend this tire combination for any type of track, regardless of weather condition. So, I ordered up a Soft front and a Medium/Soft rear. I had been running a 120/70 -17 on the front, but the 120/60 -17 was cheaper. Since the bike originally came with a 120/60 -17 I figured I would save a few bucks and order the lower profile tire.
The track was going to be open on Friday for a practice day, so we (me and my faithful travel partner, Jake) headed out of town on Thursday night. We stopped in Phoenix to pick up Caleb and continued on to NM in the wee hours of the morning. We pulled into Deming around 5 am and found the nearest park to catch some Z's. Jake was up bright and early and wanted to hit the slides ASAP, after we watered the local foliage first. A local transient came cruising by on his moped and was eyeing the contents of the truck, until he noticed us and then was quickly on his way. We found a local restaurant to get some grub and weren't disappointed. One thing became obvious pretty quickly. It seems there are two groups of people in Deming: those trying to get across the border, and those trying to stop them. We weren't here to do either, so on to the track.
Arroyo Seco is about 20 miles outside of town (I had heard anyway). I didn't bother to get directions. I figured I would be able to smell the track at least 5 miles away. Turns out the track is literally in "The Middle of Nowhere". Head east on I-10 and look for the billboards. I just happened to see the tower and a sign advertising for the track and we barely made the exit. Good thing too, since the next exit is another 15 miles down the road. Pulled in the gates and started the normal routine of setting up the pit.
The layout for pit row was much different than the other tracks we had been to. But, everyone was helpful in getting us set up in the right spot. The track is owned by Roger Heemsbergen, who turned out to be a really laid back, cool guy. He runs a family operation, with his wife handling registration and his mom running the concession. There were only about 10 people there to practice so it was going to be run as one open session with a short lunch break.
Friday was a big learning experience. The track had some turns not seen at our other tracks and more bumps than a teenager with acne. There is one turn at the back esses that will pitch you off the bike if you hit it wrong. After one session on the track I was looking for help. It seems I wasn't the only one and all of us surrounded Roger and peppered him with questions on how to get around the track without jumping. Roger answered the questions and offered up advise freely, even going so far as to help everyone with their suspension setup. "Dial in lots of rebound" he said. Roger, Roger.
I had a low side in the slowest turn on the track towards the end of the day. Damage was minimal. My rear tire was shot near the end so I just put in some practice laps at the end. By the end of the day I was running in the 1:18's and feeling a little more comfortable.
It was a small turnout for the weekend, and Saturday only saw an additional 20 people show up. Morning practice was uneventful and I didn't get much faster. The back section of the track is really slow and tight and not much room for making up time. The fastest turn is the last carousel at the end of the back straight and I never quite got it right. I over braked before the turn everytime and was loosing time there in a big way.
I didn't pre-register for the races, so I had to start at the back of the grid each time. I got a good start and past everyone except Russell before the 1st turn. By the end of the 1st lap he had put at least a 1 second gap on me. I tried to hang on but was falling farther back each lap. A quick look behind me revealed that there wasn't anyone too close. So I was working on consistency when it happened. I came out of Turn 2 (which is a double right, run as 1 turn) just like normal and started braking for Turn 3. The braking zone for Turn 3 and 4 is very bumpy and the bike would not slow or settle down. Turn 3 is a really slow corner and I knew I wasn't going to make it. I decided to stand it up and take my chances in the Sagebrush. I held it up as long as I could, but eventually hit a 2 foot berm, which launched bike in the air and me. Unfortunately, not at the same time. I hit first with the bike next, with the RH Footpeg digging into my foot. The bike was still running with gas leaking out the cap and the hot exhaust laying on the brush. I turned the bike off before a fire started. I watched the rest of the race with one of the corner workers, in his Bee infested station. (another story).
I was running a solid 2nd when I crashed and finished in 6th.
My foot was hurting pretty good by now and I still had to run my long 30 minute race. Once out on the track the pain went away and I was able to ride my normal pace. I tried to keep touch with Wayne and Aaron but they were pulling away a little bit every lap. They battled it out for 1/2 the race, before Wayne pulled ahead and was able to stay there. I tried to stay fast through the whole race, but I really slowed down the last 1/4 of the race and brought it home in 3rd.
Started from the last spot on the grid again, and didn't get the best start. I was in 5th going into Turn 1, but was able to pass Ed and Doc in Turn 2. I settled into 3rd place and stayed there in a pretty uneventful race. I dipped into the 1:17's but wasn't able to find anymore speed. However, Bob and Aaron had found more and were now running in the 1:15's. Finished the race in 3rd.
The foot was feeling a lot better by now and I wanted another podium in this race. However, some other people had ideas of their own. Roger was entering this race on his Kawasaki EX650. He runs the bike in a EX 650 spec class, in the ASMA series and is the guy to beat. I fell in behind Ed in Turn 1 and didn't get by him until Turn 5. By that time the guys up front were gone, not like I would have hung with them anyways. I rode around in 5th and that's were I finished. Boy, I'm really getting tired of the same guys beating me all the time. Roger won the race with Bob running a very close second. Bob really is a good racer. He was running 1:15's all weekend (his first time at the track) and in the Superbike race Roger was running low 1:14's. So what does Bob do....finds another second somewhere and keeps pace with Roger in the 1:14's. Nice job!!
It was a fun weekend on a fun track, once you learned where to put the bike on the track. The damage to the bike was minimal and my foot was just bruised and will heal fine. This was the first race where I felt like I started pushing the bikes' capabilities. It became apparent this weekend that a new rear shock is in order. Other than that, the only other problem was the flies. I don't know where they came from, but they really like Deming. I really like Arroyo Seco and the setup that Roger has out there. What a life!!