Highs and lows, if racing were easy everyone would do it.
So I haven’t written on my blog in a while. The last time I spoke to all of you, I was coming off on of my best racing weekends ever and things were looking up. That being said racing waits for no one, so I thought I would step up my riding again for round 4 of the EMRA season by enlisting Ryan McGowan (fast superbike racer, races in the US) and Justin Knapik (owner and operator of OTP) for coaching the day before qualifying. Brad was already working with OTP students, so it’s always a good idea to get a different perspective on your riding and you can never have too much quality coaching. The focus that evening was to practice breathing, proper body position and riding the hell out of the motorcycle. I worked on utilizing the whole track and not being shy with the gas. I also worked on standing the bike up and “getting to it,” getting the throttle wide open when appropriate and being comfortable with movement from the rear tire. As you know the most important part of riding a litre bike is getting to the throttle, nothing accelerates like a 1000 and picking the throttle up everywhere just a bit more makes for a quicker lap time and is the key to riding a bike of this size. It was so much fun and I feel that I took my riding to another level and I think I made Justin and Ryan work for it a bit.
My confidence was at an all time high and I was ready to rip it up. I believed I was going faster than I had ever gone before. I knew a 1:24 was in my cards for race day. Saturday came and went, I qualified in the top 25 for that round and I had lots left in my tank. I was riding at 80% that day keeping it safe in qualifying. First race of the day traffic was tough as there were 30 to 40 racers on the grid and Women’s Open was grouped at the back of Formula 112. I was pacing myself in that race just waiting to get around guys on the straights, as there were 300s, 600s and 1000s in that race class.
It was only the first lap when I was coming down the straight away into turn 1, which by the way is one of my best sections of the track. As I tipped my Suzuki into the corner, I saw another racer lying on the pavement in the air fence with his bike and other racers who were slowed down on the race line. I felt I had nowhere to go and made a mistake and grabbed too much front brake and fixated on the racer laying on the ground. Guess there is a lesson in here, eh? I touched the brakes and down I went tumbling into the air fence, destroying my sick Shoei X14.
After a quick ambulance check I was back to the pits and then it really started to set in. I don’t remember too much of what happened after that. Brad and Mike Zottman from Dunlop Tires were fiercely working on getting my bike ready – it wasn’t to bad considering the corner I crashed in is surrounded by walls. The air fence did its job – thank god. My teammate Shane Fraser noticed I wasn’t okay and I proceeded to ask Brad at least four times what corner I crashed in and what happened. Brad and Mike put the tools down after that.
Off to the hospital with my mom and dad while Brad and Zach packed up the pit. Three hours later; heavy concussion, separated shoulder and destroyed $900 helmet, I was sitting in the truck, heavily medicated and reflecting on what could have been a great weekend. The highs and lows of racing.
I’m writing this a month and a half later, on the way to Utah to go racing. It was a tough month leading up to round 5 and 6. With a heavy concussion and a banged up shoulder I didn’t even think I would be able to race the last double header. But nothing I’m telling you about comes close in comparison to what happened at the last round. Messed up helmets, banged up bikes and bruised ego’s are easily fixed. So since it’s been a month and a half I can’t write this without mentioning the tragic loss of Sean Henderson. Sean lost his life in the last round of the EMRA season. Sean and were in race school at the same time and a group of us went to Laguna Seca together. I always asked where Sean finished after a race and I wanted to beat him every time we raced against each other. He was a great competitor and an even better guy. My condolences go to Sean’s family, his Savage Sloths teammates and the HardNox group. Racing is tough and sometimes the lows are very, very low.
Watch this space everyone, I will give a update on rounds 5 and 6, what I did to recover from my concussion, training and future plans including my trip to Utah.
See you soon.
RIP SH 26
Bronti Verbeek 93