Day 2 of our trip was much different than the first. We started off again with driving from our hotel in Summersville, West Virginia and drove all the way to Savannah, Georgia. After driving for about 8 hours we got to Oglethorpe Speedway and got caught up with a couple of Canadian buddies. We unloaded the trailer and prepared ourselves for the first practice of the day.
The first session went alright, I was trying to shake some of the rust off and get used to riding again as well as getting used to a new track and breaking in a new motor. After the end of first practice I soon realized why we flat trackers must be in tip top shape as my left leg felt like it weighed 500 pounds (due to the steel boot we ride with)! I rolled into the pits and had a brief discussion with the family before I ‘got into the zone’, you could say, and started to focus on what I was going to try in the next practice session.
The world’s only one-armed flat track racer (to our knowledge), Jason Griffin, was in Savannah prepping for Daytona.
Session 2 got underway and as expected I got a little faster. I didn’t notice it until I was out there but some of the best American Pro riders came out onto the track with me. It was cool riding with them and to be able to look back and see some there whether they were about to lap me or not. When that session was over I sat back at my pit staring at my bike when another racer came up to me asking me for a couple bike tips and tricks as he also was on a Kawasaki.
The whole program was rushed as they wanted us to get as many sessions in as possible so before I knew it it was time to go back to staging and get ready to go out for my 3rd session. I got a little bit faster again even after having a close call with one of the riders on the front straight at 90+ MPH. Right after I got off the track I had to give my steel shoe to my dad to take to a welder at the track named Gary Kinzler from Lightshoe. He made some minor repairs to my slightly damaged steel shoe from countless laps. He did a great job, and it was very much appreciated – because as any flat tracker will tell you, a steel shoe is essential to race.
On-site welder Gary Kinzler makes repairs to Braden’s steel shoe.
My 4th and final session got underway as I went up to staging by myself. Not knowing what to do I slowly drove onto the track and was then flagged to start my session and to pick up speed. After a lap or so it became apparent that I was in fact the only rider on the track, as everyone else had called it a day. It was by far my fastest and most comfortable session of the day even though I was by alone. I was able to ride wherever I wanted and not have to worry about being in anybody’s way or trying to avoid slower traffic. I think it will really pay off at tomorrow’s race getting that last session of the day in.
A flattering moment for young Braden, posing with flat track legend Chris Carr.
Tomorrow, the 8th of March we will be racing at the same track in Savannah, and I am really excited. I felt pretty comfortable at the end of practice and I think tomorrow I will continue to get faster. Before the race tomorrow I am going out for breakfast as well as going go-karting with my fellow Canadian Shane Corbeil. It should be entertaining to have some nice battles on the go-kart track and then hopefully on the race track!
I look forward to my first race of the year and can’t wait to share my results with you.
Go fast turn left,
Braden Vallee # 107