Pat's Race Report from Arroyo Seco Raceway

03/13/05 Deming, New Mexico


After the first race at Firebird, I was ready to pack it in. I was sick and just not into riding. After going to the doctor and getting some big horse pills to take for my infection, I started feeling better. Round one of ASMA was next. Mike and Brian had other commitments and it would be Tom and I representing BSR. Arroyo Seco has never been my favorite track. It has a lot of areas Iím not very good at. The track has some very slow corners with quick left-right transitions, bumps and poor visibility (much better this year due to clearing of a lot of brush). I have a problem seeing and using the whole track. Roger (track owner) plans to paint the curbing and lines on the edges of the track this year. Instead of skipping tracks Iím not good at, I decided this year that if I learn to ride Arroyo well, it will make me a much better rider everywhere else.

We asked Matt Hartlieb to come out with us. Matt is a very good rider and is very good at helping other racers get better. Tom and I had our very own riding coach for the weekend. Matt had been to Freddie Spencer's school recently and it was like a continuation of that teaching this weekend. We are trying to slow down and get the proper fundamentals down before we start going faster. Matt doesnít sugar coat anything. If we are riding like shit, he comes out and tells us like it is. We learned a lot about proper lines. I still may not do everything right, but when I donít, Iím aware of it now. I have learned that racing is much harder than it looks and takes constant work to get good at it. The people that have this so called ďnatural talentĒ also work at it much harder than we do. Matt was also going to race my 749r in the classes that Ducati was paying contingency in. Matt has the talent to ride fast on any bike.

We also brought Rian with us. Rian is going to MMI in Phoenix. Rian was our dedicated pit guy. He worked his butt off, working on the bikes. We didnít even charge him for the internship. After no crashes at Firebird (at least for Tom and I), we were all loaded up and ready to go. We took the small trailer and decided to stay in a hotel in Deming. This was the first time we stayed in a hotel. We usually stay at the track in the toy hauler or in Mikeís motor home. Of course, we didnít get to the hotel until after midnight. Arroyo always has a nice atmosphere. The track owner is an ex AMA racer and he does everything he can to make it fun for the racers.

The original plan was for me to ride the 999r and Matt to ride the 749r. The 749r only had 130 miles on it. After a session on each bike, I found that I made less mistakes on the smaller, less powerful bike. The 999r is about 20 pounds lighter and has about 25 more horsepower. It was easier to concentrate on your riding with the 749. Things came at you pretty fast on the bigger bike. I was able to ride a lot closer to the bikeís capabilities on the smaller bike. Right now, the 999r is way beyond my abilities. I was able to get nice controlled slides on the 749 and it was a blast to ride. Both bikes were fitted with the new Michelin Power Race tires. I had the PR2 on the front and PR5 on both bikes with the 999r getting a 190 and the 749 getting a 180 on the rear.

All day on Saturday we worked with Matt on lines and body position. At the end of the day, we were riding better and faster without trying. The 999r is mapped for VP U4 and doesnít run very well on pump gas. I like to run pump gas for track days, but Iíll need to run U4 at all times. It was hard to ride with all the fuel stumbling problems. It also has a new Dynojet Quickshifter that needs to be set up properly. It misses some shifts.

On Sunday, I signed up for expert Superbike, Southwest Thunder, Formula Arroyo and the Team Sprints (with Tom). Matt was to ride expert Middleweight Supersport and Southwest Thunder on the 749r and Formula Arroyo on the 999r. After the first practice on Sunday, we fueled up the 999r with U4. Apparently, at the last round, somebody took an empty U4 can and filled it with water to hold down the EZ-up. That was the can we put in the bike. After starting the bike, it ran for a minute and died. I open the fuel tank, it was filled to the top with water. We hurriedly removed and emptied the tank, cleaned the spark plugs and got the bike running right at second call for my first race. The first race was expert Superbike. There was 5 of us on the grid, with four locals ahead of me on the grid. At the start, I stayed close to the 3rd and 4th place riders. After 2 laps I was unable to keep pace with them and came home in 5th. At least, no yellow platers passed me. After the race I noticed a problem with the rear wheel on the 999r. It lost a bolt where the hub bolts to the spokes. The other bolts on the hub were loose and would not tighten. Matt was to ride that bike in the Southwest Thunder and Formula Arroyo race. He didnít want to ride it with that rear wheel. I sold my extra set of wheels (bad mistake). Matt would ride the 749r in the Twins race and I rode the 999r with the bad wheel. We put brand new tires on Mattís bike and lined up for the race. There were six riders on the grid. The race would be between Matt, myself and Aaron Grigsby on an Aprilla Mille Factory. I got my usual bad start in 5th place. Aaron wheelied at the start and had to back off as Matt took the lead. In the big carousal I passed 2 riders on the outside to take third place. I raced against Aprillas before and thought I would be able to get passed Aaron on the straights. I would get close to him on the brakes and through the esses and came alongside going into Yucca and he immediately closed the door on me. I stayed on his tail for 5 laps, unable to make a pass. Matt took first, Aaron second and Me third. I later learned that Aaronís motor is quicker than your average Mille. Iíll have to get faster if I want to get in front of that Aprilla. It was a lot fun to race with Aaron and another big twin. Matt was gone, he probably had a half a lap on us. The good thing is Matt and I took home $700 in Ducati contingency for our first and third finishes. After this race, we had to switch the wheels and numbers so Matt would be able to ride the 999r in Formula Arroyo. I did not do this race, because of the rear wheel problem. The Surflex slipper clutch is hard to get a good start with. Matt came off the line in 5th or 6th. It took him about 3 laps to get into second place. By that time, Kane Lasky (new track record holder) was well ahead and took the win. Matt had strict instructions, ďTO NOT CRASH MY BIKEĒ. His second place was worth $175. Our last race of the day was the Team Sprints. Itís a 2 rider, one bike, 10 minutes each sprint with a LeMans start. We had pole, I ran to the bike, shifted down instead of up a and was off in fourth place. After 3 laps, I moved into third. After 10 minutes, we switched riders and Tom was off to catch second place. If he had a couple of more laps, he may have got second. This was the first time that I got to ride the 999r back to back with a 180 and a 190 rear. I noticed that the rear slid a lot more with the smaller tire. I will always try to have a 190 from now on.

Overall, it was a great weekend, nobody crashed and we won some money.

It was different at this race, we had a much smaller pit than usual. Iíd like to thank Matt Hartlieb for helping Tom and I with our riding. Rian for busting his butt in the pits. Tom Boge and Gianni for the support at the track, Roger for running a fun race series and Aaron for a fun race. (maybe next time, the results will be reversed).

Thanks to my sponsors: Ducati, Michelin, Section 8 Superbike, Speedymoto, Motorex, Motowheels, Desert Truss, Suomy, Sidi, Duc Shop, Lockhart Phillips, Vesrah, Vortex, All Out Graphics, Racerís Edge, Savoca Construction, Vapor Blue, Universal Forest Products.

Thanks to my teammates: Brian, Mike and Tom.

Pat Bushell


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