Brian's Track Day Report from Barber

ROGUE Track days at Barber Motorsports Park

5/6/05 - 5/7/05 Birmingham, Alabama

 

Less than a week after racing in Las Vegas, the entire BSR team headed out to Birmingham, Alabama for two days of track riding on the gorgeous Barber Motorsports Park. The event was organized and sponsored by ROGUE, and was by far the best track day event I've ever been to.

Because of the distance to Alabama, Tom had to leave on Tuesday with Sally to make the drive in time. Tom towed the trailer and 10 bikes!! THANKS TOM AND SALLY! Without Tom being willing to drive, none of us would have been able to attend this awesome event. We owe them big.

 

Mike, Pat and I got on a plane Thursday night and got to Birmingham around 8pm...3 hours after Tom got to town. Tom picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel. He had already unhooked the trailer at the track. When we got to the hotel, we saw nothing but tons and tons of bikes and trailers with bikes in them. The place was packed!

 

Unfortunately, on the trip from the airport, the 5 gallon diesel gasoline jug spilled out and completely SOAKED Mike's bag and drenched the bikes and one of my bags. That smell would not come out of Mike's bag even after washing it. Its still in my bag too, even though my bag got it much less than Mike's. That sucked. Also, it was too late in the evening to find anything open to go eat, but we eventually found an Outback Steakhouse that had 15 minutes till they closed....I bet they hated us, but we were hungry. After dinner we all hit the sack.

 

On Friday morning we arrived at the track and it was immediately apparent that this facility is TOP NOTCH!! The grounds are immaculate, the sculptures are cool, the track looked awesome and the pits were clean. All things we don't usually get to experience (or ever). We unloaded the trailer, went through tech and attended the riders meeting. None of us could wait to get on the track. We were all in the advanced group, which went out 2nd (a much appreciated change from how AZ always has us go out first).

 

Our first session was chaos. Watching videos online helped a little, but not really. I was still out there trying to figure out which way to go. There are TONS of huge elevation changes at Barber, and I found myself coming over a blind hill 2-3 times pointed in the exact wrong direction! There were even some over zealous riders who crashed on that first session, which would almost be the theme of the weekend as there were a bunch of crashes. As we came off the track, you could tell that we all were overwhelmed and lost out there.

 

The 2nd session was much better as we finally started figuring the track out....at least which direction to turn. The lines would come later. I was able to get a tow around the track from Steve, who had been to Barber before, so that really helped. It was probably at the end of the 2nd session when I started really having fun out there. I actually laughed a few times going over the blind hills as the bike lifted and got light, pulling a leaned over wheelie. It was a blast!

 

The rest of Friday was basically pushing harder and harder trying to find the quick lines and find reference points for the blind corners/hills. I started the day doing 1:49 times and ended the day with a session averaging 1:40 with a best of 1:39. Considering the fact that AMA qualifying times from Barber 3 weeks earlier were 1:37, I was super happy with that time! I was also the only member of BSR under 1:40 on Friday, which should not be a consideration, but it is....you want to beat your teammates first and foremost ;-)  I knew it would only be a matter of time before the other guys were up there though.

 

Friday night the entire group had an included tour of the Barber Museum and catered dinner. The motorcycle museum is the largest in the US or World (not sure which), and it was AWESOME! It's actually located right at the track, so that was cool too. There were tons of very interesting bikes and cars there....lots of history. We spent a few hours just browsing around and eating. The fact that we were able to be at the track was one thing, but this time in the museum made this event a step above any other. It was a blast. It's amazing to consider that all of the bikes we saw belong to one guy (the owner of the track and museum) AND that it's only 1/2 his collection!! There are tons of pictures in the gallery.

 

 

On Saturday morning, we got up and headed back to the track in anticipation of another great day. My tires were pretty shagged from Friday (same tires from Vegas), so I mounted an old take off front I had and a new rear tire. I was not going to be able to push the front much, but that's ok as I felt comfortable on it all day. It was not long before Tom threw down a 1:39.2, .3 seconds faster than my fastest time. We had another great day dicing it out with each other and pushing each other. I think the funnest I had was following Tom around and watching him torture that new Michelin slick he mounted up. He left a TON of HUGE blackies on the track...all the way from one corner to the next (even when upright!). I think I cheered for him out loud about 2-3 times a lap!! That was a blast. Tom once again had the fastest time, but he pushed me and we went back and forth having a ton of fun. The guys didn't believe my 1:39 from Friday was real, so I got kinda pissed (not really) and threw down three 1:39 times in a row on my last session of the weekend.

 

I had to leave early on Saturday to catch my plane, so I had to skip the last 2-3 sessions to catch a shower (the track had nice showers!) and pack my stuff up. Pat and Mike were staying until Sunday, but I needed to get home Saturday to celebrate my wife's first Mothers day (we have a 2 1/2 month old baby). With help from Sally and the local cab company, I made it to the airport without any issue, despite an overturned semi on the freeway.

 

There were a lot of crashes this weekend, including some from some very responsible riders who got caught out by this technical and challenging track. It was good to see that no-one got seriously injured and was able to walk away. Luckily, no crashes from BSR (except for one BSR bike was crashed when it was borrowed by another rider....minimal damage).

 

This weekend was once in a lifetime and absolutely amazing. The track is phenomenal and VERY fun. The facilities are top notch. The group of guys from ROGUE is absolutely amazing as it was not only fun in the pits, but the event was organized and ran better than any other I have attended. I cannot thank Tom, Sally, Mike, Pat and the guys from ROGUE enough for this experience. Once in a lifetime (I hope not!).

 

If you remember my report from Vegas, I had some issues with the shift fork in my bike. Well, I kinda figured out a way to get the bike into 4th gear that worked about 75% of the time. I think it only impacted my times a little bit. I had to basically pull the lever back up with my toe before pushing it down into 4th to get it to work. Sucked, but the good thing is that my bike made it through the weekend and I had a blast.  I need to get my bike fixed before I race it again as missing shifts when being drafted closely could really result in a pileup.

 

 

As part of the registration for the event, we all get a disc of all of the photos taken of us. There should be a bunch as the photographer took over 3000 pictures on Friday alone! I'll post those pics in the gallery when we get them. In the meantime, check out the pics from the pits and from my camera. I am also hosting a video for ROGUE that was taken by a guy there filming his buddies. Click here to see that video.

 

I want to specifically thank Tom and Sally again. Thanks! Also, Mike and Pat for all the fun in the pits and travels. The guys at ROGUE were awesome (Hoov, Pete, Steve, Bill, Henry, etc). Also, thanks to our sponsors once again. Here's to hoping we can make it to this event again next year! (I hear they are going to do it again)


Brian Kirkland #34

 

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