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AFM Race Report - Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway
- April 17-18, 2004

written April 20, 2004
Click on pictures for full size image

A Down Pour at Sears Point
G-Force Pits
AFM round 2 at Sears Point (Infineon Raceway) was washed into the history books as a non-event, nothing more than a practice day at the track. After a pretty good day of practice on Saturday, rain came on Sunday just as the rider's meeting ended, and didn't stop all day. AFM doesn't race in the rain, and the event was canceled by 1:30 that afternoon. So, we packed up, went home and watched MotoGP and World Superbike as a poor replacement. I don't have much to say about the weekend, but I'll say it anyway. Read on if you have nothing better to do.


Pre-Race Preparation

I had two things to do to the bikes since the last race. We dynoed the 450cc motor to see how it was doing after a full weekend of racing, and I needed to fix my bent forks.

With a new motor, the power curve changes a little as the engine is broken in. But, the real reason we wanted to dyno test the motor again was because we were seeing some issues with the rings seating. There are several reasons rings might not seat. I'm learning much more about such issues, and getting a much better perspective about why and how we break in new engines. The post race dyno run showed that the power curve had stabilized, so the rings were seated. But, we had proof of an issue that was robbing the engine of power, which we decided to deal with after the Sears Point weekend. More on that in my next race report.

The bigger issue to deal with was the bent forks. During Saturday practice at Buttonwillow, I crashed the 450cc bike and ruined my forks. I transferred the forks, triple clamps and front axle from my 400cc bike to the 450cc bike in order to complete the weekend. But, now I was faced with getting new forks quickly, so I could get both bikes going again.

I couldn't find anything in the USA, so I contacted a friend, Steve Northrup (vfrman on 400greybike) in Okinawa. In two days, he found a complete front end, including triple clamps, forks, axle, brakes and master cylinder on Yahoo!Auctions in Japan. He bid, and I got all of it for just barely over the minimum bid - a total of $320 shipped - a pretty good deal. Thanks Steve! Unfortunately, the parts wouldn't arrive until after the race weekend. Alas, I would have to run the weekend without the confidence of having a backup bike.

Part of the trouble with racing a grey import is getting parts. But, it doesn't take long to make contacts and friends in far off places due to the Internet. Thanks to Steve for getting the parts, but also, thanks to the guys that run the 400greybike forums, who provide a place for us 400cc enthusiasts to meet.

Saturday & Sunday Practice

With new rider school, and 6 practice groups, we got only 3 practice sessions on Saturday, and the regular practice session on Sunday - barely enough for many people to come up to speed.

With all the safety improvements at Sears Point, AFM was able to finally return to using the original turn 1, a more interesting, and faster corner than the chicane we used in 2003. I like it better because of the challenge of coming from the slowest corner of the track (turn 11), going down one of the fastest parts, and then having to grab 4 down shifts and go from a full left to full right lean in order to make turn 2. It also means our lap times are about 2-4 seconds a lap faster than last year. With this adjustment accounted for, by the end of Saturday, I was doing lap times equivalent to my best lap times of last year. I was very confident for the races to come the next day. But, it wasn't to be.

Sunday morning we had a great practice session in the morning, AFM held the rider's meeting, and then the rain came. AFM doesn't race in the rain. We don't get enough rain in California, and it would be a bigger hazard that it is worth because of lack of wet weather racing experience. Hence, by 1:30 pm that day, the race day was cancelled.

I packed up, headed home, and went to David Crone's house that night to watch World Superbike with other fellow racers. That's all the racing we got. The WSB race was some of the best racing we had seen in a while, but that's nothing compared to doing the real thing.

Weekend Conclusion

Mike Norman's take on the weekend
Such a disappointment. I can't express it in words, so I'll let Mike Norman express it for me (pictured at right). That's just about how we all felt.

Our next race is in six weeks (six weeks! ugh!), again at Sears Point. Plenty of time to get my forks fixed, but not soon enough to satisfy my need for speed. I'll have to fill the void with some track days I guess.

A Few More Pictures from the Weekend

Nothing like a picnic lunch in the pits - nice weather would help, though
David Crone (#731) and Mike Norman (#586)
Mark Elrod (#926)

Last Updated: Tue, Apr 20, 2004

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