Portland International Raceway, Portland, OR
July 15-16, 2023
I only make it down to Portland once a season typically. This season had more rounds down south, but the schedule didn’t work well with my other events this year, so again I made it down for the July round. You’d think I learned my lesson last year with the heat, but I came back anyway. It was cooler than last year, but it was still a scorcher.
Originally I was planning to come down for the Friday practice day, but it wasn’t in the cards, I arrived in Portland around 9 PM Friday and got setup to go in the AM.
When the morning came, I got to work. Being a year since I was last on track at PIR meant some getting reacquainted was in order. I wasn’t quite up to last seasons pace by the end of practice, but I felt like I mostly had my way around figured out. I usually find additional time come racing.
OMRRA, the host of our PIR rounds, runs a very similar schedule both days; a 600SS and 600SBK event each day. I took to the grid for 600SS and got a reasonably good start. The chicane can be a bit of a jam point so getting off the line and keeping your elbows out on the start is important. When I came into turn 3 though red flags were showing. It turns out 4 bikes had went down due to a rider coming in to the chicane rather hot… (video)
We’d get a restart and I was able to again get a solid start. I finished the race in 7th place and was back to my personal best times, 1:21.6.
The weather really began to heat up as we headed later into the day.
Fortunately Louis Stevenson, my pit mate and photographer extraordinaire, brings a freezer with treats. Otter pops hit different when you are baking in the hot sun.
I was hoping to build on my SS performance in SBK. My start was alright but the chicane turned into a parking lot. I ended up getting backed up. I would spend most of my race trying to work my way back up the grid. I’d finish in 10th.
Sunday was a cooler day which was welcome. I felt good in practice.
I started again with 600SS and unfortunately the start was a bit like the last race of the day prior; the chicane was a bit jammed up. I wasn’t really able to improve my times on Saturday, but I felt I could find a bit more pace.
Betwen my two events my teammate was in the Formula 40 race. He rides a Kramer 890 and, in a race of 1000cc Superbikes, he is a bit outgunned. Rather than stress it, we tried to make the pit mood light. We cranked the music, joked around, and just didn’t worry too much. I had arranged to pull a bit of a joke on him as well. When he entered hot pit, I was standing there with an umbrella. It’s hot out here, who doesn’t need some shade?
Going into 600SBK, I was able to get an alright start. I spent the laps reeling in two riders that were in touch in front of me. As I clicked off the laps my times were coming down. I had again got about to my personal best times and thought, I have a bit more. One of the more important corners on the track is T4. It’s the start of the back straight and I thought if I could get turned a bit earlier, exit sooner, I could elongate it and find a bit of my laptime.
While entering the corner it seems I overdid it. I tucked the front wheel and the bike and I took a light tumble. I am not much of a crasher. The last solo crash I had was in August of 2018. I got a bit ambitious and sometimes you find the limit.
It was a great weekend with great company, even with the crash. I am impressed with the gear I am using these days and how safe it keeps me. Suit Airbags are amazing, and my KYT helmet did its job in full. I am writing this report post round with a small shoulder bruise and a larger bruised ego. Having quality safety equipment makes it easier to take risks on track as I know it is there to protect me.
Thanks to Louis Stevenson for taking the photos and providing treats, as well as making a great pitmate. Thanks to Colin Carihill for sharing a van down to Portland from Seattle. And thanks to Dave Pearce for loaning out his pimped out sprinter for us to hang out in style this weekend.
The race schedule this year means we have a gap so plenty of time for me to fix the bike and prepare mentally to go out there again. Luckily, I have a TrackTime event Monday-Tuesday July 24-25 and am going to be able to shake off the crash quick.