Monday, May 22, 2006

Report from Sunday's AMA race

Despite the fact that plans to go to Infineon Raceway for the AMA Superbike event had been in place for months, we still had not decided to actually go until 9:45 yesterday morning. The issue was that unlike most other tracks the AMA visits, if it rains at Infineon, bikes don't race. After significant rain on Saturday evening, and a damp start to Sunday, it looked like the 40 mile drive might be in vain. According to the event website however, if the Superbike race didn't happen, we'd get a full refund. We decided to take the risk and were pleased to see how clear things looked as headed north.

In order to avoid rain, the AMA had compressed the schedule, so we got to see Supersport and Superbike practice as soon as we had negotiated the dreadful traffic management system that Infineon had put in place. It had been three years since I'd last been to the track, so I was a little disoriented, but finally chose the new chicane at the end of the esses to watch the Superstock race from. It turned out to be a great spot and provided dramatic views of the ungodly-fast Jamie Hacking coming over the crest before braking for the chicane. Unfortunately, someone's blown engine resulted in a red-flag on lap 9. On the upside though, it gave us time to take the new underpass into the paddock, where we could get up-close to the bikes and teams. Nothing new for us of course, but still fun.

Finally the Superstock race was called, in order to get to the Superbike race (presumably the organizers were conscious that if they got THAT race in they wouldn't be liable for refunds!). I'd never seen an AMA race from the start line, which was quite a thrill, and we could still see the chicane and the final turn, two great passing spots. The race itself was not too dramatic, but it was certainly better than sitting at home wishing we'd gone to Infineon....

As the 600s came out for the Supersport, we began to feel drops of rain. I predicted we'd see a red flag by lap 5, which was two laps too optimistic. Confident that there'd be no more racing, we headed for home.

So what did we learn? Well, we learned that Ben Spies is the new Mat Mladin and vice-versa, at least when it comes to speed. We confirmed that Ben Bostrom is the new Eric Bostrom (a big name underachieving on a Ducati). We learned that having an AMA race in California in May does NOT guarantee a dry weekend. We learned that typically, Californian weather forecasts are overly pessimistic (to be honest we knew this already, which is why we took the gamble on actually going). And we learned that the upgrades to Infineon are actually really good, with lots of comfy seating, good sightlines, more passing places, a spacious paddock, a nice big grandstand and that terribly convenient underpass.

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