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Track Day #3 – Oak Hill Raceway.

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Drove out to Oak Hill Racetrack. To give you an idea of what a PITA it is I'll share My little map. I live in Flower Mound which is North of the DFW airport. So basically I got to drive for 3.5 freaking hours (extra time b/c some jagoff decided to stuff his bimmer under an 18 wheeler). If you switch the map to Aerial and zoom in, you can actually see the race track

I got to the track at about 9:00. Unloaded my bike and my other ###### and then I got my sleeping bag out and settled in for what I thought would be a nice bit of shut eye. It would have been nice if somebody had mentioned the mosquitoes. First I tried to hide under a towel - that didn’t work. I tried burying myself inside the sleeping bag. no worky. So I got the netting from my popup out and slept under that. I got maybe 4 hours of sleep. Lovely.


However, if I had planned ahead and brought some off and had the netting out in the first place, it would have be an absolutely gorgeous night. Full moon, clear, light breeze, coyotes off in the background; it was almost story book like.


But I didn’t come here to talk about camping. I came here to waste space talking about learning to go fast. According to legend this is the track that taught people such as Ben Spies and the Hayden boys how to go fast. It is tight, narrow, and twisty, with lots of elevation changes. Oh, and it is patched like a poor mans jacket. My first session actually scared me. I've never been on this track and we were doing a round robin. Well, the other guys in my group know the track so we were trying to move pretty fast. Not a good idea for a n00b like myself. It scared me enough that I considered going home. I'm glad I didn’t though.


I did my usual routine of collecting reference points and learning the space during the next two sessions. This time I didn't get myself lost. This track is not a good place to do that. By the fourth session I knew my way around and was working on my new trick - hanging off.


Here is what Oak Hill looks like from above my front wheel:




The fenders on the 600e are huge and offer a great perch for your inside knee. The other knee of course is jammed up against the gas tank. So I would raise myself up, shift over so one cheek is off the seat, press my inside knee forward into the fairing and the other up in to the gas tank. I kept my shoulders squared to the bike and moved my entire torso out parallel to the gas tank and as low as I dared. Initially, this was a tad awkward and probably did nothing for my lap times. But after two sessions I was more comfortable being out there off the bike and was carrying more speed through corners. I also found myself dragging my exhaust pipe (I have a 2:1 pipe on the right side) around a few corners and the left peg on some others.


Actually, somebody else had to tell me. I noticed my foot vibrating on a few turns. I assumed I was dragging a peg. But the guy said no – there were sparks coming off your exhaust pipe! Big fun!


I’m still not dragging my knee. The position I’m taking and the lean angles I’m getting to would allow it, but I honestly don’t see the need yet. Well, spamming the world with pictures of my scuffed up puck would be pretty cool. But that will come soon enough.


This time I managed three clips. One cuts off at 8 minutes – story I need to tell later. It turns out that bouncing the battery pack around causes the batteries to fall out. So I had to tape the batteries and then tape the pack down inside the bucket above the battery. I’m going to use my L33T HAXRZ skillz and make a wiring harness that gets power from the bike. Once I do that I won’t have to conserve batteries so much and I’ll record all my sessions.


The story I need to tell: There was a guy out on the track with a beautiful new GSXR-1000. Very nice bike, but not a good bike for this track. Anyway, I would work my way through until I got behind him. On the few straights he could walk away from me without effort (modern liter bike w/ 150+hp vs out of tune 99 600cc bike w/ maybe 85hp). However at Oak Hill romping the throttle won’t work because most of the time is spent turning. I’d real him in at the next turn and I’d be all over him. On a few of the straights he would turn around and look! Anyway, I’m in behind him again and we go in to a carousel with another guy (3 of us, me chasing). All of a sudden there is dirt flying in the air. He ran it off and threw it down. I felt bad for him. However, he was not hurt.


During the next session I am again chasing him again. Same deal – long straight he walks away. I real him back in. He runs off the edge of the track this time. At least he didn’t go down.


By the fourth session he had quit looking behind himself and was riding a bit smarter. I was still able to get around him.


Keep in mind – first when I say I was all over him I probably had 2 seconds of space in front of me. I don’t get up on people because I just don’t have the control for that. Second – Oak Hill is not a good place for a liter bike. The corners are tight, many decreasing radius, and the track is narrow. Simply put your throttle control skills have got to be near superhuman in order to go fast on a liter bike there. Otherwise you’ll end up off the track.


I took a closer look at my bike and there are fresh scrapes going down my pipe. It looks pretty cool and I am definitely going to have to move the pipe up higher.



The rusted bit is from the bike being dropped before I got it. But you can see the fresh stuff. The funny part is that as I was doing it I felt the bike gently vibrating (3 occasions). I felt like it lasted a long time but it was probably only a few seconds. I don’t think it is that amazing that I did this when you consider this:


The frickin pipe is too far out!


And here are my tires:


The rear



And the front:



Not sure what this means. Hopefully it means that I’m becoming a hard core racer. But more likely it has more to do with the pavement at Oak Hill.


Overall I had a great time and will be happily driving out to Oak Hill at every opportunity.

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