Daytona 30 years later, still kicking my butt.

So back in the early 90s, we went to Daytona, flat-track racing previous and when the H-D 883 twin sports class came about we headed to the Speedway too.  Our family had less than awesome results at Daytona, whether flat track or road racing.  We would blow up, crash, Tony broke his ankle at the short track one year.  In my 3 years racing at the Speedway in the 883 class I never finished a race.  Got run off in the horseshoe once, tucked the front in turn one another year, taking out Yvon Duhamel in the process, and taken out at the start by Randy Texter in my last attempt.  So, to say I had some unfinished business at Daytona would be an accurate statement.  When Moto America put the 200 on their schedule and Twins Cup was going to be a support class there that was even more incentive for me to sign up for a full season pass and go Moto America racing.

So since last fall that has been the plan, Andy and I talked several times about the plan and goals.  We worked over the winter on a couple of new pieces, some changes to bodywork, airbox. Etc.  I was in the mad scientist lab a few times helping Him get stuff done.  Of course like usual things get crammed into the last few weeks.   Add to that the coach has been in the shop, not knowing what we would take, rooms no rooms, yada yada yada.  The last few weeks were a little anxious.

Thanks to Brady Steward for graciously loaning us his toy hauler at the last minute, we loaded our stuff and stopped by AP Moto Arts loaded the bike and last of that stuff and started the trek to Daytona.  Split the drive up and arrival at the speedway was close to our target time.  And just to get this out there, Moto America doesn’t have anything on the CRA when it comes to registration efficiency.  There were more than hour-long lines at the registration window.  UGH. But thankfully because we had an RV spot, we were able to grab our RV pass and get in quickly.  While the track hasn’t changed much the facilities, garages RV spots have all been improved significantly.

We set up the camper loaded stuff into our garage and started the prep for tech inspection, visit the media center for headshots.  Tech went well, then it was prep for Thursday morning practice. Weather looming we were ready to head out on track… I rolled out to Pit road, and as I got close to pit out the sinking feeling of knowing I forgot my tire stickers hit me.  No way to turn back.  I was told to take a lap and get them put on… UGH!  So made the loop and even though it was almost 30 years later the track is still as awesome as I remember,  there is nothing that compares to coming out of the infield, looking at NASCAR turn one wall, and climbing up onto the banking.  One this is for certain, the FZ07R is faster than my old 883.  No struggles getting up on the wall in a full tuck and looking UP as much as you can to see the track.  The helmet field of view is way better today than it was 30 years ago and kudos to Bell Helmets for the new Race Star.  #gratuitoussponsorplug.   Anyway, I digress, came back in and installed tire stickers, back out on the track, and ran into an airflow issue, we spent time in the garage for the rest of that practice session prepping for Q1.  We were pretty confident we had a solution figured out so it was waiting for the next session.  With the weather looming we ended up not getting Q1, so it was all down to Q2 on Friday morning, which again we had weather issues schedule adjustments, and managing all of that.  We were ready and headed out. Out lap feeling out the track and renewing visual markers I got a 70% speed lap in, the bike is super fast, didn’t get passed by a single bike at speed.  As I pulled up onto the banking out of the infield the second time the temp had climbed again our airflow issue was not resolved. And as I was nursing it back to the pits I felt the head gasket go.   Dejected is the only way to describe it.  Sent the bike through Park Ferme` and I headed up to race control and officials to see if there was any way to get a back of the grid provisional start.

The officials were very professional and courteous, but because my only timed lap was not close to the minimum I was denied.  So, we’re out, Daytona is still one of my favorite places to race but man this place kicks my butt.   We have the solution figured out and are already working on preparation for Atlanta next month.

Special thanks to everyone that helped me get this season started.

First of all thanks to my awesome sweetie Patty, your support and encouragement is awesome.  And a special thanks to Brady Stewart for the use of your toy hauler.

Futurestar for loanign me the wheels!

Allen Dye, for the tires and fuel.  Andy Palmer for building a freakin ROCKET ship.  Bell Helmets, Bison Track, Sidi boots, Klim technical gear, Motorex Oils, SunStar sprockets and chains, Woodcraft technologies, Spiegler Performance parts, Magura Brakes, CL brake pads, Perf-form filters.

Don B. Ian E. Dennis W. Denyse B. Jeremy P. for the help.

Lastly thanks to all of the local Motorcycle and Motorsports communities, I appreciate the encouragement support, competition, and business.



Brett Donahue

CRA #10X/67

MotoAmerica Twins Cup #10