Photo credit: Luis Zayas. © 2013 Zayas Images, LLC

The first time off my feet in 15 hours and I could hardly keep my eyes open.  It was Friday night after a long track day put on by Tracktactics who was there to provide an extra day of practice for the WERA racers.  I was shootin’ the shit with Clint, another NOLA Motorsports member, who started riding on the track a year ago and has been racing for about half that time.  After Clint pried I came clean and told him with the 5 years of track riding and no excuses I have never raced a motorcycle in my life.  Within an hour Clint had convinced me, and somehow I had agreed, to race on Sunday, I really had no excuses not to…

Saturday morning came far too early and was busy with WERA racing and a Red Knights poker run using our Speed Shop as a card stop.  I snuck away for just enough time to go see Sean Clarke, one of the owners of WERA, to ask if he could think of an excuse why I couldn’t race on Sunday.  He was far too helpful and I ended up in 2 races in the blink of an eye.  It had become too late to back out so I pulled my track bike on the lift and started prepping it to race.  My bike already wears race plastics without lights and water with water wetter instead of coolant, but here’s what was necessary for my Triumph Daytona 675R to race in WERA:

  • Drill and safety wire
    • Axles
    • Axle pinch bolts
    • Caliper bolts
    • Oil filler cap
    • Oil drain bolt
    • Oil filter (using a hose clamp around it)
    • Radiator filler cap
    • All muffler mounts
  • Silicon
    • Oil galley plugs
    • Brake pad retaining pins
  • Race numbers
    • Yellow background
    • 4 inch tall black numbers
    • On front and each side toward the rear of the bike

Every bike is a bit different so I would suggest reading the rules for yourself (http://maps.wera.com/rulebook/).  So far all of this was pretty easy and if you’re going to use the race prep as your “excuse” to not race then just let me do it for you.  


The morning of race day is when things started to become foreign and the reality of the situation began to set in.  I had taken Kevin Schwantz’s race school already so I didn’t need to take the Saturday race school provided by WERA.  Signing up for the races on Sunday was as easy as signing a few papers and picking my races.  I purchased a lap timer, so that I couldn’t use that as an excuse next time, but they can be rented as well.  Then it was off to get my bike and gear tech inspected.  For WERA you want to remove your belly pan before going through tech so that they can check your safety wiring, but don’t forget your helmet, they check that too.   From here you get ready for your practice session and wait while the butterflies threaten to come up in your helmet.  


Practice feels like a normal track day.  No one was blowing the proverbial doors off of me and I was doing an okay job of holding my own.  The track was cold and had some damp spots so everyone was going a bit slower than normal but overall I felt comfortable, all except for passing.  I’ve been told the key to passing is commitment but I couldn’t get the confidence so I ended up staring down the tailpipe of a few bikes that were holding me up.  I felt it went well, but wasn’t too excited to see a 2:00 min lap time when I know some of these guys are turning times 10 seconds faster that than.  


Photo credit: Luis Zayas. © 2013 Zayas Images, LLC

Fast forward what seemed to be 10 min but was actually a few hours and I’m hearing, “third and final call for race 4.”  I rush on with my helmet and off with my warmers and before I can second guess myself I’m on the track doing my warm-up lap.  The piece of paper taped to the WERA RV had told me earlier that I was gridded last in row 7 of 7 total rows.  So as I pulled up even to the little yellow #7 cone I started to remember that I had no idea what I was doing.  This will be my first race launch and I had never even practiced one just for fun before.  Michael Sanders, a fellow novice 675 racer, told me when the “2” board drops hold the revs at 6,000 RPM and at the first glimmer of green flag dump the clutch.  I did that…  and lo and behold I passed 4 bikes into turn 1.  By the time I pitched the bike left for turn 2 I was on the rear tire of a 1098 and I passed him!  I passed him!  It was glorious, I screamed in my helmet prepared for my next overtaking into turn 3.  I lost a little ground in the back section of the track, but once I realized where everyone else was faster I sucked it up and twisted the throttle harder.  By the end of the race I was at the middle of the pack and had no idea I had it in me.  Crossing the finish it hit me that I had done something that had always scared me and I wasn’t half bad.  On the cool down lap Michael and I shook hands while riding (GP style, a long time dream of mine) and I giggled in my helmet the entire way through the pits.  


Photo credit: Luis Zayas. © 2013 Zayas Images, LLC

It wasn’t until the times were posted that I saw I had run a 1:53.2.  That was 7 seconds per lap faster than my practice time and 4 seconds faster than I had ever gone before.  Not only that but I had taken 3rd place in my class.  It was then that I realized that a green flag changes everything.  My second race was there before I knew it and the same out of body experience took place.  I felt like someone else had taken over me, someone much faster than me.  By the end of this race I had placed 1st in my class.  Now, I’m hooked!

Already I have had 4 friends tell me they will do their first race in November when WERA comes back into town.  If you want to join the ranks of these track day riders gone racers let me know and I’ll do everything I can to make it happen!

~Maxwell Materne

See More photos from the event at www.ZayasImages.com/WERA