Friday Fun! (June: Let’s Talk About Motorcycle Racing Because That Was the Best Part of June)
Hello my lovely readers!
Well, July just snuck right up on me. I even accidentally tried to use my old monthly pass on the T. June was so busy, it just flew right by!
The most exciting thing I got to do this month was I got to take an extra long weekend and go see my boyfriend race in the 90th annual Loudon Classic at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway! Of course, I got to see all the other races too, but the best part was finally getting to see him race and be his umbrella girl and pit crew. 🙂 The racers generally camp at the track, and when we got there, they let me in as family of a racer, which made all of my insides squee, since that was the first time we were called family. I helped him set up the camp and met his racer friends. It’s incredible. Everyone is so competitive on the track but the direct opposite in the camp. Our neighbors gave us coffee every morning, and we shot the shit around the campfire every night. When our neighbor had a crash (very common in motorcycle racing), my bf immediately gave him tools and various other things to help fix it, and I knew that everyone would do the same for him.
So what did I do as pit crew? Mostly I helped him put the tire warmers on the motorcycle and helped him get the bike on and off the stand. Also I was the pep talk and cheerleader, obviously. Tire warmers are these blanket like things that you put on the wheels of the motorcycle to keep the rubber warm. Warmer rubber makes for better traction. You have to pull them off right before going to the pit to grid up. (Frankly, I thought they looked like wheel condoms. Yeah, I said it). Also, track bikes don’t have kickstands, so you have to put the bike on this lever-like stand separate from it (see one here), and it’s much easier for the racer to be on the bike already and have someone else release it from the stand. Someone else would have helped him if I wasn’t there, but it was fun to get to do it for him. I also got to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams and be his umbrella girl. When the bikes are waiting in the pit to enter the track, it can be really hot, since they are in full gear in direct sun. So some racers have “umbrella girls” (who can be either gender, actually) to hold an umbrella over them to keep them cool until it’s time to enter the track. So I got to meet up with him in the pit grid and do that, and it was really fun to be that close to the actual track and talk to him right before his race.
Since this was the 90th annual Loudon Classic, there were a couple of special events. There were sidecar racers, mini cars that ran on motorcycle engines, and a motard race. The sidecar race is incredible. In order to go at track speeds with a sidecar, the person in the sidecar, called a monkey, has to throw their body weight around from left to right to help with the corners. It is incredibly difficult to explain, so just watch this video if you want to understand why it’s so badass. Motards are dirt bikes outfitted with street tires. The motard racers got to go off the track onto the grass, through the trees, and use a jump. You can see one of the racers burning out in the photo above. A lot of racers will do tricks during the cool-down lap at the portions of the track where there are spectators.
I learned so much by going to the track. I learned that crashes on the track are usually not that big of a deal because the racers are wearing full gear. Our neighbor was in two crashes, one was a 5-bike pile-up, and all he had wrong with him was a cut on his pinky and a pulled shoulder. I also learned that racing isn’t the crazy, testosterone-filled sport it’s thought to be. It’s a fun, low-key, supportive environment. Although, that doesn’t take away from its sexiness. If anything the camaraderie of the racers makes the whole thing sexier. It’s all the sexiness of motorcycles mixed with some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Kind of the direct opposite of your typical Harley crew.
Oh, I also learned that partners of racers are called “racer chasers,” and I am deeply amused by the fact that you can now call me that. Amanda. Writer. Blogger. Racer Chaser.
Also, I’ve officially told my bf that I want to learn to sidecar race, and we’re planning on building a mock practice sidecar to practice on this winter in the garage. So hopefully one day you can add sidecar monkey to that list. 😛