Gage McAllister – AFM Buttonwillow Race Report

Race Report for Gage McAllister  #715
AFM Roadracing Round 1, Buttonwillow CA
March 2-3, 2013

Totally pumped after my race weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway! My weekend preparation started on Thursday prepping my Honda crf450 before heading off to Harley Davidson of Rocklin where my Folsom Harley Davidson XR1200 is stored. We made some changes on the bike since the last time I rode it (the weekend before). We’re heading down Thursday night to get a feel for the changes we made. I was trying out a new Motion Pro quarter-turn throttle, shorter bars, new rear sets, and a stiffer clutch to help my bike stay stable under downshifts.

We arrived late Thursday night and unloaded early Friday morning. Friday practice ran smooth and I was getting more comfortable on the bike we were constantly messing with the rear shocks to make the handing better. By the end of Friday practice I had dropped my lap times 3 seconds from the weekend before when I road a track day there.

Saturday was another day of practice with a few Clubman races at the end of the day. I was still running the same times all day Saturday as I was Friday because I was running the same Dunlop spec tires as I ran Friday. After Saturday practice I was forced to race a Clubman event due to the fact that it was my first ever road race weekend. I signed up for Clubman Lightweight on my CRF450 and Clubman Heavyweight on my XR1200. I decided to scratch from the Clubman Heavyweight race after taking a look at the rulebook and finding a more appropriate class for the XR1200 to race in. I figured the Clubman race would be easy considering I had plenty of race experience I was just new to the road race scene. Just as I thought, I started on the very back row and was almost in the lead by the time we entered the first turn. Since my CRF450 is a lightweight supermoto bike it pulls pretty much any bike of the start. I took my time before making the last few passes because I didn’t want to rush things my first time on track after getting into within two laps I began to pull a bigger and bigger gap each lap. The race is only six laps, but the track is long so it is easy to forget how many laps have gone buy and how many you have left. I finished up my first race with a win and a pretty big gap. Later that day I talked to a few of the AFM staff about having me move up to expert rather than keep me in novice, they allowed me to move up which meant the next day I would be racing in all expert races. Saturday night we decided to try a different brand of tires and put on some Pirelli’s to see how they compared.

The next morning we were up early getting the tires warmers on the bike and getting checked in, I had expected to be running in the expert races but we I went to sign in they had changed there mind because I did not have my AMA license with me so they were unable to allow me to move up; I was stuck in the novice division for all my races. There was only one practice session in the morning before the races start so it was critical for me to be ready for practice to try out the new tires. First I went out on the 450 to get comfortable on it because it was the first race of the day, then I took the Harley out immediately after. As soon as I got out on track I noticed the bike handling very different and it was having a hard time staying stable through the turns and under acceleration. After pulling in early I could only come to conclusion that the tires were making it handle worse since we hadn’t made any other changes on the bike. Had we wanted to run the Pirelli’s bad enough we could have adjusted the suspension around the tire but sense we are using Dunlop’s in AMA we decided it would be best to put the Dunlop’s back on and develop the suspension around them. Unlike Supermoto where there is a heat and a main, Road Racing is different in that you just line up once so the morning warm up very important to get up to speed so you are confident going into your first race.

I was the first race out on the 450 for 250 SBK lined up on the back of the grid on the novice wave. The flag waves are about 20 seconds apart. So by the time the novice grid left, the experts were already 20 seconds ahead. I got a good jump from the back row and shot into the lead by the first turn. I was certain that the novice riders would give me no competition so I set my sights on catching up to as many expert riders as possible. Little by little I began picking expert riders off and before I knew it I was behind the top three expert riders, I was able to get around them with ease considering I was able to catch them from so far back. I passed the front expert rider and began pulling away with a few laps remaining. I was not expecting to win the overall let alone by a decent margin, but it definitely gave me confidence for the rest of the day. After my first race I didn’t have another race till after lunch time, so I got to hangout with some of my fellow racers and watch my friend Tucker Lancaster tear it up!

I was the second race after lunch break and it was my first race on the XR1200 which was Formula 4. I started in the back and got the holeshot then going in to turn two I made a mistake and downshifted too early and the bike started swapping underneath me, I thought for sure it was going to buck me off, but I held on and didn’t get passed. After my little moment I recovered and began working my way towards the expert riders. I picked my way through multiple people then got stuck behind a group of riders for a few laps, while passing that group I was behind a bike that was smoking and spraying oil all over the front of my bike. I tried to make my pass as quick as possible and get away from the group to get some clear track. After I got around the group I was able to put my head down and turn my fastest lap on the XR1200 of 1:59.0. I had one race in between my next class so I had time to take a small break.

Up next I was back on my 450 for the last time in the single class, once again I started in the back of the novice grid. The race had multiple classes within it and the singles class was the second wave. I got the holeshot from the novice row and passed all the experts before the first turn. I was quick to catch the wave ahead of me but before I was able to make any passes the race was red flagged. The situation was resolved and I repeated the same start as I did the start before, I began working my way through the wave ahead of me when the race was red flagged again on the second lap because of Kenny Anderson’s horrific crash. After re-griding I was able to replicate the two starts that I got on the first restart and the original start. I had already passed a few of the riders from the wave before mine by the end of the first lap and continued to pick people off until I was in the overall lead. I had a comfortable lead all race and was able to win the overall with ease.

My final race of the day was the second to last race of the day and it was the Formula Twins class on my XR1200. I started from the very back and since there were so many riders it was all one wave. I got a good start, but was forced to check up because the riders in front of me had bad starts. I was mid pack going into the first corner and got stuck behind a group of decent riders which made it difficult to find a way around. By the time I got my self around the small group the riders ahead of me had pulled a gap and I was sure I would not be able to fully catch them within the small six lap race that we were given. I won the novice class no problem and ended up getting around 6th overall.

I want to thank everyone who helped make it happen, my Mom & Dad, Folsom Harley-Davidson, Intents Racing, Supermoto Schools, Tim & Ian Champness, Josh Chisum, Arai, Hareline Graphics, Rundall Productions, Riders Discount, Alpina Wheels, Leo Vince, Works Connection, Oakley, and D&W Images.


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