And, like most people, I was lucky enough to marry. Wife, children, career, house. School, soccer and baseball for the kids. Time got tight but with the willing support of my family I continued to race. More, they came whenever possible. My son and daughter (now 13 and 11) grew up at the racetrack with the idea that they could race in their turn – if they chose. Justin has made that choice, and begins his career this year.
The first question people always have "and what does his MOTHER think about this!!??!" Funny thing, that – she thinks it's great. Laurie knows the real risks of racing (no worse than football); she's seen me crash a few times. The fact that Justin will be riding a vintage bike in the immensely popular Vintage 250 class filled with Honda CB160s really helped. A bike with 11 hp and a top speed of 83 mph is much less intimidating than a modern hyperbike. It's also easier to control, more forgiving – and less likely to cause serious injury in an accident. The lower cost of campaigning a bike that needs tires once every 3 years is just gravy for me. I will continue to campaign my '02 SV650 in the usual SV classes. It would be interesting to try a bigger bike again, but the realities of finance prohibit.
Twenty-five years of racing have taught me the FIRST step in racing is to prepare a budget. The average race career is 3 to 4 years – a year as novice, a year to get fast, and a year to get frustrated, overspend and quit. With my own racing program we needed something light, inexpensive and durable. Something so easy to maintain a child could do it. And something that wouldn't eat tires. A small vintage bike would be great, but while looking for a CB 160 we found a slightly better bike – a Penton 125.
We've spent a few years riding dirt bikes (never enough) but more is needed. It's a truism that kids rarely learn best from their parents – I'll be there to help, but Justin will have other mentors for most of his training. That's not to say I haven't given him assignments – he is studying the bible of the craft (Twist of the Wrist) and we watch most races on TV. Naturally there's On Any Sunday and Faster! and all the WMRRA videos and Saturday afternoons wrenching. He will be responsible for his own maintenance, but like any apprentice he'll be under a watchful eye.
his bike will be a real classic, a Penton 125 Enduro modified for road racing. We bought it from a racer who had done all the work and had some success before retiring. Modifications are modest, consisting of higher pegs, shocks, forks and an 18" front wheel.
The current, not cast in stone, plan is to enter him in the classroom portion of the WMRRA New Rider's Clinic, but as he won't quite be 14 we will skip the track session and wait for the first 2Fast rider clinic. Besides, WMRRA places all novices in a single track session. It's absolute insanity placing an 11 hp bike out there with R1s, doubly so when everyone is a novice! Providing he does well, we petition the Executive Board of the club (something required for all novices between 14 and 16 in Washington) and he'll enter the next race.
Next installment: Justin's first day on the track. Join us as I fight against parental over-control and Justin learns how to carve corners on a bike almost as old as his father!
Randy Grein/Winter 2005
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