We headed to our home track, Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota, for the
July round of the Central Racing Association championship series. Practice on Friday was a "make the best of it" day. If it was sunny on the front part of the course, it was raining out back. There were two fully wet sessions and the rest were a mix. Our De Keyrel Racing team did what we could and tried to get in a good test.
Saturday morning, Mason and I got up and went for a run. Along with the July CRA races being held on the Brainerd Short Course, there was a Show-N-Go event being held on the drag strip. We stretched out our run so that we could look at all the cars and tow rigs in the pits. Next, we suited up for the day and headed to the riders meeting. At this gathering, the officials made it clear that horseplay would not be tolerated and that wheelies were going to be punished with a $50 fine. I reminded myself to focus first on winning and second to skip any celebration wheelies. The CRA riders meeting always ends with a prayer from Jim Wiles. Every race, the circle keeps getting bigger and bigger. It is awesome.
Fast practice was up first and I was in it. Each group would only get two sessions so I went out right away. I was a little off pace after the two sessions but wasn't worried. We had chosen to use the "B" bike for practice and I am usually about 2 seconds slower on that machine. Mason was in the slow practice and was tearing it up. Every time he hit the track, he would be in a big group and they would all push each other to go faster. Mason and Sean Colton would come in laughing and high fiving on how awesome it was.
The racing began with MWSS ( Expert ) up first. The day was going to be busy, with me racing 9 classes and Mason racing 3. We decided to run pump gas for the weekend to cut costs. We'd also entered late, so all of my starts would be from the second or third row. I knew I had my work cut out for me. That was OK though. All of these races are just practice to get me faster for when I can run in the AMA.
During my first three races, I felt like I was riding my best but just could not get my times down to where I had run previously. I told my dad that I just couldn't figure out why I was running off the pace. I'd come in fifth, (MWSS) fourth, (HWSS) and fourth (UNLSS) in the first three races. My dad and I decided to make the switch to race gas after lunch. We had been working on measuring fuel in the tank this weekend, so this would give us a chance to compare consumption between the two types of fuel as well. I immediately noticed a difference in how much power the bike delivered, but still had room for improvement in my riding. I ended up with a third, (MWSB) a third (HWSB) and a fourth in (UNLSB).
Following the afternoon worker break I got myself together and asked God for help in the next three races. The morning did not start off too well so I knew I could use a little help from Him.
Over the loud speaker, we heard third call for MWGP. I said one last prayer, asking for a safe clean race. God gave me even more. I rode home to a second place finish in the MWGP race. Next up was HWGP. I was running in fourth place for most of the race and was a little ways back. I reeled in the top three riders and with two laps to go, made the pass from third to first coming out of Turn Two. I held onto the lead for my first win of the weekend. In UNLGP I finished out the day with a second place. I was happy with my results. The CRA has some fast guys on 750cc and 1000cc bikes so it felt great to do well in these two classes aboard my 600.
Mason pushed hard all day, finishing second in all three of his classes. He was even beating most of the Experts. This is only the second weekend that he's been allowed to compete in the CRA, so that's really good!
I was looking forward to the next day because I always do better on Sunday. Mason and I went out for a morning run to warm up. Practice was again scheduled to run Fast/Med/Slow. I had talked to Shane Fletcher the night before after church. He told me to try a gearing change and see what I thought. We made the switch but didn't go as far as he suggested. Practice started off great. I was up to pace with great lap times in the first session. The races would run in the same order as on Saturday, because this was a double sprints weekend. In my first three races, I finished second, (MWSS) second (HWSS) and fourth (UNLSS). It was a great start to the day and I knew I'd be in the mix for the first few races of the afternoon. I ran up and did an interview, then went back to the pit to focus. I won the first two races after lunch. (MWSB, HWSB) I so wanted to do a wheelie for the fans and corner workers after my second win, but instead kept my cool and kept my front tire on the ground. I ended the day with second place finishes in the last three races.
Mason continued to drop his lap times on Sunday and again earned second place finishes in all three of his classes. It was fun to see him successful and excited all weekend. Mason set a personal best of 1:54.6 aboard his Moriwaki MD 250H.
The weekend went great and I ran my fastest lap ever on the Competition Course (short course) at Brainerd International Raceway. I ran a 1:37.337 and I am inching closer to the 600cc track record, which is a 1:36.5. I feel that this was one of my best weekends ever up at BIR. I will be back again in August for our last run on the Competition Course before the track is repaved and widened. It would be great if I could get the record at that event and be the fastest 600 rider ever on the old surface. It was an awesome weekend and I would like to THANK all of our sponsors for making it possible. Next, we're off to Miller Motorsports Park for another dose of the Yamaha School of Champions. GOD BLESS
Kaleb De Keyrel #51