View Full Version : Autobahn Track Disaster for BikerGeek
07-18-2005, 03:23 AM
Unfortunately, it finally happened: a big crash.
Saturday's sessions went well. Back in May, when I first rode the 1.5 mile north course, my lap times were in the 1:40-1:50 range. During Saturday's last session, I was turning laps in the 1:20's. Saturday had blistering hot weather conditions.
Sunday was even worse. The official high temperature for Chicago was 97. At the Atuobahn track which is south of Chicago, the temperature peaked at 102. Sunday's first session went well. The second session started OK. I was able to chase down and pass a gentleman on one of the Section 8 Racing 999 ducks. I was hanging with another Mille rider who runs at about the same speed as me.
Midway through the second session. I entered the final turn before the main straight. This turn is a double apex right. Passing the first apex, I was on the gas to arc around onto the main straight. The bike decided it no longer wanted a passenger and high-sided me off. I hit the back of my head first on the asphault. Then I tumbled forward which tore the faceshield from the helmet. I stopped cartwheeling in the grass several feet from the track. The bike slid on the asphault then went airborne into the grass run off and landed on its side.
After a ride to the hospital and a series of x-rays, I was released with a broken finger, a severely bruised (but not broken) neck and various purple spots and rasberries on the shoulders, chest, and hips.
The bike lost pegs and levers and the windscreen is mashed downward. One of the fuel tank mounts cracked. And the bike spit fuel on the infield and all over the paddock, as it was transported.
The incident was probably my fault (bad throttle application). But part of the issue was uneven wear in the extreme heat with the Dunlop Sportmax GP. After this experience, I would caution against the dual compound tires. With the warm weekend, there were other riders having issues with the dual compound Michelins. The center and sides of the tread wear unevenly which drastically changes the profile of the tire. My air pressure on the Dunlops was set at 30/29 cold.
The bottom line is that I will be hanging-up my rider hat for quite a while. At the time of the incident, my wife was 2 hours away at a relative's lake house. My phone call to her after the crash is not something that I want to go through again. I do not wish to repeat the anxiety of that fall again. And I don't wish to put my wife and three daughters through that terror and heartache.
I will hang at the track as a fan and volunteer (cornerworker, etc.).
A massive thank you to Bonnie from STT and for Sue (a rider and medic who was at the track and helped me greatly). Also, great thanks to Geoff from Team MCC and the other riders who loaded the bike and all of my stuff for me (while I was at the hospital). If you are in the Chicago area, Geoff and Greg at Team MCC in Villa Park, are the best dealer for Ducati, Husqvarna, MV, KTM, and Triumph (and maybe Aprilia again someday), bar none.
And, please...ride safe.
07-18-2005, 08:06 AM
Glad to hear you are relatively OK after that. I'd hate to put my family through that as well, but at least it ended pretty well for you.
07-18-2005, 08:35 AM
I am very stiff today, but OK.
The family is relieved.
07-18-2005, 09:40 AM
Glad to hear you are ok, Take it easy!!
Glad you are ok. Well if you had to crash the best place is on the track. Things could've been worse, but it wasn't. Thank God for that too... Hope you heal fast.
07-18-2005, 01:04 PM
Post-crash bike photo's (Sorry, Don).
Jet City Racer
07-19-2005, 12:33 PM
Damn Greg, glad to hear you weren't hurt worse. From the pictures you looked like you getting on pretty good.............
until she spit you off. :crybaby: :crybaby: :crybaby:
Wana sell her back to me? I miss my girl. :lover:
07-20-2005, 05:01 PM
After such a great Saturday, Sunday's violence was no fun. Let that be a lesson to all of the other track riders on the forum. If you have a really, really fast session and turn your fastest lap, you are close to the limits. Consider cutting your losses and leaving early which is what I should have done.
Don, if you want your bruised bike back, my wife will be glad to let you take it. When she discovered it was dripping fuel after the crash on Sunday, she wanted to light a match to it.
07-20-2005, 08:08 PM
Glad you're OK. I've been there too. My dad was with me at the track when it happened. Same scenario, two days, second one better than the first until... No track for me this year - maybe never again. The missus and little one weren't too happy.
Mend quickly and remember the good laps.
07-20-2005, 10:28 PM
damn glad your ok. anytime neck or back is mentioned i get nervous. get back on that beast asap, just don't let the wife now. take care, jc
07-21-2005, 10:19 AM
Heal Well Brother.
929 vs Ford Ranger:
2 cracked ribs, 6 broken vert, both arms compound fractures, concussion, and a tiny cherry on my right knee.
07-21-2005, 12:22 PM
...No track for me this year - maybe never again...
Although I haven't done a trackday yet, I would love to. I will probably go to one of the schools (Schwantz, Pridmore) and use their bikes and have a great time, but I would think that a trackday is something you do extremely rarely if you've got kids and no real aspiration for a future in racing. For me, it's just something I want to try a few times and have fun with - kind of like a vacation getaway, but not to pursue as a regular activity.
I've heard many stories on this forum of track/street-induced injuries and really feel for all you guys who have gotten hurt, some real bad (Good Lord, Beyote, I hope you are back to 'normal' by now). I haven't been down yet, but accept the fact that I probably will some day. Hopefully it will be a slow speed affair with no stationary objects nearby.
Ride safe, indeed.
07-21-2005, 10:39 PM
"...but I would think that a trackday is something you do extremely rarely if you've got kids and no real aspiration for a future in racing..."
Before you embark on your first track day, please know that track days are as addictive as crack and that you will not be able to do them "rarely". When I rode my first track day, I saw all of the track-specific dedicated bikes and thought they were absurd. Four years and 30+ track rides later, I have (had) a $25,000+ ex-racing Aprilia Mille with no onboard street equipment (a serious track bike to be sure).
You will get hooked. You will want to go faster and faster. You will start charting your lap times. You will buy crazy things like racing fuel and tire warmers.
And unfortunately, if you push your limits, you will crash like I did. I could have continued riding track days at 80% effort. But what fun is that.
Another word of warning: when it comes to highside crashes, there is no warning. Like many others, I thought that when I start to go down, I will save it. At a competitive tempo, there is no warning that a highside is about to occur. You tip into the corner, pass the apex, get on the gas, and BAM! The bike is gone from under you. You see the following through the helmet visor: asphault, grass, sky...asphault, grass, sky (not necessarily in that order). You crash to the ground more than once as you tumble. You scream into your helmet "please stop". And finally you do stop and try and remember your name. Then you try to remember why you did that first track ride in the first place.
People ask me all of the time: "well, do you race on the track?" When I say no, they ask, "well, what's the point then." Until you do your first track ride, you (and they) won't understand.
07-21-2005, 11:17 PM
I will be there for a track day on Sept 8th.
I was there in June learning the track.
It's a great track!
I rode the Buell instead of the Mille R. The track seemed pretty tight for the Mille, I ride the Buell better in the tight stuff.
Turned a 1:12!
Goal for Sept, to break into the 1:10s
Jet City Racer
07-21-2005, 11:46 PM
Turned a 1:12!
Goal for Sept, to break into the 1:10s
Just don't break anything else, OK???
08-03-2005, 01:25 PM
Although I haven't done a trackday yet, I would love to. I will probably go to one of the schools (Schwantz, Pridmore)
I can tell you from experience that Reg Pridmore's CLASS school is a great first track experience. It's a little pricey, but well worth it for a first time. But like BikerGeek said, be prepared because you will get addicted. Also, plan on riding your own bike - you will be more confortable on a machine you know.
08-29-2005, 09:28 AM
I am still suffering from neck and back pain from the highside incident.
Given the rapidly approaching end of the local track season, I will not have time to piece the broken Mille back together. My schedule has been crazed by work and my oldest daughter's departure to a state university 6 hours from home.
I am contemplating the sale of the Mille as-is or as parts. See my separate posts in the for sale sections.
My future with track days is currently uncertain. I am wanting to get back on a bike and ride. But that would require a tough negotiation at home.
I wouldn't discourage anyone from riding on the track. However, I would discourage riders from pushing their bikes to the limits and obsessing over lap times. If you are NOT a racer, go easy. The consequences can be more than you realize. Every day, I am receiving different invoices in the mail for my emergency room/radiology care.
I now have even more respect for people like Jack Pfeiffer, Aaron Clark, Vincent Haskovec and others who have suffered far worse physical injury and yet continue to heal and ride competitively.
Again, if you are not a racer, the potential for track ride injury isn't worth shaving those lasts tenths of a second from your lap time.
08-29-2005, 11:11 AM
Enclosed is a photo that shows the damage to my helmet from the crash. The HJC took a lot of abuse yet protected my head and neck from serious injury.
After I was thrown into the air, I came down on the back side of my head and on my shoulders. The first impact is shown by the bruise on the helmet. I then cart-wheeled and landed face first on my head. This impact tore the faceshield from my helmet. Luckily this second impact happened in the grassy infield.
Not a happy memory.
08-30-2005, 06:04 PM
Glad you walked away without major injuries. Our last local trackday (8/21) at the California Speedway saw its share of crashes. The temp was hovering at the high 90s and probably in the 100s on the track. I was sweating in my helmet as I was riding which is unusual given how venting works at speed.
My 208GPs were sliding a lot under me and I saved it twice on my kneepucks. However, as the day wore on, I ran off the track twice because my tires would not turn or hold a line anymore. Whether it be the tires being cooked by the heat or my exhaustion or both, I didn't want to chance it. I called it a day and went home without incident.
Some others were not so lucky. One guy highsided and as I came around the turn, he could not even muster enough energy to crawl off the track and into the grass to safety. He got up to his knees twice and fell back down. I never heard how he was doing after.
08-31-2005, 02:37 AM
I wouldn't discourage anyone from riding on the track. However, I would discourage riders from pushing their bikes to the limits and obsessing over lap times. If you are NOT a racer, go easy. The consequences can be more than you realize. . . . Again, if you are not a racer, the potential for track ride injury isn't worth shaving those lasts tenths of a second from your lap time.
Hopefully, your experience will help a lot of us. It's helped me. I'm in the early stages of the madness (I haven't spent thousands in upgrades and trackday gear, but I feel myself wanting to, even when I can't afford to), and reading this thread has reminded me of some reality that sometimes hides behind an obsession to 'go faster than last time'. Funny how we only think we pushed too hard after an accident. ;)
I just had a 'get-off' 4 weeks ago, and I got lucky: the bike lowsided me just before highsiding itself, but it has still been a physical and mechanical bummer. What's encouraging is that you still want to ride. I hope you do.
I could have continued riding track days at 80% effort. But what fun is that.
I agree. It doesn't feel as fun to turn laptimes 5 or 10 seconds slower than you know you can. But surely it's more fun than a balled-up bike and a (literal) pain in the neck?
Ride smarter, not harder.
08-31-2005, 11:11 AM
Thanks for the posts of support and encouragement. I will ride at the track again someday. For now, I may just do some cornerworking. I could also volunteer as a track coach for the slower novice groups. I am currently weighing my options for next year.
Part of the issue with speed and track days pertain to the coaching of the track ride organizations. STT is pretty laid back and will allow a slower intermediate pace. NESBA does not. I am definitely responsible for my own crash. I had that addictive need to go faster and faster. But it would be nice if the track ride organizations wouldn't push so hard. At the rider's meeting, they clearly state that the track ride is not race and to ride at your own pace. But then if you are not fast enough, they give you a hard time.
08-31-2005, 05:11 PM
Oh, here's my 99 Aprilia after the lowside I had. The Michelin Pilot Sports just gave away while I was cornering at a steady pace, no throttle input, no body shifting, etc. I've been a Dunlop man since.
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