• Racing Season 2011, CMRA #129 Bill Erzal

    This post might belong on a Suzuki board but I’m pals with AF1 and friends on this board. I’ve raced Aprilia’s in years gone by…

    Anyway, It's been a few weeks since the end of the 2011 CMRA racing season so I thought I would do a write up about the season since there's lots of stories to tell, I have lots of people to thank, and it ended up being really successful.

    2011 Endurance: In CMRA Endurance, I am fortunate to race with the top Formula 2 team: Faltless Racing. Our 2011 team consisted of Eric Falt, Clay Schutz, Ted Phillips (AF1 Racing), Robert Bradlaw and Bill Erzal. We race a Gen II Suzuki SV 650. I am not the fastest guy, but pretty good at hammering out laps at a good pace and keeping the bike on the track. Faltless Racing has won the season championship 5 out of the last 6 years while I’ve been with the team, and many before then. This is a pic of me on the Faltless bike at MSR Houston in Feb, 2011:


    2011 Sprints: My sprint bike is a 1998 Suzuki GSX-R 600. The bike has some interesting history: it’s an ex-AMA bike raced in 1998 by Hypercycle Suzuki. It’s one of the bikes pictured below. The rider was either Jason Pridmore or a young Nicky Hayden. If you look at the close-up of the cylinder head you can see 69 hand-written with a marker. I have no way to verify that it’s actually the bike Nicky raced that year, but if it is, it would have been the bike he raced to his first AMA Super Sport win April 26, 1998 at Willow Springs. Pretty cool.


    My sprint racing season really started last season (2010) when I made the last couple CMRA rounds toward the end of the year. I got beat by the eventual champ, Rich Kirk (former AMA superbike racer). Rich won the races; he was very fast and very smooth, plain and simple. But my bike was down on compression in two cylinders, the motor was tired and needed to be freshened up in the off season and so that's what we did. We would go for the title next year. In this pic: mixing it up with Rich in Kirk in Unlimited Classic back in 2010, it was this close the entire race and we finished in this order.


    2011 RACING
    The 2011 CMRA calendar consisted of 10 events with 8 endurance weekends. My goals at the beginning of the year were to:
    1. Win F2 Endurance
    2. Win Classic Unlimited
    3. Win F40LW Expert
    4. Finish top-3 in D-Superbike.

    During the off-season the engine was taken to Ron Scrima with Racing Engine Specialists (RES) in Alvarado, TX, where it received the full treatment. RES is one of the top race engine builders in the country. Because of numerous details, we did not get the engine back in time to get the bike together for the first round at MSR-Houston. Here is the rebuilt engine back from RES in my garage:


    ROUND 1 – MSR Houston, Feb 2011

    SPRINTS: Since the bike was not back together, we borrowed a bike (EX-500 of all things) from our good buddy Ron Gaspar with the intent to get valuable points. So that's what we did, the EX held together for Classic Unlimited, and then I raced the Faltless endurance bike in F-40LW and D-Super. Mission accomplished, we came away with valuable points heading into the second round of the season, but trailing in season championship points.

    ENDURANCE: Some interesting developments with our 2011 endurance team from the beginning. Michelin tires posted a much larger tire payout than Bridgestone (our previous tire sponsor). We decided to chase the extra money and switch the Michelin. After all, we had raced Michelin back in 2006. There was really no bad race tire these days, was there? We found the Michelin very questionable after MSR-Houston, but the race had several red-flag interruptions and so nothing conclusive. We would find out the full story next race.

    ROUND 2: Texas World Speedway, March 2011.

    This is a picture of the sprint bike all put back together and ready to race ROUND 2 in March, 2011. Unlimited Classic, baby:


    SPRINTS: With the bike back together things felt very confident going to TWS in March. We made Friday practice to break in the new engine, and would race sprints Sunday. The bike felt really good on the track, although we were still ironing out some kinks with brakes, cooling and fuel. I decided to race on Michelin tires this year. On Sunday things worked out well with a 1st place finish in both Unlimited Classic and F-40LW Expert, and a 3rd in D-Superbike. The season was back on track but we were still trailing in season championship points. This is a race pic of the bike first time out, March 2011:


    ENDURANCE: The TWS round was an 8-hour race, the longest of the year, it was time to put the Michelin tires to the test. We quickly found out that it was going to be very long day. Lap times started slowing by the 2nd rider so we suspected the rear tire had gone off. This was confirmed at our second pit stop, and we realized we’d need to do an early tire change. Lap times suffered throughout the day as we went through 2 rear tires. During the last 2 hours it was like riding in the wet, one of the toughest (least fun) endurance races we had ever done. We were lucky to finish 2nd place, over 4 laps down from winners Team Kamikaze Lone Star.

    As the race season wore on, there were lots of new developments. I won’t bore with all the details, but here are a few main points, and a few more photos:

    • After the TWS endurance race we went back (with tail between legs) to our Bridgestone tire vendor, John Hutchinson. We raced the rest of the year on the B-Stones and quickly returned to our winning ways.
    • Although Rich Kirk did not come back to defend his title in 2011 there was still very strong competition in these classes. CMRA fast guy Steve Isenhower (on his Honda F2) and I raced very closely all season long, and we also mixed it up with CMRA legend Eric Falt in F40 LW Expert.
    • The Eagles Canyon race in April had the worst race conditions of any CMRA event in history. Strong thunderstorms, lightning, strong winds and very cold temps made it a nightmare for racing. At riders meeting we talked about calling it off, Race Control decided we would race a short time later. It kept storming throughout the day, there were delays for nearby ground lightning strikes, crashes, etc.. Some riders raced and some went home. I stayed but wobbled around the track on slicks and took last place points. There was no endurance race that weekend.
    • At the first Hallett event (Hallett, OK) in May, Faltless Racing returned to our winning ways. Back on Bridgestone tires, we edged out Team Kamikaze, but finishing on the same lap (within a few seconds) in the 5-hour endurance race. A very exciting race and gratifying win. In sprints we ended up winning Unlimited Classic and getting 2nd in F40LW behind Eric Falt. Not a bad weekend, I was edging back in on sprint championship points.
    • At MSR Cresson in June, Faltless Racing continued winning in the 6-hour endurance race. In sprints we finished 1st in Unlimited Classic but 2nd in F40LW.
    • The July, August, September races featured record-high temperatures. It was a very hot, dry summer in the region. We saw ambient temps at 113+ and track temps at 145+. Endurance racing was brutal but we ended up winning in the heat and regaining the championship points lead through those summer months. Sprint racing featured back and forth battles with Eric Falt, Steve Isenhower and myself.
    • Eagles Canyon Raceway is my least favorite track. With two sprint weekends remaining on the schedule at ECR, I attended a Ty Howard “Typhoon Academy” track day to practice at that track and learn Ty’s lines. There was lots of good instruction and I ended up getting my money’s worth. This paid off in a big way down the stretch in season points. Thanks to Ty Howard, Derek Wagnon, Garrett Tomlinson and Craig Montgomery.
    • Because of heat and expense, I stopped racing D-Superbike during the summer months. The extra tire money just wasn’t worth it; I decided to focus on Classic Unlimited and F-40LW Expert.
    • I managed 1st place finishes in both those classes at MSR- Cresson (August) and Eagles Canyon Raceway (Sept). I was on a very good roll at this point in the season (no pun intended).
    • After the ECR race in September, we were in position to win the championship in both classes, but it meant that we also had to win both classes at the final round at Texas World Speedway.
    • A few more pics:


    Right-hander at MSR-Cresson:


    From the other side, the Michelins doing their job:


    Leading a pack – very close racing:


    Leading the race going into the “Rattlesnake”, MSR-Cresson:


    Awards Ceremony after endurance racing in Hallett... If Ted’s not racing he’s always got a beer in his hand:


    For those who don’t know me I turned 50 this year, so working out and staying in shape was a key to the season, especially endurance racing. My training is mostly cardio, this is my home gym. Pushups, lots of pushups = hard on the brakes:


    Great Hills Country Club (Capitol of Texas Aquatics): LOTS of work was done here … Thanks to Coach Evelyn and all my masters swim peeps for encouragement and inspiration.


    SEASON DOWN TO THE WIRE:

    After running expert practice at ECR in September, CMRA tuner Jim Cambora (Raceworx) came by and said “your bike’s not running right”. It was true, the bike was misfiring badly at high RPM, Micah (AF1 Racing) ran it up on the dyno after we got back from that race weekend and it ran terrible.

    I got the bike up to Jim with two weeks to go before the final race weekend at Texas World Speedway. The problem was hard to solve but Jim figured it out and got the bike to dyno strong up to the rev limiter plus we gained over 10HP. Everything came down to the wire, there wasn’t even time to get up to Raceworx to pick up the bike, so Jim brought it to the track in his rig.

    With the bike running well at a track where I really like to race, things felt confident going into the showdown weekend at Texas World Speedway (College Station, TX). On Saturday, Faltless Racing ended up finishing 2nd place in the 5-hour endurance after our 3rd rider crashed the bike. But we celebrated anyway since we’d won the F2 class championship for 2011.

    For Sunday sprints, I had to finish ahead of Isenhower in Classic Unlimited and I needed an outright win in F40LW Expert for the class titles. The green flag dropped.

    When the racing was over I ended up with both class championships. I was very satisfied to get these wins; 3 new championships this year. I worked hard throughout the year to make sure my bike, by body and my brain were always ready to win. These results validate all the effort. This year was my ninth consecutive year racing CMRA, and it was my best.

    I NEED TO THANK:

    1. My wife (Kim) and girls (Morgan and Natalie) for letting me get away on these weekends to compete in this sport.
    2. CMRA Racing staff, officials, race control, everyone... I believe we have the top racing organization in the country. CMRA is like family.
    3. AF1 Racing for always helping me out, and always being cool, and always knowing their shit.
    4. Jim Cambora and Steve Upchurch (Raceworx) for getting my bike ready for that last race. Two of the top race tuners in the country.
    5. David Hirsch (Island Racing) and Michelin tires. The Michelins worked awesome on the sprint bike all year long.
    6. John Hutchison (South Central Race Center) and Bridgestone tires. I don’t think it’s possible to win F2 endurance on any other tire.
    7. Moto Liberty – the boys in San Antonio for hooking us up with the best RS Taichi and Sidi race gear.
    8. Faltless Racing and all of our sponsors: Rockwall Honda/Yamaha/KTM, Silkolene, Tsubaki, Bell Helmets, EBC Brakes, Sonic Springs, M4, Motovation USA, Lockhart Phillips, RaceworX, Tucker Rocky, Hypercycle, AF1 Racing, Michelin


    2011 F2 Endurance Champs: Faltless Racing. Left to right: Rob, Me, Eric and Dianne, Ted (with beer) and Clay.


    2011 Unlimited Classic Champion and F40LW Expert Champion: Bill Erzal


    2012 GOALS:
    1. Repeat
    2. Work more on body/head position on the bike, as per Typhoon Academy.
    3. Up the training rage, more cycling and triathlon next year. More leg burn, RAAARHH!.
    4. Further sort out carbs, jetting still not right (RaceWorx, off-season).


    I feel like a lucky man every time I get to go out racing. Bring on 2012
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Racing Season 2011: Bill Erzal (Long) started by billerzal View original post
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