Saturday, August 16, 2008

Part Four B

Three hours past midnight. We’ve been awake since 8 o’clock the previous morning and the race has only now completed the first of two full rounds of the clock as we prepare for another routine stop. Our rider, Jeff, just woke up 15 minutes ago and, having already peed in the garage's sink, he is now having trouble focusing enough to zip up his gear. We get the “pit in” signal (usually a franticly waving arm) from the timing booth on the pit wall and everyone tenses up, though trying to look relaxed and act as though they are perfectly comfortable waiting for our Suzuki GSX-R1000 to scream onto pit lane. We watch for the tell tale flash of our orange, blue and white paint scheme and the odd, unmistakable glow from the home interior lighting units we’re using as headlights. We would later learn that the “headlights” were producing enough heat to melt the plastic lens of our system, allowing it to be shaped by the force of 180 mph winds experienced on the front straightaway. Yeah, this is a homegrown team.

“There he is,” I think aloud, “It’s only a matter of seconds now…”

The bike rolls to a halt and I snap the rear stand into the spools so our rider can crawl from his perch, aching and steaming, on this cool evening in April. I plant my shin on the sticky boiling hot surface of the rear tire and press hard as my teammate Yves unwinds the axle with a squeeze of the air gun’s trigger. With one smooth effort he slides the axle free as I shove the tire forward to provide chain slack as my fingers round the sprocket to remove the chain and place it on the trailing arm. A slight twist of the wheel ensures that it will clear the rear brake caliper as I step backward and to my right with the now obsolete rubber donut.

Fred is already busy installing fresh rubber and replacing the chain as Yves whips the axle back into its handmade, custom mooring. Our part complete, we watch anxiously as Paul and Robert dump 24 liters of fuel into the beast in only seconds. Race fuel sprays from the quick fill and our rider throws his leg over the bike, stabs the starter and leaves the pits as a wave of relief sweeps over the crew. We check the stop watch and exchange handshakes and pats on the back when we see the time. 23 seconds for a rear tire and full of fuel. Without resting, Yves carries the old rubber away to the Pirelli trailer while Fred and I prepare another set of tires with warmers. In an hour we’ll be doing it all over again. For now we sip coffee, stay busy reorganizing spare parts and try to pretend that we don’t have twelve hours and eleven stops to go.

Continue >>


Post a Comment

<< Home