The chase for championship points has concluded, netting a championship in the Pacific Raceways Dragbike Club and a 2nd place overall finish in the Summit ET series. Immediately following the final points races for both series, preparations concluded for the NHRA Division 6 Summit ET series Race of Champions and ET Finals, which were held at my home track, Pacific Raceways. Since I began racing 6 years ago, this race has never been held at Pacific Raceways, and I really wanted to capitalize with “home field advantage”. With over 50 of the best motorcycle and sled racers from the Pacific Northwest, competition was going to be fierce!
The schedule called for a Thursday test-n-tune session, allowing racers to get comfortable with the track surface and preparation, track turnout and the layout of everything in a non-race environment. Prior to the race, I had made a few adjustments, netting some instant results and matching our low ET of 8.78 on the first pass off the trailer, despite much worse air vs. earlier in the season. Our second test pass resulted in a bit slower 8.83, though looking at the numbers, graphs and video, we were able to decipher where and why it had slowed down. As Friday morning arrives, a few quick clutch changes based on the test passes yesterday and we are ready to rock-n-roll. Friday’s schedule is a test pass followed by a cash bash. Test pass is going great; bike feels as though it’s really moving through the 60’, 330’, 660’ and right on down the track, right up until 5th gear. As the transmission slides into 5th, I notice a loss of power, not all power, just that the bike isn’t pulling as hard as it should. At this point, I start to wonder if something has happened to the motor and begin to roll off the throttle at which time I hear “clang-clang-clang” from what sounds like the clutch basket area. Pulling in the clutch lever, I turn the key to the off position and coast off the end of the track onto the return road. Perplexed, I let the bike sit for a moment, remove my gear and gather my thoughts before attempting to re-start the bike.
Unfortunately upon re-start, the noise persists at idle and I immediately shut it off. After receiving a push back to the trailer, the thrash begins as my Dad and I pull off the clutch cover, pull the clutch pack, and so forth to start checking things that could be a “quick fix” at the track. Without discovering anything on the once over and with time dwindling until race time, we make the tough decision to jump aboard the trusted GS dragbike and ensure we don’t miss something and further damage the Hayabusa. We have 2 passes to jump back on a bike that we have not ridden all year, at the biggest race of the season and win. Well, when the going gets tough…
First pass on the GS dragbike in quite some time, and it’s as if the music hardly skipped a beat. I hit the tree decent and the bike does its thing, running what it should. Saturday. Race of Champions. A trip to Pomona, CA to race for a World Championship at the NHRA AAA Auto Club Finals is on the line. Qualifying pass first thing nets another solid run, giving us confidence that we have made the right choice to switch bikes and ensure the Hayabusa is fixed and running 100% to avoid any additional damage. With the random pairing of competitors, we draw a two-time Race of Champions winner in round one and head forward to the burnout box. Knowing it will be a tough race, we run it down track and he is able to edge out the win by a slim margin at the finish line. Our day is over early.
Sunday. This is it, the Summit series ET Finals. The team race. Despite our first round exit the day before, we know that we have the ability to go rounds and win, and it is time to put it all together. Round after round go by, we keep turning on the win light. 4th round we pair up with the previous seasons’ first time NHRA Division 6 Sportsman Motorcycle champion, this will be a good race, and it was. Carding a hundredth of advantage on the starting line and rolling it to the big end of the track, I take the win and move onto the semifinals. My Dad is also racing, fighting his way to the semifinals as well. Four bikes remain. It could be an all Havens’ final round if we don’t race each other and both get through. We are lucky enough to not get paired up, perfect! I am first pair out, and in an extremely tight race at the finish line, I take the stripe by .001 lifting and get the win. Riding up the return road I look to the back of the scoreboards, hoping my Dad can get through and we can race in the final. No luck. A red light of -.016 dashes that hope. No time to reflect on it at the time, we are getting “hot lapped” and we need to make final round preparations. Fueled up, battery charged and cooled off as much as possible, it’s time to seal the deal in the final round. I’d been decent on the tree all day and needed to keep it up and let the race come to me. My opponent dials an 8.70 to my 8.84, a fairly heads up race. Pre-stage, stage and launch! Racing down the track I see him roll up next to me earlier than I would have imagined leading me to believe one of two things: he is on a break out pass or I was late on the tree and he’s got the advantage. The latter of the two was correct. My worst light of the weekend gives my opponent all the room at the finish line he needs to lift and take the win. I roll up to the time shack, pick up my slip and am congratulated for being the only Team Pacific Raceways racer left in competition, yet am still in a bit of shock.
Everything started to hit me and I took a few minutes sitting at the finish line with the bike and all of my gear in hand and began to reflect on the countless obstacles that not only this race weekend, but the season had placed before me and what I was able to accomplish. Briannah, performing the extremely difficult task of the dial-in and excelling at it. My Dad and Lisa for countless hours of phone support and on-track direction. And to my sponsors, providing the quality parts I need to perform at the highest level, thank you!
Big shout out to my Dad, Jeff Havens, for taking the win in this years’ NHRA Division 6 Race of Champions and earning a trip to Pomona to compete in the NHRA Full Throttle AAA Auto Club Finals for a chance to be crowned the 2012 Sportsman Motorcycle World Champion!
Jake would like to thank his sponsors: APE, Brock's Performance and Vortex
Images courtesy of Jim Doyle, See It Imagery, www.seeitimagery.com