HONORABLE DISCHARGE

Posted: 8th June 2012 by GoGo in RACE STORIES - 2011

It’s a sad day.  Our beautiful 2009 KTM RC8R, just days after running faster than it’s ever run in it’s life, is being retired.  It’s run it’s last race.  This has been coming, this has been planned, it’s part of our growing process.  Yet as right as this is, something about it just feels sad.  The Superduke I loved.  Had it not died in my grip we’d still be racing it today.  Maybe I’m weird but the best bikes are like this to me – completely connected.  But this RC8R is extra special.  Almost hauntingly so.  There’s been an uncanny familiarity going on between this bike and my life which I do not talk about.  I do not write about.  Perhaps now that it’s being retired it’s time that I do.

http://gotagteam.com/KTM_Days/images/racing_2012/new_steed/over-shoulder-shot.jpg

Secretariat

The first pic I saw of the KTM RC8R was a drawing.  The bike didn’t even exist and I wanted one.  It’s not easy these days making a bike that looks unique.  Ducati did  it in the early 90s with the 916.  In the 20 years that they have failed to reproduce that bike’s unique sex appeal since, it has become painfully apparent that Massimo Tamburini wasn’t the only creator at work on that Italian drawing board two decades ago.  Luck was too.  And who knows, maybe luck struck again, only in Austria this time rather than Italy.  Because in the two decades since the 916 first came out only one bike has grabbed at me so emphatically – the KTM RC8R.

http://gotagteam.com/KTM_Days/images/racing_2012/new_steed/rc8r_spec_drawing2.jpg

I don’t comb through magazines drooling over sportbikes anymore.  If a bike’s impression is significant enough it finds it’s way to me.   But in the rare and special cases where a heart stopping impression is also backed up with great performance – well then maybe I’ll start reading.  And once I do start reading fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen cause it’s time to ride.  And the only place I ride is the racetrack.

The very first ride I got on a KTM RC8R lead us both straight into an already heated battle to win a once in a lifetime second place in the 2010 AFM Open Twins Championship, which our Superduke R had fought a year-long underdog’s fight to secure.  But our RC8R was a handfull that day.  Hard as I could ride it, with all the potential it had, we just weren’t fast enough.  We lost that race in epic fashion against what we can only now identify as “ourselves” more than our competitors, and as a result we became lost.

GoGo, Dannyboy, Keith - up in arms with KTM's RC8R

 

In a year’s worth of trying ever since that day, of struggling, and quite frankly of failing – lord knows if nothing else we tried our best.  And really that’s a beautiful thing.  To try at something, to never give up, even and especially when the only thing your work is producing is more confusion and more frustration, is quite an honorable thing.  What is haunting about that lost and lonely fight we were fighting is how it paralleled yet another lost and lonely fight going on in the background of my personal life – off the race track.

…..Enter, the second sexy German in my life .

http://gotagteam.com/KTM_Days/images/racing_2012/new_steed/Tracy_and_RC8R.jpg

Are you picking up on the similarities in these two Germans yet?  OK how about this – for a few reasons that I still don’t understand today, but for many reasons that I finally do, me and this other sexy being, my wife Tracy, have been separated for longer than most people go to college.  Being a typical man though, for the first half of this confusing transition into what I now affectionately refer to as “becoming an adult”, I was in denial.  “None of our troubles could be mine” I thought, so I very intensely focused on what was wrong with her.  THAT didn’t get me very far…  in fact it wasted a lot of valuable time.

As you can imagine being simultaneously haunted by a motorcycle so desperate to turn left while I was trying so hard to turn right –  lap after lap, and race after race – tormented me.  We focused on triples, we made special brackets, we slid the forks up and we pushed the forks down.  Jason Hauns quit, Sonny lost faith in me, Dannyboy and Keith tried everything I asked them to and Mike worked hard just keeping us all afloat.  As for me personally, no one doubted my abilities more than myself.  Nothing any of us did seemed to help.  We were lost, and let me tell you being lost like this weighs heavy on your soul – especially since racing has always been the one reliable thing in my life that’s always quite naturally made the most sense of all.  And now it didn’t.

Wild Horse

So my wife brought us to therapy.  I have huge respect for Tracy.  Just one story, from just one year of her life, would be enough to bring you to your knees.  Yet she is who she is today, for one simple reason – she never gives up.  So on the way to therapy I decided to surrender my fight for all that I knew and believed so desperately in.  Ironically this was right around the same time that I brought our RC8R to Gerry Piazza at GP Frame and Wheel.  On my way there I decided the same thing – instead of telling Gerry what we needed, I would now listen to what he offered.  And ever since I made those two decisions, the sex appeal in both of these beautiful aspects of my life has slowly come back to life.  The greatest differences now are things make sense again.  But oddly, now they make FAR MORE sense than they ever did before.

Out on the track I can feel tenths of seconds that I never could before.  I know where they hide and I know how to find them.  Too much input here and we falter there.  I get it.  Too flighty up front and we easily adjust it out.  It’s beautiful.  Before we’d be modifying the frame for shit sake.  All this progress means we are much closer now to getting all that we can from our 2009 RC8R.  Without this clarity our bike would still far outweigh our abilities.  And perhaps it still does – I am not the best rider out there.  For sure I leave both time and speed unrealized still.  Perhaps I always will.  But this past Sunday in the Formula Pacific race especially, I felt better as a rider than I have in ages.  I pushed the front repeatedly.  I drifted the rear controllably – mind you not like Gary McCoy, and definitely not like Casey Stoner, but for sure I pushed beyond where I typically can because I understood things that I normally cannot.  And lap after lap, as much as we gained from all this extra achievement, is as much as we would lose to the one vital element of racing that we as  team have yet to focus on – STRAIGHT LINE HORSEPOWER.

http://gotagteam.com/KTM_Days/images/racing_2012/new_steed/Secretariat.jpg

Secretariat, 1973 Triple Crown winner

So it’s a conundrum you see, just what do we do..  Our first option is to tear our 2009 RC8R into pieces, then build it back up to be better, stronger, and faster still.  Our second option is to retire it all together.  Then start over new.

Starting over new is an exciting decision to choose.  The possibilities are endless.  But where does starting over leave my marriage?  My girl is a rare and special thoroughbred who I see much the same way that the world once saw Secretariat – one beautiful animal with an over-sized heart whose best was better than anything they had ever seen before.  I watched that horse run one day, from the floor in my grandmother’s living room.  But it wasn’t just one day, it was THE day – the day he won the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes, by 31 lengths.  Surely I had just witnessed history, but I was only eight years old.  I knew something once-in-a-lifetime had just happened purely by the look in my father’s expressions.  And that look, to this day, is what drives me to chase my dreams.  To save my marriage.  To race like I never have before.  And to never stop trying.

I told you this would be an interesting month…

GoGo

http://gotagteam.com/KTM_Days/images/racing_2012/new_steed/secretariat-2.jpg

Secretariat 1973

 

In case you’ve never seen it

  1. Sonny says:

    I lost the luxury of time not faith, and that was beyond your control.

  2. Dannyboy says:

    Never doubted your abilities for a second my friend.

  3. mattacme says:

    My father had a favorite Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

    It is upon you.

    Again.

  4. GoGo says:

    Well the last time it was upon me I didn’t do great things, but it was surely interesting. Let’s hope I can improve on that

    • Ed Molijn says:

      Hey Eric,
      It sounds very much like a mixed emotion thing happening here, ie – out with the old in with the new, especially seeing that the ‘old’ has finally got its shit sorted out and not withstanding all the work that’s gone into it (ie, new paint job !!) …. aren’t you more than a little apprehensive about a new machine/direction at this stage of the season ?

      And hey bro, I’m very interested to find out just what that machine may be …. you’re being a bit cagey about revealing that little detail !!

      I’m being bloody ignorant here but has KTM actually come up with a better/faster model ? Not to my knowledge, but again, I’m ignorant on that.

      So if not a KTM what then ? 1199??

  5. Theother46 says:

    After watching you since the early 90’s I figured out you do best with the odds stacked against you. It makes your competition anonymous and it’s forced you to squeeze evey ounce of sklll out to overcome the problems, make up points and know what is happening beneath you at any given time. So, what orphan cometh next?

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