This reporter was again afforded the privilege of attending The 2015 Indy Mile Event as an official media representative of the Castrol-Triumph-Bonneville Performance AMA Pro Flat Track team along with VETMotorsports, by the event promoters, Family Events out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Special personal thanks go to Leah Burdette, Marketing Coordinator for Family Events and Peter Cline, Executive Director of VETMotorsports for arranging this opportunity for me.
I arrived at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, IN in the early afternoon after driving down from my home near Chicago IL.
With the VIP parking pass I was able to park within a short walking distance from the Bonneville Performance team pit area – thank you very much! I got out my camera gear and starting shooting what I saw, and posting updates on the Bonneville Performance Facebook page.
The condition of the track at the Indy Mile looked pretty good. The stands started filling up later in the afternoon as practice laps and heat races began. Opening ceremonies began at 6:30 pm and as always people were watching online at fanschoice.tv.
The team pit area was nearly completely setup due to the help of the VETMotorsports crew members for the day: Peter Cline, Rick and Jonathan.
A BIG shout out to Nancy & Terry Otton of Ramspur Winery for their support of Combat Wounded Veterans! Awesome people!
Shortly after I arrived and started shooting and posting, we were ahead of schedule. The bikes had passed tech inspection and our pit area and sponsor signage was up. We were anxious to get the races rolling!
Unexpected Mechanical Failure
However, there was a little drama going on here! It turned out that as Steve Gately was pulling the team truck into the Indiana State Fairgrounds earlier that morning, the serpentine belt on the engine broke! This caused loss of all power-driven features such as power brakes, air conditioning, power steering, etc.
Wasting no time, our rider Jake Shoemaker #55 decided to fix this problem while the rest of the team setup the pit area and prepared the bikes for racing!
Within an hour or so, Jake had the problem fixed… new AC compressor and serpentine belt!
This top-down photo of the end of the AC condenser pretty much sums it up! Good thing that bearing didn’t fail while Steve was on the road driving to the race track!
One of the first things that happens at an AMA Pro Flat Track race to get everything rolling is the mandatory Riders Meeting. There was some drama and controversy during this meeting about the “2 minute rule” that determines what a team can and can’t do when a bike fails to start or stops running at the beginning of the race or on restarts.
Timed Practice Laps
After the Riders Meeting, and when you see Steve Gately gassin’ up the bikes with racing fuel, it must be timed practice lap time!
While we waited for the track to be watered before our second practice lap session we prepared a second bike to see if we could improve our lap times with it.
Based on the timed practice laps, the top riders are placed into 1 of 3 heat races. The top 4 finishers of these heats move directly to the GNC1 Main Event race in the evening.
Jake Shoemaker #55 placed 4th in his heat race which allowed him and the team to transfer directly to the GNC1 Main Event!
There is usually a break in activity after the heat races and fans are allowed into the paddock area for autographs and conversations with the teams they support.
GNC1 Main Event
At 6:30 an abbreviated opening ceremonies commenced due to a storm front threatening the races. After all the final 18 teams and riders were introduced, the GNC1 Main Event race was held.
The GNC1 Main Event race was stopped under a red flag because of a rider down. He turned out to be OK. During red flag stops riders and teams have a limited number of things they can do… one of them is to clean helmets and visors! However, they cannot do anything mechanical to the bikes.
15 laps into the GNC1 we were stopped under another red flag. At this point Jake was in 13th position and hoped to move up after the restart. On the final restart we noticed the engine was burning oil – not a good sign. Two full red stops is very hard on an air cooled engine that has been pushed to its limits!
At this point, knowing the engine was in imminent danger of failure, we just hoped to be able to finish the race!
Given our circumstances, we did very well to finish in 10th. The bike will need a new engine before it races again on August 4th at the Black Hills Half-Mile in Rapids City, SD.