The weather began to change and rain was coming and going. I still had hours to wait for my race, and all I wanted to do was wrap up this championship. It would rain, then dry out. Then rain again. My mind scrambled all day with the possible scenarios. So much chaos ensued, that when it was time to race, I missed the warm up lap (not my fault) and had to start from pit lane with Jeremy Coffey who was also caught off guard. Only 5 racers showed up to the race, because of the threatening weather. The scenario with that little amount of riders is that Ancien would have had to win if I got last to win the championship. Nothing else but that scenario would give him the #1 plate. When the green flag waved and the race was off, we had a brief time penalty before Jeremy and I could leave the pit lane and join the race. It really didn't affect anything at all. I was still 3rd into the first turn, but I didn't have my new tires scrubbed in, and I was seeing the track for the very first time! It would've been super easy just to finish and get 4th, but disaster struck yet AGAIN and my bike began cutting out as I made my way onto the front straightaway to complete lap 1. It was so bad, I could barely even maintain 60mph and I went from 3rd to last in a heartbeat. Emotions overwhelmed me, but I kept riding and I would almost catch 4th place by the time I got to turn 4, but then 4th place (Tullio Celano) would pull away when we got onto the back straight. This went on for 2 laps, I was being teased so badly for that crucial championship determining position. Ancien was leading the race. I was then black flagged, and before I could make it back into the pits the bike died and I pulled off outside of turn 4 and 5. I had to watch the fate of this championship play out on the track without me. I thought it was over and I was in such misery and pain watching. I couldn't watch. Ancien was leading and rock solid. But then the rain came. Little sprinkles fell from the sky. I was basically laying on the grass on the other side of the track wall, but when I felt those drops, I got up to watch. A little glimmer of hope grew in me when I saw Pinkstaff and Coffey closing in on Ancien. A couple of laps later, Ancien was in 3rd and going backwards. At the time, I didn't know if that meant I was champion or not. All I hoped was that everyone would finish exactly how they were, and they did. I was able to ride my bike back into the pits, where I met my family, who weren't jumping up and down with joy to congratulate me. I was prepared for the worse. I was even more confused when Ancien rode over to my pits to give me a hug. I then asked that scary question. "Who won?" I was honestly in shock when my Dad said, "you did."
Everyone had ridden a pretty emotional roller coaster with me for that 25 minutes or so the race lasted, which would explain why everyone look as rattled as I was when I came back into the pits. But as soon as I heard my dad answer me, overwhelming relief set in. All the emotions of a tough year, losing Kelly, and fighting through all the adversity to win the championship poured out of me. Tears of relief and joy were shed. All I wanted was to win this championship and dedicate it Kelly. And I was finally able to do that!
About a half hour after that race, things settled down and I still had one more race to do. I had Open Superbike to race, and I was tied for that class championship. I had no R1 in race ready condition, and I wasn't going to race the Suzuki with shifting problems when the last race was going to be part wet and dry. So I went out on my R6 with rain tires. Everyone in that race took a gamble, because none of us knew if the track had dried from the rain it got in Formula Ultra and the race after. When I lined up for the race, I saw Jeremy Coffey, the competitor I was tied in this class for the championship with, was on his 1000 equipped with rain tires as well. But after we took the warm up lap, it was clear the track was dry. We were both on the wrong tires for the conditions, which was going to make for a very interesting race! When the green flag waved, Pinkstaff checked out in first aboard his 1000 equipped with slicks, the proper choice, and I was in 2nd. Halfway through the race, Tullio Celano got by me aboard his 1000 as well. At that point, I had a large lead over Coffey and was able to just have fun riding the rest of my race. And I did just that as I melted my rain tires away. I got 3rd and won the Open Superbike class championship to wrap up the 2017 OMRRA season.
I would like to give a huge thank you to Mike Colbach of Oregon Motorcycle Attorney for making this year possible by putting aboard a new Yamaha R1. I had been dreaming about racing a new R1 for a couple years, and Mike made it possible! It's been an honor to have him come on board this year, and I am very thankful for the level of support he has given me.
I would also like to personally thank Eric Dorn of EDR Performance for his dedication to my racing career. He puts in countless hours to prepare my race bikes, and he has spent countless days at the track with me for over 5 years to get me to where I am at today. Thank you Eric for your support. You are family to me and this would not have been possible without you.
Thank you to my Mom and Dad for bringing me up as a motorcycle racer, and for sacrificing so much so I can do what I do. I love you both.
Thank you to all my other sponsors for their part in this journey too:
10 years ago I was a novice racing OMRRA for the first time. 10 years later, I am the OMRRA #1 plate holder. Thank you to all my friends, family, and supporters for the encouragement this year, and years past!