Well, me and Infineon Raceway go back a few years. I’ve been shooting there since 2006. I’ve watched at least eleventy trillion bikes pass by me in every corner of that track. Fast guys, slow guys…whatever. I’ve seen and documented probably around 100 crashes at Infineon alone. Most in turns 2 and 9, for sure, but with turn 3 having a ton of crashes as well.
Three years ago, it wasn’t even in a turn that had me spooked. Three years ago, Allen Rice crashed into the k-wall as he was exiting the track and tragically, he passed away as a result of that crash. This had all happened just in front of me, as I was making my way back to the pits to get geared up to ride Infineon for the first time. Needless to say, I didn’t ride that day. In fact, I’d decided that day, after what I’d just seen, that I had no desire to EVER ride Infineon. “It’s too damned dangerous,” I’d tell myself.
And I didn’t.
For three years, I never even had the inclination to ride. I’ve seen some people make mistakes and have incidents sometimes out of their control at Infineon causing life-changing crashes. From Shawnery having come together with Brian in turn 8 some years ago, to Eric Arnold at the start of a race before turn 1. Infineon scared me. I was genuinely fearful of riding the track.
Yesterday was a Zoom Zoom day at Infineon. The conditions were absolutely perfect. The weather simply could not have been any better for a day of riding. I’d made up my mind: I was going to ride.
The 2nd session after lunch, I jumped in with the B/C crowd as it was a 2 group, 30 minute session format. I rolled up to the hotpits. I was less nervous than I thought I would be. I mean, I’ve ridden every other track around here a jillion times, so I guess that helped to quell the fear. I won’t lie…I did have turns 2, 3, and 4 on the brain though. I’m a little prone to highsiding, and I REALLY didn’t want that to happen. As I’d geared up several minnutes prior, I’d even gone so far as to give Han my phone and show him that the very first entry in my contact list/address book was “A Emergency,” also known as Melissa, my wife. She’s my emergency contact number. THAT’S how much those turns were in my head.
We rolled out and I followed Lisa around for a lap, riding pretty cautiously, recognizing every bump and every bit of camber in every corner that I’ve been staring at for the last few years, but never having rolled 2 wheels over before. Before I knew it, I’d survived my first warm up lap at Infineon. And I realized too: this track is EASY!
I rode three 30 minute session yesterday. The track was a lot of fun. Turn 3a (the right hander over the crest) ended up being my favorite turn of the whole track! I was really surprised by how much work Infineon is. At every other track I’ve ridden (Thunderhill, Buttonwillow, Laguna Seca, Reno Fernley), there’s always a place where you can rest…catch your breath…you know: a straight! Infineon has nothing worthy of a “rest.” It’s all just work. But damned fun work. The braking zones at Infineon are ridiculous… turn 4, turn 7, turn 9, and especially turn 11 are REALLY hard braking zones. I’ve always prided myself on being able to slow down and slow down quickly, but Infineon really put me to the test. I’m glad it wasn’t pass/fail. ;)
Anyhow, after years of being afraid of Infineon and not having ridden it, I’ve finally gotten over it. Not to say that I don’t have the UTMOST respect for this track and it’s ability to REALLY hurt someone if they don’t show it the respect it deserves…but I’ve ridden it. And I will ride it again.
Thanks Pirelli, Zoom Zoom, Dave Moss, and TechSpec for providing the tools I needed to help ease my mind and let me focus on the track. And thanks Toe, for hanging out and getting some pics of me to commemorate my day. :)
I shot video during my last session to analyze and learn from…you can see how absolutely PERFECT my suspenion was working, thanks to Dave Moss twiddling my knobs. My best lap ended up being a 1:58.25, with many consistant 1:59s and 2 flats. This is just a single lap, nothing special, of that session.