On August 13th B.J. De Jong showed up with a Buell XB12R Firebolt racebike named Starr. Owned and built by friend and fellow pit crew member Alex Oppermann of the James Gang Racing team. B.J.’s plan was to enter into the M.C.R.A. race weekend event. Before he could enter any races. He had to complete a racers license clinic and pass before getting a race license to enter any races over the Aug 13th and 14th weekend.
B.J. set up list looking at the cost it would be to do the race weekend. With this in mind, he started searching for some sponsor help. He went about promoting himself as if he was already a racer trying to get sponsor money for the races he might not even be able to enter. Knowing this it put some pressure into making sure he would perform well in the racers license clinic. B.J. De Jong of bearracing was able to secure two great sponsors in our local area here in Kansas. A & H Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing in Baldwin Ks, and DC Custom Crafted Cycles in Eudora Ks came on board to help with funding for the weekend. Thank You!
We showed up at the track Saturday morning for the racers clinic. Took some class room instructions, went out for some on track riding. Back to the classroom again for discussion and instructions. Then back out to the track again for more motorcycle racing. Once that was done, we took a written test and a mock race. The written test had to be passed before we could participate in the mock race. With the written test passed it was time to head out to the track for the mock race.
Rules of the mock race:
- Follow the flags and race boards
- Don’t crash in the race!
There were 8 riders in the racer license class, B.J. rode his buell racebike to a 5 place finish in the mock race earning his race license!
Next, was the Saturday Sportsman race. 13 riders where entered in the race. B.J. was now a licensed racer and was able to enter any remaining saturday races. So he entered the Sportsman race. Starting dead last in the 25min long race on the 2.5 mile Heartland Park Topeka road course. Once the green flag waved B.J. nailed the throttle and with a huge wheelie off the starting line found himself heading into turn 1 in 2nd place. After the next few turns he fell to 3rd. Settling into place on the track and holding pace with the top leaders.
With a the race half way over, B.J.’s #27 Buell started to reel 2nd place back in. Pushing the limits in turn 12 would be costly as the #27 Buell’s rear tire struck a seal in the track going to0 wide in the turn. This upset the handling of the bike, sending it off track. With the recent rain, the grassy area proved to be a place of no grip for tires of race boots. As B.J. put his foot down to slow and gain control, the muddy soft wet grass gave way and B.J. fell over in the mud. With his hand still on the clutch, bike still running, he got back up and picked the bike up only to see all the other riders pass right by on the track.
He would get back on the track and come home in 12th place of the 13 rider field with only a few minutes left in the race.
The Saturday wasn’t a total waste as the main goal was to get the race license. Then to get some experience for Sunday’s race on the 14th. With the off track experience on Saturday, the main goal for Sunday’s race was to just stay on track and not fall down. B.J.’s best friend Clint Barnett would show up Sunday morning to take charge of the A & H, DC Custom Cycles bearracing #27 Buell. To be the Crew Chief of the bearracing team. Attending to a little cosmetic damage,and changing tires. Clint would get the #27 Buell in great shape for Sunday’s race. Clint’s wife Jessica, and daughter Cora would join him for part of the day.
After the drivers meeting we took the bike to tech inspection, and to get our transponder for the race. It was then time for practice. B.J. was a little leary on new tires running a lap time of 2:12.00 in the first 2 practice sessions of the morning. Crew man Joey Cassity would take lap times, and aide in getting Sunoco race fuel for the bike. Crew man James Colbert would help with tire warmers and race stands. Heather Swenson and baby Jolene would also be at the track for support and take pictures. AMA pro rider Walt Sipp also joined us in our pit area to give B.J. some tips on what race line to take.
During the final practice of the day we where able to click off a lap time of 2:08.00. That felt pretty good being on a borrowed racebike.
At the start of the race B.J. lined up on the 1 row of his race class on the outside line. On the drop of the green flag, the Buell would pull a huge wheelie again off the starting line. Heading into turn one. Two riders got around B.J. and he ran the the full 25 min sprint race with out a crash. Once the checkard flag waved and the riders pulled into the finish area and victory lane. B.J. was greeted with a 3rd place trophy in the MCRA GTL-AM race. The trophy was designed by racer Hector St. John. He also got $45.00 cash $40.00 in gift certificates for motorcycle items. All in all the weekend was pretty successful. The bearracing team would like to thank everyone mentioned here. B.J. would like to personally thank those sponsors for all their help! Looking forward to doing it again next race season!!