Below is a race update from GalferUSA athlete Gordon Tarnow.
This weekend I raced in my home town of Lake Havasu City, AZ with the AZOP series. This was going to be my first whole race weekend solely on my 450. I was very excited for this race because I was starting to feel really good on my 450 and wanted to prove I could run A and Pro-Am next year. Three of my sponsors were also going to be watching me on Saturday so I needed to ride good to impress them.
We drove down to the track early Saturday morning so I could do the unclassified race. I figured that the track couldn’t be too drastically different due to the fact that there is limited space but I needed to practice anyway. There were only minor differences to the track that I had ridden on with WORCS earlier in the year. I was very happy to find out that they shortened the lagoon jump and made us jump it. I rolled over it the first time to see how long and high it was and found that it was easily doable so I cleared the whole thing every lap after that. It was hard to make the turn after the landing but it was faster and easier to just clear the lagoon and be done with it. I went back to the truck to change and hang out until it was my turn to race. At this point, I could barely contain my excitement for the race.
When it finally came time for my race, I was surprised to find that I was the last one there. I usually am the first one there but I guess everyone else was just as excited as me. I got a spot all the way on the outside but I was fine with that because I had had good luck before with the outside of the first turn. Starting time came quicker than I thought which was a pleasant surprise. The pros started in front of me and I had less than 15 seconds before my start. I was wearing earplugs for the first time so I raised the RPMS a lot higher than I had meant to. The flag went up, I dumped the clutch, and took off. I was one of the first into the turn but ran was wide because I didn’t get onto the front brakes hard enough. I moved down to third and was right behind second place. The rider in front of me was slower than me and I started to grow very impatient because I could not pass them. We came around the beach and roared toward the lagoon jump. The riders in front of me slowed down and rolled the lagoon jump. I saw that I was at a safe distance and they were at a safe height so, I jumped over both of them. I sailed right over their heads, barely made the next turn, and roared off in first place. I was flabbergasted by the fact that I was leading the expert class in my second 450 race. This didn’t last too long but it felt good while I had it. I lead the rest of the first lap and about a third of the second lap before I was passed. I stayed right behind first, making adjustments to my own riding as I saw her do things differently than I was. I stayed pretty close for a few laps until I started to fade. I had never really had to worry about my endurance before but I guess it is a big deal on a 450, especially when I was actually riding it hard. I slowed little by little every lap. I finished the race in a comfortable second, only a minute behind first. I was very happy but I was more sore than I had ever been after a single race. My hand were blistering and my back was killing me but I was going to race the next day no matter what. I was more happy about that fact that I proved I could be an A rider than the fact that I had gotten second. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to get second in an expert class in my second race on my 450, but I was very proud of the improvement I made on my riding. At Glenn Helen, I was riding at the speed of a very slow B rider but now, I was running at the speed of a mid-pack A rider which made me very happy. I couldn’t wait to do it again on Sunday.
My race was a little earlier on Sunday which made the waiting less torturous. I got almost the same spot on the line and got ready to start. When we started, I had the RPMs raised at about the same level as Saturday. The flag went up and I dumped the clutch. I didn’t run wide this time but I had to dodge an accident that occurred in front of me. I got into third place and launched over the first jump. I stayed close behind second but saw first place pulling away. I jumped past them in the lagoon jump but I ran wide in the next turn so they got back around me. I sat behind them for about another quarter of a lap before I passed them due to the fact that I had superior machinery. It felt good to pass someone because I had better parts, rather than it being like my 250 where I had to ride my but off just to keep up. I roared off after first place in a blind rage. This is the lap that doomed me. I was trying to ride as fast as I physically could, I found my limit. I overshot a number of jumps and flat landed extremely hard. I hit the ground hard enough to bruise my hands. The pain from the landings combined with me being sore from the day before slowed me down tremendously.
I gradually dropped all the way to 6th place because I just couldn’t keep up any more. I pulled across the finish line and was very glad that my sponsors had come to see me on Saturday and not Sunday. At least I found my current limit! Even though that race sucked for me, I did at least have fun in the beginning and I found out exactly what not to do next year. I thought that the weekend had gone pretty well. I found my limit (for the moment anyway), had proved I have the speed for an A class, and gotten second place in an Expert class. I want to thank Mike at Premier Golf Cars, Tom from Superior Pavers, and Jason from River Rat for coming out to see me race this weekend. I am going to have to do a lot of training in the off season but I hope to see you all in January for the first round of the WORCS season!!! Thank you for supporting me for the 2018 season and I hope to see you all next year!!
-Gordon Tarnow 120