2004 R6
Buttonwillow Crash
September 18, 2004

AFM Racing!

(skip to pictures)

It was a beautiful day in Buttonwillow. Highs in the mid-80s, slight wind blowing, a perfect track day for me and my '04 R6. It's been a while since I've ridden here - over a year ago, and that day was 114 degrees in the shade. I spent the first session just re-acquainting myself with the track, and was none too comfortable. I realized I had absolutely no braking markers on this track and once went a bit too hot into T3 (Cotton Corners) and made a mental note to brake early here until I figured it out. Of course my short term memory sucks.

The second session felt much better, I started remembering where I could go fast and where I had to go slow, but had to figure out shift points. The third session I started getting comfortable, was finally able to pass the guy on the R1 that kept balking me in the previous sessions, but now was on the tail of a duc that I had figure out how to get around. Lap times in the 2:08s.

After lunch I felt pretty good. A good session going and I finally pass the duc and felt like I had a fast lap going. Coming out of T2 with a good drive and see an opportunity to pass a GSXR on the brakes into T3, but he brakes later than I expect him to and now I'm way too hot into T3. I should have just stood it up and gone off into the dirt. But I'm hard on the brakes and try to make it, trailing off and turning in. I see the line in my mind's eye as it tightens up and I see I'm just going to skim the curbing on the outside of T3 - yeah I'm going to make it! BANG! I'm down on the right side, the front tire just gave up. I don't know how fast I was going when I crashed, may be 40-50? I remember hitting the ground and then tumbling... tumbling... tumbling... (thinking "ok I can stop now" - this must be what it feels like to be in a clothes dryer) ... two more tumbles then I'm finally stopped in a sitting position and a huge cloud of dust around me.

I stumble over to the bike and turn it off, feel OK but know that my left ankle is kind of sore. I sit down next to the bike, look around and see that bikes are still running around the track and I'm still in the impact zone, so I get back up and stumble out to the fence at the outside of the turn and sit down. Finally the black flags come out. I ride back to the pits in the crash truck and Lionel drops me off at the ambulance. These guys are a joke - they ask me if I want them to take me to the hospital or back to my pit, nothing else. Don't check my blood pressure, or ask how I'm feeling, if I hit my head, nothing. The care at Thunderhill was much better.

Back in the pits my ankle swells up to grapefruit size pretty quickly and my pit-mates Mike & Donna make me as comfortable as possible. Many thanks to them for packing my stuff up! I look at my lap timer, and my last lap before the crash was a 2:07.44. But I'm fuming at myself for being so stupid to get carried away and over my head like that. Mistake #1: don't try to pass on the brakes without having braking markers. Mistake #2: at the point I knew I wouldn't make the turn I should have just stood the bike up and gone off into the dirt, probably would have ended up much better. Having never gone dirt tracking at a track day, it just wasn't in my repertoire. I'm very glad I didn't take anybody else out.

I figure I can drive myself home and give a friend a call to help my unpack once I get home. As luck would have it, another guy's 2-smoke's engine seized in his last session, and he lives in San Jose just up the road from me. So he volunteers to drive me home in my truck, while his buddy (who's staying at the track another day) will take his bike home with him the next day. So many thanks to Garth for driving me home! And thanks to John Kogan & his dad for helping unload once I got home!

The ER was fairly quiet Saturday night so I was in and out of there in 1.5 hours. X-rays show nothing broken, just a sprain. Sunday it's still swollen and has turned techni-color. Lots of minor aches & pains from tumbling. Good thing it's football season so there's something on TV to watch! So I spent about 3-4 days using two crutches to get around, then about 3-4 days using one crutch. Getting around without crutches now, but it will still be a while before I can get my boots on and go riding.

All my gear came through pretty much unscathed, save my Arai RX7-RR4 helmet which took a bad bang on the right side so I'll be replacing it. My Helimot leathers are just scuffed and dirty, Helmut's giving them some TLC right now. Linda Keigwin somehow ended up with my Held gloves, so I haven't seen them, but don't expect anything wrong with them. My hands are fine anyway. My Daytona Evo Sport boots are also just scuffed and dirty. One problem with the Daytonas is that they're either slightly too small for me, or slight too large. For these boots, I went with the slightly too large. I wonder if I'd be injured at all if I had the slightly too small boot instead. My ankles won't bend sideways in these boots, so it must have been a twisting motion that caused the sprain.

Damage to the R6 is mostly on the right side: the upper fairing is trashed since the windscreen got ripped off and took half the fairing with it. Of course the windscreen itself is virtually unscathed. The right side fairing needs to be replaced, the right clipon is bent and the front brake lever is broken. The Sato footpeg is bent and needs to be replaced. My beautiful Arata pipe is trashed. Right side oil pump cover is gouged, and while still serviceable, I'll replace it lest I go down on that side again and dump oil everywhere. I'll post some pictures over in the pictures forum.

Click small image for larger view.

Pretty nasty looking ankle.