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Thread: Track Day at Palmer Motorsports Park with the Yankee Beemers

  1. #1
    Registered User kz1000ken's Avatar
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    Track Day at Palmer Motorsports Park with the Yankee Beemers

    Yesterday I did the track day at Palmer Motorsports park. Tony's Track Days runs a "Non-sportbike" day. all you folks who like twisty roads, but hate speeding tickets can come down on their RT's, K1600GTs, GS's, V-Stroms, BMW R100 /6's, Norton 850' Commando's, CX 500's and other not-a-sportbike toys for a day of fun. We setup for technical inspection in the morning and then Ken Condon spent an hour giving us a riders breifing. The briefing covered the layout of the track, some basic riding rules, and some tips on having the best experience.

    Many Yankee Beemers were there. Tim Hille, Greg Wolodkin, Riley Bush, Mark Grabowski, Dana Seero, Adam from RocketMoto, David Gamari, Pat , myself, Bob Blethen, and a few others I recognized but whos names I cant recall. Aside from YB's, there were a ton of big BMW's there. as you walked down the concourse, i would say the BMW was the most represented marque. I would say that RT's, K1600GT's and GS's were the most popular bike at the day. There was an S1000RR, an airhead or two, many other "Adventure" bikes, and a bunch of Honda ST's, FJR's and Goldwings. Riley "Chris Rayner" Bush of course showed up in race leathers on his SV 650 and again made us all feel slow ;-)
    Greg, Mark and I were all on R1200GS's. Dana had a Triumph Tiger. Bob was on his Ducati 800.

    Many of us stayed in hotels the night before. Most folks stayed at the Copper Lantern, but it was full so Riley, Greg and I got a room at the Days Inn off Route 84. It was a good choice, cheap and next to a gas station with an air machine. BT's Smoke house BBQ is nearby in Sturbridge. Greg and I enjoyed a feast of Brisket and pork.

    They split the riders into 3 groups. Cruiser/slow, Adventure / medium, and SportTourer / Fast. I rode the middle group and really enjoyed myself. The day was split into hour blocks where it was 20 minutes on track, 10 minute break, 20 minutes in class, and 10 minutes to queue up for the next session. Each session went about 4-6 laps depending on how fast you were. It is not a contest of speed and I often found myself in a very chill, "riding Vermont" mindset as I leaned in and out of the corners. Turn after turn I was just in the zone. I passed some, got passed by some, and mostly focused on keeping the race line.

    The track is cut into a mountain. There are some serious elevation changes, hard down hill turns, and a long straight that corners hard into a chicane. Coming up the hill is really exciting as once you clear the first uphill S turn, there is a big drop off into a hard left. I really got the hang of leaning the bike and over the course of the day I rode about 90 miles on the track . I kept the bike mostly in 3rd gear, working 2nd to redline and sometimes at the bottom of 4th. The big GS did very well and I used about 4 gallons of gas over the day.

    At lunchtime Ken did a body position seminar where he demonstrated the optimum ways to steer the bike, position yourself to look thru the corner, and how to use counter steering techniques effectively. He demonstrated on a Tiger Xrx, a Honda ST, and a Harley Davidson Sportster. He covered some of the differences between Cruiser, Sport, and adventure bikes. Tires, and handlebar shape, forward controls, weight and other factors that play into steering.

    Each class included something that progressed riders to the next level as the day went on. Starting out with the rules of the track, progressing to passing, braking, proper apexing, and showing videos of riders on the track and offering areas of improvement. One of those videos once again afforded me the opportunity to be the bad example, as I tend to apex early and tip in too soon. Everyone got a chance to critiqued by a control rider if they wanted. You can ask the riders to follow you and they will then change positions and let you follow them thru the various turns as they demonstrate the optimal apex time, line thru the turn, and tip in point. I noticed that in the morning I was very focused on the technical, but as the afternoon progressed I felt great and just wanted to have fun. The faster I went, the less precise I got. This is what happens. Its tough to stay on the line when you want to just rip thru the corners, but the message of the day is that the line is the optimal path around the course, and you are not on the optimal path, you will not improve your lap times. Ride smoothly, work on cornering better, and relax.

    We had a great lunch, the food was good and there was plenty of it. Ken Condon, Tony Ianerrelli, his wife Rene, and all his coaches put on an event that offered me a chance to really enjoy riding the twisties at my own spirited pace, and learn something in the process. It was not an inexpensive activity, but I feel that it was worth every cent. I have done many track days with these guys now, at least one a year for the past several years. I got on the track yesterday relaxed and familiar with the course, and that helped a lot. Many people doing it for the first time experience some anxiety. Its not a race, its not a contest, and it truly is a judgement free zone. I've ridden with many of the folks in this club over the years and I think that all of you would find this right-at-home. Palmer is more a road course than a racetrack. I've also ridden Thompson, Lime Rock and Loudon. Palmer is different. I think its my favorite.

    Hopefully some of you who are a little unsure if your bike is right for this might come try it out. Big RT's, K Bikes, Old Airheads, folks young and old, it is for you.


    We rode for sushi at Baba Sushi in Sturbridge after the event, as it turns out BT's is closed on Mondays.

    Some links for reference.

    Palmer Motorsports Park: https://www.palmermotorsportspark.com/
    Tonys Track Days: http://www.tonystrackdays.com/
    Copper Lantern : http://www.copperlanternmotorlodge.com/
    BT's Smokehouse : https://www.btsmokehouse.com/
    Baba Sushi: https://babasushisturbridge.com/



    Tim Hille and his /6, My Blue GS, Greg's Red GS and a bunch of fast bikes ;-)


    We are MOA Chartered Club #153
    1978 R100RS , 1983 R80RT, 1998 R1100RT, 2000 ZRX1100, 2013 FLHRC
    I don't need an intervention, I need a bigger garage.

  2. #2

    Great Write Up

    Ken,

    Great info. Lived not too far away most of my life and never heard of the place. Sounds like a very good investment and fun at the same time.

    Thanks!

  3. #3
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    Nice Ken
    Gary
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
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    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200

  4. #4
    Registered User kz1000ken's Avatar
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    Some better pics from the pro photographer.

    1978 R100RS , 1983 R80RT, 1998 R1100RT, 2000 ZRX1100, 2013 FLHRC
    I don't need an intervention, I need a bigger garage.

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