Superb indeed is this opening pic...!...fresh paint, on the stands they sit, two Ducati's primed for a day of riding and a bit of racing, with a couple of good friends also leaving their marks on the tracks...

In Rusty's words, the following ensued:
"So Wade, Kevin, Steve, and I made the run down to Daytona (from
Savannah) to take Team Hammer up on their offer to run the track during their practice day. This was my first time running the track, and was one of the goals I had set earlier this year. The weather was great. The track was just plain scary, but lots of fun. There were some AMA guys there that were incredibly fast. I was pedaling my little 748 as fast as it would go on the banking and those guys would pass me (one on each side mind you) like I wasn't even moving.

If you have never ridden Daytona, do it. When you are standing in the middle of the infield looking around at the awesome spectacle that is the Daytona International Speedway you will have a new perspective on what we can do in our sport. Riding the track itself is another story altogether. If you like raw, unfettered speed, this is the place for you. Basically, once you leave the infield, with the exception of the chicane (which I managed to blow TWICE, once through the grass) you are WFO for the whole track. The dichotomy of the infield section and the "NASCAR" section will really mess with your head. The infield is fast and sticky (although not quite sticky enough, more on that later), but the track is mostly featureless, so you have to choose those breaking points carefully. I thought the transitions from the speedway into the chicane and onto the infield were very rough.

Apparently they have moved the chicane back quite a bit, so you don't have as much of a straightaway coming off of NASCAR 2, but you come back out on the straight section instead of directly on to NASCAR 3. Not knowing the difference, this seems like it works well. I was not quite running out 6th gear on the back, but was redlining about the time I crossed the start/finish. Imagine running wide open in 5th, then SHIFTING to 6th ON THE BANKING. I think I was suffering from temporary insanity. And I was getting PASSED! Those guys are nuts.

All in all, it was a great day (heck, it was a Wednesday and I was racing instead of working, how can that not be a great day). I got to ride with some of the big boys. I held my own against a lot of 750s and those 9xx Hondas (while they would blow me away on the banking, I would pull right back up in the infield). I got passed, and I passed, so it worked out pretty much even. I managed to crash my street bike (a 996) in the west horseshoe, but I came out fine, and there are only a few things to fix. Plus, I got to ride in the Crash Truck!

I came away from the day with a new found respect for the men and machines (not just bikes) that run that track. I would love to go back and really learn how to ride it, although I don't think a 748 is the best bike for that track."

photographer: Steve Foote
in view

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