Shelina Moreda - Indy Race Report
NEWS August 20, 2014
From my first day here, Indy was awesome. I flew in and was featured on Channel 8, WISH TV straight away. Indy Style is the show, and Andi Hauser hosts it. They invite me back on the show every year, since I became the first female to race at Indy on a motorcycle. Andi also comes to my races each year! I'd caught a cab to the television station with who turned out to be a partner in the law firm that represents Harley Davidson, what a coincidence. Then I got picked up by my team and got to ride around the new track on a scooter with my Chilipepper Racing teammate, Hayden Schultz. We got to check out the new layout of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the fresh pavement, which we were both excited to test out first hand.
Here's a shot of me talking with Andi Hauser on Channel 8 - WISH TV's Indy Style, and a link if you want to watch it!
Three days of riding ahead of us and we were looking forward to it. Friday we had practice and then qualifying. In morning practice, the clouds were closing in and we knew we wanted as much track time as possible. We got the green flag and went out on a track with drops of rain rolling across our visors. The track wasn't wet enough to need rain tires, but it was enough to make us cautious. The track was noticeably faster, with turns 2, 3, and the last chicane being quite different, faster and smoother than last year. The turn 9 chicane was also a little different and had tons more grip than the past years. I liked the changes. I improved my times consistently all day.
At some point in Qualifying, I realized I was trying too hard. I was thinking too much. Trying to focus on everything I've been taught.... all at once, which isn't helpful at all. I finally realized it and told myself "Just Ride". "You know how to ride, have fun, feel the bike, and just do what you do". I made myself relax, talk to the bike, and just ride. From my time sheets, I could tell exactly which lap I made that change in my head, because I literally dropped 2 seconds that same lap... a huge improvement. And that wasn't the best part; my times continued improving and my very last lap on Friday was my very fastest of the day!
Friday night, my umbrella girl coordinator and friend, Jamie She'z Racing, and I, headed to the Indy Mile to watch BMC Racing's pro flat track racer, Mitch Harvat. BMC Racing is the team I raced flat track with at the beginning of the season in Savannah and Volusia. After a hard days work over on the Roadrace track, it was nice to chill at the Indy Mile. There were a lot of the roadrace teams there doing the same, and I got to see my QMMF team there, since they are here for Moto2 with Anthony West. It was a nice night and I was looking forward to Saturday.
Bright and early Saturday morning, even though it was colder and the track was slower, I started our short practice out as fast as I had finished on Friday afternoon. What I learned the day before had set in overnight and I was continuing to improve. I had qualified 18th, and in this practice I was running 11th to 15th. I dropped some more time and wrapped up practice in 14th and a positive outlook for the race.
We had all day to hang out and watch MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 races before our race. When it was time to grid up, we lined up on a "false grid" near the Vance & Hines race-rig. Spectators were lining up to hear the thundering bikes warming up. I was able to take some time to talk with some of them and get some photos with them. Then it was time to go line up on the real grid on-track. Motors revved, ready to go. The red light went on and I anticipated the start, lunging forward just a bit before I caught the brake and stopped myself again.
The light went off and all the Harleys barreled into Turn 1. To my dismay, I came around start/finish line on that first lap and saw my number on the penalty board. Even though I'd caught myself before I gained an advantage at the start, it was enough of an anticipation to catch the officials' attention and I was given a 10 second jump-start penalty. I was bummed and mad about it, but I raced hard just the same. I was in a group and had some good battles going on through the entire race. With the jump-start penalty I placed 21st.
After the race, we lined the bikes up to get ready for photos on the bricks. While we waited for the XR1200 racers photo, my team hung out at the wall (next to the front straight of the track) and talked about the race. There was a demo going on with pace cars taking select spectators on a fast lap around the track. The president of Indianapolis Speedway and I started chatting and watching; He remembers me from the first year I raced here. They just so happened to have a spot open in the last car, which was scheduled to bring a couple around the track who was at the races for their 3 year anniversary... I was Stoked when I was offered the seat!! Got to rip around the track on 4 wheels this time, in a car driven by Spanish racer Carlos Ezpeleta. What a fun treat!
Saturday night, Jamie and I headed out to watch some more flat track races, short track this time. Another fun night, it's awesome to have so much racing going on in one weekend, especially with different disciplines of pro level racing. It's fun to hop around and check them all out.
Sunday, Race Day 2. I had something to prove. I needed a good clean start, and to drop my times even more. We made some suspension changes and got the tires dialed. I would start again in my 18th place qualifying spot. But First... I had photos to attend to with the FIM on the bricks at the Finish line (see the FIM Women in Motorcycling photo below).
I had several umbrella boys there to help out with shade on the grid. Big thanks to Carl Soltiz - AMA Pro Supersport Racer, Mitch Harvat - AMA Pro Flat Track Racer, Brad "The Bullet" Baker - AMA Pro Grand National Champion, and Dunlop even sent their very own Josep Sarda! I also had my very own Michelle Disalvo back as my mechanic on the grid assisting Chad, my Chilipepper mechanic. It was awesome.
Lined up for the race. Motor revved. A clean start it was, but it was not good. I could feel that the clutch is not engaging well or something. I've noticed this getting progressively worse for a while now, but it was apparent at this start. I came off the line shaking my head, which you rarely see me do on starts because I absolutely love starts and am dang good at them.
I worked my way past a couple of the spots that I'd lost, and set myself up for battle with a group. We diced and passed eachother and were having a good race. We got a red flag, as there was a big crash coming on to the front straight and they needed to move the bike (the rider ended up a bit banged up, but ok). There would be a Restart.
I got a pep-talk from Elizabeth Tinker, a flat track racer friend of mine who was there to help me out as one of the She'z Racing umbrella girls. I'd worked my way up to 15th, so that is where I restarted from. Got another not-so-great start and went off the line shaking my head again. I set myself up for battle again. My times were still improving, and I was holding my own, so I was racing with a smile.
Three laps to the end, I felt the bike cut out on the exit of a corner. Then again a short while later. I'd been running in 14th and catching the rider in 13th, but now I was falling back. The bike was short on fuel and was letting me know it. The last 2 laps were difficult. I was having to conserve fuel, use momentum to keep the bike from cutting out too much, instead of pushing as hard as I could. The rider behind me ended up passing me with ease, and he went to work on the rider in front of us. I did everything I could to keep my now 15th position.
The last lap. I came out of the final corner, bike completely sputtering, had to put my hand in the air so the rider behind me would know I was slowing down. I held that throttle open as fully as I could. The engine shut off just before the finish line, and I was able to coast past the checkered flag and through Turn 1! WHEW. I was sure grateful I didn't have to push that big ol' Harley across the finish line! I'd maintained 15th place, and while a racer isn't ever happy enough with their race, I'm pretty pumped for such an eventful weekend, and very happy with my races all-in-all.
Paul Diener, my crew chief, said he's proud of me, and coming from him... that means a LOT.
Indy. You're amazing. Thank you for treating me like one of your own. This weekend had some obstacles, but was spectacular in total. One of the best things to me about Indy is how all of you locals treat me like one of your own, coming to say hello to me every year. I appreciate it so much and it's one of the races I most look forward to.
Race 1: 21st (with jump start penalty)
Race 2: 15th (even with running out of fuel)
On a cool sidenote... after the races, I was invited to speak in the Sports Marketing classes at Hayden's school. It was quite an honor to me that they asked me to come be a guest speaker, and it looks like it will be leading into a new project for the classes that Hayden and I may have a part in. Stay tuned for this, I don't know many schools/teachers as awesome as these.
Thanks to Chilipepper Racing, Lucas Oil, AXO, Arai, She'z Racing, GP Fabrication, VET Motorsports, GoPro, Impact Safe-t Armor, K&N, Vance & Hines, Finish Line Fitness, K&B Motorsports, Jamie She'z Racing, and FIM Women's Commission. Also special thanks to IMS, WISH TV, Thunder Roads Magazine, and Kevin Choate.
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