In this, the final episode, we see AFM President Chris Van Andel celebrate when a lowly Group 1 rider quits the club in disgust over the lies and mistreatment he’s received from the AFM.
The third round at Infineon comes. I’ve got decent times at the back of the fast group and several top-ten finishes. This whole nonsense with Group 1 should be behind us now, right? Nope. My registration sheets show that I’m assigned in Practice Group 1, with my second bike in Practice Group 2. So I approach Grace and try to talk about this.
Grace tells me it’s based on timing data, and that my times aren’t fast enough. So I point at her sheet and pick out two riders who have never beaten me, both of whom are in Practice Group 3. Grace tells me that she won’t debate this issue and that I need to get my times up. This is clearly nonsense so I walk away.
I grab a notepad and go find riders who finish behind me in the races. I find 5 riders who have never crossed the line less than 10 seconds behind me who are in Practice Group 3 or 4. I write down their names, race numbers, and what they tell me is their fastest time ever at Infineon. I bring this back to Grace, and request an explanation. This is all based on recorded lap times, right? Someone else runs away, and shortly Barbara appears. Barbara tells me that she will not consider any facts, will not adjust my practice group no matter how much proof I bring that the calculations are wrong. She says that it will remain the way it is, and I simply must accept that.
I try to point out that this isn’t just me asking to be moved to an appropriate practice group, but that this is a safety issue for everyone in Group 1. Barbara says to me “You think this is a really big deal, but I have to deal with issues like Dave Stanton. Dave rides two bikes, and he has to ride in Groups 3 and 5. Think about how Dave has to suffer dealing with Group 3 riders.”
Really? So if Dave rides in Group 3 it’s because he chose not to ride back to back sessions since I’m sure he qualifies for Group 4 on his second bike. I don’t have that luxury, since I’m always assigned to Group 1 and then Group 2 for my second bike. I have no choice but to ride back to back.
Second: Group 3 riders know what a racing line is. They aren’t bunched up in a 12pack going into a corner. The speed differential in Group 3 isn’t 60 seconds a lap, like it is in Group 1. Group 3 riders are all trackday A-Group riders, and they are all comfortable riding with the AMA fast guys. Group 1 riders are trackday C riders and completely unpredictable. Dave riding in Group 3 is not a safety issue like me riding in Group 1.
In this, Barbara showed me what she cares about: whether her Formula Pacific riders are happy. Safety doesn’t mean a damn to her. And I’m not kidding about this — Barbara wasn’t being facetious. She was earnestly trying to convince me that Dave voluntarily riding in Group 3 is a bigger problem than me being in practice group 1.
At this point, it is clear to me that evidence, facts, recorded race times have no meaning. It’s a caste system, where riders who the AFM likes get to ride in the (much smaller) fast practice groups, and riders that the AFM doesn’t like get shoved down into overpopulated and dangerous practice groups. I could have walked away without telling Barbara that she was lying to me, that I understood she was lying to me, and that I knew the games she was playing. But really, what did I have to lose?
I told Barbara that I was quitting the club, that her games were risking the lives of too many people for me to participate any more, and that it was clear to me that I would forever be assigned to Group 1 no matter what my times were. I rode slowly around in Group 1 to avoid hurting anyone, then did my final race in Formula 40. It was the first time I got a clean lap all day, and I was down 5 seconds on lap time instantly. I finished in 6th place, with 7th place nowhere in sight.
I reinforced to everyone that all I wanted was to be treated equally. I did everything calmly and nicely. And yet they played out their vendetta to get me to leave and/or die regardless, I got angry (as would you) for being lied to, stonewalled and treated poorland quit the AFM. I really don’t see where I had any other choice.
On hearing that I had quit the AFM and was leaving, Chris Van Andel turned to another AFM officer, high-fived her and said “We won!” They won indeed. Chris, Barbara and Grace put their personal vendetta ahead of the interests of everyone in that club to wage their little power game. They won, and they continue to win, and the AFM is much poorer because of it.
Next up: Not satisfied with me having quit the club, AFM board votes to deny me voting rights this fall.