velociRaptor Racing

Fast lizards on fast bikes

 

2013 is a complete wash

For the first time in 12 years, I won’t roll a wheel on a racetrack for an entire calendar year. I was preparing to start practice late this fall in preparation for racing in 2014, when we discovered that the bone spur on my right ankle had regrown. I’m currently scheduled for surgery on November 19th, and will spend two weeks on crutches.

Part of me is tempted to do a Christmas vacation track day if I can find one, but I think I need to submit to reality.

I expect to be cleared for bicycle training in December. See you on the roads.

Not racing in early 2013

I am really unhappy about this, but it’s time to face a truth I can’t imagine any more. I am really jonsing to get back on the racetrack, but for several reasons I won’t be racing in early 2013, and possibly not in 2013 at all.

Due to the stock I sold to purchase my house in 2012, my federal taxes are very bad. I’m effectively broke for the next 6 months.

I’d really like to finish exterior work on the new house. We’re in desperate need of a new roof, new driveway, and to replace the falling down external garage.

I have developed a very painful instance of Sciatica which makes stabilization movements in my left thigh very very painful. Even walking can be painful at times. Until this is resolved racing is completely unrealistic. If the disks in my lower back get worse, this may prevent me from ever racing–although I’ve been told that this is unlikely.

This really sucks. I guess I’ve avoided posting this because I’ve been looking for some reason to believe that I find a way, but the latest diagnosis from the doctor about the discs in back / nerve issues really put the nail in the coffin today.

Great day at California Speedway

Today was a great day at Cal Speedway / Fontana. First of all, the weather was PERFECT. Seventy degrees is not so cold as to affect bike performance or make the pavement slick, and not so hot for me to sweat more than normal.

The first session I felt all out of sorts. My body hasn’t tried to move like this in almost six months, and due to the various medical fun I’ve been undergoing I’ve gotten very little gym time. But I did alright. By the time the third session came around I was chasing down riders on faster 600cc inline-4 bikes and passing them. I probably shouldn’t have done that but, you know, competitive spirit and all that.

I had to make a few suspension changes, one of which went way wrong, but I think the superstock bike is sorted now and ready for tomorrow.

The rebuilt superbike arrived just after practice ended today. We put all the body work on it and prepped it for practice tomorrow. I’ve got to remember to not redline the engine in the first practice, hope my competitive nature can be held off for one practice session.

Let’s hold the AFM accountable.

A board member sent me a message saying this:

I understand the frustration, but you and Chris (and others) let it get the better of you, and you both handled the situation poorly.  That is the reason the votes went down the way they did.  To put it another way, they pissed you off, and you pissed them off. Who pissed who off first?  It doesn’t matter anymore.  The “argument” went too far beyond reasonableness and the point of the argument was lost.

The AFM can play life or death games with riders.  And well, those riders made them angry, so the AFM officers aren’t responsible for their actions any more.  No consequences. Wow, is that a self-serving bunch of crap or what?

AFM started by selective enforcement of the rules. I didn’t play along, which pissed them off. Worse yet, I found evidence and started calling them out on the matter. Now it was really out of control and they had to act.  I am both smarter and more persistent than they gave me credit for, and I frustrated them. This is why they were angry. And this is the ONLY reason they were angry — they were being called out on their games.

But this is the AFM board point of view: “Who pissed who off first?  It doesn’t matter anymore.”

A better statement might be It Never Mattered in the First Place. AFM officers are supposed to be above playing personal games, acting out vendettas. They acted inappropriately, they violated their own guidelines repeatedly. They should be held accountable for it.

If I go burn someone’s house down, or if I crash my car into their car, it doesn’t matter how mad I was. It doesn’t matter who said what, it doesn’t matter how mad they made me — the only thing that matters is WHAT I DID.  These people should be held accountable for WHAT THEY DID.  Giving them an excuse “oh they were angry so they aren’t at fault for their actions” is NONSENSE.

The following officers of the AFM need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Chris Van Andel offers riders a suicide choice to get into another practice group. He writes letters lying about a wide variety of matters including safety at the track (“ambulances didn’t roll all weekend” … oh, I guess they FLEW up to turn 2 for an hour then…). And he high-fives another officer saying “We won!” when a member quits the club. Yes, Chris succeeded in winning his personal war against an AFM member. What a great officer we have leading the club.

Barbara Smith stands as the person most responsible for safety on the track, but repeatedly refuses to address safety matters. Unless they involve her favorite Formula Pacific riders, that is. This is the same lady who asks you your opinion, lets you vote, and then overrules you because the Formula Pacific riders disagree with the majority vote. It’s all a game to her, and you only matter if you’re a Formula Pacific rider.

Grace Dorsey adjusts the practice groups to meet her personal choices. She will lie and tell you that its based on you not being fast enough, but can’t prove it when you bring her facts that discredit her statements. She’ll happily show you a time that you honestly don’t meet, saying you need to reach this to be in that group… but run to hide behind Barbara when you bring proof that others she put in that group have never met the times. It is her decision which allows riders too slow for the group to be put in there, endangering you. It is also her decision to hold you down to a slower group when you repeatedly show times which should place you in a higher group.

It is all a game to these people. A happy little game they get to high-five each other over as the members risk their lives accepting their judgements. These people need to go.

I don’t have specifics against any other board members, but this is almost entirely the exact same board who put their personal politics ahead of reasonable and safe judgement when carrying out their war against Alex Florea. I won’t say that Alex was right, but the actions taken by the board were reprehensible. It would be a good thing to flush the entire board and replace them with people who put safe racing above their own power games.

Next Up: why assigning practice groups based on times isn’t the right choice.

Elect an AFM Board with a New Agenda

In the previous posts, we’ve covered how the current AFM board operates. How personal vendettas and power games are what they are there to play, so much so that they high-five each other when a member quits the club. Let’s talk about how to change this.

One of the biggest problems with the AFM right now is that they hold all the information close to their chest. You are an active, paying member of the club – but you aren’t allowed access to the information they use to justify their actions.

Of course not. If you could see this information, you’d be able to call them out on their lies. I mean, look at what one enterprising racer did by collecting the published fatest lap times from the race results page and demonstrating that the practice group assignments were wrong. They had to kick him out of the club for that!

Don’t be surprised if fastest lap disappears from the race results pages real soon now to prevent others from doing the same.

If you want a club run by the members, for the members, then choose your candidates based on their answers to the following questions:

1. Will you publish all information collected by the AFM on its members, including race times, practice times, and practice group assignments and make it available to all members? This would allow everyone to see that current assignments do not match the guidelines established.

2. Will you establish clear guidelines for practice group assignments that are followed to the letter? As opposed to the current policy of Because Grace Said So

3. Will these guidelines have a clear way for riders doing times well above those of a faster group to get escalated?  If a rider can consistently do times which are at the top of Practice Group 3, why are they left in Practice Group 1?

4. Will you establish a mechanism for reporting violations of the guidelines and a procedure to get them corrected? Right now it is entirely the judgement of AFM officers who have demonstrated a lack of ethics.

5. Will that procedure work around the issues of personal judgement by officers of the AFM who have repeatedly demonstrated personal vendettas against members of the club?

Ask potential members of the board these questions. Document their answers. It is fair time that the AFM board became responsive to their members.

Next Up: People you absolutely shouldn’t vote for, and why.

AFM board scared of the truth

So I was totally done with the AFM.  Done, gone, never coming back.  But last week I received a certified letter from the AFM containing sanctimonious drivel every one of us has tried to help you and other such language which are complete falsehoods with no possible interpretation related to actual reality. But even more interesting is that the AFM voted unanimously to suspend my membership because I contested their decisions.

The issue here is that I brought a list of people who had never gone faster than me who were placed in groups higher than me to Grace and Barbara, and pointed out that their claims about group placement were clearly factually lacking.  When Barbara said that her judgement was absolute and no amount of facts would sway her decision, I said that it was clear that no matter what times I did she was going to place me in Group 1 and left.

I did leave. I didn’t race the following day, nor did I attend the following race weekend. But even after witnessing this the AFM is so quaking in its boots that it felt it necessary to remove my ability to attend the meetings and complain about the treatment, or to vote against the incumbents — which is the sole effect of the board’s decision.

Yes, the AFM has spoken — question our decisions, point out that we are persistently lying to the members, and we’ll boot you from the club.

The funny thing is that I had put all this behind me, and wasn’t going to bother to engage. But frankly, since the AFM have decided that I am somehow such a personal threat that they must prevent me from attending the meetings or voting, it really shows me just how nasty and scared the AFM really is. And the completely false sanctimonious drivel really tickled me pink. The AFM at NO point did anything to make this situation better — they engaged and persisted in a personal war which was dangerous to me and everyone in Practice Group 1.

I had put this behind me, but this letter re-engaged me. I had figured that the AFM was unreachable, that they were beyond holding to account for their actions. But this letter proved otherwise. This letter proved just how scared the AFM board was of someone who actually examined the numbers and called them out on their lies.  They really aren’t used to that.

It’s time the membership knew the facts, and it’s time that AFM board members are held accountable for their actions.

Next up: The past is the past. How do we improve the future for everyone?

AFM President high-fives another officer to celebrate a member quitting the club.

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.

AFM, statistics, and lies.

After bumping me from Group 3 (where I was one of the fastest riders in the group) down to Group 1, AFM declared that it was based on me not meeting the times. So being an analytical person and pretty good with a spreadsheet, I started analyzing what the AFM told me about practice group assignments.

The very first conclusion was that Chris Keane’s code for practice group assignments wasn’t actually code written in a programming language — it was instead Deus Ex Machina. In short, it was whatever the AFM official who was trying to defend their decsions wanted it to be. It was based on race times only, or practice times only. It was based on your fastest recorded lap, or your average over several years, or something too complex to explain to me. (yes in exactly those words)

Note that I didn’t argue with any of these people, even when AFM President Chris Van Andel said that the calculations were a proprietary algorithm that he’s sure was the intellectual property of Chris Keane. Algorithm? Best I can figure is that Chris Van Andel never got beyond elementary school mathematics, because there simply isn’t anything in ANY race timing and scoring system which is beyond 4th grade arithmetic. And I’m sorry, but the courts have long since ruled that arithmetic cannot be patented or copyrighted.

But this was all laid to rest when Chris Van Andel wrote a message to the entire membership claiming that all practice group assignments are done according to the logic laid out in the letter. Because that letter was a falsehood, a lie, and worse yet, a lie that you can easily go see for yourself.

NOTE: I do NOT feel that doing practice group assignments based on race timing is the best way to do practice groups. I am not arguing that they are doing this better or worse than they should — I am documenting that they are lying about how they do assignments.

Lie #1: The letter says “create practice groups of the same size”.  I suggest you go down and count the number of riders reported on the Group 5 practice sheet and the number of riders counted on Group 1. You’ll see a steady increase in riders from each group down, such that Group 5 less than half the riders in Group 1.  This isn’t “practice groups of the same size”, it’s a caste system.  Especially when you consider that group 5 riders are no more than a few seconds apart in terms of time (and thus less likely to run over each other) and Group 1 riders are spread widely across an entire minute.

Oh, and you can also go sit in the bleachers and count the riders yourself and confirm the numbers. I did this once just be sure that Group 5 riders weren’t using their transponders a lot less than Group 1 riders. Eyeball count confirmed less than half the riders in Group 1.

Lie #2: “The program is pretty straight-forward, and mathematically based.”  So math is the only logic involved in group assignment, they said. Hm, let’s take this apart real quick:

  1. There are 250cc riders in Group 2, which needed a 1:56 lap time at Infineon to qualify. Wow, those must be some really fast 250cc riders. And how did they get those times which would have won a 250cc race by over 10 seconds, and somehow get forgotten about on the race results page?  Ah, it must be that they have two bikes right?
  2. There are 250cc riders in Group 3. Yeah, I see a 250cc rider doing a 1:51 lap time to get in that group. Uh huh. Sorry, not meaning to pick on 250cc riders — it’s just the easiest way to point out no, this isn’t mathematically possible.
  3. So then, go find people around you in the races. People who just barely beat you each time, or who you beat consistently every time. Go back 3 years and get their fastest time. Then go look at the practice group sticker on their bike.  Here is what I found:
  • Everyone in front of me in race results was in Practice Group 4.
  • There were people I beat every race who were in Practice Group 4.
  • There were people I beat every race who were in Practice Group 3.

In fact, I had to go back 4 rows on the grid and more than 20 seconds behind me at the finish line to find a rider who was in Practice Group 2. Oh, and yeah, I lapped the riders who were in Practice Group 1. You know, where my times qualify me for.

Next up: AFM officers high-five each other when riders to quit the AFM

 

 

Too fast for Group 3, AFM reassigns to Group 1

In this episode we’ll see me be one of the fastest riders in Practice Group 3, only to be reassigned to Group 1 because I’m “not fast enough”.

I had a discussion with Chris Van Andel at the 2nd round where I expressed my displeasure at the persistent mistreatment I was receiving — and safety issues involved in putting me in Group 1, when the people I was finishing the races near were in Group 4. Chris promises that if I will keep calm and bring my concerns directly to him, he’ll try to address them for me. I left the 2nd Infineon round in hopes of putting all this nonsense behind us.

When I arrive at Round 3, I find that they have somehow lost my pre-registration. So I show them the e-mail confirmation sent from their system — but they swear that the e-mail was impossible, and I had failed to register. Paddy very kindly took me into the office and entered me in the system manually so that I could race. She looked at my times, and assigned me to Practice Group 3.

I went out in Practice Group 3. I found the group surprisingly slow, but thankfully everyone in the group knew where the racing line was and passing safely was easier. And lo and behold, there were people in this group who were fast enough to pass me — first time this had happened all year. It was nice to practice with people at a reasonable pace.

A number of racers came over to talk to me between practices expressing admiration for my pace, and saying they hoped to keep up with me in the race. It was nice, I felt like things were finally settled and I’d be able to enjoy the racing now.

When I went for tech inspection that evening, Grace informed me that my times weren’t fast enough and that I was being moved down to Group 1 again. I asked her what the basis was, as the practice sheets had shown me near the top all day. She said that this was Paddy’s judgement.

Since I had promised to remain calm, I went quietly back to my pits. I waited until the day was over and AFM officers were done with their duties, and then I sought out Chris Van Andel to complain about this. Completely against what he had said at the previous round, Chris informed me that he wouldn’t act as AFM president and interfere in practice group assignments. He said that I needed to show the times Grace wanted to see to be in the group. I brought him a practice group 3 timing sheet and showed him that I was one of the fastest riders in the group. With the facts in front of him, he stonewalled and told me that he wasn’t going to talk with me any more. That if I wanted to race in the AFM, I would have to accept their judgement.

In short, he refused to do anything about the situation — even after he had personally offered to assist me, and claimed he would make sure that I was treated the same as other racers.

So I went and talked to Barbara. Barbara said that assignment was based on times — and that my times in practice today weren’t fast enough. I showed her the sheet which demonstrated that nobody in that group had reached the time she claimed today. I also pointed out that I knew several of the riders in Group 3 personally and they had never reached the times I did today in the group, nevermind the times she listed for being in the group. At this point Barbara said that this was a rule and she was going to enforce that rule.

Yes, it was obvious even to me at this point that the AFM was enforcing one set of rules for me and a different set of rules for everyone else. I didn’t know why, but it was dangerous for everyone. It was dangerous for me trying to do fast laps among the novice racers, and it was dangerous for the novice racers who are being passed at speed by someone who ran times consistently at the top of Practice Group 3.

Next up: How AFM lies about practice group assignments, and how you can see it for yourself.

AFM and disappearing lap times

In this episode we will see AFM have “technical difficulties” that affect only me, offered as an excuse to prevent my reassignment to a better practice group.

After a top-1o finish at Buttonwillow, I went to the first round at Infineon hopeful that we could put the silly group 1 nonsense behind us and I would get a chance to practice with my peers. When I arrived at tech the first morning, I was assigned to Group 1 again — because they had no times for me at this track. I had to show times at this track. Which I accepted, and set out to do reasonable times in the dry practice we had.

Note: later on the AFM would claim that if you went to a track were you don’t have times, they would assign you to a practice group based on the times you had at another track. Well, everyone but me apparently.

So I went out in Group 1 and tried to do reasonable times. I mean, my fastest laps at Infineon was a 1:50.0 and I’ve always been able to do 1:52s consistently.  This should be easy.  Well, not so much. It’s really rough when you are surrounded by riders who have no clue where the racing line is. Again, I lapped the entire field several times a session. Again, I was catching people in every corner on the track. And since the riders were completely unpredictable, it proved impossible to get a clean lap.

But hey, I’m doing faster laps than anyone else in Group 1. This should show good enough times to at least get me booted to group 2. Well, not so fast. See, they have grid sheets full of times — just not mine. I went inside to talk to Paddy and Shelly, and both of them confirmed that I had no times in the system. They suggested a transponder problem, which seemed reasonable. So I got my transponder and took it to Barbara for testing as they told me. Barbara tells me they have no ability to test the transponder, and talk to Paddy. Paddy tells me she can only tell me if my times are in the system.

At this point it’s very clear I’m getting the run around. Furthermore, there is no evidence that my transponder is at fault — it worked the previous weekend, and as was later shown, it was working fine today. But I accepted their “gift” of a loaner transponder to see if my lap times would mysteriously reappear.

So, after practice had finished and after (they claimed) it was impossible to fix my practice group the following day, they admit that they had my lap times in their system the entire time. They blamed it on a “networking problem”. Very odd networking problem that delivered most lap times, just not mine. And oh see, it’s too late in the day to reassign my practice group tomorrow. Yes, this totally makes sense. No, I totally believe this line of … well, let’s keep it PG-13 shall we?

Next up: Faster than most in Group 3, must reassign to Group 1 again.

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