Intentional Destruction of Laboriously Engineered Artifacts
Part I

by Sam Fleming

It has been eight years since I've penned an article under this series.  As the 2005 season was drawing to a close, our fight for our seventh consecutive WERA National Endurance middleweight championship was up against impossible odds.  Having suffered two valve failures in our GSX-R 600 earlier in the season and the resulting DNFs, we found ourselves with an uphill battle to the title.  We needed to win the last three races of the year.  Our competition had already given an interview to this periodical about how the title was as good as theirs.

We turned the tide with a night race victory at Nelson Ledges that included a memorable night stint dicing with long time friend and rival Joe Prussiano pitting superior lights (on the part of me) versus superior riding skill (on the part of Joe).  We followed that up with another win at the penultimate round at Barber, leading to a razor-thin points gap to be decided at the Road Atlanta Grand National Finals.

Intentional Destruction of Laboriously Engineered Artifacts
Part II

by Sam Q. Fleming

Lost.  It's a pretty simple concept of not knowing where you are but it can have deeper psychological impacts.  There is a period of time where your brain does not accept that you don't know where you are but, instead, tries to make the landmarks within your field of view conform to your preconceptions.  In this state, your brain will rearrange mountain peaks or even rearrange street signs and buildings.  Other words to describe the mental state when the external world is dissonant with one's internal view are "delusional" or "insane".  The fine line between "insane" and "lost" can explain some of the senseless or self-destructive behaviors witnessed in those adrift or wandering. 

Finding a good path is sometimes further complicated by man's reluctance to admit mistakes.  Sometimes a single bad choice that is never questioned or re-evaluated leads to untold hardship, as all subsequent attempts to arrive at a solution are predicated on attempting to make that original decision correct. These dynamics play out in small ways (doomsday cults, brand loyalty, continuing to race motorcycles) and big ways (bombing Pearl Harbor, engaging in a land war in Asia, taking horses to the South Pole).

Intentional Destruction of Laboriously Engineered Artifacts
Part III

By Sam Q. Fleming

After three races on our underdeveloped BMWs, we had racked up a 2nd and a couple of 3rds.  Those results are in keeping with our overall finishes traditionally and, of course, podiums finishes are an emotional quantum leap over fourth place or worse.  Our finish at VIR, less than a minute behind the winner after four hours of racing, gave us hope (the most insidious and dangerous of all racing emotions) for the last two rounds.

We knew we needed to change something with our program to improve our distance over the race time.  There were two main aspects which seemed to be holding us back.  One was fuel capacity; the other was the useful life of the rear tire.  However, since we were already using the optimal Michelin rear for the circumstances and, often, our fastest laps of the race were as fast or faster than anyone else's, I focused on trying to arrive at a set up which would transfer some of the load off of our long suffering rear tire to our unperturbed front tire.  We theorized that with an improved front end feel we might be able to carry a tad more speed at the apex and not have to accelerate as hard from a lower turn-back speed which would, theoretically, take some load off the rear tire.