Hello to all my crazy nitro sniffing friends that keep up with my blog. I’m SOOOO sorry that it’s been this long since I have updated this; but if you have been watching the past few weeks you know that it’s been crazy. Since we wrapped up the U.S Nationals for the second time this year it’s been 6 straight weeks on the road for all of us, and for me having a to fly home work, fly back race, and the do it over again, I just haven’t stopped long enough to get everyone up to speed. I’m actually 32,000 feet in the air with Uncle Hal flying back from a wet but fast Maple Grove event. Now that we’re done with the crazy race spree I’m excited to get to go home and spend some time with Jennifer and enjoy some golf. I got some new golf clubs for my birthday back in August and the only time I’ve even got to use them was when Star Racing rider John Hall and I played in the Eric Medlen charity tournament that Morgan Lucas hosts in Indy. It was a really good time getting to play golf with all the teams and drivers from the NHRA tour. I felt like such a geek out there because even though I have been on tour now for a year, I’m still star struck to see all the drivers. I mean come on I’m diehard NHRA fan.
As many of you know I’ve been working for the Gottsacker family for 7 years now, and it’s been such an amazing opportunity that they have given me to learn the ins and outs of a successful Harley Davidson dealership, and for the past 2 years I’ve been their Parts and Accessories Manager at Gruene Harley Davidson. Well that changed before we left for Charlotte. There was an amazing opportunity for me to learn another trade in the shop and that was motorcycle sales when one of our salesman transferred to our sister store Javelina Harley Davidson. When I found out the position was open I went to our General Manager Trevor and told him I was really interested in stepping down and move into sales. Trevor was really shocked that I would want to step down and embark on another adventure, but I told him that I felt it was best for the Part Department and for the dealership to have some stability in a manager being there every day instead of 2 maybe 3 days a week. Trevor really respected my decision, interviewed me twice, and on Thursday before I left for Charlotte he pulled me into his office to tell me I was the newest sales associate at Gruene Harley Davidson. I was really excited because this will really add to my resume’ and keeps me moving forward towards my goal of owning my own dealership one day. I can just see the sign now that says Michael Stingray Harley Davidson, it’s kind of catchy don’t you think? I’ve really been traveling a lot since my new promotion and haven’t really learned everything, but I have sold 5 motorcycles in the 7 total days since I started, and trust me that’s not too bad. So I think once I build my customer base up I will rock and roll with this new sales gig.
I’m sure that everyone knows now that in Dallas I achieved the biggest dream and goal of my entire life when I won my first national event. It was such an amazing feeling to get my first win at the same track I got my first win with Uncle Hal and Gottspeed Racing. Also with my entire family there and over 50 coworkers and friends there made it even more special. I can still remember the win light coming on and just thinking thank you Jesus for every blessing you have given me and letting me live my dream.
After I was done with Gary Gerould and the ESPN2 crew I got spend a few minutes with my family on the top end before the winner’s circle celebration started, and that was very emotional because my parents have sacrificed so many things for me to get to live this dream; getting to hand them that Wally it was very emotional. The coolest part of the entire evening of celebration was after we were done in the winner’s circle Jennifer, Rugger Gottsacker (Hal’s son and my team owner), and a few of our real close friends just walked back through the pits laughing and soaking it all in. That 15-minute walk back to the trailer was the best trip back to the trailer I’ve made. I got a little teary eyed because that group of us all works together every day to make this happen and we achieved our goal. So we had our celebratory dinner and then it was back to business the next morning testing. I made a few passes on my bike and when I thought I was done for the day Matt came to me and said go get dressed you are riding my bike. I was more nervous riding his bike than the first time I ever rode a Pro Stock Buell. I mean come on, he’s the boss and I knew I better not mess up. All in all testing went well and then we loaded up and headed to St. Louis and from there Reading. Like I said the past few weeks have been full throttle, so I’m kind of glad to get home for a few weeks before the last two races.
I hope all of you have had the chance to notice that Viper Motorcycle Company has stepped up in a huge way to sponsor Matt and me for the rest of the season. The new wraps on the bikes look awesome and to get them in the winner’s circle was very special. Viper Motorcycle Company builds some really great motorcycles and really does some great things in the motorcycle industry and our sport. So I am looking forward to building on our new relationship and hope to continue to move forward for next year. If you have some time please go check them out at ViperMotorcycle.com to check out their motorcycles.
I can’t say thank you enough to everyone that helps our team out, like Red Line Oil, S&S, Mac Tools, and, of course, Matt and Angie Smith. These two opened up their team to us and made us really feel like family, so thanks Matt and Angie — I couldn’t have accomplished this without you two. Also Mike who works on my bike and came on in Indy, he is as cool as the other side of the pillow. For a driver that is a great feeling having a crew member that keeps his cool in tough situations like we’ve experienced the past few weeks, so thanks Mike.
I am going to wrap this up and let you get on with your day. I promise I will do a better job of keeping up with my blog. Remember I work in sales now, so if anyone needs to fulfill their dream of owning a new Harley Davidson motorcycle or a new Viper Diamondback please call me and I’ll take good care of you. Thanks again for all your support and I’ll talk to you soon.
What’s shakin, bacon?! I feel like it’s got to be June 15th or something like that; not August 27th and three days before the U.S Nationals. It’s so weird that time flies like it does. I remember one of my teachers in high school telling me that when I got older that time would just fly by without even noticing. Back then it seemed like my world revolved around dove season, deer season, and duck season. I didn’t really look at a calendar other then I knew when dove season opened was when school was starting and that meant I wasn’t going to a lot of classes the first few days because it was time to kill some birds. But now I drive by the local high school here in New Braunfels and there is a part of me misses when life was that easy and carefree. I mean don’t get me wrong…
My life isn’t that hard to get through now, I mean I have an amazing wife, the koolest job in the world, and I get to live my life dream; but come on it’s already the end of August and I just turned 28. People ask me how old I am all the time and I have to think about it. My world feels like it’s in high gear just past the thousand foot cones and really flying. But I guess that’s kind of fitting for my favorite saying; you better grab a Full Throttle, cause you can’t sleep through life.
The past few weeks have been busy for all sides of my life. There was a huge party in Minnesota that we went to that also had a drag race going on during the day. Harley Davidson celebrated their 110th birthday this past week in Milwaukee, and we are gearing up for our annual For The Love of Kids and Harleys charity golf tournament and live auction. So if you just look at the location of all the pictures taken on my iPhone over the past six weeks I have been a lot of different places and seen some awesome stuff. My mom always gets on to me for never taking pictures when I go anywhere, so I have been loading up Instagram and my phone with pictures from all my travels.
One of the really fun places that I took advantage of my time while I was in the city was the Harley Davidson Museum. While we were in Milwaukee at the dealer show we had a few hours to kill so my dad and I had a father son bonding experience and went through there. Harley Davidson does such great job supporting their brand that I knew that the museum just had to be awesome and let me tell you they didn’t let me down. I bet dad and I walked around on that place for a good 3 hours just looking at all the kool stuff. To me the koolest part of the entire place was seeing number 1, the first ever Harley Davidson ever built and how awesome of a job they did restoring it. Another really interesting thing about the display of number 1 was the flooring in display area. It was the actual hard wood flooring out of the original Harley Davidson building from 1903! I thought that was so kool that they did that for such a piece of American history. In one area was the engine room. This is where they had EVERY engine that they had ever built except Eddie and Andrew’s engine of course; not taking any shots.
It was so neat to just look at the evolution of technology and even see engines that they developed and never even brought out, like the Nova project. This was a V-4 that was built in the '70s I think… that never became available for the public, but they had the engine and the actual bike there on display.
For a Harley enthusiast like I am to get to see that bike was pretty cool. I remember Uncle Hal and Louie Netz telling me stories of that bike. So if you are ever in Milwaukee and get a chance to explore the museum please take the time to go check it out.
As far as racing is concerned we are getting ready for Indy and really getting ready for the Countdown to start. I am pretty well locked in the countdown I think. From my math I think all I have to do is enter and go down the track to put my name on that board. Then all we got to do is race hard so Matt can get his name up there. He is really working hard making me look good and now it’s time for me to help him out a little. I know that the results aren’t showing for it, but Matt and Angie have been killing themselves at the shop 16 hours a day to figure out what’s been holding us back from being the team the we were the first few races where we went to a couple semis and a final. So don’t think that we’ve been goofing off and not working; it’s just tough out there right now and we’re knee deep in the action trying to turn on some win lights. So please keep your fingers crossed and anytime you come by the pits please tell Matt and Angie how great of a job they do. I know I tell them a few thousand times a week, but I don’t think they believe me. It’s so weird to think that we only have 7 more races left in the season. I still remember the first day of testing in West Palm when I sat on my new bike. It was so awesome and I couldn’t wait to pull through the gate in Gainesville, now we’re planning for the banquet and making plans for 2013.
Please make sure and come by the trailer if you are at any of the races. It’s so nice to meet everyone at the races and it’s always nice to hear someone tell me that they read my blog. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. Have a good one and remember, never put your finger anywhere you wouldn’t put your face….
Hello again, all you crazy Full Throttle junkies! I hope you all enjoyed the Western Swing as much as I did. I know that our results don’t really show that we could have had much fun since we didn’t go a lot of rounds but it sure was nice to be out in that part of the country.
In my last blog I talked about how nice it is to get to drive around and see this beautiful country that we live in. That being said if you ever get a chance to take highway 50 from Sacramento through Lake Tahoe and around through Nevada and Utah, DO IT! Uncle Hal, Mark, and I took that route from Denver and it was so beautiful. It took us three days of goofing off, stopping at everything we thought was kool along the way to get to Sonoma. I remember stopping at this one place and walking out on this cliff looking out over this huge valley and thinking about the settlers that went out west in a horse and buggy. I mean really could you imagine trying to cross this country like that; I know I couldn’t do it. I can’t even make it through the game Oregon Trail without dying, let alone doing the real thing. I will say this though, if I was on the buggy and we made it Lake Tahoe I would have settled there. That was the first time I had ever been through there and oh was it nice. We stopped and had lunch at this little place right on the water then it was off to the track in Sonoma. Usually when we are out on the west coast we always make a stop at an In-N-Out Burger, but this trip we worked so hard at the track that when we would leave it was either too late or I was just too tired to eat.
While we were in Sonoma, boy, did our team put in some time with those great Mac Tools that we rely on so often. Starting with Matt on Thursday, when he built an entire engine Thursday night and well into Friday morning. Mark and I changed motors on Thursday then Friday evening I made a huge mistake that turned in to be a sign from the good Lord above. Some people may not notice all the signs that the good Lord gives us daily, but trust me I notice them. On the second session of Friday qualifying was when I made the biggest boo-boo in racing a bike other than not putting fuel in it; I forgot to pull the cotter pin out of the air shifter. So when I left the starting line and it was time to make the one/two shift it wouldn’t shift. I felt so horrible because I felt like I had let the entire team down since we really were starting run good again an momentum is so huge in racing. So we got back to the pits I started off with how sorry I was for screwing up then after downloading the Racepak, the data showed something really wrong internally in the engine.
Matt brought us in the trailer and showed us that the engine lost vacuum pressure; vacuum pressure basically shows how sealed up the engine is like piston rings, cover loose or damaged cylinder heads leaking. This actually turned out to be a damaged cylinder and piston; what was so crazy is it started to hurt itself during the burnout. So if I wouldn’t have forgotten to pull the cotter pin and made the full run It would have sprayed parts from the Golden Gate Bridge back to New Braunfels, Texas. So I guess it turned out to be a blessing from the good Lord above that I left that cotter pin in. So after all that we started to tear that motor completely down and rebuild it for the next day of qualifying long with changing motors in Angie’s bike. I guess it was about 1 in the morning when we got out of there and headed back to the hotel. I was tired but at the same time I was having so much fun; I love working late like that and I think it really helps our team become stronger.
After both passes on Saturday Matt Smith Racing had three bikes in the show again, so then it was time to get ready for race day. Well, after first round we had three bikes on trailer. Matt’s bike broke, I just got beat, and so did Angie. Well we loaded up the trailer and they headed back home. Once we all got home we washed clothes and went back to the track.
Last weekend we tested at ZMax in Charlotte at the ADRL race and really worked hard to get Matt’s bike and my bike back on track. Since our bikes really aren’t competitive in their Pro Extreme Motorcycle class, ADRL let us just make exhibition passes. I thing we got to make five runs over the two days at the event. With Matt and I trying to get locked in to the countdown we needed to make some test passes and get the gremlins out of our bikes before Brainerd. For anyone that thinks that Matt takes it easy on me, he whooped me every time we went down the track. Than for the last pass of the day, the finals you can call it. I told him, no more messing around I’m going for the win. So we staged and left, I hit all my shift points and when we went through the finish line I saw him barely out of the corner of my visor. I got beat again! I had an .030 to his .018 and he ran a 4.465 to my 4.469, it was a close race but it made me so mad. It was my best pass of the weekend and my best light. So when we were waiting on Angie and Mark to come get us I told Matt that he had every right to say “anything you can do I can do better” because that was his best reaction time and elapsed time of the weekend. I guess I will just try to have to work a little harder to beat the boss.
This weekend at the shop we are having our Customer Appreciation day on Saturday. We are going to have lunch, demo rides, and the guys from Viper Motorcycle are coming by with some of their new rides to let customers demo. These guys are doing some great things with their product and we couldn’t be more excited to have them on board at the shop as well as the race team. So if you are in the area please come by, have lunch, and throw your leg over a new Viper Diamondback and take it for a spin. Until the next time shake it easy and remember to support your local Harley dealer.
I need to first apologize for just now updating my blog; I have been in the left lane hammer down for six weeks. With us racing back-to-back weekends from Joliet to Norwalk, I didn’t come home. I just hopped in the truck went on tour and flew home from Norwalk to get a few days worth of work done at the shop. I didn’t mind it too much because I HATE to fly and it really didn’t make much sense to fly home for two days to turn around and fly back five hours from where I just was. So Tuesday after I dropped Jennifer at the airport we peeled out headed east. Getting to stay on the road really lets me get back to the roots of racing when we would drive all night to get to the track.
I really enjoyed racing in Joliet especially since Jennifer got to come with me and we got to spend Monday in Chicago. I have to say, out of all the places I’ve been, downtown Chicago is one of the most beautiful places I ever visited. From all the beautiful skyscrapers to just how clean the downtown area was.
After trying to find a place to park a F450 it was time to eat. We had lunch at Geno’s and that was the first time I had ever eaten a deep dish Chicago-style pizza. It was OK; I didn’t really care for the crust too much but the sauce was really good. So after a couple of full bellies we went out for a much-needed walk around downtown to burn off all those calories that we had. Walking around we saw a Hershey’s Chocolate Store and trust me it smelled GOOD. We spent a few minutes in there looking at all the chocolate and the cool gifts they had but we didn’t buy anything because neither of us are big chocolate eaters so we split and headed towards the water.
We didn’t actually get to get in the water, but just seeing all the boats out there and the fun the people were having on those boats made it tough to watch. So after a few hours of touring downtown Chicago we headed back towards the track because she had to fly the next morning. The next morning I took Jenn to the airport and headed back to the track to get Mark and we headed east. I guess it took like five hours to get Norwalk so once we got there we just loaded up with the Tonglets and went and had dinner because we couldn’t get in the track until the next morning. I really enjoy my time with that family; our families have been friends for a very long time and LE got our start racing against each other in AHDRA.
The next morning we got parked went and got cleaned up and headed to Cedar Point with the Tonglets. It is kind of a Norwalk tradition like the pound of ice cream for one dollar -- you just have to make time for both. Friday night was amazing with the jet dragsters. But the jet 18-wheeler and the fireworks were the best part. I have never seen the 18-wheeler in person and, oh, was it awesome. Also the fireworks was the best display that I’ve ever seen, they went on for a good 10 minutes I’d have to say.
Those two races, Chicago and Norwalk, are races that I want move on from and use as good examples of working as a team. First round of Chicago I had Shawn Gann covered and the bike wouldn’t shift into fifth gear, which caused us to lose that race. Then at Norwalk it was so hot we just had trouble getting the bike to go the first 60 feet. So after back-to-back first round losses in both races, Matt went testing and I went to the shop and after Matt’s test session we sure seem to be heading back in the right direction. Matt is probably the best at getting a Buell to leave, so I knew it wouldn’t take long.
Moving on to the Western Swing, I am actually sitting in the back seat of Uncle Hal’s truck headed to Denver to go on another two-week tour. This is going to be my second time to compete at Denver. In 2007 this is the track where I made my NHRA debut. I had the privilege of riding for Jon Hammock at the time; unfortunately we didn’t make the show due to some really poor rookie driving on my behalf.
I am really looking forward to redeeming myself this time for Uncle Hal, Rugger, and the rest of the team. I know that Matt has a few Wallys on his mantle from this race so lets keep our fingers crossed for another one. Other than the racing that happens at the track Mopar (being the presenting sponsor) puts on a great party in Golden, Colo., on Thursday night before the event, kind of kickstart party. It is always nice to get away from the track and see all the people that we battle with and compete against in a relaxed atmosphere. That’s where all the joking and playing around happens, but back at the track, it’s on!
Then from mountain we are rolling to Sonoma road trip style again in Hal’s truck. I love road trips! I have to say the only thing that will stink about this two-week trip is being away from Jenn for so long. She is so busy getting ready for her upcoming fights and the Love of Kids and Harleys charity event she couldn’t get away to come on tour. The next race she will get to come to will be Dallas so I can’t wait to have her back out at the track especially since she is going to bring our dogs with her.
Well I’m going to sign off and take some rowdy pictures of this beautiful country that we get to live in and I will see you on the flip side.