BlarneyQuick Racing -
Well after winning the WERA
Mid-Atlantic “A” Superbike 1000cc and “B” Superbike
750cc Championships in 2013 it’s going to be hard to
repeat. But BlarneyQuick Racing will attempt
to win two more championships in 2014.
Cassidy Heiser, one of the greatest young talents in
the USA will once again ride for BlarneyQuick
Racing. He has the potent Suzuki GSX-R 750 and
1000 at his disposal. Both engines received
top end rebuilds improving the BHP to 180 on the
1000 and 153 BHP on the 750. We are still
trying to find our way to the AMA. Cassidy is
worthy of the opportunity. At our first race
this season at Summit Point in West Virginia, he was
within 1 second of the outright lap record ever
recorded. If he had a 200 horsepower bike he
could be the all-time fastest Motorcycle rider at
Summit Point. The crew has stayed together,
headed by Steve Heiser (Cassidy’s dad) and Mark
Heiser (Cassidy uncle). His mom Cathy and the
rest of the crew are all back. This small team
has accomplished more than anyone ever thought.
All I can say, is we love racing. ollow us on
the 2014 season on Facebook. First round of
WERA Superbike got us a win in Formula One and “A”
Journal 32, June
2013 Race Season
BlarneyQuick Racing became a
bonified team in 2013. Just by chance while at a
motorcycle dealership in York, Pennsylvania I meet
Steve Heiser. John Yurejefcic who owns
ActionMotorSports reintroduced me to Steve. We had
all meet before through the Motorcycle Industry.
John had come out of his office that day to talk to
me about the Arai “Blarney” Helmet. He was very
interested to hear how the helmet and the Arai
connection happened and what lead Arai to put the
‘Blarney’ design into production. While that
conversation was going on he asked me did I know
Steve Heiser who happened to be in his office. I
said yes, Steve came out and the three of us started
talking about racing. Long story short, Steve’s son
Cassidy, who is a well-established racer and was
without an organized ride for the 2013 season. Well
before I left John’s place I had agreed to let
Cassidy ride my Suzuki GSX-R 750 race bike.
I decided to give my team
mate and fellow BlarneyQuick Rider-Paris Tato a
call. I asked him to be the team manager. Paris
would be in charge of designing and getting his
European contacts at Spidi to make Cassidy some
MotoGP leathers and gloves. He used all his contacts
and hooked BlarneyQuick Racing up with the only
MotoGP Kangaroo leathers in the USA. They are fully
custom, sporting the BlarneyQuick colors. Motonation
put us in the rider support program and Cassidy was
given two pairs of their best racer boots. Finally,
I called Brian Weston at Arai and when I told him of
our plans he made Cassidy one of their Arai support
riders. Thanks Brian for recognizing that our
efforts were real and look forward to many more
years. Paris was also given the task of getting team
pit shirts and fan T-shirts. He and our British
friend and web master and designer of the “Blarney”
Arai helmet; Sean Defraine made sure all the info
was readily available on our web site and Facebook
I had raced the750 bike
myself the previous two seasons, but had decided
that my racing days were numbered and decided to
just keep it as a trackday bike. But, after finding
out Cassidy was without a ride, I decided he needed
the bike more than me. This 750 is heavily modified
and has all the expensive race parts. It did not
take long before Cassidy, his dad and mother were
over to my storage garage to see the bike. They had
seen it in the past, but now they could see it up
close. They were pleasantly surprised at how high
end the bike was. That day we decided that Cassidy
would ride the 750 in a WERA Championship. I gave
the family some BlarneyQuick T-shirts and it was
official. So, Cassidy Heiser signed a one year deal
to ride for BlarneyQuick Racing.
Of course the 750 needed
some tweaking to fit Cassidy. The suspension and
gearing was changed and all the old sponsor Decals
were taken off and the new ones put on. Most
importantly the number plate went from yellow to
white and Cassidy’s #67 was put on. The first round
of the WERA Mid Atlantic 750cc expert Superbike and
1000cc expert Superstock/Superbike Championship was
at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. Summit
Point is our local track and we will race here three
times in this championship. It was a double header
weekend, so, Cassidy would race twice in each
championship. He had four hard races against some
much bigger teams. It should be noted that Steve
Heiser had already dropped the word that in order to
be competitive the 750 would need motor work.
Cassidy went out under good track conditions on
Saturday and got two 2nd places, one in
the 750cc class and the other in the 1000cc. Great
results, but Cassidy was better than the bike. The
bikes 145 hp was just not strong enough to stay with
the top bike. Needless to say Steve Heiser was
right, the 750 needed a top end rebuild. But that
would have to wait, because we had two more races on
Sunday. Steve Heiser and his brother Mark gave the
bike a good going over – both excellent mechanics.
Cassidy suited up in his new Spidi Leathers and
gloves, slipped on his new Sidi Boots and most
importantly put the Arai “Blarney” helmet on. He
went out and made a crazy pass with 3 turns to go
for the lead in the 7500cc race. People said the
pass was incredible and was stuff of legend. He
managed to hang on and win. In the second race he
took the Suzuki 750 into the Lyons den of 1000cc
bikes. He rode brilliantly and finished second.
The next day I called John at
ActionMotorSports and he gave me a great deal on a
new 2013 Suzuki GSX-R 1000. AMS became a sponsor and
agreed to give us the best price possible for all
parts ordered. John has been sponsoring Cassidy for
many years and it was just a perfect fit. So, John,
Steve and I drew up a list of what was needed to
turn this 1000 into a competitive race bike. The
engine was treated to some top end modifications
with Mark up in New Jersey; Lenny Albin from Ohlins
set new 30 mm fork cartridges and the latest TTX
rear shock. Cassidy and I drove the forks down to
Duc Pond in Winchester, Virginia and had Donnie do
the install – great work. Roger Lyle from
MotorcycleXcitement also became a sponsor and
provided all our trackdays and track sessions at
Summit Point at no charge – thanks Roger and Joan.
Roger also got us special pricing on our race
plastics from Shark skins. Everything we got was
provided at steep discounts from AMS. We decided to
use Dunlop Tires and race for the contingency money
they offer. Our Exhaust came from Leo Vince SBK; a
full Titanium system, our ECU came from Bazzaz, rear
sets from Vortex, brake pads and steering damper
from Vesrah, the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, the Bazzaz ECU
burnt up when we were dialing the motor in on the
dyno. That caused us to get another Bazzaz unit, but
that delay forced us not to race the 1000 at Summit
Point for round two of the championship. As much of
a disappointment it was for the team, we got a brake
because the weather was rainy and it gave us an
advantage with an underpowered bike. Although the
first race was the 750cc, the race only lasted one
lap when the heavens opened up and made rivers on
the race track. The race was red flagged and
everyone came in and put wet tires on. Steve Heiser
had reserved some Dunlop race tires beforehand.
Tires on and 45 minutes after the red flag the race
started again. Cassidy is good in the rain and wet
conditions. He took the lead and never looked back.
He took the win and pretty much was handed the same
conditions in the 1000cc race. With little
opposition he took a comfortable win. Great weekend,
two wins and the points lead in both divisions.
The last three days has been
busy for the team, everyone pitching in and trying
hard to get the 1000 Suzuki ready for Road Atlanta
in Georgia. The 750 and the 1000 will race this
weekend. The new Suzuki GSX-R 1000 now pumps out 210
horsepower at the crank and 180 hp at the rear
wheel. We should be able to match the best 1000’s on
the grid. The Heiser crew leaves Thursday evening
from York PA to head south. I wish them well and
look forward to the races.
Journal 29, June 1st.
Where do I start, let’s just say,
that lots has gone on, so sit back and enjoy. Over
the winter BlarneyQuick Racing picked up a major
sponsor from Ireland. Saint Music is a famous label
owned and operated by Pete St John. He is Ireland’s
leading songwriter. He recently put out a song
called “Never Drink and Drive” and that message has
a clear meaning and we saw a need to involve the
motorcycle world. We are happy to have Pete St John
and Saint Music in our ever-expanding corner..
Over the winter the now pretty famous
BlarneyQuick Arai helmet went on tour with The
Service Pavilion and Arai throughout the USA at the
International Motorcycle Shows. We were trying to
gauge if there was any interest in this Irish flag
colored design. Sean de Fraine from Milton Keynes in
the UK did the artwork. You can see the helmet at
the “media page”. The helmet was a big hit at every
market it was shown in. We are trying to bring that
to Arai’s attention so we can get it into
production. That process in very involved, but we
are hoping this will happen.
We also have a “You Tube TV Show”
that is still in conceptual mode. We hope to have
fresh material very soon for your viewing pleasure.
I am one of the speakers and hosts on the show. My
partner Paris Tato will also so be back to bring you
all his expertise. We are having a lot of fun
talking about sports bikes and of course our
I just recently passed the racing
school at Roger Lyle’s MotorcycleXcitment at Summit
Point in West Virginia. Sounds far away, but it was
only one hour from where I live in Gaithersburg
Maryland. From the school I signed up for two races
at a CCS event at Summit Point. So this past
Memorial Weekend I raced in two races and finished.
Had a great time and enjoyed the experience. The
Championship Cup Series is a national USA
organization. They cater for experts and amateurs
alike. Of course I ran in two amateur races.
Everyone seemed to be fast and everything is real.
Track day niceties go right out the door and you
have to be aware of some one not as fast as you. You
catch them up in he braking areas and hold you up,
you have to take chances to get by otherwise you
will never get by. Then there are riders that go
past in areas you did not think was wide enough for
them to make a safe pass. That’s all part of racing.
I have always wanted to go racing so it only took me
30 years, but I got it done.
I was in Ireland to watch the
Tandragee 100 Road Race. Before the race day I
slipped up to Crossan’s in Newry. I met Colm, Adrian
all the lads and ladies that work at this famous
motorcycle business in Northern Ireland. I have
bought some Arai collectable helmets, like the Joe
Dunlop and TT Special edition helmets from them. I
have two TT second edition helmets on order, but I
actually picked up one of Michael Dunlop’s Norton
Factory race team helmets, which I took to the
Tandragee and had him sign personally. Thanks to
both William and Michael Dunlop for making our
meeting so special. One of my race buddies in the
State’s had a massive desire to race in the Isle of
Man. His name is Dylan Scott. I have written about
him in an earlier journal. He was at the Tandragee
racing a R6 Yamaha. He was getting help from Darrin
Gilpin and his boys. He realized his dream and raced
in the Cookstown 100 and the Tandragee 100. The bike
had some mechanical difficulties and held him back
from the start. He did get to go to the North West
200 and actually raced with William Dunlop in
Superstock Practice. He is now securing his Manx
Mountain license to go racing in the Isle of Man in
Lastly, the Suzuki GSX-R 750 has had
some major new parts added and big thanks as always
to all the good people at Ram Cycles, Can’t say
enough about how great a relationship I have with
this shop. The bike ran flawlessly which meant it
was set up correctly and hauled my ass down the
front straight at Summit Point at 175 mph !!!!!
All in all I have had a great time
and love the whole process I have been going through
– would not change anything.
Until next time
Kieron Mooney # 591
Journal 28, April 17th.
BlarneyQuick Racing is happy to announce that they
will be sponsoring Dylan Scott at three Irish Road
Races. Dylan who makes his home in Silver Spring,
Maryland will participate in the Cookstown 100,
Tandragee 100 and the famous North West 200. Dylan's
ambition is to race at the Isle of Man, but before
he makes that leap, he will take on the Irish Road
BlarneyQuick Racing is based in Maryland, but has
close ties to Irish Road Racing. BQ Racing also
secured sponsorship from Dublin based Saint Music.
Saint Music is owned by Irish writer Pete St John,
who has always had a good association with the
motorcycle racing. Pete St John wrote a song called
" Never Drink and Drive" and is spreading this very
important message to all motorcycle riders. This
song cross's international boarders with it's simple
message and BQ racing fully endorses this safety
BlarneyQuick Racing will be supplying Dylan with a
Spidi Leather Suit with the help of Ram Cycles in
Rockville Maryland. Thanks to Spidi and Sidi for
all there support.
meet Dylan at Roger Lyle's MotorCycleXcitement
Racing School and Track Day association. He is the
lead instructor and a great racer. Dylan took my
tickets to last years Indy MotoGP , because I was
unable to travel. It turned out to be beneficial
when Dylan meet some Irish mechanics that were
working for Rizzla Suzuki. One thing lead to another
and Dylan will leave for Ireland in late April. I
will be there for the second race to support him.
Stay tuned as we follow his adventure in the emerald
Journal 27, February 27th.
The world of
motorcycling racing is about to start. MotoGP, Mot2,
World Superbike, World Supersport along with Irish
Road racing and of course the famous Isle of Man TT
are all of great interest to us here at
with MotoGP and hoping it won’t be boring like last
year. Lets face it, last year it was predictable.
One of four guys seemed capable of winning – they
call them the “four aliens”. There have been some
major changes in who is riding what bike – will that
make any difference – no. Rossi switch’s to Ducati
and Stoner switches to Honda. Spies joins Lorenzo on
a Factory Yamaha.
Rossi will win at least one race, but I thing Stoner
and Lorenzo are the two favorites. I would love to
see Spies rise to the occasion and win and I still
think Hayden and Simoncelli are capable, but the
rest have no chance of winning.
out to be fantastic. 42 riders on the grid as
opposed to 17 for MotoGP. Tony Elias was brilliant
last year, but he has moved up to MotoGP. I look for
Iannone to win this year, after that it’s any bodies
pick – good luck.
Superbike was also great last year, but my money is
on the two Irish lads – Johnny Rea and Eugene
Laverty to give Biaggi all he can handle.
Supersport will see Gino Rea take top honors away
from Chaz Davies and Broc Parkes.
racing will be dominated all year by Ryan Farquhar
and Michael Dunlop.
will win the North West 200 and I hope he wins at
least one Isle of Man TT Race. If Ian Hutchinson is
recovered from his injuries he could still be a
factor, but my money is on Guy Martin and Michael
Dunlop to share the trophies.
Sean - BQ
There's a chance that my design for the BlarneyQuick
Arai helmet may get a limited edition production run
in the USA. The final decision on whether it happens
or not depends on interest shown. A helmet is
currently being painted for display at the
Washington Motorcycle Show next weekend at the Race
Tech booth. Do you
like the design? email Kieron or myself.
Guest Journal - Steve
Squires - Memorabilia Collector
biggest fans Steve & Laura @ Malaysian GP.
Steve & Laura from the UK got
to experience Lorenzo win the MotoGP title in
style. Here is Steve's account....
"Where do I start….. Arrived at
our hotel after a long flight to Malaysia. As soon
as we walked in we saw the riders and teams
everywhere, which had a great feel about it.
Whether it was breakfast or dinner, the majority
of the riders where eating close by and was nice
to see them in a relaxed environment away from the
On the Friday morning we saw
Jorge walking out of breakfast and he remembered
us so came over and said hi which was nice of
him. He seemed very relaxed seeing as he had a lot
of pressure on him that weekend.
We headed to the track on the
Friday for practice, which was about a 10 min
drive from the hotel. When we got out of the taxi we
were hit by the intense humidity. I have never
felt anything like it and it took a while to get
used to it.
wasn’t very busy on the Friday and most of the
riders still seemed to be relaxed. We walked
around the track to watch the practise from
various spots. We were keeping an eye open for the
Cobra snakes, but didn’t see any!
Saturday was slightly busier in the paddock and I
think even hotter! I was hot in my shorts so I
don’t know how the riders felt in their race
leathers and helmets. Qualifying was great. We
watched this from the pit straight on top of the
hospitality units. These looked directly down onto
pit lane. This was a great view. Jorge was
consistently fast and ended up on pole position.
We arrived back at the circuit
on Sunday morning. We got there early to avoid to
traffic. The paddock was a lot busier, but had a
great atmosphere to it. We saw Jorge before the
race and wished him good luck. We went back up
onto the roof to watch the race, which also had a
large screen so we could watch the race. Jorge got
a good start, but Dovizioso was also riding very
well. Valentino had a bad start and ended up
further down the field, but amazingly came through
to win the race, but third place for Jorge was
enough to win the championship. We joined the team
and were given our championship t shirts and we
all stood underneath the podium. You could see he
felt on top of the world. It was a great moment to
be there and share this championship win.
We were invited to the party in the evening in
Kuala Lumpur to celebrate Jorge’s world title and
what a party it was! It was on the top floor of a
hotel in Kuala Lumpur, which had stunning views of
the city and also the Petronas towers. There was a
swimming pool on the top floor in the middle of
the room. I said to Laura that I wished I took my
swimming shorts, but it wasn’t long until everyone
ended up being thrown into the pool…… Fully
clothed!!! Before the end of the night Toni Elias
turned up to the party and leapt into the pool.
Toni and Jorge were congratulating each other, as
they were both champions that day. We left the
party about 4:00am soaking wet and got into the
taxi for our ride back to the hotel. The next
morning we were very tired, but could not stop
talking about the party. It was a great night. Big
thanks to Jorge and the team!!!
We are already
planning, which races to go to next year and still
hoping to add more of Jorge’s items to my
collection so I end up with the best collection of
his stuff in the world!
Guest Journal - Steve
Squires - Memorabilia Collector
I have always been into bikes, as
I used to go to the races from the age of about 7 on
the back of my Dads bike, which I had to be strapped
to him, as often fell asleep. I used to watch
Rainey, Schwantz and Doohan battling it out and
always tried to go to the GP when I could.
I was a fan of Schwantz so got in
touch with Sean, who I bought a signed ltd rep off,
which then got me onto genuine helmets when I saw
Sean's collection, so picked up an original Abe
helmet first and went from there. Now I have 2
x Abe helmets, Sete, Nobby Ueda, 2 x Lorenzo,
Stoner, Melandri, Rainey, Capirossi, Brad Smith,
Biaggi. All the real deal.
I then got my first set of
leathers (Bayliss). Sean pointed them
out to me :-)
I thought the leathers were cool
so now have a genuine Kocinski, Rainey, Mamola,
McWilliams, Edwards Castrol, Biaggi Marlboro. I had
always been a fan of Rainey so to have a set of his
leathers from his championship winning year 1990 is
pretty cool. I hope to get them signed in
person next year.
Lorenzo is my favorite rider and
have his 2009 Donington helmet, 2009 Valencia helmet
and his 2008 gold boots worn in his rookie year.
Would be great to see him win the title this year
I am after Lorenzo leathers,
Schwantz leathers, Rossi helmet or leathers, but
always interested in other stuff to. Got to meet
Jorge @ Silverstone, who signed the helmet and was a
If you want to drop Steve an email send it
email@example.com and I will forward it on.
Sean - Silverstone 2010
Well sorry it's been
a while, but been busy of sorts. I was made
redundant from work so have been catching up on all
those things that need sorting along with a little
holiday in between. The weather in the UK has
been great too of late, plenty of opportunity to get
out riding the bike.
So last weekend was MotoGP at Silverstone.
Silverstone is only 15 minutes from where I live so
an easy choice on whether to attend or not. I
always visit Day of Champions, the day where the
riders and teams allow the public an up close and
personal view in to the MotoGP world, this year was
I travelled up Thursday and met with Jim and
Shirley Schwantz and pretty much spent the day with
them catching up with all their old friends from
when they were on the circuit with Kevin. It
was cool to see people recognising them as Kevin's
Mum & Dad and they signed autographs a plenty.
I got to say hi and meet some people I usually only
get to see on the TV. The sun was shining, it
was a great day for it.
Silverstone was hosting MotoGP for the first
time. It is a massive place and seems to take
forever to get from A to B. The pits and
paddock were just off the main straight and that's
where we spent most of our time. The Day of
www.riders.org stage was in the in-field.
A fair trek but we went over for the evening auction
as Kevin had given some Lucky Strike jackets to
auction. I accompanied Jim and Shirley on
stage and hid at the side! There were easy
3000 people staring up at them. Shirley
auctioned the first jacket £280! Jim the
second £400. An awesome amount of money and
all to a good cause. I hung around at the
auction to do a bit of telephone bidding on a few
items for a friend. We got the Lorenzo helmet
for £1050 and went to £4900 for a Rossi original
helmet but lost it to £5000. All in all a
Friday was 1st day of practice. The general
public no longer allowed in the pit and paddock
meant it was quieter. I was lucky enough to
have passes that would let me see the action up
close. I met with some friends Friday, huge
Lorenzo fans and they got to meet the great man
himself. He even allowed us lunch in Fiat
Yamaha hospitality, Lorenzo and his team are real
nice guys. The rest of the day I spent hanging
around the paddock checking out who and what was
about. I met up with Tom a 9 year old Schwantz
fan as he had some stuff he wanted Kevin to sign.
I also met Fonsi Nieto and he was kind enough to
sign one of his original race helmets for me.
I watched afternoon qualifying from inside Rizla
Suzuki. The professionalism is unreal.
Dead quiet, they all have a job and know how/when to
do it. No panic, just military precision.
It was real cool to watch a qualifying session from
the garage, you need ear plugs though that's for
Saturday, pretty much the same. Went with
my Dad, met up with a few people again. Jim
and Shirley were back in the paddock too.
Today was the first day I would actually see some
action on the track. We walked the track as
morning practice was on, those bikes are so fast and
then final qualifying we watched from Woodcote stand
whilst snacking down on some sandwiches.
Lorenzo made poll, his Yamaha sounding so different
to the others he looked slow.
Sunday race day I went up with Jo. We left
late to hopefully miss all the traffic as I had
sorted somewhere easy to park. It was still
busy even at 10:30. We met a few friends and
listened to Moto2. It was happening out of
track while we were in the pits. The celebs
were out in force today so a bit of people watching
was in order. The MotoGP race we watched from
the grandstand between Copse and Maggotts. It
was cool to watch them come flying by. Ear
plugs were required again. I was routing for
Spies and Hayden and obviously the Rizla boys.
Was great to see Ben get his first podium and a
shame the Suzuki lads didn't finish better up the
order. We said our goodbyes, met up with Nick
and his wife to be from last years
Schwantz school on the way
out and we were gone. We were home and watching the 125
race on TV in no time. I later heard the
traffic out was horrendous, so glad we left when we
did. Jo enjoyed her day, I wonder why?
So that's about it for now. I've been busy
www.kevinschwantz.com and Kevin has a new
clothing line available too at
for sale alongside a certain #46
I took a nice long ride out yesterday, the
weather is just perfect for riding in the UK at the
moment. Ride safe
Journal 25, June
of the greatest accomplishments in motorcycle racing
ever has just taken place at the 2010 Isle of Man
TT. Road racer, Ian Hutchinson won all five of the
premium championships to take the Joey Dunlop
Trophy. The chances of one rider winning both
Supersport races, both Superbike and the Superstock,
had to be a 1000 to 1. The man raced just over 900
miles in five races in just five days. His average
speed for 37 miles was just over 131 mph in the
Superbike. More impressive was his average speed for
the 600 cc Supersport race, which was 128 mph.
matter what the risks these road racers take they do
really know the ultimate penalty. The Isle took two
more lives this year, which always saddens me. This
is the fastest form of motorcycle racing in the
world. To clarify that, remember that MotoGP and
Superbike racing competes on purpose built tracks
that may allow the riders to get to 200 mph for
maybe 3 seconds at the end of the straight before
they need to brake for a corner. At the TT, a rider
of Ian Hutchinson’s caliber, may have his bike in
top gear for more than a mile at a time. That means
they get to 200 mph and stay there for 15 to 20
seconds at a time. All this on closed public roads.
These guys take more chances in one race then I
would in 100 track days. Did I mention that they do
more 150 mph wheelies because of the waves in the
surface and jump over small hump backed bridges. I
mean the bike can get completely airborne for 25
feet and two feet off the ground. I love all of it.
Ian is a new God in Isle of Man TT history.
week, Valentino Rossi suffered his worst ever injury
in 230 starts. He has never missed a start in over
14 years and that alone is bordering on the
supernatural. I watched the replays of the crash, a
very nasty high side, and blamed on cold tires. He
has crashed many times but was always able to get up
and walk away. This time his luck ran out and a
broken leg that required major surgery to repair.
That type of high side happens almost never at the
road races because the riders don’t spend as much
time on the sides of the tires. I hope Vale gets
back soon. There were only 17 riders on the grid in
MotoGp before he left. It’s down to Dani Pedrosa or
Jorge Lorenzo to take the World championship.
really am enjoying the World Superbike Championship
this year. The old guys of racing are showing the
young guys a thing or two. Max Biaggi and Carlos
Checa have been fantastic. I am hoping Max wins for
a local track Day at Summit Point Main on Thursday,
June 17. The BlarneyQuick Suzuki 750 is in great
form and we will again reach speeds close to 165 on
the long front straight. I will be with a gang of
riders from Ram Cycles out of Rockville Md. They
have hooked up with the Roger Lyle’s
MotorcycleXcitment track day association. Should be
in the 90’s, so it’s going to be hot !!! I will
again be testing Michelin Tires courtesy of
WesternPowerSports. Thanks to all our sponsors. Only
70 days until we go to the Kevin Schwantz Superbike
School at Indy. We will then watch MotoGP.
part 24, May 20, 2010
The 2010 season is in full swing and
yours truly has already done his first track day.
The Internet has provided me with a way to update
BlarneyQuick easier and keep news more up-to-date.
We have a Facebook and Twitter page and I have been
using that form of media on a daily basis. I will
continue to write my journals – I heard from many of
you, I get the sense that you missed me. Fair
enough, God knows I have plenty to say.
First of all, we are committed to
about 10 track days this season. The highlight will
be going the Kevin Schwantz Superbike School at Indy
in August. Our next day at the track is Thursday,
May 27 at Summit Point RaceTrack. I will be going
with Ram Cycles and the “Take it to the Track” TV
crew. We will be testing Michelin Tires and testing
VP Racing Fuels. I will be riding the BQ Suzuki GSX-R
750. The bike is running great and the VP Racing
fuel has helped make it even quicker. The front
straight at Summit Point is quite long, so we will
be getting up to the 160-mph on the 750. I have
found a track day organization what fits us
perfectly. Roger Lyle’s MotorcycleXcitement. Roger
has a good professional crew and great control
riders. I am in the advanced group, which means we
pretty much race around on our own. The guys in this
group are all very experienced and respect each
other’s ability. We will post photos after the
Those of you asking about the TV
show, well we are now working with the Discovery
Channel, which is great, but everything is in the
conceptual phase. Good product takes time to produce
and get right, there is no hurry. We are trying to
narrow down what makes sense for use to focus on.
That takes some market research and that’s where we
are right now, Hang in there..
Until next time.
Host of “Take it to the Track”
Journal, part 23,
December 11, 2009
BlarneyQuick.com took a major step in the last couple of
weeks and started a motorcycle track day and racing
news TV show. The first two episodes were filmed and
are being edited. The first show will be aired on
YouTube Christmas week. Follow all updates on our
Facebook page or on Twitter.
show talks about sport bikes, track days, racing
news, performance upgrades and all the latest riding
gear. Our sponsors have signed a deal for 12 shows.
So, if there is something you want us to cover, send
Journal, part 22, 7th Nov 2009
Well the racing season is almost over. Just one
round of MotoGP to go. Round 17 is in Spain at
Valencia. It happens to be the biggest party of the
year. The Title has been decided in the premier
class and “King Rossi” retains his throne. The so
called silly season is in full swing, and as usual
there is some talented new blood moving into the top
category. Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli should
really spark new life into the racing action. Why,
because they are both very aggressive riders. They
both push to the limits and I love both of their
But there are others, Alvaro Bautista is moving
up from the 250’s along with Hirosh Aoyama. Aoyama
will more than likely win the 250 World Championship
baring any foolishness. I think the guy has done
wonders on a bike that Honda has done little with.
Rightly so, when Dorna and the FIM announced at the
beginning of the season that they would be killing
off the two stroke class. Bautista gets a ride with
Rizzla Suzuki. They may need to find him some
training wheels because the boy has been crashing a
lot. He has to get the idiot award for his victory
wheelie crash a month ago. Will the new Moto2 class
pass muster, I think so.
Gone are a few notables, Alex De Angelis, James
Toseland, Chris Vermeulen, Tony Elias, Nicolo Canepa
and Gabor Talasci. No real surprises and they should
find rides elsewhere. I think the Moto2 class would
be good for these, the bikes are closer to the
MotoGP class than the 250’s ever were. Toseland
lands on Ben Spies world championship winning
Superbike and remains in the Yamaha camp. Vermeulen
signs with Kawasaki World Superbike team. I think
Carl Crutchlow will be Toselands biggest threat. He
is hungry and I think the two Brits are going to
push old man Haga to the limit.
MotoGP in 2010 will only field 18 riders at the
most. Still easy to get a point if you survive a
race. I’m ready to line up the BlarneyQuick Suzuki
GSXR 750 at the back of the grid and let the crazy’s
crash out like they always do. I would get lapped
for sure, maybe even twice but I would secure a
point for 15th place and go into the
record books. That’s so wrong, but completely
plausible. If they need me give me a call !!!
Journal, part 21, Oct 2009
finished my last track day in the Middle Atlantic
area. My good friends at Ram Cycles asked me to join
them October 12 at Roger Lyle’s Motorcycle
Xcitement’s track day. The event was held at Summit
Point Main in West Virginia, my local track which I
know well. This was my first time with Roger Lyle
and his lads. I was shocked when I went into the
riders meeting and saw well over 100 riders. That
did not warm me up in the rather cool conditions.
Too many guys means less track time. I was grateful
I was in the “A” advanced group.
Roger had to run so many groups that every session
was going to be incident free. First group out was
the “ Racers” group. They had about 12 riders and
they all did there 20 minutes with no problems. Next
up was the “A” group. Once things start everybody is
given three calls to the starting area. There was
just enough time to get the leathers on, strap on
the boots and helmet. The main man from Ram Cycles
of Rockville ( Alex Swetlow ) checked my tire
pressure, topped off the gas tank and took off the
tire warmers. It was barely 50 degrees, so everyone
was using tire warmers. I put my gloves on and heard
my crew wish me well. The BlarneyQuick Gixer 750
fired up and I will always love the way this bike
sounds. I shifted the bike up into first gear ( I
run the GP style shifter ) and joined the other 12
guys at the starters position. As soon as the track
was clear we were waved out. The first session we
were lead around by a control rider, so the pace was
very tame. That let us all see what the conditions
of the track were. The track was cold and the
forecast for cloudy conditions all day wasn’t going
to help to warm the track up. Turn one, five and six
have always been problem areas at Summit Point. The
surface is rough and bumpy in all of those corners,
so smooth and steady was the best you could do.
were on the main course which has some high speed
straits. I try not to look down at the speedo, but I
saw 160 mph come up towards the end of the front
strait before I pulled on the completely new Brembo
calipers and disc’s. They were a dream, braking was
so much more controllable. I’m a big guy so I try to
stay as smooth as possible and not put any extra
movement on top of the bike as necessary. But I like
the bike moving around under braking and try to hit
the apex’s with the throttle coming on hard. Yeah,
doesn’t sound smooth and it isn’t. I am hard on my
bike push the thing harder every time I get on it.
The guys in this group were all fast and I felt
right at home. The “A” group ran clean and no
crashes all day. But, the Intermediate group and the
Novice group had lots of problems. Lots of crashes,
and some badly mangled bikes. The delays and the
clean ups meant we only got 4 sessions in. Sorry
Roger that’s not enough !!!
would like to thank the lads at Ram Cycles. Randy
Jones, Paris Tato and Dwight Wood were all great to
ride with. All of our bikes were prepared by Ram and
if we had any issues Alex and Pat made things right.
I wish I could have had at least one more session,
but I enjoyed Rodger ’s Track day organization and I
will be back, with less riders I hope.
September 25th, 2009.
Kieron Mooney’s Barber/Indy GP experience August 2009
This was my third year in a row. What can I say, I am
totally hooked. But this past combination of first participating in the
2-day Kevin Schwantz School and then being hosted by the school for
three days at Indy for MotoGP was a life long dream fulfilled. Barber
Motor Sports Park is the best racing facility I have ever seen. Just
driving into it made me feel like I was at a golf course - everything is
so manicured. The track was very technical with lots of sweeping
corners, not as fast as years past in Road Atlanta. The school was
excellent as usual, Lee Acree was lead instructor in the classroom with
the man himself chiming in and answering any questions. I knew all of
the track instructors except for one, so it was like seeing family
again. Marnie Lincoln: the boss; had everything well organized and she
always had time for everyone. I returned to the school with another
3-peater - Sean de Fraine. We drove 2200 miles overall. Went through 10
states - read Sean’s piece on the trip. He describes every detail real
well, so I don’t want to be repetitive. There were 9 guys in the A group
and everyone rode well. We were all better at the end of our 2-days with
Kevin and his crew. Sean in my opinion improved the best - he’s the guy
in the fancy Rizla leathers.
I brought my Suzuki GSXR 750 down with me and it preformed brilliantly.
There was a Suzuki film crew at Barber taking segments for the 25 the
Anniversary of the GSXR Superbike. They filmed everybody, so hopefully
some of us will make history. The A group guys all became friends and
all meet back up at Indy for the experience of a life time. Kevin was
going to ride his 1993 World Championship RGV 500 just before the start
of MotoGP. Kevin is a huge fan favorite and he was showered with
attention. Marnie pulled off a great location in the paddock. We were at
Garage 4, right beside Yamaha and Honda catering. So we really never had
to move to meet all the past and present stars - they basically came to
us. We all took hundreds of photo’s of just about everything - I even
managed to take a few of the famous brolly girls. We meet all the riders
and were brought into LCR Honda’s garage and also Rizla Suzuki. This
kind of access is unheard of. I meet Valentino, Jorge, Nicky and all the
riders, but for me it was the old school boys like Kenny Roberts, Wayne
Rainey and Kevin that impressed me most. They were very cool to talk to.
We even went and watched Kenny Roberts Ride his TZ 750 dirt tracker at
the Indy Fairgrounds. We were afforded so much in such a little time.
Corner 9 seating was great and the VIP club house was first rate. The
Racing was exciting and I don’t think it could have been better. Thanks
to Kevin and Marnie for this GP Experience Package - one I will never
#59 Kieron Mooney
September 17th, 2009.
Kieron's pictures from his trip to Kevin Schwantz School at Barber
Motorsports Park, August 2009.
- August 22nd, 2009. Kevin Schwantz School GP Experience
Day 1 – Leaving on a Jet
Plane – Saturday 22nd August 2009
It’s that time of the year again and I’m off to ‘Kevin
Schwantz School’. The third year in a row. This year being slightly different
though as I am going to the “Indy GP Experience School”. 2 days riding with
Kevin and the team at the track in Birmingham Alabama, then we all move on to
Indianapolis for the Indy MotoGP round.
I am flying from Heathrow
in to Washington Dulles to meet up with Kieron for our mega road trip. A nice
flight time means that I don’t have to get up too early. Jo & I head for the
airport at around 7.30am. We arrive at Heathrow in good time, get all checked
in, have a coffee and the first of my massive cakes, I don’t diet when on
holiday! I say my goodbyes to Jo and head for departures.
There’s the usual Heathrow
madness, but once I get to the gate I get bumped to Upper Class for the flight
to Washington. Virgin Atlantic VS021 here I come. Aboard I have a few glasses
of Champagne, some amazing freshly cooked food before going horizontal for a few
hours kips before arrival, it really is the only way to travel and a fantastic
start to the trip.
I arrive at Dulles late.
Hurricane Bill was off the east coast creating some serious head winds slowing
us down. I experience the usual fun and games I usually have with arrivals. It
just seems to take forever and arriving with five or six other international
flights never helps.
Eventually I am through and
I meet up with my road trip buddy and two time KSS riding partner Kieron and
head off for his home in Gaithersburg to prep for the trip. It’s raining but
still real warm. First night tradition means a feast somewhere. Kieron doesn’t
let us down, we dine at Fingers & Claws. Seafood like I have never seen.
Back at Kieron’s I stick
visor stickers on all Kieron’s crash helmet collection, which along with a few
beers finishes me off, it’s been a long day, time for bed.
Click on pictures to enlarge
Day 2 – Prep Day - Sunday
23rd August 2009
I awake totally refreshed
after a good nights sleep. The weather today is blue skies and sunshine. It’s
the day before we leave, time to get everything ready for the road trip. New
stickers a plenty for the BlarneyQuick GSXR750, once all cleaned and prepped we
load Kieron’s new trailer with the BQ750 and his road going Yamaha. Once the
bikes are on board we load all the kit and supplies and we are locked and ready
to go in record time. The new purpose built trailer making it far easier than
the U-Haul from the previous year.
With the gear all sorted we
take a walk down to the lake front for some lunch. A mega sandwich at
Potbelly’s sandwich shop (you spotting the pattern) gets the energy levels back
up. An afternoon of chores and final prep, camera’s, documents, trip to Best
Buy etc follow before we head out for dinner at Houston’s for some baby back
ribs. We drop by the classic car shop on the way home to check out some old
school cars. An early night is in order as we leave at 4am tomorrow, night
Day 3 – It’s a long way to
Alabama - Monday 24th August 2009
4am alarm goes off, quick
shower, load the suitcases and we are off. First leg Gaithersburg Maryland to
Birmingham Alabama, 741 miles – 11 hours 34 mins. We hit the freeway and it’s
still quite busy but we need to be out of DC before the rush hour kicks in. We
soon make the outskirts with Kieron at the wheel for the first stint. It’s
dark, I know that sounds weird, but it really is pitch black. No freeway
lights, road works and thin lanes make it an interesting first few hours.
We’re making good time as
the sun comes up and plough through the miles before our first of many fuel
stops. Kieron’s Jeep being a diesel makes stopping not as easy as in the UK
where every garage has diesel, here in the US it’s not as common. We find a
stop that has a McDonalds for breakfast, that’s pretty much the pattern for the
day, swapping the driving each time. We leave Maryland (state #1) and enter
Virginia (state #2) before hitting Tennessee (state #3). A few hours later and
a time zone change and we’re in Georgia (state #4) before hitting Alabama (state
#5). The time zone change, which we didn’t know about, meant we got to the
hotel in plenty of time for check-in before we had to head out to the evening
reception at Kevin Schwantz School (KSS).
KSS has moved since my last
visit. The new school now resides out of Barber Motorsports Park facility in
Birmingham Alabama. As we drive in to the entrance you can tell this place is
going to be a treat. The grass perfectly cut (by a remote control lawn mower in
places!) the signs, the whole facility is just picture perfect. Barber is the
home of arguably the best motorcycle museum in the world. We are to have our
reception here before we ride tomorrow. We have some fun and games with
security trying to get Kieron’s bikes down to the pit area, but eventually get
in. We unload the BQ750 and go meet Marnie and the guys. Kevin and the
instructors are bringing the bikes down from the shop. A quick ‘how you doing?’
and hand shakes, it was nice to see everyone again. A little help to Mom & Dad
Schwantz with banners and it’s time to leave for the reception in the museum.
Now if you like bikes
Barber Motorsports Park Museum is out of this world. 100’s of bikes, a few cars
and other bits n bobs too. The owner buys, restores and displays every kind of
bike you can imagine. They have some rare, some classics and some new, but the
place is awesome. This is the venue for the reception for the following day’s
school. We meet up with Kevin & the team and some other familiar faces from
last year. It was good to see Dave again, the official photographer who is
responsible for many photos in this and the previous books.
Once name badges are stuck
on, introductions and hello’s out of the way, we all jump in a trailer for a lap
of track with Kevin explaining the way around. I had only previously seen the
track on the internet, to ride round it albeit in a trailer you got to see what
a great couple of days riding we were in for.
Once back at the museum
students and instructors were given a tour of the museum. We see all the bikes
and repair areas. We also get to see some places not usually open to the
public. It was great to listen to how the museum amasses such a great
collection. A fantastic start to the school.
One by one students begin
to leave, I am sure I took 100+ photos in the museum and probably missed 100’s
more bikes. It’s now dark outside and we say our goodbyes until tomorrow and
head back to the hotel. A meal in the local Mexican restaurant is in order
where the waiter makes some weird bird noises every time he passes the female
staff, maybe this is a courting ritual in Alabama? Food done, off to sleep as
the fun starts tomorrow.
Day 4 – First Day of School
- Tuesday 25th August 2009
So today is Day 1 of Kevin
Schwantz Motorcycle Riding School. Due for an 8am start, but we roll out of the
hotel at 7am. Get there early, get registered, get in your leathers etc. Check
out the awesome surroundings. The air conditioned class room is on the third
floor on the pit complex. Two rows of desks, with all your class information
and goodie bags. Loads of refreshments, Red Bull, fruit and snacks to get you
through the day at the back. It is a great environment to take class in. Down
stairs (or in the lift) are numerous immaculately prepared Suzuki GSXR600s and
Honda CBR600s all line up. Schwantz School is now partnered by Suzuki & Honda
so you can chose which bike you wish to ride on or indeed both. The instructor
bikes and the camera bikes are also on show. The instructors all riding
GSXR750s and CBR1000s along with the camera bikes too. There are two camera
bikes, one ridden by John Jacobi (nose camera) and the second by Reuben
Frankenfield (over helmet camera). These guys were to follow us around for two
days so we can see how we ride back in the classroom on the massive screen.
There are also a few what I would call ‘play bikes’ hanging around for the
instructors and Kevin along with three student bikes, Kieron’s BQ750 being one
Back up in the classroom,
registration out of the way, official introductions commence. Due a recent
mishap with Taylor Knapp at VIR Lee Acree is to be classroom instructor for the
two days. All the instructors raced, most are currently still racing. Our
track guides for the two days were to be Tray Batey, Ted Cobb, Brad Coleman and
Harry Vanderlinden. John & Reuben on camera bikes, Marnie running the show and
then there is Mom & Dad Schwantz on hand along with the reason we were all there
There were about 15
students and we split in to 2 groups, A and B. Group A being those that had
raced, been on track days etc Group B being those whom just did street. This is
not a race school in anyway and is just the initial easy way of splitting the
class in two. If you feel or are deemed to be in the wrong group you can skip
between until you find your comfort zone.
After the basic
instructions of be careful and keep smiling are put over group A hit the track.
It follows a basic 20 minute rotation cycle where group A are on track whilst
group B have classroom tuition. Someone has to go out first and it was lucky
Now the weather was great,
sunny and warm with a dry track. 3 lanes are available on exit of the pit
garages, 1, 2 & 3. Lane 1 being the fastest, 3 the slowest. You are encouraged
to try and find a rider of similar standard in the first few sessions by
choosing a lane and maybe switching until you find someone you can ride with.
Lucky for me I have ridden the last two schools with Kieron so I know we are
nearly identical in terms of speed and riding. We must have ridden a fair few
hundred miles together now so also have that trust and understanding. We pair
up in lane 1 on GSXR600s. Now lane 1 is advertised as the fastest, however each
lane only ever goes as fast as the instructor will let you go. The instructors
lead you out and gradually build up speed by watching your every move in their
mirrors. How they ride as fast as they do looking backwards most of the time is
unbelievable. We follow Ted out on that first session, he led us round at a
great pace just so we got used to which way the track went. No point going
fast, learn slowly and build your speed, you get to learn the track much better
at slower speed, once you know it increase the speed. Twenty minutes later and
not sure how many laps we head back for our first debrief. After every session
the instructor will talk you through what you did right and anything you could
improve on. Nothing much to report, we were riding well. It was all about
learning the track for now. The track was awesome, up and downs, left and
rights, fast corners along with my not so favourite slow ones. There was plenty
of grip out there too and the ever so helpful cones on entry, exit and apex.
All in all it was great to get out there and get the nervousness and cobwebs out
of the way.
all pile back in the lift up to the classroom and swap with group B for their
track session. Everyone is buzzing now, already swapping stories about what the
track was like, what they liked, what they didn’t. Lee calls us to order and
the classroom instruction begins. The class is all about improving your riding
skills. Now everyone has different levels of experience, but get the basics
right and you will end up a safer and better rider. The basics apply to all
whether you ride fast or slow. We were to learn numerous things
including visual awareness and concentration, body position and steering
technique, cornering lines and reference points, gear selection and shifting
technique, braking technique and staying smooth and controlling panic. In
addition to on-bike video instruction and classroom review to enhance our
learning experience. I can’t think of anything that is not covered. Lee
started the sessions with the help of the presentation material and Kevin was
also on hand to answer any questions we may have had. Before you knew it
grinning group B were back and it was time for the track again.
Out we went again on
GSXR600s. Lane 2 this time but faster than the previous session as the track
was coming to us, we now knew if the next corner was a left or right. Brad led
us out. Brad had ridden with us previously at Road Atlanta so knew us fairly
well from the off. We had increased our speed a lot since that first session,
the smiles were getting bigger. Debrief done, back to class. Chance to get
your fluids and energy back up with the provided drinks and snacks whilst Lee
covers move class material.
Time for our third session
out on track, the last before lunch. Keiron and I both decide to give the Honda
a go and we split up too. I go out with a fellow brit Nick and Jay whilst
Kieron goes out with Sean C whom we have ridden with at the previous two
schools. Nothing major to report, I didn’t get on with the Honda, hit a few
false neutrals’ and the throttle was too touchy for me too, back to the Suzuki
for the next session. A few other students made the switch back also, Kieron
being one of them. It’s just what you are used to I guess. Nice to have
experienced the Honda though.
Along with Dave out of
track taking numerous photographs of us at various corners there was a film crew
in tow. They were over from Suzuki Japan making a video for the 25th
Anniversary of the GSXR next year so we would be filmed entering and leaving the
pits as well as out on track. They even threw a microphone under you nose every
now and then – I am so camera shy, err, no, yes, errr.
Time for lunch, great local
cooked food whilst swapping stories before we get wind of something very
special. Kevin is to perform some demo laps on his 1993 Championship
Winning RGV500 at Indy MotoGP next weekend.
Old Suzuki spanner man Hamish
all the way from
The Gambia via Scotland (as there was no connection to the US from Gambia!)
over getting it ready and Kevin is just about to ride it around Barber to check
all is okay. Everyone and I mean everyone is out on the balcony watching
the Lucky Strike Suzuki fly around the track with Jacobi in tow on the camera
was just like the good old days, 2 stroke noise and smell, can’t beat it.
I think the only person not to enjoy it was the flag man waiting with the
chequered flag, but Kevin took an emergency exit slip road back to the garage
rather than take the flag. Waving the chequered to Kevin on his RGV, that
would have been a story.
Lunch done, classroom and
track sessions recommence. Kevin makes it back from his test laps to a 100
questions. We go back out on track; I am back on the GSXR600s and Kieron now
riding his BQ750. Two track and classroom sessions follow in the afternoon. We
ride with Ted and Tray that afternoon. Improving our riding gradually over the
afternoon with advice from them both. The last session with Tray had us going
the fastest we had been all day. The track now fully learnt meant we could
concentrate on hitting our marks, being smooth and always in control. We were
waved in front by Ted to lead the group in the afternoon, which only happens
once the instructor is confident you are in control and safe. What a thrill
riding a great track like Barber with no one out front. Free to ride but
knowing they were behind you and would shoot back in front if you started
getting out of control. It had been day two at Atlanta before I was put out
front, so was a great early surprise.
To end the day we have a
track walk with Kevin. Unlike the tour we had on arrival we now had experience
of the track. We all jump in the back of the trailer and get driven to various
corners where Kevin explains the best way to get through it, where to break,
reference points, apex etc. At each corner we get out of the truck and get a
real close up look, this will help tomorrow for sure. Then after a quick call
on the radio three instructors come through the corner at different speeds so we
can see the lines etc. Ted first (rapid), Brad second (fast) and Harry third
(steady). All three often using different lines gives the students a great idea
on how best they should take the bend. We cover just about all the major
corners in the next few hours. It’s incredible to see the instructors come
through the corners so close at speed. It is also amazing how undulating the
track is with some serious hills and cambered corners. The track walk is a
fantastic learning aid.
The day was over, way to
soon as ever. Tonight we were to eat in the shop where the bikes are housed
when school is out. We also had a very special guest, an RGV500 parked up in
the corner. Stories swapped and pictures taken whilst eating Rusty’s BBQ food,
spot on. Tired limbs and minds meant everyone soon left for a good nights sleep
to make the most of Day 2.
Day 5 – Second Day of
School - Wednesday 26th August 2009
Another 8am start after
breakfast at the hotel with Sean C, Nick, Kieron, Jay and Jason. Everyone still
buzzing from the day before. Group and individual pictures taken with Kevin and
the we do the clutchless up-shift and throttle blip exercise. With that out of
the way we are straight back in to track and class split. Group A straight out
on track. Slowly up to speed which was a nice way to start the day, remembering
everything we had learnt from the day before. We rode with Harry too today, so
I have now been out with all the instructors. Each instructor has their own
style and ideas, so it is good to hear them all and see what suits you best.
Kevin also ventured out on track on a GSXR1000 today. Burger’s for lunch
before the afternoon sessions.
Kevin takes the RGV out
again over lunch and this time flag man gets to wave the chequered flag, he was
a happy man today!
Camera bike got me a lot on
day two, so was cool to watch yourself back on the big screen throughout those
classroom sessions. Lee pointing out what we did right and what we could
improve on. Looked a bit slow, but hey I can always X2 on the DVD player when I
get my copy, you get a DVD on your lap along with a CD of all your pictures from
Dave a few weeks after school finishes.
Was out front in nearly all
of the sessions today for at least a few laps. The speed was increasing too.
I beat the flag at one
point to get a complete lap on my own, not that I knew that until I got back to
the pit to find Ted & Kieron already there. Then the last session Tray just let
Sean C and I go. Had a great final session enjoying everything that we had
learnt and put it all together. Awesome time, just awesome.
So a final review while
group B were out playing, final questions and answers and it was time for
graduation. Everyone that successfully completes the course graduates, anyone
that falls has there track time stopped immediately and doesn’t. 100% success,
group A & B all came home safe and sound. One by one, Kevin presents us all
with a certificate to acknowledge our success. Everyone applauds waiting for
their turn. Special prizes for Most Improved rider and Safest rider and then
some lucky dip prizes too, everyone goes home happy.
Well not exactly, happy
yes, home no, we are all to meet up again at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for
part two of this fantastic trip. As I mentioned earlier this KSS includes
hospitality with Kevin at the Indy MotoGP. We say our Au Revoir’s and head back
to the hotel. Sean C, Nick, Keiron, Jason and I go out for a celebrating meal
at a local restaurant. Now that was an experience too. 14 meals for less than
$15 in one place and a menu containing World Famous Meatloaf, which had herbs
and a warning “cell phones interfere with the preparation of meatloaf”, enough
Day 6 – Indianapolis here
we come -Thursday 27th August 2009
Today is travel to Indy
day. A few of us had decided to drive in convoy up to Indianapolis. Chris &
Jay had left early as they were local(ish) and would see us there. Keiron, I &
the truck would go up with Nick & Sean C who were staying in Nashville over
night. We all left about 10am for the 500 mile, 8 hour drive. Jason overtook
us on the way to pick up Gary driving like a grandma albeit at warp speed. The
rest of us stayed together until we hit Nashville where we all took a break for
lunch. Tom Tom had guided us in to the main part of Nashville. We did the
tourist bit, photos with all the landmarks and Elvis’s before finding a local
joint to eat where we had the best pork sarnies. A few more tourist pictures
and we left Sean C & Nick to continue our drive to Indy passing back into
Tennessee before hitting Indiana (state #6).
We got to Indy around 8pm;
the traffic had been bad, a bit of rain and a few accidents. On the way up we
were planning what to put on our special Thank You banner for Kevin to be
unveiled at the GP. We eventually decided on the wording and Jason had found
somewhere downtown that stayed open late and could make it up. We checked in
and then headed downtown to meet Jason. Jason had picked up Gary who was unable
to make school but would be attending the GP with us. We all headed to the
banner shop and spent 2+ hours doing final designs on a 12’ x 3’ monster
banner. We got there in the end and were happy with how it was to turn out. We
found what turned out to be our local “Scotty’s Brewhouse” and had some late
night food and some beers before hitting home as tomorrow was first day on the
Indianapolis MotoGP round.
Day 7 – Indy MotoGP
Practice - Friday 28th August 2009
Another early start, not
sure if I had a lay-in once? We were off to the track about 8am. Part of the
trip was full hospitality with Kevin at Indy. The package included
all the benefits of
the Corner 9 Club, including climate control and closed circuit television along
with fully catered breakfast and lunch with snacks and hors d’oeuvres and a
fully catered bar with booze. Paddock pass access and a reserved seat in the
Corner 9 Stand also provided. Kevin was to lead a Friday evening Track Walk,
followed by a barbecue prepared by his parents, Jim and Shirley. Sounded good.
Kieron had got chatting to
some lads in the hotel car park and purchased some tickets that allowed you to
ride the track on your bike, so by the time I had got to the car he had already
unloaded the road-going Yamaha from the trailer only to find it had a flat
(nail) so had switched the number plate to the BQ750 and was ready for the
track. I had my passes too, so the plan was for Kieron to do a lap, swap with
me to do mine. Today turned out to be just one of those days. A screw came
lose on the way so we had to go back to fix that, then we got separated on the
way to the track, so I parked up and started walking to meet Kieron. That was
the complete opposite end to where I was at. Now if you have never been to Indy
it is massive, seriously massive. It has a golf course in the middle of the
oval it’s that big. Kieron then called to say he had left his tickets in his
shorts in the car, I was already half way there so was pointless to go back.
Kieron then called again as he was nearing the front, I ended up running down to
where he was and giving him mine so at least he got to ride the track. It was
hot n humid even though it was 8.30. I had done enough walking already and had
not even got in. Tickets given I started walking back up to my entrance, Kieron
got to do his lap and parked up in the infield. We met up, signed out our
paddock passes and started to explore. There were rider interviews on the main
stage, loads of vendors selling gear and then there was the paddock. After
meeting up with a few old friends, Tim, Garrett , Robert, Miguel & Liam we hit
the paddock. We met Marnie, Kevin & the guys down at garage A4. That was to be
home for the next three days. Jims BBQ’s were down there, along with the RGV
surrounded by eager onlookers. Kevin had a new set off leathers from Dainese, a
new pair of boots from Aplinestars and a new lid from Arai. All exact replica’s
of what he wore in 1993 on the same bike. It was spooky but so cool. We spent
the day watching qualifying, handing out stickers (well Kieron did) and nosing
around. It was great to be in the paddock, riders and celebs all over the place
and a lot of them coming to check out Kevin’s bike. All the other students
turned up too during the day, plus those that couldn’t make the school.
That afternoon the heavens
opened and the rain fell like crazy. That put an end to our scheduled track
walk with Kevin and the Schwantz Family BBQ. They would be the following night
now. Kevin did a Q&A session in the hospitality before everyone headed home for
Kieron went to collect his
bike, it was the only one left, he had his shorts on, and had left the rest of
his gear on his bike so that was soaked too. He left the track already soaked
only to nearly run out of fuel on the way back to the hotel, then get followed
by the cops so had to ride slow. The track ride had sure taken its toll.
Keiron & I went back in to
town to meet Jason & Gary to collect the banner. It was simply superb! Miles
better than I thought it would be. So banner in hand we went back to our local
for some more grub and beer. Every bike in Indianapolis must have been in town
and they were all parked up as some streets had been closed. We had a good old
nose at some ‘cool’ and some ‘what were they thinking’ bikes. Jason had a good
old chat with the local police before we left, I learnt so much about USA police
it was unreal, Kieron and Gary didn’t feel the same
We headed for home, must
have been 1am before we got back, early start again tomorrow for qualifying.
Day 8 – Indy MotoGP
Qualifying - Saturday 29th August 2009
Back at the track for about
8am. Today was swag day for me; buy any stuff I needed so I didn’t have to
worry about getting it race day. Breakfast in hospitality, some seriously nice
food, before we checked in with The Team down in the paddock. Hung about during
125 & 250 qualifying before hitting the tracks at various places to watch the
MotoGP boys. My god they are fast and so loud. Lunch again back in hospitality
and met up with email friend David from MotoGPmatters.com
Kevin took a Hondo Moto2
bike out Saturday afternoon for a few demo laps, Marnie managed to get a few of
us on to pitlane to watch him go off and come back in. Swarms of people
interested in his every move. It was cool to be pit side too at Indy.
The cancelled track walk
was not to take place but Kevin took us on a tour of the Honda LCR pit garage
and also the Rizla Suzuki garage. Was great to be up close and in the garage
which I only usually get to see on TV. We spent a good few hours in the garages
talking to the staff and checking out the bikes, I had a good chat with Rizla
mechanic George about the bikes too. We then got lucky and got to
go out on the start/finish straight to touch the famous bricks that are so
associated with Indy. Photo’s out of the way we head back to the garage for the
Schwantz Family BBQ. We set out a load of tables and chairs whilst Jim &
Shirley prepared their famous BBQ. All the students were there along with
people Kevin had invited down. We ate dinner that night with a varied bunch,
Honda, Yamaha & Suzuki mechanics, Chris Vermeulen and numerous friends of
We presented our Thank You
banner to Kevin at dinner. It went down really well and we would try and
display it tomorrow. Stuffed to the brim, no need to go to town tonight but we
decide to go watch the dirt trackers down at the Indy Mile. Jason, Gary, Kieron
and I plug the address in to Tom Tom and we are off. We arrive at the track and
the racing is already taking place. We take our seats and I was shocked at what
was to follow.
It’s an oval track (ala
speedway) but a mile in length; same kind of lose surface means serious hanging
the back end out through the turns. No front breaks on the bikes and unlike
speedway there must be 18+ riders, 3 rows of 6 per race. It’s manic, very fast,
just as loud as MotoGP and awesome to watch. These guys must be mad racing at
these speeds on this track. Everyone is down at the track. All the teams from
the MotoGP paddock, Wayne Rainey, Kevin, and Rossi to name a few. Kenny Roberts
Sr took his 1975 Yamaha TZ750 out for a few demo laps and gave it the full
works. Now that was a noise and a sight. The racing continued and after a huge
crash in the main event the night was done.
Day 9 – Indy MotoGP Race
Day - Sunday 30th August 2009
Race Day. There signed in
and having breakfast at 8am as usual. Tried to go hang our banner over at turn
9, but a ‘Zero Banner’ policy from the powers that be in the tower meant it
wasn’t to be. Met up with the usual suspects and decided to hang the banner in
the paddock before watching the morning warm-up. People coming and going as
everyone was now used to what was where. We watch Bradley Smith get 2nd
place in the 125 race from the main stand. 250’s I just hung around the
garage/paddock as Marnie had told us to be back before the end of the race as
Kevin was to do his demo laps before the MotoGP race and she would get us on the
track with Kevin and the bike.
True to her word next thing
we know is the students and I are all strolling down pitlane on our way to the
famous bricks on the track. I have a paddock stand in hand following Hamish
pushing the RGV. The bike is wheeled out on to the bricks to huge applause.
The 250 trophy presentation out of the way Kevin is presented to the crowd. At
the same side Keiron, Jay, Jason, Gary, Nick, Sean C and I are stood along side
unveiling the thanks banner. What an amazing experience with us the other side
of the tape with Kevin and the RGV, the press and all the fans looking on.
Kevin has a chat with Wayne Rainey on the grid, not sure what was said, but a
special moment for sure. It’s not long before the bike is fired up and Kevin
gives it the full beans during his 3 demo laps. We watch them from the pit
wall. It goes by all too quickly as we are ushered off back to the paddock.
Rossi and the boys are about to get ready to rumble.
We go back to the garage
with the bike and the gear before heading to the main stand to watch the start
of the MotoGP race. I got goose-bumps watching the flyover during the national
anthem. The atmosphere is amazing as the field races down in to turn 1, the
noise is unbelievable. We watch the first few laps from there before legging it
over to our seats at turn 9 where we can see a lot of the track. The race flies
by before you know it and we all head back to the paddock. Riders eventually
leaving the garages off back to their motor homes are grabbed for a final
picture or autograph. We too are done.
Heading back to the garage
for one last time to help clear up and say my goodbyes and thanks to Kevin,
Marnie, Jim, Shirley and the team. Also swapping details with all the fellow
students, it’s been one hell of a week.
Sad to leave, but we all do
go our separate ways, Keiron & I hit our local for one last night of burgers and
beer and crazy waiting staff Jesse & Erica. Tomorrow we drive back to DC.
Day 10 – We’re heading back
to DC - Monday 1st September 2009
So with the trailer packed
and secure and cases packed it’s time to leave Indianapolis and head back to
Maryland. We leave at about 9am after a quick McDonald’s breakfast. We hit the
highway for the 573 mile, 9 hour journey. We seem to be the only car amongst a
thousand trucks. The journey sure is picturesque though, fields of corn,
massive woodland, hills and rock faces and some very weird advertising boards
“Hell is Real!” We stop at Debbie’s Delite for lunch, okay I should have
turned right. We enter Ohio (state #7) after about 300 miles quickly followed
by West Virginia (state #8) and then Pennsylvania (state #9). We make a slight
detour to pick-up Shadow (Kieron’s dog) from the farm on the way back in to
Maryland and an hour later we pull up in the dark back at Kieron’s. It had been
a long day but we were home safe and sound. We unpack, have a few beers and
upload some pictures before it’s time for bed. Total miles covered 2065.8
Day 11 – It’s time to leave
- Tuesday 2nd September 2009
Home day. I awoke to an
empty house; Kieron & Shadow had popped in to work for the morning. I packed up
all my gear ready for the flight home later that afternoon. I transferred all
my photographs to Kieron’s laptop and his to mine. We had 1000’s of pictures; I
don’t think we missed a thing. After a few hours sitting in the gorgeous
sunshine Kieron arrived home to take me back to Dulles for my flight home.
Virgin Atlantic VS022 departing 18:40 was awaiting. The drive to the airport
was hassle free and we made it in good time, I say my goodbyes to my road trip
buddy and head for check-in. Next step departures. Washington Dulles is quiet
a nice terminal and I head for something to eat. A club sandwich, cookie & ice
cream desert washed down with a few beers and I am ready to fly. On arrival at
the gate my name is called, talk about lucky, I was upgraded to Upper Class
again. Night flight and a flat bed on the plane, happy days.
Day 12 – Back in the UK -
Wednesday 3rd September 2009
We make cracking time on
the flight across the Atlantic. In fact the pilot says one of the fastest
crossings he has ever known due to strong tailwinds. We are back over London
before you know it, but the usual holding at Heathrow mean we land pretty much
on time. Waiting for me at arrivals is my lovely Jo, a kiss and a hug and I am
Thanks to everyone that
made my trip the trip of a lifetime, sure is a family experience going to
Schwantz School and the Indy GP Experience made it even more special. Ride with
Kevin and learn so much at school, then go get so close to the riders at MotoGP,
that’s what dreams are made of. Now time to bore everyone with my stories and
Kieron - Journal
18, July 28, 2009.
I happened to be in
a couple of weeks ago and decided to go see my first Motorcycle road
race in 32 years. Not much has changed; the fans sit on stonewalls right
on top of the action. You are no further than 6 feet from the riders in
some places. Oh yeah, they could be going 160 mph or faster as you whip
your head around to follow them. One thing is for sure the speeds these
racers challenge these public roads at; are unbelievable. They go faster
on average than most circuits I have been to.
The race in question was the Kells 100 International
Road Race. A mate of mine got me some sponsor/pit pass. Thanks Tony
Byrne for helping me out. Getting to one of these Irish road races is
fairly easy, although a lot of walking is required after you park. The
weather was a typical summers day in
sunshine, wind and rain. I was told to wear my golf shoes, things can
get muddy and you do a bit of climbing up walls and stumbling through
hedges. I managed to watch all the action from at least seven different
vantage points. I also wondered around the pits and concession area.
They are one in the same. I happened to spend time watching William and
Michael Dunlop (sons of the late Robert Dunlop) setting up there bikes
for the multiple races they would ride in. They had a transported that
also acted as living area. Maybe 50 feet away you could buy food and
then there were all kinds of concession stands. The place attracted over
30,000 fans and was alive with happy faces. These people really love
their road racing. I, of course spent some euros on t-shirts and
The actual racing was fantastic. The course was
about 2.1 miles long so the action came by every minute and a half. Ryan
Farqhaur was man of the day; winning four races (every thing he
entered). I enjoyed the entire day and now hope some day to make it to
the Isle of Mann for the TT races.
My next journal will come from Kevin Schwantz’s
Motor Sports Park in Alabama. We will also take in The MotoGP at Indy
that same week – should be great!
Kieron - Journal 17, June 30, 2009
Getting back to the concept of why I started BlarneyQuick
Racing; sharing information on setting up your sportbike to go racing or
at the very least track days. Those of you, who actually know me, know
one thing – I love motorcycle racing. I want to understand everything
there is to know about setting up a bike to perform better on the track.
That has been a huge learning curve. I have a lot of respect for those
who are professionals and work on bikes for a living. But, I have a news
flash for everyone, the specialists who you put your trust in are not
always properly trained or educated. That is why this site can help
Everything I write about, is not gospel, but rather my
experience. I will go the extra step to provide as accurate a posting as
possible. Why am I even bringing this up – well there is just no one
central place to go to for information, to get all the questions you
need answered. One place tells you something different from the next and
everyone tends to believe this because they want to trust what they are
hearing. But, more than not, a year down the road you bring your bike in
for serving and the new guy tells you something depressing about a
previous fix or upgrade you made to your bike. It happens way more than
people are willing to admit.
in point. I just took a class from Racetech.com at my local bike shop.
They are a suspension specialty company. According to the instructor the
front end and rear end suspension on the BlarneyQuick Suzuki GSXR 750
was not right for me. That was very disappointing because I had dropped
a lot of money in Ohlins equipment to upgrade my suspension. At the
time, I relied on the bike shop to put the right cartridges/ springs and
oil and then dial it in for my specific weight. Now, I know not to react
to this news with disbelief, because Ohlins is the number one suspension
company in the world and there equipment on my bike is top of the line.
What Racetech informed and taught me is that the springs were way to
soft and no amount of adjustments would correct the situation. The more
I listened, the more I realized how wrong the bike was set up. I learned
about rake, trail, sage, preload, damping, compression, rebound and
spring rates. Then I learned what was happening to the bike when braking
in a straight line and trail braking. What forces are applied to the
forks and what needs to happen to keep as much traction on the tires. I
also learned how critical tire pressure is when racing. There is a lot
to figure out and nothing out of a tech book is magically going to get
the settings just right for you because each rider/racer has different
needs because of riding styles.
www.racetech.com and click on search and then click on Product
search. There is a very useful calculation chart to figure what your
settings should be for your weight. More than likely your bike has come
with very soft springs and if you’re over 190 lbs. you’re in trouble. My
situation is being corrected and my Ohlins will be sold to some one
else. I am having RaceTech build me custom Front fork internals and a
new rear shock. I will let you know how it goes.
Kieron - Journal 16, April 6, 2009
I would encourage anyone who has ever
had aspirations to race a sport bike, to take the first step and go to
the Kevin Schwantz School. I have been twice and I am signed up for a
third go at the new venue at Barbara sports park in Alabama. After the
first experience I was completely hooked. Your on specially prepared
Suzuki GSXR 600’s. This year Honda is involved with there CBR 600. The
whole thrill of getting into your leathers and pulling on your helmet is
fantastic, but when you walk up and get on the race bikes, the
experience is everything you dreamed.
Listen, I clearly remember starting the
bike and heading out to the starting grid a big smile on my face. I
always wanted to do this and here it was. Road Atlanta is a very
daunting track. When the marshal waived me on to the track, I strangely
felt very comfortable. I followed the instructor for 10 laps and pulled
back into the pits. I was on such a high I don’t think my feet ever
touched the ground. In the next three days I repeated that same routine,
but it got easier and faster every time. I made some friends that I
still stay in touch with now and even see as repeaters of the school.
Sean de Fraine is going back for his third time and we now are veteran’s.
Sean showed a lot of heart last year by joining the “knee draggers “
club. He spurred the rest of us on and that’s what great for guys like
us - the whole experience is so infectious.
Want to learn how to race, this is the
place. Whatever your pace the guys will bring you up to speed. Then you
actually get coached by Kevin himself. He is a god on the track, but he
and his entire staff invest so much one-on-one time, it is worth very
penny. Trust me this is the real deal.
Sean - Journal Entry 25th Feb 2009
Just a few pictures of my Arai collection, please get in touch if
you are a collector too.
Kieron - Journal 15, Feb 8, 2009
It seems the world recession is
effecting everything I hold near and dear; motorcycle racing. I have
been reading with great interest how the major Japanese motorcycle
company’s are finding it hard to even support
one rider for the 2009 MotoGP season. As I write this sobering piece,
there will only be 17 riders on the grid. Kawasaki pulls out completely
and Dorna can’t rescue the situation with even
a satellite sponsored team. So two very talented riders, Melandri and
Hopkins find themselves on the sidelines. Have things got so expensive
that these major manufactures are pulling the plugs? The future of Grand
Prix’s are in trouble and that saddens me for
selfish reasons. I, myself have fallen victim to this recession, but I
was hoping to follow my racing hero’s to keep
my spirits up.
Now, I must rely on Rossi and Stoner to
battle it out for the title. But one slip, crash or injury from any of
the riders in any race would almost certainly give one point to whoever
can stay upright. Does anyone remember when scoring a single point was a
big deal. Now it will put a premium on just finishing, which will see
riders getting lapped at every race. Trust me when I say these are the
only two who will win baring injury. The rest are good, but not good
enough, so they will race for third place every time. I am a huge GP
race fan and I will continue to be. I love the rivalries that have
popped up from time to time; Ago virus’s
Hailwood, Robert’s virus’s
Sheene, Spencer virus’s Lawson, Rainey virus’s
Schwantz and now Rossi virus Stoner. Boys please carry the torch and
remember carry it with the spirit your past champions carried it - free
of all the moaning playboy bullshit.
Stay tuned - BlarneyQuick season
predictions are coming.
- Journal Entry 18th
Okay, update time.
Got myself a new bike (check the media/pictures page). A 2008
GSXR600k8. These are the track weapon of choice used at Schwantz School
and I just love them. More than enough speed for me and so light
compared to my 750SRAD that got traded (I’ll miss her!). Unfortunately
the weather in the UK has hit home, winter is here, so she has only done
a handful of miles. I’ve done my riding in the winter for too many
years and she’ll be wrapped up until the sun comes out.
If you didn’t notice
Mr Mooney failed to mention that he lost the 2008 Prediction Competition
where we predicted the top 5 positions come the end of the season for
MotoGP, WSB, AMA, BSB and the TT. Better luck next year mate! LOSER!
In saying that, if
you have read Kieron’s latest journal he has a great piece on his top 20
riders of all time. Now that seriously must have taken a lot of time
and brain power. I know a lot of forums and websites where people
struggle to get a top 5 let alone top 20. Now I started watching top
flight bike sport in the late 80’s. Lawson/Gardner era, followed by
Schwantz/Rainey, then Doohan. Now I have to say that is the racing I
love – 500cc 2 stokes, I still get the old video tapes out. Mad bikes,
crazy riders and awesome racing. MotoGP has been boring (in my opinion)
since they calmed the beasts down. Now there have been the odd
exception I’ll grant you that like Laguna last year, but on the whole I
prefer to watch WSB these days. So my top 20 will be of riders I saw
ride, my top 20, I never saw Ago or Dunlop for example. Great riders
and probably in the top 3 ever, but I never saw them really. My reasons
may also be slightly weird, but each to there own, why not send yours
in? Email address on the Contacts tab.
1. Schwantz – why I
love the sport, end of.
2. Rainey – Mr
smooth and consistent.
3. Kocinski – raw
and aggressive and just plain crazy!
4. Doohan – had it
easier than most, but to do what he did on 500’s with his injuries –
5. Abe – awesome to
watch, never gave in.
6. McCoy – sideways
yeehaa, how many times have I watched clips of Garry.
7. Rossi – say no
more, would love to have seen him up against the 500cc boys in the
8. Hayden –
9. Harada – great
style and always smiling.
10. Lorenzo – no
fear. A joy to watch, as close to on the edge as Schwantz was.
11. Stoner – respect
to anyone that can ride as close to the limit as he does race on race.
12. Edwards –
consistency through the years whatever championship he was in.
13. Slight – loved
to watch Slighty, cool but super fast.
14. Biaggi – now I
hate the dude, off the bike he’s an **** (I know first hand). On a bike
he can ride the wheels of them!
15. Baylis – Mr
Ducati. Would loved to have seen him do a few years on each
16. Haga – yes, yes,
yes – last of the samurai. Love his style and attitude. Family man
with a screw loose.
17. Russell – made
the Kawasaki look good. Always rode fast, great interviews.
18. Gardner – never
say die. Again riding the 500’s with plaster casts a plenty. So many
great Philip Island memories.
19. Kato – ended too
soon, RIP, he would have been something special. Just got on with his
work, but great style and speed.
20. Criville – never
really got the shout he deserved, but made Doohan work ever step of the
What do you think???
Kieron - Journal Part 14, November 18, 2008
Now that the world racing season has
ended, its time to reflect on the season in general. Rossi wins his 8th
world title and stamps the “ greatest of all time “ clearly in the
history books. My knowledge of motorcycling racing is pretty decent. I
have had certain favourites and I’m going to stick my neck out and try
to line up the best ever. I will take into account the strength of
field, the class they rode in, bikes they rode and natural talent.
Here’s the real twist, it can be from any discipline as long it is road
racing on GP styled motorcycles, these include production bikes. I will
only select from the 1950’s to present.
Rossi, Italian, nickname “the Doctor” 8 World GP titles from
the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc, 990cc and 800cc classes.
2. Joey Dunlop,
Northern Irish, The “ King of the Mountain”. 5 World Formula 1
(750cc)Championships, 26 time winner at the Isle of Man TT on 125cc,
250cc, 350cc, 500cc, 600cc, 750cc and 1000cc bikes and 24 Ulster Grand
Agostini, Italian, nickname “Ago”. 15 World GP Championships.
350cc, and 500cc
Roberts, American, nickname” King Kenny”. 3 World GP Titles all
on 500cc bikes and numerous AMA Titles on various size machinery.
English, 9 World GP titles and 14 time TT winner on 125cc, 250cc,
350cc and 500cc bikes.
6. Phil Read,
English, known as “ The Prince of Speed or Readie” Two 500cc GP World
Titles, four 250cc GP World titles, one 125cc GP World title and 8 TT
7. John Surtees,
English, 7 Time GP World Championships.
8. Angel Nieto,
Spanish, 13 World GP titles on 50cc and 125cc bikes.
9. Mick Doohan,
Australian, 5 World GP 500cc titles
Lawson, American, 4 World GP 500cc titles
Fogarty, English, 4 World Superbike Titles, 2 World Formula
1(750cc), 1 World Cup Championship and one World Endurance Title.
Rainey, American, 3 World GP 500cc titles and 2 AMA Superbike
Spencer, American, 2 World GP 500cc titles, one 250cc World GP
title and 2 AMA Championships.
Sheene, English, 2 World GP 500cc Titles.
Schwantz, American, one World GP 500cc Title.
16. Max Biaggi,
Italian, 4 time winner of the 250cc GP Championship and multi time
winner in the 500cc class.
Mamola, American, 4 time runner up in the 500cc World
Bayliss, Australian, 3 time World Superbike Champion.
19. Matt Mladin,
Australian, Six time AMA Superbike Champion.
Lucchinelli, Italian, one 500cc GP World Championship.
Remember, this is my list based on my
interpretations of what I consider a great racer. I was always drawn to
the guys who would take the risks and win at any cost attitude. Each one
of my top 20, has or had these qualities. All great racers that rode
against the best in the world. Your top 20 may be different, I would
love to see your lists and start the great debate. Sean will chip in
with his top 20 and we will start to compile a consensus from the fans
point of view.
Founder/ BlarneyQuick Racing
Kieron - Journal Part 13, November 13, 2008
While I was down at the Kevin
Schwantz School, I meet Robert Miller the owner of the
Service Pavilion. He is the expert for Arai helmets at all the US
road races. He is an independent distributor, but specializes in Arai
Helmets. Sean de Fraine introduced me to him, as they knew one another
from e-mail correspondence. Robert has an extensive collection of
helmets and has one of the original Arai helmets made by Mr. Arai
himself. Check him out at
He was at the school getting ready for
the AMA races that were being held at Road Atlanta next weekend. I was
egger to see what he had in his truck. You could tell the guy had been
doing this for a while – he actually travels
to as many AMA racing events as possible and sells anything you could
possibly want for your Arai helmet. We had just finished riding and so
were still in all our gear. Robert notices that I was wearing a Phil
Read replica. It was a rare helmet he told me, because it was a XR-7 and
not the present model, which I think is a Vector. He asked me if I ever
wanted to get rid of it – he wanted first dibs
at it. Just as I was feeling good about myself, he said that the helmet
did not fit me. I was a little shocked at how quick he made that
statement without asking me any questions or taking any measurements. He
saw the XL size on the Read helmet and said when he saw me with the
helmet on it sat too low. He made me try it on for him and he explained
his findings. I thought the helmet fit perfect and actually had someone
sell it to me out of a bike shop that stocked lots of Arai helmets. They
apparently did not do a good job. He was able to move the helmet around
way too much. Dangerous he said – he told me
that he could change all seven of the inner liners and fit me with
liners that fit my head shape. He explained that there were four
different variations to all seven liners. Through a little trail and
error method he managed to refit this helmet to fit my head. Robert said
it would not be perfect because the shell was to big to start with
– but that it now fit better with all new
pieces. This helmet is at least five years old and he made the inside
seem brand new. I loved what he had just done and decided to buy a
helmet that was the right size. He sold me the latest Corsair X7
Noriyuki Haga replica in size medium. Yes, I said medium.
Two sizes smaller and then fitted liners to fit me perfectly. I believe
he changed six of the liners from this brand new helmet to fit my head
Needless to say, I was very impressed
with the custom fitting I was treated to. I did learn that every one has
a different shape and that Arai can costume fit to your size in most
cases. The helmet should fit tight. You should not be able to move the
helmet around your face or have too much vertical roll. I always judged
the helmet on how it pinched my ears and checks. The Haga at first was
too tight and close in those areas, but Robert just replaced those
liners with ones that had a little less padding. It was remarkable how
well this new Medium size felt, when he was done. The helmet was very
snug, but did not pinch hard in any area. Listen, if you ride and
especially at the track your helmet should fit right. At speed the
helmet can catch some serious wind and buffet the riders head, the visor
made need adjustment so it does not cause lift when your doing 130mph.
If you have an Arai and wonder if it fits properly –
call Robert or his staff. They have all the hard to find parts for any
helmet from Arai for the last 10 years.
So make sure your lid fits and buy from
Robert, because he has the latest, greatest and largest stock available
anywhere. He will also store all your information and can send your next
Arai direct at the best price available. Tell him Kieron and Sean from
BlarneyQuick racing sent you!!!
Kieron - Journal Part 12, November 12, 2008
This past August, I went back to the
Kevin Schwantz SuperBike School.
I signed up for the 3-day Champions Package to maximize my experience. I
had the time of my life in 2007 and was really excited to get back and
improve my skills. Now, I do still do half a dozen Track Days a year,
but the track experience at KSSS is first rate. The one on one with the
instructors and the amount of track time is worth very penny.
So, before I decided to go, I called my
partner on this website Sean de Fraine to see if he was also returning.
He said yes and also told me another mate from Canada
– Darcy was also coming back. Sean, who is from England decided
to come in early, visit with me in Maryland and then drive down to KSSS
in Braselton, Georgia. If you want all the details read his journal
entry about our trip – It’s
When I got back from August 2007 I
bought a Suzuki GSXR750. My local shop turned it into a race/track day
bike and I was off and running. If you want to bring a bike to Kevin
Schwantz’s school it must be a Suzuki. So,
Sean and myself packed up the 750 in the trailer and headed down the
high way. I really wanted to ride my bike on a quality track like Road
Atlanta, but also to mix it up a little with Mr. Schwantz himself and
the lads – who are all, accomplished racers.
The bike passed inspection no problem,
but I had race tires on it, which require tire warmers. Again no problem
we had everything we needed, but the weather was always threatening rain
and could not be used in rainy or damp conditions. Myself, Sean and
Darcy hooked up as riding partners and headed to the bikes after our
first classroom session. We were in the first group –
for the more experienced riders. We were the bottom three of this group
of about 15. We had AMA professional racers Blake Young and Martin
Cardenas in our group. Blake had joined the instructors in 2008 and I
personally rode one on one with this guy – he
is very fast!! Our plan was to slowly bring ourselves up to this
elevated speed of this group. No one wanted to be a hero and crash
– you do that, then your KSSS track time is
I had no choice but to use one of the
school bikes because the track was damp. The BlarneyQuick bike would
just have to wait. It was nice to be out and gain some confidence on the
damp track. When you follow one of the instructors and see that he is
having no issues you suddenly feel more secure. I lead out first
followed by Sean and Darcy. We changed positions every lap and that’s
pretty much what we did every time we went out. It just got faster and
faster each time.
Three days of this is a lot. You do at
least five sessions a day at about 20 minutes a session. Maybe 6 to 8
laps at a time. In the end it’s about 180 to
200 miles. I got to ride my bike in five sessions. It was much faster
than the 600’s and had much better brakes. On
the back straight I got past 155mph on the 750 and on one of our trips
we came up on Mr. Schwantz. I was out on my own when this happened
– Opie Caylor was right behind me watching me.
He was then followed by Sean and Darcy. I suddenly realized who it was
and I banked in hard to turn #7 right on his back wheel. Turn seven is
one of the slowest and trickiest corners on the track. Kevin looked
behind to see who it was and hit the gas hard –
I did the same and in the next 200 meters I pulled even and then passed
him. He looked right at me and for that spilt second I realized how
important a moment this was. Yes, I just got by Kevin Schwantz
– now I know you all must be thinking
– this can’t really
have happened. It did, but I must admit he was on the Suzuki V Strom
1000. He took this bike out for whatever reason and was bloody fast on
it. Not a GSXR race bike, but some play bike Suzuki lets the school
have. Think about it – if I did not get by him
I would have been laughed at and he did not make it easy. Anyway that is
a fun highlight, but Sean having taken a few choice tips from Opie
Caylor actually got both his knees on the deck for the first time was
the best. After that there was no talking to him –
a new racer was suddenly born. We made a lot of friend on this trip and
I know a lot of us are looking to return for 2009. I know I will be
Next time, I will talk about Arai
helmets and all I learned from Robert Miller –
who owns the Service Pavilion. He showed me how the helmet I was wearing
did not actually fit me.
Kieron - Journal part 11, November 5, 2008
Well, I just finished watching the last
World SuperBike and SuperSport races from Portugal. I am always
perplexed over which series; MotoGP or World SuperBikes gives more
entertainment value for the motorcycle race fan. I would have to give my
vote to the prody bikes. Troy Bayliss on the Ducati 1098 defies logic.
We know the bike is good, but the rider is even better. He won the World
Championship by almost 100 points. The racing was closer, more
competitive and gave non-factory teams a chance to be on the podium.
I still love the MotoGP series, but
three teams dominate the top class and the grid at times only started 18
riders. The 250’s
and the 125’s are the
best to watch and Simoncelli is the new lion in the pen. I find it hard
to believe that the 250’s
are being done away with and replaced with 600’s.
I will have to wait to see how that pan’s
out. On A sadder note the AMA series just fell apart and the lads may
not have a place to race next year. I watched Josh Hayes finish 4th
yesterday in World S
SuperSport. He is a refugee from the AMA looking for
a ride –
he deserves one!
Next time I will talk about my Atlanta
trip with Sean. Check out his new Suzuki 600k8
Founder Kieron Mooney
Sean - Motorcycle News 22nd
Yep, I made it in to the written motorcycle press. Click on
the icon below for the story.
Schwantz Suzuki School diary August 2008
Day 1 – Monday 18th August 2008.
The alarm sounds at 5am. It’s cold and wet outside as is usual for the
UK in August(!) but it doesn’t really matter as I’m off to the USA for a
bit of a road trip, which includes a trip to Kevin Schwantz Suzuki
I had a slightly different plan of attack this year. The plan was to
leave London Heathrow and fly to Washington to stay with Kieron for a
few days. I met Kieron at last year’s school where we paired up and rode
together. We have kept in touch since. After last years school Kieron
created the BlarneyQuick.com trackday concept and I had helped with the
website set-up so when Kieron offered me a place to stay for a few days
I jumped at the chance. We would stay in Washington for 3 days before
driving to Atlanta. I would leave Atlanta after school and head to Vegas
and LA to continue my holiday and make the most of the trip.
So suitcase packed, leathers, boots, gloves and helmet this time too. I
was now a seasoned professional so knew the deal this year and fancied
wearing all my own gear at school.
We left home just before 6am UK time for the airport. Beating most of
the traffic that builds up on the UK motorways we were at Heathrow just
before 7am. I said my goodbyes to Jo whom I would meet in Vegas a week
later and headed for check-in.
All going to plan, seat confirmed, no problems, I’m sat in departures
waiting to leave. The gate is called, off I go, on to the plane, next
step Washington USA.
Flight was good, grabbed a few hours sleep and checked out a few films.
I don’t mind flying, it’s all part of the holiday. Seven hours later we
are starting our decent. Washington Dulles Airport is now my least
favourite airport in the USA. We landed, had to wait for these bus type
vehicles to take us to the terminal, it took forever. Once they arrived
we started our slow drive to the main terminal. On arrival there we
joined the huge and I mean huge queue for immigration. I am not sure if
it was just busy or we landed at the wrong time of day, but it took
hours to get through. You would have thought 90 minutes would have been
time enough to get all our bags to arrivals, but no. There was a
shortage of staff which meant more delays. Eventually some 2 hours after
landing I am off on my way. I walked through and met Kieron. Kieron
stated he had never seen so many people coming through arrivals – must
just have been one of those days.
We loaded his car with my gear and started the 20 mile or so drive to
Kieron’s house. The freeway was moving smoothly and we made good time. I
had never been to Washington before so all the sights were new sights,
all sights when you are on holiday are good sights.
I never really unpacked anywhere, just grabbed new clothes from my case
before we were off to a local restaurant (Redrock Canyon Grill) for some
nosh and a catch-up. Umm, ribs or meatloaf, decisions, decisions. The
choice was made easier when Kieron said he knew somewhere that did great
ribs we could visit another night. Meatloaf for me please.
With the food out of the way it was back to the house to be introduced
to my trusty steed for the following day’s tour off Washington DC. A
Harley!! Yep, I have always said you would never get me on a Harley.
Now you still wouldn’t get me on one of those mammoth big things, but
this one looked ok. We fired her up – did you hear her in the UK? The
thing burbled and rattled and shook – amazing. Kieron jumped on the
Yamaha FZ1, was it running? I couldn’t hear it! We did a few laps of the
block in the dark just to get me acquainted with the bikes and driving
on the right. No worries and more worryingly was that I was enjoying
riding the sit-up-and-beg Harley. It was different for sure, but the
nice warm evening, visor up riding was fun.
So time for bed, I figured I had been up for 23 hours, give or take a
few hours kip on the plane. I was ready for some shut eye before hitting
Washington DC the following day.
Day 2 – Tuesday 19th August 2008.
Slept well, woke up about 8am. Straight on to US time. Luckily for me I
have never really struggled with jet-lag, today was sightseeing day.
Breakfast out of the way and Shadow (Kieron’s dog) packed up for her
stay at the farm whilst we were at school, it was time to wake the
The sun was out and it was already quite warm, gear was on, we were
ready to roll. We headed off for DC. We deliberately left after 9am to
miss the freeway traffic but they must have known I was in town as they
all came out to stay hello! We sat in slow to stopping traffic for the
first 30 minutes. A thumping hot Harley in rapidly rising temperatures
wasn’t what we had planned. Eventually the traffic decided to move on
and we were away.
Following the lock system from Gaithersburg in to DC it was real
picturesque. I guess I wasn’t expecting to see so much greenery. We
cruised on down the road with Kieron pointing things out on route. My
eyesight now used to the Harley vibrations I could see what he was
pointing at. Kieron had said Washington in a car can be a bit slow and
busy, hence we were on the bikes. First stop Georgetown. We stopped at
the University and the steps from the Exorcist film. Georgetown was real
old school, nice houses and old cobbled streets. We toured Georgetown
for a while before heading for the capital.
We did the lot, The Pentagon (don’t stop to take photographs by the
way!!), the Reflection pool,
The Capitol Building, drove past all the museums, The Whitehouse,
Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery to
name a few. Kieron’s idea to use the bikes was spot on. We rode, parked
up, snapped pictures and were away in minutes.
A whistle stop tour that still took hours would sure to have taken days
in a car. We stopped for some lunch down by the river before visiting
the Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial. Washington DC sure was a cool city
which until now I had never really thought of visiting. The great
So with the DC tour complete we headed over to Ram Cycles to meet up
with Randy (3 time alumni of Schwantz School) and the guys. By
completely spooky coincidence Kieron and I knew Randy independently. I
have been in contact with Randy via email and the internet as we both
shared to the same addiction to collecting Motorcycle Racer memorabilia.
We had met on eBay a year or so back. I mentioned to Kieron one day that
Randy had an involvement in a motorcycle shop in Washington somewhere
and it was Kieron’s local shop where he had his bike work done. It
really is a small world sometimes.
We rode over to Ram Cycles via Redgate Golf Course. Kieron works at the
golf course so obviously a required stop-off on the tour. We met the
guys their topped up on some fluids (water!) then ruined a few tee-shots
firing up the bikes and headed to Ram’s.
www.ramcycles.net had just moved to bigger premises. It looked good,
the guys still sorting things.
We met up with Randy and the staff and toured the shop. Randy invited
Keiron and I up to his house to see his collection of memorabilia.
I collect crash helmets and the like as does Randy, so it was cool to
see what he had. There aren’t many of us in the world that have the
crazy passion, so is always nice to talk to someone on the same
Randy has some real cool stuff in his collection and his collection
extends far past mine with some mind blowing bikes too.
We said our farewells and headed for home, we had packed loads in to a
few hours. That night we headed for Houston’s restaurant for those Ribs
that Kieron had recommended. They were worth the wait!
Day 3 – Wednesday 20th August 2008.
Days 3 was prep day. Get everything ready for the following day’s road
trip from DC to Atlanta. Kieron was taking the BlarneyQuick Suzuki
GSXR750 down to school.
We hit the shops for some containers to keep all Kieron’s gear together
for this and future trips. On the way home we saw a car showroom with
all sorts of old school muscle cars – we stopped for a nose, they had
some real cool cars which were worth a fortune!
We stopped by Ram again to meet Alex who I hadn’t met the previous day.
We then collected the video camera Kieron had rented and stopped of to
purchase a SatNav (Tom-Tom) for the trip. Then it was off to U-Haul to
collect the 8x6 trailer to house the bike for the trip.
A quick stop for a great beef sandwich then home to load all the gear
U-Haul loaded with all the gear and the BlarneyQuick Suzuki I went for a
quick walk around the neighbourhood. It sure is a nice place to live.
Dinner that night was at Joe’s Crab Shack, I was eating well. Off to bed
for the early start.
Day 4 – Thursday 21st August 2008.
Today was the day we headed for school. A 6am alarm made sure we were on
the road for 6.45. It was 600+ miles from DC to school. 9 hours driving.
Road trip! We rolled out with the U-Haul clanking behind us, we were
Traffic was good, no problems getting out of DC, we hit the 85 Freeway
which was to be home for the next 6 or 7 hours.
The intellectual chat soon turned in to rubbish as I am sure it does on
these long trips. Stopping for a couple of McDonalds and driver breaks
the scenery flew by. Before you knew it a few states later we were
there. Rolling in to the hotel car park to check-in before driving to
the track to register for the following days Kevin Schwantz Suzuki
The drive had been a long one, but as we entered Road Atlanta that was
all forgotten. We parked up and headed for the garages to register.
There were lots of familiar faces, Marnie, Kevin, Joyce and the
instructors. Jim and Shirley Schwantz and a lot of returning students
from last year. I met up with Darcey and Lesley from the previous
school, Pat and Sean too.
There were 3 Sean’s in total – photo time! The Red Bull girls had
delivered supplies for the next few days.
I then met up with Dave again. Dave is the photographer that follows us
for all 3 days and takes some incredible shots. Dave took some great
shots last year which my brother made in to a book, I plan to do the
same with this years for volume 2.
Students have attended from far and wide. From all over the USA, Canada,
UK, Germany and Greece too.
We chatted, the banter and the excitement was the same as the previous
years. Everyone excited at what was to follow. We snacked on some
nibbles and caught-up with what people had been up to. Everyone
remembered each other which was nice and made it much easier. I met
Geoff whom told me the sole reason he was attending was because of my
write-up from last year so I hope this inspires more people to attend.
It is such a great experience.
Camera’s out, everyone snapping all the lovely new Suzuki’s parked up in
We were given goodie bags too full of cool gear. Kieron had the video
camera out getting footage to look back on and put up on
We unloaded the BlarneyQuick Suzuki so the instructors could check it
and pass it safe to use. Kieron would be using school bikes and his own
throughout the 3 days. It got a lot of attention.
Most stayed for quite a while that evening, just catching up. We decided
that Kieron, Darcey and myself would try and stay together for the
following three days. We rode together on the previous school and were
all of equal pace. We also had the same requirements from the course, so
it made sense. With that sorted eventually one by one we all left.
Tomorrow was fast approaching and I guess everyone wanted to be ready.
Day 5 – Friday 22nd August 2008. (Day 1
of Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School)
We were at the track for just after 7am. Everyone chomping at the bit to
get going. A few more students arrived to register. John, Garrett and
Steve a few more friendly faces from the previous year.
There were 27 students in total this year. We all congregated in the
class room ready for the off.
Ted was to be the classroom instructor this year (he had fell form a
ladder and broken his heel) along with Lee (also recovering but from a
racing accident). The duo were on crutches and unable to ride.
Ted introduced all the staff and instructors.
Straight from the off the atmosphere was calm and relaxed and humorous
to say the least. That’s one thing I love about the course, there is
never any real preaching. Everything is done in a relaxing, unpressured
way. Okay that may not be ideal for all, but this is a School not just a
Race School. It does cater for all standards and suits mine just fine.
Ted finally introduces Kevin who finishes up with ‘make sure there are
big smiles under those helmets’. It’s all about fun and safety. I am
still nervous even though I had been before, a good thing I guess.
So although there are plenty of bikes available from GSXR600’s,
GSX650’s, SV650’s etc
the class is split in to 2 groups. One group will be on track, whilst
one is in class. The sessions just alternate and last somewhere between
20 and 30 minutes. An ideal balance so you don’t get too tired, get time
to relax and rehydrate in the classroom before going back out. So Ted
asks who has raced before for the Advanced Group. 11 hands go up
including Kieron’s! Mine and Darcey’s stay down. The group is split and
our plan to stay together is mo more. Panic not, we have a chat with Lee
and Darcey and I jump ship to make 13 in the A group with 14 in the B
group. We will be riding with some familiar faces from the previous year
too. Blake Young is new to the instructor pool. Fresh from his 1st AMA
race win a few weeks earlier. In our group we also have current AMA
racer Martin Cardenas. Martin would be racing at Road Atlanta the
following weekend for M4 EMGO, but was here as he had never done a
riding course. He would turn out to be an absolute gentleman throughout
the 3 days.
So Group A is first out on track. Even though this year I know what to
expect and which way the corners go it is still a quiet nervous walk to
collect one of the immaculately turned out bikes. No messing this year,
most if not all of A Group get on one the new 2008 GSXR600’s. One by one
they purr in to life as we head off down to pit lane.
The weather was far nicer this year, it was 100 degrees last and too
hot. This year 80’ish with a nice breeze and some cloud too – perfect!
We roll in to pit lane. There are 3 lanes marked out. 1 being fast, 2
medium and 3 slow. Kieron, Darcey and I roll in to lane 2. The rapid
boy’s use lane 1. I still don’t think it really matters which lane you
chose as you are never pushed to ride beyond your limits. They ask you
to try and find a good riding partner the 1st day. If you go out with
someone too fast or slow for you then try someone different the next
session till you get the ideal riding partner. That is where we got
lucky. The 3 of us were good from the off.
So lane 1 leads the way. An instructor leads usually 2 riders away,
sometimes 1, in our case 3. The instructors all rotate so over the
course of the 3 days you get to ride behind and sometimes in front of
all of them. All the instructors race or have done. They all have
different ideas, but all share a passion for riding bikes and getting
the best out of you. I can’t remember who led us out that 1st session,
but it was so cool to be back out on the fantastic Road Atlanta track.
Visor down we left pit lane, slowly through the first turns. New tires
being worn in. Under the Suzuki Bridge for the 1st time down to the new
turn 12 put in to slow the AMA boys down after Miguel Duhamel’s nasty
crash from the previous year. I quite liked the old turn 12. At my kind
of speeds it was ok, but needs must and all that. The new turn 12 was a
sharp right hander and too be honest looks worse than it is. It mucks up
what was a great corner on to the start straight, but I got to like it.
We were advised to watch it though should it get wet!
So 20 minutes of ever increasing pace soon flew by. We were going at a
fair rate before the left arm was raised. Session 1 done, no worries,
big smile on my face.
The walk back to the class room was quick and noisy, I think everyone
was happy to get it out of the way. We swapped places with the B group.
They went for their track session as we started our theory.
The classroom sessions are set out very well. They cover all aspects of
riding. Positioning, throttle control, braking, cornering, panic etc.
Everything is covered, something’s maybe common sense to you, but not
someone else, so everything is included. Questions are encouraged all
the time and the sessions are just the right length so your interest is
retained. Ted led the 1st session on visual skills, concentration,
Before you knew it the bikes roared in to view. Group B were back and it
was time to go back out and practice what you had just learnt in class.
This was to be the format for the next 3 days. Learn something in class
then go put that to use out on the track.
We got 3 sessions in that morning before lunch. Everyone more enjoyable
than the last, new things learnt, smile getting bigger. After ever
session you get a debrief with your instructor on what he thinks of your
What they can see from a set of mirrors is amazing. The instructors
suggest things to try when you are next out on track. Some may suit your
style, some not, but that is what is great from having such a great
range of experience from them all and you are never talked down to, only
So a light or heavy lunch out of the way, a Red Bull or two to get you
pepped up and the afternoon continued the same way as the morning,
Class, track, debrief, ad-lib to fade…
2 more sessions for each group that afternoon and we were done. What a
first day. We had upped our pace throughout. Nothing crazy just fast
enough to be fun. They say ride to 80% of your capacity, after all if
you fall you ride no more.
Everyone is buzzing, chatting about the day that has just whizzed by.
This continues over dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. We sit
chatting with Martin and Kevin about all things bikes and racing, I’m
tucking in to my fajitas at the same time. Dinner complete, people start
to leave, we finish up talking to Tray about his collection of old
bikes. A top day from start to finish. There was supposed to be school
bus racing at the track opposite Road Atlanta so we went back to watch,
it had been cancelled due to rain, lucky really as I was shattered, so
off to bed I go ready for day 2.
Day 6 – Saturday 23rd August 2008. (Day
2 of Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School)
RAIN – no!!! I awake to a wet outside. Not what I wanted to see.
Tropical storm Fay has worked her way up from Florida and is starting to
have an impact on weather around the Atlanta area. The talk on the way
to the track and when we get there amongst students was they were not
looking forward to it. Now I don’t mind riding in the UK rain on a rat
bike that means nothing and has no performance, but riding a new ‘gixer’
around a race track which is not mine is a different proposition.
We get to the track hoping the track walk or something will take place
to allow the track to dry before we have to go out. The rain has stopped
and the wind is blowing but it is still wet/damp. No such luck, leathers
on! We did the clutchless gear change and throttle blip exercise which
gave it a bit of time,
but then the A group were sent out to dry the track up a bit – and not
with hair dryers either! We agreed to take it real easy, not worth
crashing and having to sit it out the next 2 days. We are again warned
about turn 12 – tip toe through it is the advice! To be fair the track
had dried a fair bit from the wind and was only damp in places. It still
mucks with your head though. But a steady pace and taking it easy was
all it required. If you actually think of how fast your instructor is
going, you know he is not going to take you through wet sections at a
pace that will cause you to fall.
Have some confidence and faith in your tires and you actually have
nothing to worry about. It does teach you to be smoother in everything
you do and you do concentrate more, so that one dampish session
ultimately did us all some good. We had pretty much dried the track by
the time group B went out. They finished the job nicely. Next session
out and it was bone dry.
The sun was trying to get through too and the wind was a nice warm
relief. One more session followed before lunch. The pace again
increased, we were back on it. Everyone had found there riding partners
by now. The instructors were rotating their students and offering advice
at every opportunity.
We then got out of our leathers and had the track walk. Kevin loaded us
up in to 3 trucks and took us out on the track.
Advising us on what lines he takes, reference points and much much more.
We stop at numerous sections and corners on the track to listen before
Opie, Harry and Brad come through the same section at speed to
demonstrate how it’s done.
It’s awesome to see them so close at such speed. True to form Opie does
not disappoint coming under the Suzuki Bridge heading down to turn 12 –
wheelie or should that be a woooolie? Lunch time followed.
We got 3 sessions in on that afternoon. Classroom theory put in to
practice each time. Kieron got the BlarneyQuick Suzuki out on track that
Tire warmers on to heat up his race tires he hit the track. The
BlarneyQuick Suzuki sure sounds nice.
That afternoon we were waved by to lead the groups. Yep, when the
instructors think you are ready they wave you by so you are out front,
no one to follow, just hit your markers and apex on each corner, back
your speed back a notch, an amazing feeling sweeping through the turns
of Road Atlanta with no one in front of you.
A certain Mr Schwantz was out riding with us to that afternoon. Scared
the hell out of me. There I am heading through 2 and I see this thing to
my left out the corner of my visor, I thought I was as far left as I
could be and Kevin was there too! He dropped back in and I made turn 3
as normal before he zapped by on the back straight.
God knows what it must be like for these boys that race having that
happen at ever corner? That’s why the school is so good, I don’t ever
want to race, so the school and my riding cater for my needs.
Now we had been led by Brad (always watching you!), Mark (knuckles),
Michael (last year’s classroom instructor and airport lift), Britt
(fast), Ned (hairless) and Harry (smooth). Tray and John were doing the
camera bikes. They follow you around filming so you can see yourself
riding back in class. Ted looks at where you are doing well, but can
also improve. It’s a great addition to the classroom theory to see
yourself riding. Blake Young was out there too, tagging on to people and
just being a hooligan in general but we had yet to be led by Opie.
Now last year Opie scared the living daylights out of me. He was mind
blowing fast and trying to keep up with him was a step too far for me.
So when I see him pick the 3 of us **** came to mind. He was spot on
though, had we sped up or had he slowed down? Must be the second!
We had done a couple of laps before he leads us down pit lane, the
session is still in progress though, what’s up? I remembered then from
the previous year Opie likes to pit to speak rather than try and
highlight issues at speed. He noticed I wasn’t hanging off much and my
feet looked wrong on the pegs, he encouraged more hanging off, more
upper body movement and to hook my heal on the peg kind of duck foot.
Different style to the ball of your foot instructors. We all tried it to
be fair. With the new ideas in place we rolled back out. I went through
the sweeping turn 6 and thought I had lost it, there was this noise, it
was my knee on the deck!! Now that never happens. It scared me enough to
think about doing it again, but next time through 6, scraaappppppppeeeee,
turn 7 too. By the end of the session I was scratching through 1, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7 and 10b! Awesome, I had found my way to ride fast but safe and
still with in my limits, but now knew my cornering limits. We got back
in, Opie explained his thoughts on why it worked for me and not others.
I just ride Opie-style I guess. From the next session on the fun factor
improved even more and I started boring Darcey and Kieron to tears with
my new found talent – sorry chaps!!
The 2nd day came to a close and we had the big BBQ at the track for
dinner. Opie joined us for dinner and talked about, go on guess? Yep
bikes and more bikes. Some great stories about his racing and some
entertaining stories about his fellow instructors.
He gave us a guided tour of the funny side of the school
and took us to where Tray and Kevin had jumped a SV1000 some 80 feet – I
kid you not!
I had met Robert from the Service Pavilion earlier in the day. Robert
deals in Arai crash helmets, we had spoken numerous times over email,
but I didn’t know he was going to be there. He spotted my crash helmet,
put 2 and 2 together and Marnie introduced us. Robert (top bloke by the
way) took me down to the truck to show me all the Arai goodies.
He knows what a complete Arai anorak I am. I was like a kid in a toy
shop. Robert gave me a few goodies – thanks – and after a long chat I
headed back up to meet the others.
I caught up with Dave and he gave me a sneak peak at some of the
photographs he had taken so far – incredible! My Rizla leathers meant I
was easier to spot this year for sure.
Geoff had unfortunately had a tumble on day 2 in turn 7 and had a
suspected broken collarbone – get well soon mate.
The cancelled bus racing from the previous night was on again, so a few
of us hung out watching the stunt show, drifting etc that preceded it
before the rain came down. Never did get to see big yellow school buses
hit the track.
Keiron and I headed for some iced tea, diet coke and nachos on the way
back to the hotel, Greg joined us to watch the Stealers on TV. We
chatted about the day and just relaxed. Bloated on coke and nachos we
headed for home not long after.
Day 7 – Sunday 24th August 2008. (Day 3
of Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School)
So the final day comes round too fast, but I can’t wait. We head off for
the track for the last time. It has rained again over night, but dried
by the time we had finished breakfast.
Everyone was chatting about the previous day on arrival as ever, eager
to get back out on track. The classroom sessions were now mainly made up
of video bike footage of our previous session on the track. You think
you are riding fast till you see some of the others in your group.
Silence in class as everyone leans left and right whilst watching the
Group photo and individual shots with Kevin follow before we hit the
track for our last days riding.
Out on the track we go, still in our group of 3, still in lane 2. We
have come on so much though since day 1. Much safer, faster and
smoother. We made it to day 3 safe and sound, so are just going to take
the day easy. There are a few sprinkles of water on the visor during a
couple of the sessions. Just enough to keep you on your toes but not
enough to dampen the track. We take it in turns to follow the
instructor, being waved by to lead the group the same as the previous
afternoon. The whole experience is incredible. The instructors are happy
with us, just wish there was a day 4. Kevin was out with us on a
V-Storm, the bloke is fast whatever he is riding.
We had 3 sessions in the morning and broke for lunch. 2 further sessions
in the afternoon and we were finished. Hand shakes all round from the
whole group and well done's a plenty. Group B were off out on their last
session. They were joined by Schwantz Snr on the V-Storm and Kevin this
time on a moped, well Burgman!!
Their fun got ended early as the heavens opened and the session got red
flagged. Exactly the same as last year, to be honest how we managed to
get as many dry laps in as we did with Fay hanging over us was amazing.
So everyone out of leathers it’s time for graduation. Everyone that
completes the 3 days graduates. It’s a big deal as if you wish you can
use it to join WERA road racing and get your provisional novice licence.
One by one the students collect their certificate and cap, a photo taken
Special awards are presented for most improved student, safest student
and some spot prizes too. Everyone congratulates everyone, the
atmosphere as friendly as if we have known each other forever.
So the course is over but no one in a hurry to leave. Everyone shares
there experiences and memories, swapping contact details and taking
pictures. We load up the BlarneyQuick Suzuki whilst Robert does some
good business from the back of the Arai truck. I say my goodbyes before
leaving, hopefully just Au Revior.
Kieron, Sean and I stop of for a farewell bite to eat and a beer on the
If you’re reading this and thinking of going to the Kevin Schwantz
Suzuki School is the best fun you will ever have. If you’re a racer they
will cater for you (Martin Cardenas went on to podium at the AMA race
the following weekend) if you’re a street novice they will cater for
you. Everyone had massive smiles the whole time. It can be a nervy
experience but you will learn something I guarantee and the fun involved
is indescribable. You ride at your own pace and are never pushed to do
anymore than you feel comfortable doing. I don’t race or do track days,
but the freedom to be on a track safe from most dangers of road riding
improves your riding no end. It really is just the best experience.
A massive thanks to everyone, Kieron for putting me up, the road trip
and 3 days great riding, all the staff and corner workers at Road
Atlanta, Marnie for giving me the chance to come back, Joyce and
everyone that helps run the school, the instructors who are all superb,
Opie for getting my knee down and saying I reminded him of Capirossi
whilst riding, Jim and Shirley for just being around to talk to, Darcey
and Lesley for 3 days of fun riding, taking the photos and the lift to
the airport, all the students – pleasure meeting you (again) and talking
to you and finally Kevin, whom without I would not be writing this!
Day 8 – Monday 25th August 2008.
I ‘m up at 4am to grab a lift to Atlanta airport with Darcey and Lesley.
They are flying back to Canada whilst I fly on to Vegas to continue my
holiday. We leave the hotel at 4.30am still talking about the previous
days on the way. We drop the hire car and head for the terminal. We say
our goodbyes and off I go again to check-in.
Vegas baby! Here I come…..
** I will upload Dave's professional photographs once they arrive. I
have loads more, email if you would like to see anything specific.
See all my pictures from KSSS 2008 by clicking
Kieron - Journal
part 10, July 22, 2008
The racing world was
treated to one of the best MotoGP races in a very long time. Valentino
Rossi and Casey Stoner were glued together for more than 20 laps at the
USA round in Laguna Seca. The race was like a heavy weight championship
boxing match, every possible effort, to outdo one another was performed.
They ran each other off the track in the famous Cork Screw corner and
swapped the lead at least 20 times. This is what the fans needed.
Nothing against Casey’s winning performances of late, but the racing has
been lope sided and kind of boring. It would have been great if Casey
could have lasted until the finish, he just went too deep on the brakes
and ran off the track and actually dropped the Ducati in the gravel
trap. He got lucky that the bike somehow managed to stay running and he
remounted and rejoined the race without losing his position. If this had
not happened and he stuck in to the end it may have
A classic for all time. The
American boys were complaining about their Michelin tires and the field
was pretty much divided by who had what tire. This is really were all
the problems lie. Whoever has the right tire seems to win. The grid has
really only five guys who can win – that needs to change or MotoGP is
going to die. World Superbikes racing is great to watch. Troy Bayliss is
fantastic, the racing is generally close and there are two races per
round. So let’s hope Vally and Casey can save MotoGP.
Track day July 7, 2008
We had a great day at
Summit Point Motorsport Park in West Virginia this past Monday. The
weather was great, but hovering around 90 degrees. I took it easy in the
first session, because I was racing on Race tires for the first time.
Once they were up to temperature, they performed very well – super
sticky. My friend Bobby Longauer was my pit crew, he looked after me
well and after a few minor adjustments, we dialed the bike in.
Put In about 80 laps, with
only one mess up. The BlarneyQuick Suzuki 750 is very fast and on the
front straight we got her up to 153 mph. She had more but that was good
enough for me. Only one guy passed me all day, but I got him later in
the day. Meet loads of new riders, some trying the track for the first
time. It’s great to see new riders entering this sport – the event was
sold out. After a long day of going fast – I was exhausted. The heat and
the sweating take its toll – but no crashes is a good day.
Till next time
Kieron Mooney #59
3rd July 2008
So, it’s been a while.
Summer always brings along extra things to do.
Can’t think of anything spectacular
that has happened though, just the same
old work and play. I have been out riding far more than the last few
years though. The GSXR750WT (SRAD) is still a dream to ride. I love
the new 600’s and often think of swapping her in, but just can’t do it.
I made the Day of Champions the day before
the British GP. Met up
with a few friends whom I
only ever get to see at Donnington. It’s
nice to be able to get paddock side and see how everything happens
behind the scenes. All for a good
Other than that I play a lot of football (soccer). Check out our
teams’ website if you are really bored
the racing season is in full swing. I’m finding MotoGP a tad boring
this year to be honest. I like the qualifying but the racing just
up to much. Ban traction control;
let’s get it back to 100% skill and
talent like the old days. If you want to watch real racing, just get
hold of a 500cc GP video. I enjoy the 250 and 125 GP’s far more as
there is always action start to finish. The ironic thing is that
Eurosport have lost the rights to show GP’s on TV in the UK form 2009.
They show everything, qualifying and
races. BBC will now be alone in the coverage and they only show the
MotoGP race, hope they show more.
World Soupers has been good, BSB also and I also try and catch the AMA
races on our Motors TV (Speed) channel. Suzuka 8 hour is this
month; I always wished that got more
coverage than it does.
as my illustrious founder waffled on in his #9 journal, we are off to
KSSS in Atlanta at the end of August. Going on a road trip and can’t
wait. Making a holiday out of it. I fly in Monday, few days with the
tan-less Kieron in Washington, drive down for school
and then I fly to meet my
in Vegas when school is over. She is
flying direct from the UK. Should be a great 2 weeks.
you didn’t know, I moderate for Kevin on his Website.
Come on over and say hello. We run monthly competitions and have an
“Ask Kevin a Question” on his message
board. He still has a lot of fans all over the world.
reading Kieron’s #9 journal I feel the need to
answer a few of his comments (my
lawyers are currently looking them over so
I can’t say too much)…
wasn’t sure of him at first because he was a Brit, I love to slag him -
me being an Irishman.” Interesting that Father Ted!
“he has a good sense of humor.” Very good
I think you’ll find and I haven’t even started on the Paddy jokes yet!
“he introduced me to Skpye” I introduced
him to Skype, not sure what he is using.
“We both turned on the video cameras so we
could see each other” Scary!! Should come with a warning before the
session starts. Last time I saw Kieron, very professional clean shaven,
then BAMM – he
must have been staring in a hairy yeti
“He taught me how to bid on EBay.” That I
did, its fun bidding with someone
“I had my prized helmets sent to my
parent’s home in Dublin, Ireland. Now, when we Skype,” so he talks to
his parents on the proper version!
“I now have 7 in my collection to his 40
something.” Not bad mate, 31 actually, unless you were referring to my
“I am bringing the BlarneyQuick Suzuki 750
with me and plan on spanking the Brit every lap we take.”
– concentrate on riding mate and keep your
spanking for somewhere private who enjoys it and that ain’t me pale
“can hear him now saying “the schools
bikes are only 600’s“ do you want me to
you on something smaller?
“I have a track day coming up on Monday
July 7 to get the bike ready for Atlanta” practicing are we eh, eh,
practice, worried are you?
ladies and gents, boys and girls, that’s me for now. I am off to Arai
Europe in Holland at the end of the month so I’ll post up some pictures
of my trip when I get back.
then ride safe and watch out for pale, hairy dude in the Washington
Part 9, July 2, 2008
Myself and my partner at
BlarneyQuick - Sean de Fraine, who incidentally is the webmaster for
the Kevin Schwantz web site. Very lucky to have him on board, I am very
well connected in the bike world. The both of us love to follow anything
to do with GP style racing. Sean is a top collector of race memorabilia,
like helmets, visors, knee sliders and that sort of thing. His
collection of helmets includes the most complete set of Kevin Schwartz’s
helmets in the world. I mean if Kevin wore a one off for a certain race,
my man Sean has it in his collection. When myself and Sean met, it was
at the Schwantz superbike school in Atlanta last August. I wasn’t sure
of him at first because he was a Brit, I love to slag him - me being an
Irishman. He gives it right back though and he has a good sense of
humor. So, after Atlanta we kept in touch and he introduced me to Skpye
(greatest free telephone/video system). One day after I got set up, I
called him. We both turned on the video cameras so we could see each
other while we were talking. The first thing I noticed was Sean was
sitting at a desk and behind him were his collection of helmets. To
tease me he would pick up a helmet and flash it by the screen. He did
this a lot, it drove me crazy, because he had two helmets in particular
that I always wanted – one was a Joey Dunlop and the other was a Barry
Sheene. Well, Sean helped me get those two helmets. He taught me how to
bid on EBay. These helmets are bloody expensive to actual win the bids
and will quickly put me in the poor house. They only surface for sale on
European EBay. Instead of having them sent to the States, I had my
prized helmets sent to my parent’s home in Dublin, Ireland. Now, when we
Skype, they pass the helmets in front of the camera and further torture
me. Next trip back to Ireland those babies are coming back with me and
put in their new display case. I now have 7 in my collection to his 40
something. By the way these are all Arai helmets – the best helmet made
in the world.
I am looking for a Centennial TT Arai to buy, if any knows someone with
one, let me know. Size large is a must. Myself and Sean are going back
again to the Schwantz school. He flies in from London on Monday August
18 to my neck of the woods (Rockville Maryland). We’ll hang out for a
couple of days then drive the 9 hours and 600 miles down to Road Atlanta
Race track. We will record everything this trip. I am bringing the
BlarneyQuick Suzuki 750 with me and plan on spanking the Brit every lap
we take. I can hear him now saying “the schools bikes are only 600’s“.
On a final note, I have a track day coming up on Monday July 7 to get
the bike ready for Atlanta. I will have a report and pictures early next
#59 Kieron Mooney
Kieron - Journal
Part 8 June 29, 2008
I consider myself a motor
cycle race junkie, fanatic and historian of GP, Superbike and pure Road
racing. I crave any information that I can find on any racer no matter
what discipline they race in. Most recently, my beloved sport tested my
faith as two great Irish road racers lost their lives doing what they
loved to do. Losing Martin Finnegan seemed to touch me more than any of
my other lost hero’s. I personally knew Martin and was trying to
organize sponsorship from BlarneyQuick when he was taken away. Then just
as the Road Racing world was paying tribute to Martin, Robert Dunlop
looses’ his life practicing at the North West 200. Now, that news shook
me to the core. Road racing fell under the microscope for its high risk
factor and many voices asked was it worth the risk of life, to sanction
pure road racing.
My opinion is each one of
these great racers knew the dangers and put that danger to the test very
time they challenged the open roads. I have witnessed the open/ public
road type races which are really only held in Ireland and The Isle of
Mann. These racers are the true gladiators of the sport. Let the truth
be known, if these racers have a fall, the results are usually tragic.
Motorcycle racing got its start on the open roads and at one time the
FIM held rounds at the Northwest 200 in the Formula 750 world
championship – which Joey Dunlop won several times. The Isle of Mann
held GP world championship rounds right up until the mid 1970’s. Some of
the greats like Agostini, Hailwood and Read quit the Isle of Mann and
open road races, because they knew the bikes were becoming too fast. The
risk became too high and when they said it was too dangerous the world
listened. Circuit tracks or purpose built tracks started to take over.
They were safer, but still very dangerous. Some of the old pictures of
these guys leaned over inches from a brick wall or Armco barrier at high
speed are beyond belief. Road racing only started because there were not
really any purpose built tracks to race on. These guys did what came
natural; they raced what was already available. Ireland holds more of
these races than any country in the world. These road racers don’t have
a death wish – this is just another form of racing. I will admit that
they are very skilled and most have nerves of steel. If any of you are
like me, you have pushed the speed limits in your neighbor hoods and
certain corners became so familiar that you enjoyed the thrill of going
through them at speed. The sense of danger never came into your
thoughts. Now that is sort of what a road racer does – he gets so
familiar with the roads the sense of danger never enters the equation.
They have travelled these roads many times, maybe in a car or a bicycle.
The fastest guy I ever saw in person was Joey Dunlop. The sure speed he
went by me has left a very real memory that earned a whole new level of
respect. Too many have died, the ultimate price to pay to be the
I am a fan, a fan with my
fingers crossed. The roads have many a ghost, could you imagine how many
ghosts still race.
Kieron - April 5 2008, Journal 7
Since I last talked to you, the weather has held up all plans to get to
the track. My first date, I had hoped to race was canceled due to really
bad weather. This time of the year on the east coast of the USA is
always a roll of the dice. Anyway my next attempt will be May 3, so I
will cross my fingers for better weather.
The BlarneyQuick Suzuki 750 just had some more goodies added and when
they were all tested we ran it on the Dyno to see what she was putting
out at the rear wheel. I was real happy with the results, she pushed
out 139 BHP. That is about 13 net horsepower gain over stock. I am so
glad that I picked the 750 Gixer as my track bike. The Suzuki 750 was
the first mass produce sport bike and has become a cult bike, ever since
it was introduced back in 1986. To me it’s the perfect combination of
speed, handling and weight. The Gixer 750 I race for BlarneyQuick will
just get to 160 mph. That’s all you’re ever going to need. The bike is
easy to ride and is very forgiving. If the bike you’re riding doesn’t
inspire any confidence, it will be the wrong bike to bring to the track.
It’s great to go fast and most riders can experience the thrill of speed
on the public roads. But that is where the common divider ends.
use to hear racers talk about taking their abilities and their bikes
abilities to the ragged edge and wondered what they were actually
talking about. From the first time you push past 100 mph, then brake and
lean your bike over to get ready for the first corner, you suddenly
realize how quickly that all happens. That pretty much just keeps
repeating itself. A continuous motion of accelerating, changing through
the gears and reacting to the next braking point. Each time you go
around the track you naturally want to go faster, brake later and lean
over further. That is what they were talking about, your ability to
challenge yourself to go faster, almost to your limits. Every time you
push to the limits, you are experiencing a new threshold. At first, you
are testing your comfort level, because you’re not sure the tires will
grip. Once you start to trust the bike and tires – a new world opens up.
The BlarneyQuick Suzuki 750 was set up at be a very serious track bike
and our experience has had good results. Kevin Schwantz told me to be as
smooth as possible with body movement. That helped me focus and slowing
down the weight transfer made me much smoother. I personally got up to
speed quickly and started doing race type things on the track, like
dragging both knees, spinning the back tire, lifting the front wheel
when accelerating hard and not backing off and braking so hard the back
end gets light. Those things just start to become warning signals that
you may be reaching your limits. The bike may have more to give, but you
have reached your comfort level. Real racers also learn to control the
bike when the tires are getting worn. I have had mixed results with
tires. Race tires are great if you have tire warmers – they don’t work
when the rubber is cold. Slicks are very sticky but not necessary for
track days. I run Pirelli Super Corsa’s, they require tire warmers, but
they are very good track day tires.
Remember it is OK to be scared; it’s not OK to be out of control and
crash. You will always have other guys racing with you on the track –
that is another lesson for another day. Check out my Mom on our bike –
she is a fan and support’s my racing adventures like all mom’s, with her
Until next time, be safe
Kieron Mooney/ Founder of BlarneyQuick Racing
Sean - 13th August 2008
I just got back from my yearly trip to see my friends from Arai
Europe in Holland. They are the nicest guys in the world and
always make me feel like a part of their family. Lucky for me Arai
helmets fit my head spot on so it's an easy choice when it comes to
buying a helmet. The quality is second to none and the research
and money that they put in is beyond belief. You would not believe
how many helmets they have to trash to meet the regulations and
guidelines. So I caught up with all the news, visited the
paint-shop and testing facility and check what I got..
..one of the tested
helmets, or sorry 3/4 of one. I will not be taking this one to KSSS in
a week or so!
March 18 2008.
Check out this picture of my fathers
father Tom and his newly wed wife - my grandmother Lottie. Just
shows you the Mooney boys have a long history of motorcycles in the
family. The year is 1931 and I have no idea what kind of bike this
may be. I know its euro though, because the picture was taken in Ireland.
Now webmaster Sean asked a few friends on the UK's
Performance Bikes forum what
they thought the bike may be and here's what they come up with.
Apologies for the bad humour and risky pictures, but very informative
all the same. Click
March 13 2008, Journal 6
My trip to Ireland was great. I stayed with my
parents in Dublin for two weeks. It’s always nice to spend time with the folks
and visit all my old school mates. While I was there, I had a chance to
interview Martin Finnegan. Martin is one of Ireland’s top motorcycle racers and
learned his trade on the public roads of Irish road racing. He actually has a
motorcycle shop just outside the road course where the Skerries 100 is run. I
went and visited his shop with my dad – nice shop with all the accessories.
When I talked to Martin, he was in Spain testing his bikes with his new team –
JMF Millsport Racing. When he answered the phone the first time, I could hear
the bikes going down the track. He is a very well respected racer and has a huge
fan base in Ireland. We decided to follow and support Martin this season.
Here is what he told me:
• He will be riding Yamaha’s in three different classes – Superbike, Superstock
• His new team is well funded and they are handling everything for him. This
leaves him free to train and get fit and be mentally prepared to race.
• His number one goal is to win at the Isle of Mann TT.
• His Yamaha runs on Dunlop tires, Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension and the
exhaust system is Micron.
• He owns and operates, a full service bike shop, which prepares other racers
bikes. The name of the shop is Extreme 45. Martin’s race # is 45.
• He said his racing hero was Joey Dunlop. He had a fond memory of racing a
250cc against Joey in the Skerries 100 and beating him on that day.
BlarneyQuick is happy to report that Martin will give us updates on his season
as it unfolds. We also think he is the man to watch this year as he attacks the
Irish Road race season and the Isle of Mann.
The world racing scene has just got started and we keep track of all the results
right here on this sight.
First of all Bayliss is already waving goodbye to his fellow competitors in
World Superbikes. I predicted Haga would be the man this year- but he’s crashed
and has had several close calls, which has rattled his cage. How about Neito
winning a race – make’s things interesting. Look for more of the same from
Bayliss, but Rueben Xaus and Max Biaggi look very quick on their new Ducati
In MotoGP, Stoner wins under the lights and makes it look easy. All I want to
say at this point is this 21 year old can ride the wheels off this bike, when
his team mate Marco Melandri can’t finish in the top ten on the same bike and
tires. Marco is a former winner, but like Stoner’s old team mate Caporossi, he
can’t get the bike dialed in. Lorenzo had a great start to the season – first
taking pole and then finishing second in the race. Dani Pedrossa came in third
and did well to place the Honda up that high. He is hard to like because he is
such a whiner and loves to talk grap about Nicky Hayden. Rossi’s switch to
Bridgestone tires did not help too much, he got beat by two rookies and almost
fell to James Toseland in the last lap. We like JT and hope he is England’s long
awaited replacement for Barry Sheene.
Any way my racing season is just around the corner and my leathers just came
back from Lizzyleather.com. She put all the sponsor patches on and put our logo
and my name on the suit. She did a great job and we fully recommend her (see
Racing News for pictures).
Until next time, ride safe
Kieron Mooney/ BlarneyQuick Founder
Sean - 17 February 2008. Webmasters KSSS story
Day 1 – Thursday 23rd
The alarm went off at 3am (UK time). Hadn’t had much sleep due to the
excitement factor and also worry that I would sleep through the alarm
and miss my flight! I was out of the house by 03:15 for the 2-hour drive
to Gatwick airport. It was cold and raining, nothing new there then. I
made good time to Gatwick, parked up, transferred to the terminal and
was about 10th in line at check-in for my 9-hour flight to Atlanta,
Georgia. After grabbing some breakfast at Starbucks the flight left on
time and I was away.
We landed a little ahead of schedule and as soon as I walked off the
plane I could feel how hot the next few days were going to be.
From cold and raining to hot and humid I was already starting to heat
up. After collecting my bags (the 1st time) I hit immigration, I must
have looked dodgy or something as “CPX” was written on top of my customs
form and I was stopped, searched and questioned. Anyway, nothing to
hide, so I was soon on my way again, giving up my bag another time to be
delivered to the terminal. I had never experienced anything like the
south terminal at Atlanta before, thinking I would be ok walking, but
was soon on the train as the walk seemed to go on forever. I collected
my case (the 2nd time) and headed for the concourse to meet up with my
lift to the track.
I was met by Michael Martin and Brian Floores, two of the Schwantz
School instructors. Introductions out of the way, we collected the hire
car and raced to the track only as x-racers would. Hire cars get some
abuse I can tell you. It was a little hazy so I didn’t get time to see
much of the city as we left it. We were soon out into the rolling green
countryside and after a brief stop of at Wendy’s for a burger we arrived
at Road Atlanta where I was to spend the next 3 days at the ‘Kevin
Schwantz Suzuki School’. The first thing that hit me on entering the
circuit was what turned out to be the hill down from turn 11 to turn 12,
wow! I was already nervous, now bordering on terrified. We drove to the
classroom, there was a certain Mr Schwantz. I had arrived.
I met Kevin, Marnie, Joyce and a few of the other instructors before
having a nose around the classroom. Old helmets, leathers and
It was still quite early, the arrival meeting still a few hours away so
I helped put up a few flags and ready everything for the registration
meeting to follow. Must have been about 5:30pm (US time now!) and I was
getting tired when I headed down to a little picnic area for
registration and to meet the other students. There was some food to
nibble on as everyone got introduced, registered and acquainted with
each other. I wasn’t that hungry, the Wendy’s burger had sorted that,
but I was sure was putting the fluids away, water only! It was still
real hot n humid, even at 6:30pm. Kevin welcomed everyone and then
invited everyone up to see the bikes, surprise time, not for the
students but the instructors. He had got them all an early Xmas present,
personalised mountain bikes, they were all gob smacked and soon wheeling
and mucking about as racers do.
One by one people started to leave, it was to be an early start the next
day. I had a gift to give Kevin before I left for the hotel, a signed
(by me!) old crew shirt from his Lucky Strike racing days. Presentation
out of the way I grabbed a lift to the hotel from my new friend and taxi
driver (thanks mate) Vito.
We checked in at the Country Inn & Suites back in Oakwood and I was
asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, it had been a full 24 hours
Day 2 – Friday 24th August 2007.
I was up bright and early and feeling okay after the previous long day
and headed off to breakfast. After a light breakfast, honestly, Vito and
I headed for the track. After the final few students registered we were
ready to go. Michael was to be the classroom instructor for the next few
days. Michael introduced the instructors and Kevin. We were spilt in to
2 groups, A and B, depending on previous track/race experience, not
having any I was in Group B. We were informed of the basics, this course
ultimately was to improve your riding capabilities to whatever standard
YOU wanted, there was no pressure and safety was their #1 concern. No
one would be pushed, just take it step by step increasing speed as you
became more comfortable with the track, your bike and your limits! We
had already got leathered up (rentals if required)
and the first thing was to get acquainted with the track (daunting) and
the bikes, brand new 2007 Suzuki SV650’s and GSXR600’s all lined up
The format of the next few days was classroom and track time. 20 minutes
in class, 20 minutes on the track until the end of the day. Group A went
out to learn the track and the bikes whilst Group B stayed in class.
Michael started to explain riding techniques, the track, the bikes,
safety advice etc. Over the next few days we would cover everything,
speed, gear changes, foot peg weighting, throttle control, clutch,
positioning (both body and bike), lines around the track, crash
techniques, breathing, there wasn’t a stone unturned. Sitting there
listening I was as nervous as you like, knowing anytime soon we were to
go out. Then it happened, the sound of bikes returning from the track
meant it was our time. The first time out we were to take it easy and
learn the flow of the track, nothing more.
The Arai went on and we left the classroom. It had been mentioned the
SV650 was a good choice to learn the track on, not as racy and more
forgiving than the GSXR, so I headed for one of the immaculately
prepared SV’s, fired her up and headed for pit lane. There were three
lanes to choose 1, 2 or 3. 1 being fast, 2 medium and 3 slow. The queue
for 3 was the largest! I think people were unaware of what was to follow
and wanted to start slowly, I know I did. The instructors led the way on
their GSXR750’s. 2 or 3 students to 1 instructor.
Single file, no overtaking unless instructed, nice and easy kept going
through my mind. We were flagged away,
bbbbbbbbbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, as we rolled down the exit
lane in to turn 1. The nerves had given way to excitement and immense
concentration. Turn 1 an up hill right hander into 2, a blind left
switch, 3 another right, 4 a left, down hill through the esses into 5 a
left that goes up hill, 6 a fast cambered right into 7 a tight blind
right, down the back straight with a slight left 8 and right 9 before
downhill to 10A and 10B the left/right chicane. Out of 10B up hill and
over the top of blind 11 into “OH MY GOD” the downhill drop to turn 12
and the front straight.
Awesome track, super smooth as it had been resurfaced recently too. Lap
2 underway meant the first time through turn 1 on the correct line, that
was some corner too. We carried on around for a good few laps just
getting used to which way the track went. Red cones had been placed at
the side of the track of corner entry and exit points with a green cone
on the apex to the corner. The instructor still out front constantly
keeping an eye on us in his mirrors making sure the pace is okay and we
aren’t getting in to any situations. I swear the toughest part of those
first few laps was remembering to breath! Later Michael would explain
breathing in one of the classes so obviously a common problem. Before
you know it, the chequered flag was out. The first session completed we
headed back to the classroom. The smiles on peoples faces as the lids
came off was clear to be seen, everyone chatting getting out what they
thought of the bikes and the tracks, incredible. So Group A back out, we
went back to class for de-brief and more instruction. It was hot, and
getting hotter. I was drinking water and re-hydration fluid a plenty
whilst in the classroom trying to keep my fluids up so I didn’t collapse
out on track! I was perspiring like never before and that wasn’t to
stop, great way to loose weight! We had class and time to go out again.
I was more nervous this time than the first as I had had some track time
and thought we would be stepping it up again. Off to the pit lane and
lane 3 (slow) had gained a few extra riders, which was reassuring. Out
on to the track again on the SV, getting the laps under our belts,
learning the way around, the pace nice and slow, it hadn’t been up’d at
all, the instructors had it all under control. Again smiles aplenty when
we returned, we got 1 more session in before lunch where everyone
already had their own stories from the first hour of track time at Road
After lunch the same format followed. This continued the whole 3 days.
The classroom sessions held by Michael were paced and informative with
Kevin on hand to jump in when/where required.
Michael complete with sound effects, as Kevin had too, would often jump
up on the bike in class to demonstrate bike position and handling etc.
The classroom sessions were structured in such away that it lead form
basics to more advanced topics as the track sessions progressed and we
would get smoother, faster and more comfortable out on track. Buck
Schwantz was around to offer advice too.
We got 2 track sessions in on that first afternoon, the first I used the
good olde SV and for the last session I got my hands on one of the
stunning GSXR600’s. The SV was a great bike, just buzzed around the
track nice and easy, kinda bouncy, but you knew what was what. It didn’t
have that razor edge to worry about. We later learnt if the instructors
go have a play, they take the SV’s out. The GSXR was a different beast.
My kind of bike. It was racier, smoother and more planted. I was already
going faster and on returning to the pit my smile was bigger than ever.
I had found my weapon of choice for the next 2 days.
We finished up as ever with Michael asking how it went and what to think
about over night before heading back to the hotel for a shower, boy I
needed one, before heading out to dinner. Kevin took us all to a Mexican
restaurant not far form the track that was enjoyed by all. The two sat-navs
in Vito’s hire car couldn’t find the place, we were off the map most of
the trip. A bit of good old sense of direction and hand written
instructions got us back on track. We weren’t the only ones to get lost
in the ‘Atlanta triangle’ sat-nav zone. Dinner over, stories told, back
to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
Day 3 – Saturday 25th August 2007.
Breakfast out of the way, off to the track. First thing today whilst it
was cool (!!!) was a track walk. A full days track time behind us Kevin
loaded us all in to vans and took us out on to track to show us the
lines and reference points around the track.
I kid you not he was pointing out marks and lines on the track he uses
for corner entry etc that I never saw the previous day, scary when you
miss great big painted white lines!!
At each corner Kevin would tell us his secrets on how he addresses them
and then 3 instructors would come through the corners at speed so we
could see what he was saying. 3 speeds, slow (but fast for me), medium
and ‘Opie’ speed.
Opie came through the corners at warp speed, awesome to watch, so fast,
sparks flying everywhere. We stopped at various corners on the track,
advise was given and demo corners provided by the instructors.
We finally got to turn 11, the blind crest leading downhill into 12.
This was by far the scariest place on the track and I personally
couldn’t wait to see Opie through here. He did disappoint, 1st lap, WOW,
2nd lap wheel pointing skyward, double WOW.
We later found out he had mucked up through 10B and grabbed a handful of
throttle to recover which got him kind of out of shape, kind of??!?!?
glad it wasn’t me.
Track walk over we headed back to class, Group A off out to use the
newly gained knowledge, us back to the classroom to learn some more and
obviously discuss ‘Opie time’. It was then our turn for track, GSXR
again in hand off to the slow lane we headed. First lap of the day, it
was amazing how different the track was now we knew what we had learnt
form the track walk. It seemed so much easier, the GSXR stuck like glue.
Lap after lap, smoother and faster, the smiles got bigger. I had kind of
paired up with Kieron by this point. The instructors try and encourage
you to find someone of equal standard so you don’t ride too slow or
fast. We had also had a fair few instructors leading us now, each one
riding around spending more time looking backwards in their mirrors at
us than forwards. We were offered advise whilst on track via hand
signals and the instructors would slowly up the pace whilst at all times
making sure we looked in control. The 2nd session of day 2 was the first
time out I actually didn’t feel nervous. I had learnt where the track
went and what the bike could do. I know looked forward to implementing
everything that Michael had taught us in class with everything the
instructors were telling us on track, each time getting quicker and
quicker but still smooth making sure I hit all the right markers. Kieron
and I were developing a good pace; we joined or were joined by others
too. Riding with most of Group B before the course was over – except
those that lined up in lane 1!! We went out with Peter (great lines
mate) and Aaron (knee-down achieved and cool celebrations) a fair few
times amongst others.
The camera bike was in play on day 2 too. Not that you knew it but
instructor Lee was out on track stuck to you back wheel so your riding
could be analysed back in the classroom after the session, this was very
helpful. I only ever seemed to get videoed on the back section and not
through my favourite part turn 1 through 6, shame as I swear I was well
rapid through that sweeping section! Lunch in between another 5 class
and track sessions saw out the day. It was a great day, better than day
1 by far. We ended up following Tray Batey out on one session, I had
never been through turn 1 as quick trying to follow him, by turn 2 he
was gone, we caught up with him having a nap at turn 6, my god you think
you are going fast, these guys are in another league. I had developed
cramp to in my leg right at the end of the day, reminder to keep those
fluids up for day 3. We were sent on our way that evening with
instructions of visualising a lap with your eyes closed that evening,
something that Kevin had used during his GP career and if you could
master helps no end. So with the final sessions out of the way it was
time for the World Famous Schwantz family BBQ.
Jim (Kevin’s dad) and Stacey (Kevin’s sister) had driven the BBQ all the
way in from Texas (19+ hours) to provide the evenings feast.
I tell you what, ribs n chicken to die for.
The food was just awesome. People sat around swapping stories of the
days whilst chowing down on some top quality BBQ grub, stuffed by the
end I tell you. The gods were with us as we had all finished when the
heavens opened and the mother of all storms rolled in to town. The drive
back to town was something, Vito should have hired a boat! The wipers
couldn’t clear the water fast enough, you couldn’t see 10 feet,
something smashed across our windscreen, branches were lying on the road
– scary! We made it back and I just hoped it would be dry for the
morning, I didn’t fancy a wet track on bit. As for doing a lap of the
track with your eyes closed before bed, I think I made it to turn 3
before I was asleep.
Day 4 – Sunday 26th August 2007.
The previous nights rain had cleared off, it was a misty damp start but
the track was dry. It did have water on the kerbs and some dirt on the
track through 5, but advised to take it easy first out is what we did.
It soon dried out completely, the sun was shinning once more. Same
format as usual, class followed by track.
In the morning we had a practical, accelerate in 1st, clutchless to 2nd,
blip throttle, change back to 1st and stop. All about matching revs to
gear changes and not using the clutch on up shifts, with that
accomplished it was track time. It really did feel fast and smooth on
the last day, not having to worry about where the track went at all,
entry and apex points mastered. Just concentrate on everything learnt
and put it into practice. I had a couple of laps out front of the
instructor on day 3. You follow them for so long when finally they think
you are good to go they wave you by! Your heart goes up a beat and I
think I held my breath the whole way round. Rather than tear off trying
to emulate ‘Opiewon’ I backed off slightly, didn’t want to rubbish all
the good stuff I had done up till now. It was amazing, for the first
time no one out front you were leading the pack, still at a pace just
make sure you hit all the markers and have some fun. When the instructor
re-takes you, you wait for his assessment, thumbs up, yee-haa! Led a few
laps on day 3, each time different instructor thumbs up, well chuffed
(as we say in England). Kieron and I even dared lane 2 a couple of
times, it was no faster than lane 3, all in the mind I think, just go as
fast as you are comfortable with. Those last few sessions we even
zooooomed by the lane 1 guys. By this time Kieron and Aaron were sliding
knee’s on regular basis, me, not my style, more like my joints wouldn’t
let me, but I had found my way of riding, fast, smooth and safe.
Kevin black Dainese leathers on ‘Darth Vader’ style was out on track,
screaming around at crazy speeds, the noise that GSXR600 made when he
came by, it was like something out of Star Wars for sure.
Dave who was out taking photos later reported he was going through
corners looking backwards like it was the easiest thing in the world,
probably at least 3 times faster than us too, the man still has it! Jim
Schwantz was out on track too.
We had classroom sessions as usual, but that 3rd day was all about
feeling real comfortable out on track. Unfortunately the storm rolled in
a little early and we didn’t get our 5th session of the day out on
track, but with tired limbs and mind maybe that was a good thing.
So with the rain lashing down outside we were done. A great three days.
Kevin, the instructors and staff were superb, the track was amazing, the
students brilliant, the environment spot on, what would I improve? Not
having a 4th, 5th, 6th…..day!
It was graduation time where the students were presented with a
certificate and cap to show they successfully accomplished all 3 days.
In turn Kevin presented, a picture taken, the class clapped, top job and
well done all.
Awards were presented to Safest Rider – Vito, and most improved, Aaron
getting running up with Harley James who had spend a fortune riding his
Harley in from the moon getting Most Improved, well deserved mate. The
class of August 24th was finished, Kevin signed all my memorabilia including my one of a kind Arai, email addresses and phone numbers were
exchanged, thanks given to the instructors, those last stories told and
photos taken. One by one everyone went on their way. Everyone smiling,
it had been a great experience, thanks to you all.
That evening with Vito already hot pacing it back to Florida I grabbed a
lift and went to dinner with Kieron, Dave and their friends and family.
More ribs at the Braselton Grille with a few beers over at the sports
bar finished off a great day 3.
Day 5 – Monday 27th August 2007.
Home day. With my flight not until 9pm I was kind of at a lose end. I
was having breakfast and got talking to Jim who invited me back to the
track to kill off a few hours. Back we went to pack up the monster BBQ
on to the trailer for Jim and Stacey’s mammoth trip back to Texas. With
the BBQ all secured and attached to the truck we were all ready to roll.
I said a final farewell to Kevin and Marnie who were getting ready for
the AMA Superbike showdown in a few days time and after a fuel stop Jim
and Stacey dropped me back at the hotel. I checked out and went for a
wonder around Oakwood. Not much to report there I’m afraid. The shuttle
to the airport arrived as scheduled and driver ‘Whiz’ (I kid you not and
I bet he could race his van round Road Atlanta pretty quick too) gave me
the tour back to town. The haze that was present the day I arrived had
lifted, so I got to see much more of the city, ok from the back of an
airport shuttle van, but it looked cool all the same.
Kiosk check-in out of the way, through security no problem, I was set.
The flight was slightly delayed, but I slept like a baby the whole way
home, think I was tired.
Day 6 – Tuesday 27th August 2007.
Landed back in the UK, it seemed cold but not raining, I eventually made
it home safe and sound.
Wow, what a few days, if you are thinking about it, don’t waste your
time, do it. It is an amazing experience whatever level of rider you
are. I cannot rate it highly enough. Now I just need to find some money
to buy a GSXR600 and trip back!
Sean (aka defraine)
P.S. More pictures
February 13 2008, Journal 5
BlarneyQuick Racing is starting to hear from some sport bikers from around the
world. We got a big reaction from our prediction’s on the up and coming racing
season. We loved some of your comment’s on who you thought would be top dog this
year. There are some very passionate Valentino Rossi fans out there and not so
much for Australian Casey Stoner. That did not surprise us, but I still don’t
see Rossi winning the title back. I am a Rossi fan myself and believe he has
been a true ambassador for Grand Prix racing - no one has done a better job
since the “Barry Sheene “era. Some of you commented that Stoner is not as good a
rider as Rossi and that he somehow got lucky in 2007. Luck had nothing to do
with it, that is ludicrous . He simply had the right combination of bike and
tire - and guess what - he crushed everyone. Yes, a lot of you mentioned the
engine failures that the Yamaha’s suffered - people that’s racing ! I am
sticking by my picks and can’t wait to see how things pan out. For me, I just
want to beat a certain English guy on our staff.
Well I have booked my spot to attend the Kevin Schwantz Superbike School at Road
Atlanta in Braselton , Georgia. I registered for the “ World Champion’s Package”
on August 11, 12 and 13. This will be my second time, I met Sean de Fraine (our
webmaster) there last year. We both had the experience of a life time. I fully
recommend a school like this if you want to be taught the right way to get up to
speed. I had done two track days in preparation for Kevin’s school just to get
the feel of what it’s like to be on a race track. The instructor’s were easy
going and very professional when they needed to be. The class room instruction
comes from real racers and Kevin is present at all times. He is very
approachable and answered all questions. It took me a while to stop looking at
him as a god like figure - I mean it is Kevin “frigging” Schwantz after all. He
was one of my racing hero’s and having him explain something to you one on one
was just fantastic. We even got to ride with him on the third day at what I
thought was real fast. I remember being tucked in going down the back
straight-away at about 130mph and trying to stay with Opie Caylor ( Pro
racer/instructor) and being really chuffed about it, when Kevin went by like I
was standing still. He was turned around giving me the thumbs up and then in a
split second he disappeared into the distance. He was so smooth and in control -
I remember thinking, I just got passed by Kevin Schwantz. We put in four /twenty
minute sessions each day. That added up to about 120 laps after three days. Of
course the first few sessions are very controlled and it’s not till the third
session you start to get up to some real speed. They have first rate SV 650’S
and GSXR600’s, they are all current models and prepared like real race bikes.
Road Atlanta is a world class track that had just been resurfaced. Very
intimidating in places, especially for motorcycles. I am happy to hear they are
reworking turn 12 and turn 4. Turn 12 is one of the scariest turns in all of
racing - it’s fast (third gear) and before you get to it you have to come under
Suzuki Bridge and drop down a hill - elevation change of 90 feet in about 150
yards. Your marks (reference points) are critical and you can mess up very
easily. The problem is there is a wall that runs along the track, only about 10
feet away in places. I managed to trust what they were telling us and I never
really had a moment the entire time. Not to say that others did not fair as
well. We had three students go down and no one was really hurt - maybe just a
little pride. If you crash, you are finished - that’s the rule. So take it easy
and work on being smooth the first two days and you will be better of and most
importantly you will ride all three days. There is about 35 riders in the school
which they spilt into two groups. Faster and more experienced riders in one
group and slower and less experienced (beginners) in another. Myself and Sean
were rightly put into group B. Although we really did not know one another very
well, we seemed to have similar skills. There was a wide range of speed among
the riders in group B and by the afternoon session of the first day, we were
encouraged to find a buddy to group with. The instructors lead off from pit lane
and three riders followed. So we were kind of let form our on group, hence Sean,
Aaron and myself became track buddies for the next three days. I got to know
those guys and there riding ability fairly well. I was probably the fastest,
followed by Sean and then Aaron. Sean was in no hurry to get brave and he found
his comfort level as time went on. I on the other hand, I was ready to go and
felt right at home. Aaron was game but cautious, although he had a very good
attitude. We helped each other learn the lines and what was really cool is that
after every lap you had to fall back to the last rider and that meant we all got
equal time up with the instructor.
After every session we came back into the class room and we were critiqued. They
had a camera bike follow your group and show potential weak spots. They taught
us every thing from braking, body position to accelerating. For most of the
riders in group B, the talk was “did you drag your knee”. I had experienced the
knee down on both sides on my very first track day a couple of months earlier.
Once you get the hang of it, you realize how important a skill it is in the
turns. Your knee can guide your lean angle and give you tremendous feed back
especially with the front end of the motorcycle. Aaron had a great celebration
coming out of turn six. At first we did not know what he was signaling, but when
we came back in he explained he had touched down and that was his greatest goal.
It was a very light hearted moment that we all laughed and celebrated with him.
The school had plenty of bottled water, energy drinks and snacks to keep the
everyone fully powered up. It was so hot in Georgia, you lost major water weight
every session. But at the end of the day, you were so anxious to get back for
the next day, it was hard to sleep. I never came down from the high and truly
enjoyed every minute.
sign up for a school somewhere and finally honor your dream of getting on the
track. If you want to come and join us there are still plenty of spots at
Kevin’s School . Check out mine and Sean’s video from the school via the
Media tab. It shows us
and Kevin circling the track. For more info go to the
Until next time be safe
Kieran Mooney /founder
Sean - 6 February 2008.
So Kieron who lives in the good old USA thinks
he can out do me, the European webmaster Sean, when it comes to
predicting the top 5 in MotoGP, WSB, AMA, BSB and the TT does he?
Lets see shall we Mr FarRemoved. Bring it on! How about 3
points for a correct place, 1 point if they are in the top 5? That
should give you a little bit of a chance! You may have a few years
on me, but I got racing on my doorstep on tap, even get AMA 2 days after
Click here to see my predictions.
Kieron - 6 February 2008, Journal 4....
been a racing fan since I was a wee lad. Back then, I would have to wait
for a week for any kind of race results. Every Thursday I spent my
pocket money on two motorcycle newspapers, up at the corner shop. I can
remember the shopkeepers smile every time he pulled them from the stack
of special orders. He knew how much I looked forward to reading them. He
always said nice things and always gave me a few Bon Bons (candy) for
free, because I never had money left over. I cherished those walks home
chewing my sweets and catching up on my race hero’s news. Some kids read
comic books, these were my adventure stories. I know, I read those
newspapers four and five times and never got tired of looking at the
pictures. I still read all the latest news with the same kind of
passion, but now it comes to me everyday thru e-mail. I have a great
knowledge of GP racing from 1970 and on, but I also follow any kind of
track or road racing around the world. Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini
and Phil Read were my first hero’s and it was because of them I fell in
love with motorcycles and racing.
race that I got to see was in 1971 with my grandfather Mooney. It was an
exhibition race at Phoenix Park in Dublin Ireland. The park was having
car races and my grandfather had a car racing that day. I remember being
excited to be there and so close to all the race action. The cars were
great, but when I heard the roar of the Triumph and Norton motorcycles
start up there was no turning back. My grandfather had a brother die
from a motorcycle race crash and his own son (my dad) was badly hurt in
another bike accident. He did not want me to be that enthused about the
bikes, but it was already too late. The first proper race I was a
spectator at was at Mondello Park, also in Ireland. Little did I know at
the time, I helped hold up a bike that day for the legend Joey Dunlop.
They had no stands for the bike and since I was standing there drooling,
he asked me to hold it upright while he worked on the front brake. He
never really said anything, but it didn’t matter. He of course is one of
the greatest motorcycle racers ever. That seems like yesterday, but
actually it was 30 years ago.
Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz,
Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi. Each one a great champion on the fierce
and very unpredictable two stroke 500cc machines. The GP class was then
changed in 2005 to 990cc four strokes and the era of the two stoke in
the top class was gone. Valentino Rossi won in 2005 and Nicky Hayden in
2006. The big four strokes proved to be the right move from the
governing body and provided some very close racing. The class saw
another change in 2007 and lowered the engine capacity to 800cc,
apparently to slow the bikes down for safety reasons. The present World
MotoGP Champion is a young Australian named Casey Stoner. Casey rides
for Ducati, and on the 800cc Desmoedici GP7 he won 9 races last year and
blew everyone away in the points standings. It was a very boring season
and the championship lost many television viewers because of the lack of
excitement. Casey’s Ducati and Bridgestone tires seemed to be an
unbeatable combination and was winning by huge margins. Rossi blamed his
woes on his Michelin tires. In a true Rossi move, he broke his contract
with Michelin and jumped aboard the "good ship” Bridgestone. Mind you
Rossi won five world championships with Michelin. He also won four races
this past season, as did Dani Pedrosa, all on Michelin’s. So, we will
have to see if the tire change plays a major role for him and gets him
back on top. For the 2008 season there have been a lot of rider changes
amongst the teams and the old guard has been ushered out. A nice mix of
youth now fills the grid and the season holds great promise for exciting
racing. The only problem is the grid is shrinking because there are not
enough teams or competitive race bikes to go around. Right now there are
only 19 riders listed so far. Dorna, the governing body has to address
this and attract more teams and sponsorships - it’s all about the money.
challenged my fellow writer Sean de Fraine on the BlarneyQuick staff to
predict who’s going to finish in the top 5 in the MotoGP, World SBK,
British SBK, AMA SBK and the Isle of Man Senior TT championships. My
English friend is going down like a bad cup of tea.
Click here to see my predictions.
On a final
note, the BlarneyQuick Suzuki GSXR 750 is getting some more upgrades in
preparation for the March 23 track day at Summit Point. The clutch lever
is being replaced with a shorty from ‘CRG‘. This is a very cool lever
that collapses up and out of the way if the bike goes down on that side.
We are also putting ‘Attack’ rear sets on for better race setup. The
weather was unseasonably warm this week, so I took the Gixer out for a
bit of a jaunt. This bike is absolutely incredible and I can’t wait for
the track day. Next week, I will be in Ireland and will be interviewing
Martin Finnegan about his chances of winning the Isle of Man and the
Irish Road racing championships. I will have a full report in Part 4
about the other championships and give my views on the health of our
Until next time be safe
Kieron Mooney founder
Kieron - 29th January 2008 ....
Pictures of my Dad from
24th January 2008, Journal 3....
International Motorcycle Show Washington DC, January 2008
BlarneyQuick Racing was introduced to the world at the International
Motorcycle Show in Washington DC January 11, 2008. Our first project
bike “Suzuki GSXR750” was on display over three packed days. Estimates
said well over 200,000 people came to the show. Our bike was at the Ram
Cycle’s booth and drew much more attention than we even hoped for. I
worked all three days and almost lost my voice from answering all the
questions about the Gixer.
Our mission is to get sport riders to share info about their rides and
help steer them to the track to fully experience what there bikes can
produce. BlarneyQuick wants everyone to realize that the streets are not
the place to become a “ boy racer “. The Gixer was set up for the track
at the show, number #59 on the number plates. We showed how the bike
could be converted back for legal street use in less than 30 minutes.
That was a big hit with most of the riders who came to the booth. We
explained that the Gixer was ready for any “ trackday “ no matter what
organization you belong to. If we were actually going to race we would
have to make further changes, but for “ trackday “events we are good to
go. The list of upgrades to the bike were on display and can be seen on
the Members page of this site.
The show itself was fantastic, the best in 20 years. The BlarneyQuick
staff networked very aggressively and the more we talked to people the
more our original concept took off. There is no one doing what we are
trying to do in the sport bike world. Everyone was very interested about
our vision and I know as a founder this site will have great importance
in the motorcycle industry. So as we walked around and introduced
ourselves it became very clear to us that our site will become important
to the manufactures of bikes and after market performance products. If
our forum grows and we have data that may influence manufacturers to
change or improve a product, we have a chance to make a difference,
because all the information is coming from real riders and real bikes.
That kind of influence is priceless. We talked with Ducati ,Yamaha and
Suzuki and they told us just on a local level there is no real data out
there that they can use to reach the riders thoughts and see who is
spending what to upgrade there bikes. This site could have an impact
globally in just a few years. We want you to send us
pictures of your bike and tell us what
you have done to it.
They had Stoner’s GP bike, Rossi’s GP bike,
Ben Spies AMA Superbike and Roger Hayden’s AMA supersport bikes
all decked out. We are huge race fans, so getting up close to these and
many more real exotic race bikes had us drooling. The guys on our staff
are from all over the world, so we want to make this site as
international as possible. Sean de Fraine in England is our web guy and
he is a well known collector of Race Memorabilia. He has the most
extensive “ Kevin Schwartz “Collection of helmets, knee pucks, etc in
the world. Kevin Schwantz contacted Sean just to try and get some
of his stuff back for display at his
Suzuki School, because
he had let it all go through his racing career. Sean and I also follow
the British SBK Championship and World SBK Championships. Check out his
journal for his predictions on these championships. Then there’s the
guys in Ireland who have the most extensive “ road race “events any
where in the world. I am from Ireland and my contacts there keep me up
to date on there road race championships and the Isle of Man TT. My
contact Myles Lally, who is heavily involved in the TT tells
BlarneyQuick to watch
Martin Finnegan who rides for Yamaha as the next rising star. If
any reader has some information about any racer, from any championship
let us know - we love anything to do with racing. The
Forum is a
great way to put your views across.
Finally, my very famous dad “ Pete StJohn” one of Ireland’s greatest
song writers has joined the BlarneyQuick team by writing “ The legend of
BlarneyQuick “ . Pete has written many famous songs like the ‘ Fields
of Athenry’ - check him out at
www.petestjohn.com . It is an honor to have such a great writer
lend his pen to this site. I will be in Ireland Feb 15 to visit and get
caught up on the racing scene there. With only two months to until my
next trackday date, its time to starting training again. Like most of
us, the winter has put on some unwelcome pounds on, which need to go if
I am to fit back into my Alpinestars leathers. The leathers are having
some patches and logo work done right now, so it’s a good thing I don’t
have them to try on. I will let you know how they turned out when I get
them back. Our first NESBA track day is at Summit Point race way in
West Virginia on March 23. We will have a full report and pictures of
our race day. There will be six riders traveling with us to experience
the track for the first time.
Until next time be safe
famous, check out page 125 of this months UK Performance Bikes magazine
or click here.
Sean - 22nd Jan 2008.
As I mentioned in my first update I am a massive memorabilia
collector. I started following bike GP (500's) back in 1985.
I was hooked immediately. I was amazed how the riders wrestled the
bikes around at amazing speeds. Kevin Schwantz was my hero.
Always on the edge, always entertaining, the best! One day I rang
Suzuki GP HQ to ask if there was anywhere you could buy the Lucky Strike
Suzuki pit crew shirt. To my amazement Garry Taylor (then boss) of
Lucky Strike Suzuki answered the phone. We had a chat and I joked
if Kevin ever wanted a home for his old crashed leathers then to send
them my way. A few days later a package arrived, I ripped it open
to find a signed, used knee slider form Kevin Schwantz! Amazing, a
piece of history actually used by my hero. There were a couple of
awesome photo's included too. That's what started me
I was already in the Schwantz Fan Club so had a
mountain of pictures etc. I selected the best
and quickly got the slider framed. It still
hangs with pride of place to this day. It got
me thinking how easily you could own rider
memorabilia and I started collecting signed, used
sliders. It was slow in the early years.
A few turned up every now and then through friends
or at race meets. Then eBay arrived! The
best or worse (if you look at my bank balance) idea
in the world. All of a sudden a steady supply
of sliders. Pit crew selling to earn a few
extra bucks, fans lucky enough to get pit side
selling to make a profit, it didn't matter to me so
long as they were the real deal. I have over
150 in my collection now, WSB, AMA, BSB, MotoGP,
500cc, 250cc, 125cc, you name it. Schwantz,
Doohan, all the way through to Rossi and the new
kids of the block, Dovi, Lorenzo. There aren't
many I don't have, but am still on the look out!
The pit crew shirt bug also set in. I
restricted myself to Suzuki GP shirts. I
collected one of each and soon amassed 20+ shirts.
I am just waiting on the near on impossible to find
Pepsi shirt to complete my collection.
Now I was out of space, out of money and thought
that was it until one day I spot a mint original,
un-used Pepsi style Schwantz Giga (signed) on eBay.
I had to have it. I had the KS version which I
wore and needed this one too! It was in
Australia and after winning the bid and paying the
import duties (thanks Royal Mail) it was here.
A few days later a brand new version of the KS
version of Schwantz's Arai appears. Is someone
watching me? How come two in the space of the
same amount of days when I hadn't seen any for
years? Well off I went again, purchase made.
Now the knee sliders were still popping up, but I
had most. Collecting moved to helmets. I
have always been disciplined enough to collect
something specific, not just everything. I
thought Schwantz helmets would be cool. I
planned to collect one of each of Kevin's main
designs throughout his career. I collected the
obvious ones quite easily over the years. Now
Kevin had a few designs that were never produced,
for these I contacted an airbrush artist whom said
he could reproduce.
needed to find reference material for him to copy. There wasn't
much about so I got in touch with Arai Europe and Kevin Schwantz Suzuki
School for some pictures. I had been in touch with KSSS after
outbidding them on a helmet on ebay at 02:00 UK time one morning.
Arai and KSSS were great and I got the pictures I required. One by
one the helmets were painted. The collection complete (20 Schwantz
helmets) when myself and a few friends from Germany imported the new
style RX7 Corsair Schwantz from Japan.
had made so many friends through collecting, KSSS, Arai, mechanics or
just fellow collectors and friends on eBay. I had struck up a firm
friendship with the guys from Arai Europe throughout my quest.
They loved my passion for their brand and invited me to their HQ.
I jumped at the chance. Those two days in The Netherlands were
great and on leaving the MD offered me the chance to have my own helmet
made up to my design! I designed a helmet based on the colour
designs of Kevin's helmets from throughout the years. I sent the
pictures off and a few months later I am back on the plane to collect
the "Kevin Schwantz Special" as it's now known. It was
just amazing and the helmet is beyond believe. The guys at Arai
are just too good to be true.
I had been helping out on www.kevinschwantz.com
too, mainly posting updates and moderating the forum. As a thanks
I was invited to KSSS in August 2007. What an experience and where
I met Kieron of BlarneyQuick Racing which is why I am typing this
have managed to obtain two racers helmets. John Hopkins Red Bull
Arai from 2006 British GP and Stevie Bonseys 125cc GP helmet from China
So it just
goes to show how lucky you can be if you stick in there. It all
started out with a phone call on the off chance. This call
resulted in an amazing journey and a host of new friends.
always on the lookout for anything Schwantz, Arai, Suzuki or knee
sliders. Drop me a mail if you want a chat.
Sean - 16th Jan 2008.
Happy New Year everyone. Okay, I've been busy
with website updates. Got the registration page
sorted so you can request access to the Members Only section where we will have high-spec details on the bikes.
Feedback form and Guest book also online. Cheers, Sean.
Sean - 27 December 2007.
Hello everyone. My name is Sean and I reside in the UK. I am
the webmaster for BlarneyQuick Racing. I met Kieron at Kevin
Schwantz Suzuki School back in August 2007 and have kept in touch ever
since. I am a big bike fan, I ride a Suzuki GSXR750 on the road,
follow bike racing and am also a collector of riders memorabilia.
When Kieron came up with the idea for this site I said I would love to
be involved in someway. Being in the UK restricted my options
though. I work in IT for a bank and design websites
in my spare time. I offered my assistance to Kieron and
said I would create this site.
So here it is, please get in touch if you think it is missing something
or you find a problem. The site will continue to develop with the
restricted Members Section coming next. We will also, hopefully,
have an online store for clothing etc at some point in the not too
Check back for updates on what is coming soon.
Sean de Fraine
/ BlarneyQuick Racing
12 January 2008, Part 2....
2006 Suzuki 750 GSXR.
In the last journal entry we talked about the
transformation from street to track day bike. It is important to note
that the BlarneyQuick Suzuki GSXR 750 can be converted back to a street
legal motorcycle in less than 20 minutes. We like the versatility of
changing from track to street to get as much seat time on the bike as
possible. We simply put some mirrors back on and put all the fuses back
so we would have full working lights and indicators. This Suzuki is
truly a dream machine which segways me to my next point. You can go to
your local dealership and shell out $10,599 plus taxes and registration
for a 2008 GSX-R750. Now here’s the dilemma, will this stock bike meet
all your needs. The answer is yes if your going to be a street rider
only. Again, this is a very good bike right off the show room floor and
is track worthy. But, we at BlarneyQuick know it still needs to be
upgraded to make it a real track day bike. You just need to ask your
self what avenue you want to take - do you want to buy a used bike and
do what we did or do you want buy new and add what you think will make
the bike better. If you want to take the bike racing and share in
contingency money, your bike in most cases must be a late model like a
2008 and no older than a 2007. So our bike would be to old. There was no
difference in model year 2006 and 2007 and this was always going to be a
Track day bike, so we shopped for the best deal out there. I will say
this, our bike will out perform a new 2008 GSX-R750 because we replaced
all the weak spots on the 2006 with the best of the best aftermarket
parts. Our Gixer will be on display at the Washington D.C. International
Motorcycle Show January 11-13, 2008. It will be at the Ram Cycles booth.
They are the guys who did all the work. Here is an opportunity to chat
with us and see the bike close up.
Now that the bike is ready, we entered phase two of our journey. How do
you transport the bike to the track and what will you need when you get
there. We rented a motorcycle trailer for our first couple of trips.
This was as basic as it gets. It was around $19 dollars a day. We towed
it behind a Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel 3.0. That had the towing package
(towing rate of 7800lbs) and all we had to do was get the right level
receiver hitch and electrical adapter. That cost us around $50. The
trailer had receiver hooks for tie downs, which was nice. We also
purchased four heavy duty ratchet tie downs. We also bought a “Canyon
Dancer” handle bar tie down system. That cost about another $200. It is
important to note this trailer exposed the bike and any of the gear your
can not fit inside the truck to the weather. The trailer had an easy
access ramp to drive the bike up into tie down position. When Ram Cycles
was suggesting a certain frame slider, they told us about E-Tech
that converts from a full slider cap to a tie down hook by just
unscrewing the cap. This type of duel specialty use, shows you are
prepared to secure your bike properly. On our first trip we did not tie
the front end down tight enough and when we went over a speed bump the
bike came lose and almost fell completely to one side. We recommend you
fully compress the front suspension and then tie down the stapes. The
bike should be as secure as possible and four tie downs should do the
trick. BlarneyQuick is in the market for an enclosed trailer. We have
seen many different manufactures and sizes and we are now looking for a
two axle 10x15 with rear entry ramp. The benefits of security makes
traveling so much easier. A 10x15 should easily hold two bikes and all
the pit area essentials. Here is a list of what BlarneyQuick brings:
10x15 pop up tent.
Protects from the sun or rain.
Fold up table and
Two coolers for
drinks and food and snacks. We recommend coolers with wheels and a
Don’t depend on the track to have electrical outlets close to your pit
compressor. A must have to regulate tire pressures.
Two 100ft extension
cords and a multiple outlet power stripe.
Two sets of racing
leathers, helmets, gloves, boots and leathers and many changes of
under shirts and shorts that wick moisture away.
Clear and smoke
helmet visors and in some cases - tear offs.
Bring plenty of
towels and a change of clothes.
Spare tires ( rain
tires just in case ) on rims ready to go.
A bunch of cleaners
and paper towel or micro fiber towels. We carry grease cleaner for
your hands, Windex and an al propose cleaner.
Laptop computer to
make adjustments to the power commander if necessary.
seems like a lot of stuff and your right. The cost of phase two can
really start to escalate depending on your choice’s . We learned that
if you have the items we have listed your day will be so much more
comfortable. Obviously you will discover that our efforts could still
be considered entry level and when you actually go to a track day and
see what some riders travel in and bring, the levels of comfort are
endless. What really matters are the essentials. Our cost for all these
things has not ended and if there is anything you want further
information on just e-mail me at BlarneyQuick.com.
the show in Washington D.C. Next time we will talk about the riding gear
and why buying the right protective gear is so important.
27 December 2007, Journal 1....
2006 Suzuki 750 GSXR.
BlarneyQuick purchased a
stock 2006 Suzuki 750 GSXR with no aftermarket parts installed for
$6500. Our objective was to transform this stock motorcycle into a race
bike mainly to be used at track day events. The GSXR was already a great
sport bike, so we decided that we did not need to mess with the engine
too much. Most motorcycle race people will tell you, manufactures that
mass produce bikes always cut costs in certain areas and one of those
area’s is the suspension department. Since I was the rider, I wanted to
have way more options to setting up my bike for my weight and size than
the stock suspension provided.
I am a research junkie and
to my amazement there was not one source out there to advise me on what
suspension company to use. I found myself relying on my local motorcycle
performance shop for technical information. I am extremely lucky in this
category because I have a great shop very close to where I live. Ram
Cycles in Gaithersburg, Maryland walked me thru my wish list. They
suggested many alternatives and always explained their reasoning. This
is a very good way to find out if this is the right shop to do the work.
I quickly realized that you better have a budget, because more than
likely you will over spend to get everything right.
Remember, to get to the
track and do a track day you do not have to take the route I am about to
take. Most modern sport bikes are good enough right out of the box. But,
from my experience you will find something you want to upgrade and
BlarneyQuick is recommending it will the suspension. That happened to be
my case and what a difference it made. My first track bike was a FZ1
1000 Yamaha. I upgraded the front suspension with Penski springs and
heavier oil. At the rear we installed a 981 Penske shock. We also put
Pirelli Corse Diablo’s front and rear. We finally dialed the suspension
in and suddenly the bike handled very well. Now that is a big bike and
so we shaved off as much weight as possible. We went with an Akropovic
slip on and rejetted the carbs. Then we replaced the rear sets with
Sato’s which saved more weight, but also improved ground clearance. All
the turn signals were removed and replaced with smaller units that sat
flush with the fairing. The Yamaha is still street legal and that was
one of our objectives. After several track days the bike preformed
fantastic and has been retired to street use only. There are pictures of
me racing it on the site.
Now back to the Suzuki.
Here is a list of all the work that was done to make the Suzuki a
formidable race bike:
Tires 1 front Pirelli
Diablo SuperCorsa 2 120/70ZR17
Pirelli Diablo SuperCorsa 2 180/55ZR17
Install Ohlin’s SBK 25mm
Internal Kit for front forks
Install Ohlin’s TTX SBK
Install Versa SRJL Front
Install Front Speigler
Install Brembo 19x18 Master
Install Brembo front brake
Install GPR V4 Stabilizer
Install Woodcraft engine
cases with built in sliders on both sides of the GSXR 750
Install two E-Tech frame
sliders with tie down conversion
Install Full race Akropovic
Install Power Commander
Install BMC Air Filter
Replace Engine oil with
Motul and a Hiflo oil filter
Removed all indicators and
safety wired everything that was required
Purchased Chicken Hawk tire
warmers front and rear
Purchased front and rear
jack stands from Pitt Bull
When all was said and done
we spent just under $10,000 on upgrades and a total of $16,500. The
final results were fantastic. The suspension was dialed in to handle my
weight which is 210lbs. The front brakes had so much more stopping power
thanks to the Brembo system. The Akropovic full race exhaust added horse
power and sounded like a race bike without being obnoxious. When I
tested it under race conditions it was very noticeable I was riding a
different bike. The feel of control at high speed gave me all the
confidence in the bike’s ability. We spent a lot of money, but it’s
still priceless when it comes to “having a piece of mind”.
Next time we will talk
about what you need to have to transport your bike and all the tools of
the trade to get through a day at the track.
Until next time
Kieron Mooney / BlarneyQuick Racing