Brian's Race Report from Firebird Main
10/10/04 Chandler, AZ
Well, coming into this weekend, I knew it was going to be a tough
weekend. Not only was it going to be hot, but I was going to have to
deal with an underpowered bike on a track with a HUGE straight.
Basically, you could go as fast as your bike would take you. I heard
rumors of 180 mph+. In addition, I was coming into this weekend with a
goal of securing 2nd in SuperTwins (behind Tom, who's in first) and
hopefully closing in on 1st in Heavyweight SuperSport behind my friend
Eric. I would be in 1st in both classes (I think), but I've missed too
many rounds this season.
On Friday evening, I went over to Pat's house to load up the trailers
and drive them to Firebird. After we got the toy hauler loaded, we were
just waiting for Tom to arrive. He was at his shop working on his bikes
trying to get them ready. He was going to race 3 bikes this weekend,
including a new bike (to him) ... his wife's CBR 600RR. After we
realized it was getting too late to head to Firebird that night, I
headed over to Tom's shop to give him a hand prepping the CBR600RR.
Right after we finished prepping his bike, my friends Brian and Aaron
showed up from San Diego. They were going to stay at my house this
weekend and race with us at Firebird. We didn't actually get into bed
until after 1am because we ended up staying up and talking for a long
time. That sucked because we had to get up at 5:30am the next morning.
We got up early and headed over to Pat's house to pick up the toy
hauler and head to the track. We didn't actually get to Firebird until
after 7am, but luckily Tom was able to get there FIRST (go TOM!) and
reserve us a nice big pit area. Our pit was huge this weekend, with 9
bikes! We had Tom (3 bikes), Pat (2 bikes), me, Brian, Aaron, and Matt
Bollman in our pit. I had to rush in the morning because I had to change
my tires first thing before I went out on the track. Dale Keifer at
Michelin was quick with my tires and I was able to make it out for 2
laps in the first session. Not enough time to get up to speed, but
enough time to figure out which way to turn next! This was my first time
on Firebird Main.
After the 1st session for Expert and Amateur racers (before street
riders), CCS called an emergency riders meeting. The entrance to the
front straight is basically the burn out area for the drag racing cars.
You actually cross a big painted area where the "Christmas tree" is for
the drag races (a lighting system that tells the cars when to go). It
was SUPER slick!! No matter how fast you were going, if you got on the
gas at all, it would slide out. Most of the faster guys were spinning
their tires 1/2 the way down the 6/8ths of a mile straight. It was WAY
TOO UNSAFE to race on. CCS acknowledged this and asked the riders for
their input. After a long meeting and about 20 minutes of a truck
running back and forth over that section towing tires (to lay down
rubber), we decided to try it the next couple sessions before lunch
(carefully) and see if it got safer. If not, we'd redirect the course
around the painted section. Luckily, it ended up getting MUCH better by
the end of the day. It was nice to see CCS willing to sacrifice the
track layout in favor of rider safety if needed.
When I went out for the 2nd session, I was ready to start picking up
the pace. Even though you could not get a good drive on the straight yet
(because of the slippery paint), you still made it up to 160+ mph by the
end. After about 10 laps, I was going down the straight at 150+ mph
(toward the end) when I felt what I thought had to be a huge nut or bolt
from a bike in front of me, hit me HARD in the right shoulder. I assumed
it was kicked up by the bike in front of me. At that speed, IT HURT. I
made it through the turn at the end of the straight and then my shoulder
starting going numb. I tried to finish the lap normally, but could not
grip with my right arm at all, so I laid my right arm on the tank and
rode out the lap with one hand, no gas, and only clutch play to control
my speed. By the time I got back to my pit, I was feeling woozy and
could barely stay up on the bike. I managed to get off it and over to
Pat who I asked to help me get my leathers off. I figured I had either
broken something or was seriously bruised/swollen. As Pat pulled on my
leathers, I heard a rip and then immediately found out that I could not
lift my right arm at all. I then though maybe it was dislocated. I felt
up there and felt something sticking out of my shoulder. I thought it
was a bone. With Pat's help, I managed to get the top of my leathers off
before I felt like I was going to pass out, so I sat down. Everything
was white, blurry and spinning. We discovered a freakin nail was
impacted in my shoulder! (click
here for video showing nail in my shoulder -- you will need
Quicktime. Get it free here) It was all the way down to the head having
pinned my leathers and undershirt to my body. I think my leathers are
what stopped the head from making it through and the nail continuing
further. I have no idea what a nail was doing on the track, or even how
long it was (at the time). It felt like it was in bone to me. Bryan Land
from the pit next to us brought over his golf cart and the guys took me
to the ambulance. I was too faint to do anything....I was totally white
they said. The ambulance people gave me oxygen and the guys (about 10
other racers, some of them my teammates) took care of me by shading me
with an umbrella (thanks Chad Rolland and Bryan Land), etc. The oxygen
and shade helped, because I eventually got my color back and felt good
enough to get to the hospital without an ambulance. Pat was awesome
enough to drive me to the hospital and miss some track time. Thanks
Pat!! I knew I'd be a while, so I told him to just check me in and then
I'd call for a ride later. I hoped it would only be an hour or so
The ambulance called ahead, so when I got to the hospital I was
immediately taken to ER and within 15 minutes I had seen my doctors, had
an X-Ray and saw the X-Ray results. I definitely had a nail in my
shoulder that was about 3 inches long. It was jammed in between some
bones, but had not entered the bone or chipped it. It did look like the
nail was bent by the bone when it hit it (see X-Ray pics). The doctors
were pretty worried about the location of the nail and didn't want to
remove it until seeing X-Rays and having an angiogram. It was basically
in a mine field of lung cavities, nerve centers and blood
vessels/arteries. If it was "corking" an artery, pulling it out would
have seriously bad consequences. If it was, surgery would be required to
remove the nail.
The X-Ray cleared the bone and lungs, but they still had to do the
angiogram to check the blood flow. The angiogram takes about 1 hour of
time, but most of that is prep time. The angiogram people were very
happy to treat me as I was "double time" for them (they are off
weekends). This made it kinda fun because they were in a good mood. With
an angiogram, they basically cut into a major artery down in your groin
area (more to the right hip side) and introduce some dye. Then, they
insert a long tube with a camera at the end so they can see what's going
on. They navigate this tube up the artery system to the shoulder area,
so you end up with a long tube stuck up your body that you can actually
feel moving around. That's kinda trippy. I liked the angiogram people
because they were nice and gave me a couple extra doses of the morphine
and drugs. I was high as a kite and really didn't feel anything except
for the prepping (dry shaving sucked) and needles entering (there were 2
not counting the IV's). With the angiogram, we could see that the nail
had miraculously missed all the veins and all the nerve centers. This
was good news...no surgery needed to remove the nail.
As soon as I got back from the angiogram, Amy showed up. She had been
driven to the hospital by my brother Aaron (thanks bro) because she was
too emotional to drive. You'd think she'd be used to my hospital visits
by now...must be the pregnant thing. It was nice to see her, but I felt
bad for her because she just had to sit there and wait for me to get
out. Pretty boring.
Once they found out all was clear, the doctor came into the room and
without telling me, just pulled out the nail. I thought he was just
looking at it, but then he just yanked it out. It was probably better
telling me, because I didn't have time to tense up for the moment, etc.
It FREAKIN HURT when it came out, but it felt much better than it had,
after the initial pain went away. Any movement in my body really hurt
before because the nail was stuck in a joint. I was able to talk the
Doctor into giving me a copy of the X-Rays and letting me keep the nail.
Not sure what I'm gonna do with it yet, but I have it.
The rest of the day sucked. After the angiogram, they are very
worried about the artery they entered through the groin healing back up
right. If it doesn't, you'll loose a LOT of blood and have serious
complications within minutes. Because of this, I was required to lay
flat as a board, not move my right leg, not sit up and not raise my head
for 6 HOURS!!! That sucked. To top it off, I had to get a new tetanus
shot because of the rusty nail. Now I have 2 sore shoulders....but I
guess that's better than a sore shoulder and a sore butt cheek.
Oh yeah, because of the drugs, the doctors would not let me eat or
drink ANYTHING while I was there. They were afraid I'd throw it up and
then rupture the artery in my groin. I had not had a single bite to eat
all day (skipped breakfast) and had only a couple drinks of water at the
track. I was DYING for water, but they wouldn't give me any.
I entered the hospital at 11:15 am and left around 8:15 pm. Amy's
parent's came and took us home because we were stranded at the hospital.
My truck was at Pat's house and Amy didn't drive because she was too
emotional. On our way home, I FINALLY got to eat something and drink
That night was rough because I was sore all over and the drugs
started wearing off.
On Saturday, the Dr. had told me that I could do anything I felt up
to doing on Sunday as long as I didn't feel the need to take the pain
medicine. If I took the pain medicine, no operating vehicles. My wife,
the doctor and the nurses all knew what I was asking....can I race on
Sunday. I liked his answer. What I didn't like was the nurses told me
that I probably shouldn't lift anything more than a milk carton for 4-5
days. They said no strenuous activity for a week. I decided to go with
the doctors answer but to pay special attention to the things he told me
to watch out for. If the incisions in my groin started bleeding or
bruising large, or if the nail hole started bruising bad or bleeding, I
needed to call 911 immediately.
Because of the drama Saturday, and lack of food, I was feeling pretty
weak on Sunday. I decided to cut my races down a bit and not enter the 5
I had pre-registered for. I only was going to do 2 1/2 races. I wanted
to do the GTO to get more track time and learn the track, but I was only
going to do about 1/2 of the 25 minute race. I also wanted to do the
SuperTwins and HW SuperSport races because I'm still in the hunt for the
title in those classes.
In the GTO race, I'm glad I decided to only do 1/2 the race. It was
too hot and I was too tired to keep going. I didn't do too bad though. I
diced it up with Pat a little bit before I pulled off the track at the
crossed flags (1/2 way). At the end, my shoulder got really stiff and
started pulsing. I knew it was going to be rough to race, but since no
bleeding yet, I was good to go.
After the GTO, I changed my tires to new ones because I had put take
offs on for Saturday's practice.
In the HW SuperSport class, I had a goal of finishing above Eric
because he's leading the points in this class and I'm trying to catch
up. I had some good battles, and finished in front of Eric, but
unfortunately he finished right behind me. I ended up with a 5th place
finish. I made some points on Eric, but only a couple. Definitely not
enough. He's doing a good job of protecting his championship. Same thing
at the end of this race as far as the groin and shoulder go, but my
shoulder was starting to seep a little bit of fluid. Nothing too bad, so
I was going to still do my last race.
In the SuperTwins class, I was pretty disappointed with the small
grid. This class would suck if it were not for the fact that all my
teammates also compete in this class. It's basically turned into a Ball
Sac Racing class. There are other guys, but we lapped all but 4th place
in the 9 lap race. On this track, Pat had a huge advantage because he
could get 10-15 mph higher by the end of the straight with his 999R. My
bike topped out at 165mph on the gauge, but I don't know the actual mph.
I have changed the gearing but not recalibrated the speedo. I ran my
fastest times of the weekend in this race, but that was only a 1:14.5.
Pat won the race and Tom passed me about 1/2 way through. The last
couple laps my arm really started hurting, so I backed way off and
finished a very safe 3rd place.
I seem to have the worst luck, but at the same time the best. I've
NEVER heard of anything like this happening. It's not at all a "racing
incident"...more of a fluke. On the other hand, there are so many other
places it could have hit me to cause a LOT more damage. For example,
what if it had blown out my front tire at 150 mph? Or, what about if it
was off by one inch and hit an artery? Or, what if my leathers did not
stop the nail from continuing further (THANKS Helimot Leathers!!)?
Someone was watching out for me....and yes, the glass is half full.
I never got my times down to where I know I could have, but that's
racing. I think Pat got the lowest time of our team, with a 1:12.0.
Brian Short made it into the 1:10's, and the lap record is 1:06.3.
On a good note, Tom wrapped up the Amateur Formula 40 Championship in
the CCS Pacific AND Southwest regions Sunday!! Way to go Tom! I'm within
130 points of him for the SuperTwins championship, but he just has to
finish a lap (essentially) next month to wrap up that championship as
I want to thank everyone who came by and helped out Saturday.
Especially Pat, Tom, Bryan Land, Chad Rolland, Brian Short, the ambulance people, the nice lady at the hospital with the
morphine, my mother and father in law, my brother Aaron, Helimot
Leathers, and especially Amy. I also want to thank everyone who stopped
by to check on my Sunday...there were a bunch of people, so I won't try
and list you all, but I remember and appreciate your concern. Lastly, I'd like to
thank our sponsors Helmet Harbor, Pipe City, Desert Truss, Motorex, LP,
Brian Kirkland #34