Living the dream at Laguna Seca
10 July 2009 | News
Here is Dainese and AGV sponsored rider James "the Rocket" Rispoli describing his first time at Laguna Seca.
The words "living the dream" never meant so much to me as they did this past weekend at the US Grand Prix, Laguna Seca AMA round. I know every expert club rider and the majority of pros would drop almost anything to hop a ride on one of the most successful AMA pro road race teams in the business. The names Roadracingworld.com, M4 Suzuki and Ulrich are synonymous with bringing forward stars like Schwantz, Hopkins, Spies, Young, May, Cárdenas and many, many more. So when dad said he got a call from John Ulrich and discussed a "one-off" ride at Laguna Seca when the MotoGP boys were in town I couldn't believe it. All I could think of is out of everyone in the country, ME! It took all of around a millisecond for me to say "lets do it" but I knew dad had to look at the budget and see if we could swing our costs of getting there. I mean this was not on our radar screen at all, nothing on the west coast was and with a full AMA Pro dirt track schedule it was going to be tight. But believe it or not word started getting out and some dollars started floating in to help support the effort. I couldn't be happier with what was going on and can't thank everyone including my current road race sponsor, NPS Racing for allowing me to ride someone else's bike. Every one of my sponsors supported my efforts. It was sooooo cooool!!!!
We scrambled to get the AMA to register me for the race, but it was already too late. All the credentials were in, but we needed to show up on Thursday and late enter. We made plane arrangements and coordinated everything with the team. A mechanic would pick me up at the airport and get me to the hotel to register before the 7PM cut off, then it was run to the track with the paperwork and tech the bike. What was cool is I met one of the Team Jordan guys at the airport who was from New England and there already was a thread going on about me on one of the New England Street Rider bulletin boards. It was all pretty cool and everyone was watching out for me, especially since dad couldn't make it out on such late notice. I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, but I have already traveled on my own and knew I would focus and do my best. Dad was just a phone call away and always there for support!
I knew the weekend would fly by and I had to get busy right from the first time I hit the track. We had four times we would get on the track, using up all our allocation of spec tires, one for each practice and qualifying session and the final set for the race itself. Everyone has complained about the tires but I really don't find them that bad and actually get my best times when they are worn and moving around a little toward the end of the race. I was doing better each time I went out and since this was a new bike, new team and new track for me, it took a little longer to get the bike to work for me in the turns. The team was awesome making changes and every change allowed me to go faster and closer to the limit of the new setting. We made changes right up to the start of the race, and the bike and set up kept getting better and better. Boy I wish I had one more day!
I qualified sixth overall which wasn't bad and I was running a top five pace. I knew I had another second or more in me and I knew I would have to step it up in the race if I wanted to get on the podium. In the race it was mayhem in the first couple of turns. People were way aggressive, and took each other out. I did my best to avoid the crap but it caused me to immediately loose touch with Parker and Wikle. I was in like (8) position charging up. Prince and I were doing battle as we chased up to Willis and we both made the pass on him. By then Puerta had crashed out and now Prince and I were battling for the last podium position. It was crazy! Princes' bike had some killer straightaway speed but my Suzuki was hanging tough and I was making it up on the brakes. I finally made an aggressive move going into T11 tight and parked it in there to steal the line. I held my line and took over the third position with a couple of laps to go. Prince eventually got around me again and was getting me with corner speed. I was making up a lot of time on the back section but T2 was killing me. In the end with about three laps to go I lost my right knee puck, made a little mistake and had to settle for fourth place, again. This was my second fourth place finish in only my second AMA Pro SuperSport start. When I came in the team was genuinely ecstatic with high-fives and the whole bit. No crashes and a fight for the podium had a smile on the team bosses face. Me, I was just bummed that I gave up the podium for the hard work the team put in for me and all my sponsors support.
In the end it was all it could be! I got a second chance in a top AMA Pro class in front of the key people in the paddock so they could see my potential. I got to ride for one of the most prestigious teams in the paddock; pinch me please. I got along well with the team, mechanics and every one involved. I was introduced to Valentino Rossi by my sponsor Dainese who told him I raced SuperSport and had him sign my Bravo Rider hat. He said he wished he had a condom sponsor too! I mean the entire weekend was a dream come true.
I want to personally thank both John and Chris Ulrich for sponsoring me on this "one-off" ride and in the end encouraging me to continue my quest to be a professional racer. I want to thank my current road race sponsor NPS Racing for allowing me to race on another team. I know Will and the boys at NPS Racing only want what's best for me and they encouraged me to have FUN. To my dad who has been with me through it all, thanks so much for the support. And my mom and friend Aaron Creamer, who a little piece of both of them rode with me; thanks for guiding me. And to all my sponsors, I couldn't do it without you and your belief in me!
Till next time...do what I like to do GO FASTER...
James"the Rocket" Rispoli
I can be reached at email@example.com
if you would like to be a sponsor in 2010
Thank you sponsors; Weirbach Racing, NPS Racing, T n T Honda,Waters Autobody, Bettencourt Suzuki, Barnett clutches, General Engineering, Wiseco, K&N filters, Spectro oil, Saddlemen, Spider grips, G2 ergonomics, Bob Berry Racing, Motion Pro, Firecoat powder coating, Boyesen, Supertrapp, VP Midwest fuel, Rebel gear, Cycra racing, Foudree graphics, Engine Ice, Regina chain, Pingel Products, Durelle Racing, Performance Machine, CheneyEngineering, TOP ONE OIL, AGV Helmets, Dainese, Utopia Optics, West Coast Hot shoes, Coolskunk Racing, Hollinks Motorsports, Newman Racing, RHC, raceimage.net, VESRAH Brakes, Traxxion Dynamics, White’s Harley Davidson, Up and Over Fitness, Tepic Speedwear, Vortex, A&A Racing, Bravo Condoms, DeJarnette Research Systems and Dad