I sat down to write about the September 10th track day, but after watching Caroline Olsen and Benny Solis race on Sunday, I felt compelled to write about my trip first. Chuckwalla Valley Raceway is about 3.5 hours southeast from Santa Clarita, CA where I am presently residing, off the 10 Fwy by Palm Desert and Joshua Tree National Park. To say it was hot would be an understatement (I mean huge), it was scorching (the high was 110 degrees that day), so the thought of riding and racing in triple digit weather did not sound in the least bit appealing. The track is 2.68 miles with 17 turns and the entire track can be seen from the bleachers by the hot pits. I arrived to see Jason Pridmore (Star Motorcycle School www.starmotorcycle.com) coaching this duo at their pit. The series is Chuckwalla Valley Motorcycle Association (CVMA – www.cvmaracing.com) and it was their first round of races of the season, they don’t start until late when the weather is more manageable and ride through the winter and spring, I can totally understand why now.
Upon my arrival I was met with smiles and hugs from everyone as they were getting ready for the first race of the day which Benny and Caroline were both entered in. Benny Sr. (Benny’s Dad) is Benny’s pit crew, always there encouraging and handling the bikes in the pits and the board at hot pit while Marco (the one in the background) does data acquisition. Caroline was racing Benny’s backup bike and to watch the two of them talking was heartwarming, they are each other’s support system, encouraging each other all long the way. The first race ended with Benny taking first and Caroline, second which ended up being the way it went all day for the races they were both entered in together. However, on the one race with just Caroline, to see her do her thing was nothing less than pure art. She is so smooth and determined and to just imagine what those guys felt as she took the lead with an amazing start, I could only imagine it as deflating. I did watch them try to catch her, but it didn’t take long for her to break away. What’s even more impressive is that she wasn’t on her own bike, a slight disadvantage, but she rode it like she had be on it for years. And Benny, he’s amazing, lightning quick and so in control, in fact he won every race with a significant gap to those placing second. Not to mention his amazing hair even after the helmet came off (see picture below)!
I got a chance to speak with both Benny and Caroline between races in the trailer and for two 20 somethings they are wise, focused, disciplined and kind. In particular, Caroline and I got a chance to speak in private about our industry, this gal is a fireball, you have to be in a male dominated industry, as well as thick skinned and strong willed. Listening to her I had nothing but admiration for her dedication, overcoming adversity and becoming one of the fastest, if not fastest girl in the US today. Being in the age of social media, you can become easily mislead, people posting about how fast they are or in cases of the female variety using their feminine wiles to get them noticed (not that there is anything wrong with that, but what are you saying, I’m fast or I’m hot). True talent doesn’t require talk or pictures, the proof is in performance. These two not only deliver, but they do it with a humble nature. To me it says a lot about the way they have been raised. I am looking forward to seeing these two rise to the top and what makes it extra special is knowing them and how deserving they are of it.
Jason is the consummate coach, making sure they are hydrated, talking to them immediately before they race and right when they get back in the pits. He’s timing, watching every corner, pass, supporting and cheering them on from the pit wall. You can tell he loves what he does, but above all he cares deeply about them and wants the absolute best for them. There is a mutual respect and a lot of ribbing, I had a great deal of fun watching everyone have their turns with each other. David Kolb, who drove up a handful of bikes from California for our two day event, was also racing on Sunday and JP was there at the wall for his races encouraging him all along the way. With this group you aren’t just friends, you are family and that’s what this sport is all about.
We are currently ironing out dates with JP and his crew to join us again next year and we hope you will take this opportunity to join in and learn from an amazing coach and his talented riders, otherwise you will have to wait for the following year. The information and techniques you will learn will open your eyes and watching everyone have these moments of clarity made putting these event days on worth it.
Looking forward to next season, now get out there and ride!