Venue: Bainbridge, Ohio, USA
Date: October 13-14, 2001
Finally the report is here! I felt very lucky to have been able to participate in the first street luge competition in my whole life. The fact that I just got here in Purdue University and 2 months later do I find out that there’s gonna be a race in Ohio, which is just nearby, got me so stoked I didn’t even know if I could make it! Well, I did!
On Friday, October 12th 2001, I asked for the kind help of a Malaysian senior to drive me to Indianapolis. Thanks a lot Lu Ju! Couldn’t have made it here without you! She was very enthusiastic about my race and wished me good luck. After she dropped me off at someone’s place in Indy, I hitched a ride with my sister’s friend, Babur, and prepared for the 6-hour drive to Athens, Ohio, where I will be staying with Linda, my sister’s best friend and housemate when they were staying together. Having reached Athens at almost 11pm, I had to get some sleep because we had to wake up early for the event! But before that, I had to asssemble my Petronas street luge together which has been taking up Linda’s closet space for about 4 months now (I brought my luge with me to the US in June this year). Man, and I had to make sure that I still got all my nuts and bolts intact and make sure none were missing. Thank god, all was in good order! Now I have to prepare myself for the big day!
Athens is about 2 hours drive from Bainbridge, so we had to leave as early as 6am to arrive there on time for registration, which is at 8am! That’s what the event schedule said anyway. Weather conditions proved to be dull and gloomy, and the fall temperature was too cold for a typical fall. I was shivering in my brand new leathers which I purchased off Streetluge.net from Jeffrey Schonzeit. Well, at least they helped protect me in the cold! Linda was my driver for this event, so I have to thank her in advance. Thank you Linda! We were trying to locate Jester Hill from the map I downloaded off Mapquest, but it was kinda obscure. We drove a few yards off target until we thought that we must’ve overshot. We saw a grocery shop and decided to pull over and ask for directions to Jester Hill. Amazingly, the locals knew about the street luge event despite the small town size that it is! We thanked the shopkeeper and turned back to the road that we missed. We were supposed to look for an elementary school. I saw the tents. Aha!
Linda parked the car and I noticed a few guys at the back of their cars putting their luges together. I decided to get to know some of them and the first person I met was the webmaster of Streetluge.com, John Lewis. Wow, this is so cool. Then after, I decided to look for my mentor, who has been advising me thru the Internet halfway across the globe, Bob Swartz. I finally found the man! Woo hoo!
Bob helped me to pad my nerf bar and the rear end of my luge with pipe insulation and duct tape. All this while, I never knew what pipe insulation was or what it looked like. Now I have! It was a really simple setup, no need for any bumpers or whatever.
It was now time for technical inspection. The tech guy is none other than Tom Mason! I thought that I was not gonna pass tech, but I liked his humor when he said, “Just because I’m tech doesn’t mean you should be scared of me, right? No one should be scared of the tech guy, hahaha! Let’s see your board. Hmm, okay, alright.” He flips the board upside down. “Ooh, I don’t like the looks of this,” he said, pointing to the bolt ends that were sticking out. “If you crash and the board flips over you or someone else, it’s gonna open you or that person up like a can-opener!”
I thought, oh oh, shit! How am I gonna pass tech? Luckily Bob brought a handsaw with him. Heck, he even brought a power generator just in case I needed power to drill holes in my luge! Tom was kind enough to drill the first bolt end off. I took the handsaw and started sawing off the remaining 7 bolt ends. Man, that was tiring! Rusty Riley saw me and he said, “You’re gonna be too tired to push off later, haha!” I just smiled.
After I had successfully sawed off all the bolt ends, Tom Mason helped secure duct tape on the nuts. Now I’m installing the truck hanger onto the baseplate and screwing the nut on the kingpin bolt.
Once everything was complete, Tom Mason finally put on the tech sticker on my luge that says I passed. Equipment check, suit check, helmet check. I’m ready to roll! Observe the padded nerf bar. It looks so much safer now. Thanks for the pipe insulation and duct tape Bob!
After I was done making my luge comply with tech regulations, it was time for the riders meeting. We all gathered to listen to Bob speak, as he had knowledge about the race course from the previous year’s race. The road was totally wet, as you can see below! I thought to myself, oh great, another one of those days where your feet just won’t let you stop. I’ve experienced riding in the rain and trying to brake, not stopping worth a damn. But that was on a straight road. This is gonna prove to be challenging as I will experience the same thing, only this time it’d be sliding and slipping thru corners, not to mention the deadly Turn 2.
There were 2 meetings, one for riders and another for course workers. Oh yeah, someone managed to talk Linda into volunteering to be a course worker, lol! Linda had to be the walkie-talkie and flag-waver person at Turn 4! Her report will come soon, relating her experience as an IGSA course worker who had no clue as to what would come her way.
After the riders meeting, it was time for qualifying. Here’s the starting grid. As you can see, the road is now dry. Only during our morning practice runs was the road wet. Perfect timing for qualifying, although most of us complained waiting for our turn (I waited 2 hours!) to go down the hill, due to traffic that had to be controlled and lots of animals on the track. You name it, there were goats running around, wild dogs that had to be distracted by the course workers. Not to mention the irritating ladybugs (Linda told me they’re not even ladybugs, but some species of Japanese ladybug that secretes a nasty odor). And can you believe it? During my 2nd qualifying run, just seconds before I reached the finish line, a duck stepped into view! I missed the duck by less than 2 feet, although I did have this evil desire to knock it down, haha! But it’ll kill my qualifying run. Nonetheless, it did kill my qualifying time, by less than half a second! Damn! Stupid duck! Now Bob’s starting to call me the ‘Duckman’, hey Sean Mallard, mind if I borrow your nickname just for this day? lol. I promise to post the duck video as soon as I get the tape from Linda and when she gets it digitized into mpegs.
I don’t know what to say about all this, except I seriously admire the way Tom Mason took Turn 2. Body still flat to the road, extending his right arm out, and pushing his outside leg all the way just to gain traction, he managed to keep all his wheels on the ground. Observe the third picture and you’ll see what I mean. But that’s still cool nevertheless.
Remember when Tom was at Turn 2? He took the turn wide and bounced off a hay bale, got jolted a bit, but he still managed to come out of it clean and still finish first as shown above! Congratulations Tom! Also, like Chris McBride, I dig the signboard they had at the finish line. For those of you who find it hard to read since it’s small in the picture, it says, “Warning. Gravity vehicles are very quiet and very fast. Do not cross race course.”
Just chillin’ it out at the tech and registration tent, having a drink after a long day of riding. Hey, believe me, it is tiring!
Once again, I would like to show off my brand new leather / kevlar combination suit. By the way, little did I realize that it matches the helmet Andrew bought for me! It’s step-by-step to the big time baby. Ohhhh yeaaaaahhhh….
You’re probably wondering why I put these pics up. You see, after we were all done with our first qualifying run, we went back up to the top of the hill in the U-Haul. At the top of the hill, John Lewis spotted my broken Indy 215 trucks, and said that I couldn’t go down the hill with those. So I had to quickly get back down with the U-Haul again and borrow somebody’s trucks for my 2nd qualifying run. I have to thank Andy Lally for offering me his Randal RII’s from his buttboard, although I did have to take them off his buttboard first. Man, I was working against time, swapping trucks and wheels at the same time!
Here, I would like you to assess the damage inflicted upon my Indy 215′s due to the hard dips on the 1.1 mile race course. Broke completely in half! I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much damage done to Indy 215′s on Dave Auld’s site, and those broke at Red Bull Big Air San Francisco! I was the only unfortunate rider to have broken trucks at the end of the 2-day race weekend, but hey, at least I was the first! Also, look at how badly bent the axle rod is. That’s it, I’m upgrading to Randal luge trucks!
This is just one of the few friends I made at my first race. Here’s William Greentanner, and he’s a local rider from Dayton, Ohio! Now I have someone to ride with! Hey Bill, we’ll ride next summer! It’s gonna be a great summer! He’s a great guy.
And oh yeah, drop me a line will ya?!
Okay, it’s finally to say a little thanks. Firstly, I’m very grateful and thankful to Allah, the All-Mighty and Most Merciful for ensuring my safety at the race and for allowing me to realize my self-potential and the wonders of life. I’d also like to thank my family, especially my parents, for being supportive of me in all my endeavors, and who always pray for my success, be it riding or otherwise. I’d like to thank all my friends for keeping it real and accepting me for who I am, my team riders who stayed with me through thick and thin (although I know that you’re not motivated to keep on riding without me). Thanks to Andrew for keeping in touch thru the Internet and making me stay true to my Asian homeland, despite the awful conditions that are not really conducive to riding back home.
I’d like to thank Petronas for offering me this scholarship to study here in the United States at Purdue University, one of the best schools for mechanical engineering. Without this scholarship, I don’t think I would even be here in the Land of the Free, where anything’s possible to realize your dreams!
Thanks to Lu Ju, Babur, and Linda for being my drivers from one place to another (Purdue-Indianapolis, Indianapolis-Athens, Athens-Bainbridge) respectively! Without your help, I wouldn’t be able to get to the race!
I’d like to thank the organizers, F-6 Racing, Rusty Riley, and IGSA for hosting such a great event and hope to see you next year! Thanks to all the course workers and all the racers I didn’t name or don’t know their names, it’s been great riding / racing with you guys. You guys made me realize that street luge is more than what it seems to be. Don’t worry, it was my first. Thanks to Andy Lally and David Fielden for lending me their Randal R-II-B trucks, Tom Mason for being a great technical inspector and skillful racer, Neil Orta for being a great IGSA starter, Jeremy Kahn for signing my guestbook a few weeks after the race (hey, I’m still learning! lol), and all those other riders or supportive non-riders who signed my guestbook too! Thanks to Chris McBride for giving me permission to use his photos! I really appreciate it!
Last but not least, I’d really like to thank Bob Swartz, for being my spiritual mentor and street luge guide for the past 3 years that we’ve been communicating thru the Internet. Now that I have finally met up with him, I feel content that my objectives have been met. We will continue working together towards the goodwill of the sport.
To all of you reading this, I appreciate you all for making my street luge life the best I’ve ever had! I have always abided by my team’s personal motto, and it has gotten me where I am today. I’d like to quote it here to further inspire other riders or future riders:
“Keep da faith. Ride hard.”
STREET LUGE RESULTS
- Tom Mason (USA)
- Rusty Riley (USA)
- John Fryer (USA)
- Andy Lally (USA)
- Chris McBride (USA)
- Dave Fielden (USA)
- Robert Griglack (USA)
- Brian Kiggins (USA)
- Bob Swartz (USA)
- Brent Lehker (USA)
- John Lewis (USA)
- Bill Smrtic (USA)
- David Dean (USA)
- Jeremy Kahn (USA)
- William Greentanner (USA)
- Robert Bowland (USA)
- Tony Mistretta (USA)
- Richard Shoaff (USA)
- Abdil Mahdzan (MAS)
- Victor Schumacher (USA)
- Matt Siron (USA)
- Wally Hoffman (USA)