Franklin, New Hampshire
GSI held their first race of their first season early in May. The race was held on the same road that all of the races in the series will be held. The course is located in the sleepy town of Franklin, about a half hour north of Concorde.
The course is about a half mile long with an average grade of 11%. While the road is a public road, it connects a water treatment plant with Prospect Road, and is normally gated at Prospect Road! Officially there are three turns in the course. Turn 1 is a left handed sweeper that starts just after the start line. Turn 2 is a misnomer, and is actually two separate turns, a right hander
, a short straight, and another right hander.
Both the entry and the exit to this turn is intiminating, starting at a wall of hay.
The exit from turn 2 and the entrance to turn 3 looks like a chicane.
But turn 3 is actually a sweeper, but it is also the fastest part of the course, and with speeds hitting 50 MPH, it threatened to spit you out.
Friday, May 10
I got to Logan Airport at 9:00 AM, after spending two hours looking for Denne Fox, who was supposed to be there at 6, I decided to head out to the race course. Point of advice, if you are heading out, from Boston, wait until you get to Tilton before heading to over to Franklin. I made the mistake of getting off 93 the first sign that said Franklin. I ended up driving down about 20 miles of back roads. When you get to Franklin, head down Prospect St. about two miles until you see Johnson Farms.
Immediately after the barn is the gated entrance to the race course.
I got to the course in plenty of time to put my board together. There were about a half dozen riders. We used Tim's van as the chase vehicle. A couple hours after we started riding, Red Bull showed up to check out their arch.
We got several hours of riding in.
Around 5 o'clock our medic left, and most of us elected to keep riding. I had problems navigating turn 3 all afternoon. I kept treating the exit of 2 and the entrance of 3 too much like a chicane. I need to wait longer before diving into turn 3. I was having a good run, exited turn 2 and was trying to wait before diving into turn 3, when I realized that the turn was black, it was in shadow, and I couldn't see the edge of the road. I decided I had enough riding, and watched the last few runs from turn 3.
[Pics coming soon]
Turn 3 is pretty deceiving, and most of the wrecks happened in the middle of turn 3. Jason had quite a doozy.
He had been following Lally and Swartz, who had taken the turn beautifully, unfortunately Jason hadn't fared so well, and dislocated a dozen bales.
After getting cleaned up, we tried to head down to Tim's. After driving around for an hour looking for Tim's place, we finally gave up and headed back to the hotel. It turns out, that one of the roads we turned around on, we turned around in Tim's driveway!
Saturday, May 11
We got to the race site sometime after 7 am, and the gate was still closed! Fortunately our timing was perfect as Neil showed up with the key about 5 minutes later. Everyone was making last minute adjustments, even Neil.
Jim Whitaker ran the tech inspection.
Red Bull showed up to hand out Red Bulls.
The luge of the day seemed to be boomless.
There were 6 boomless boards at the event. Lally brought three. Tim Cayer was working on one, that Kyle Cayer rode.
I road mine without the boom, and Love showed up with a brand new Lott board.
While everyone else was getting their stuff through tech, a handful of us went back up the course to get it race ready.
The biggest thing we did was move some of the hay
from the top of the course to turn 2 where Kim
had wrecked yesterday. Kim hit the hay bales,
and went over about 50 feet of large rocks before ending up in the concrete ditch.
It was time for the riders meeting.
After Tim gave his speech, we met the mayor of Franklin.
He gave a short speech, welcoming us to Franklin, then Bob proceeded to teach him how to luge!
We were to get about three hours of practice in. Our chase vehicle was a 4 wheel ATV
with a trailer. We were only able to get about 8 people in the trailer. Because we had more than 8 people, the idea was as soon as the last group of riders came down, the 4 wheeler would already be packed and head up.
Red Bull had their arch set up at the start.
We got almost three hours of riding in before breaking for lunch.
GSI main goal is to try and get new people into the sport. The races are geared to be more regional races. Tim is going to try to do a few things differently than other organizations. He is going to run four classes, Junior (under 14), Rookie (someone with little or no race experience), Amateur, and Pro. Also everyone will get four runs. Each rider will get a points based on their position in that heat. The lowest score after the four rounds will be declared the winner. Ties will be broken by comparing the head to head outcome. The idea is to give people more race time on the hill.
After lunch the Rookie Luge and Junior Buttboard
went up for the first runs.
Gravity Bike which was Neil and Denne's Bike (with Lally riding it). Neil's 3/4 fairing was no match for Lally's stock bike, even though it sounded like Lally had a motor on board! [More Pics coming!]
It was then time for Am Luge
and Pro Buttboard.
We had some interesting starts. Before we started, Lally was explaining the three lines at the start. The first line was the start line, and the last line was the paddle line. The middle line was the DQ line. If you DQ, you start about 6 feet behind everyone, and the middle line becomes your paddle line. No one had DQ'd, so of course Lally had to be the first!
We restart the first heat. After I hit the paddle line, and start to lay down I can see someone jostling Bob and Pete, Lally had already caught up to us and was trying to squeeze his way into the pack. Needless to say, Lally won the first heat easily. The next heat, also had an auspicious start. Somehow both Bob and I managed to slip ont he start. Lally and Love both started they had DQ'ed again.
Our final run Lally had first place fairly well sewn up, but that didn't stop us from racing. Lally entered turn 3 first, with Pete about 10 feet back. I followed Pete in, trailing by only a few feet, and Bob must have been literally on my head. The three of us took the turn hotter than we had all day, and drifted out to the edge. Pete slammed into the hay, and I skimmed by, clipping Pete with my elbow. Bob was so close behind me, he never saw Pete hit the hay. He proceeded to either hit Pete's board, or hit Pete himself.
Pete ended up in the hay, with his back hurting.
Bob ended up in the middle of the road, with his ankle hurting.
Two ambulances were called, One for Pete,
and one for Bob
After the ambulances left, we had a rider's meeting, to see if we would continue the race. We still had Am Buttboard, and Pro Luge. We decided to continue the race. Normally each race would consist of four rounds. But we decided that since there were only three pros we would only run three rounds. It would also prevent a tie with only two Am's. The last set of races for the day. Am Buttboard,
and Pro Luge.
Tim had some nice trophies.
Lally, McBride, (not pictured) Swartz
Carr, Clarke, Ryan
Cayer, Connely, Clarke
Lally, McBride, Whitaker
After cleaning up the area, many of the racers headed out for a long trip home. My plane doesn't leave till tomorrow, so I stopped by the hospital. Bob was just being released, he had broken his leg.
Pete was still being held, he was still light headed, although he had no major injuries. Tim delivered Bob's trophy as he was wheeled out of the hospital.
Pete left the hospital shortly afterwards.
This was the first race in a long season for GSI, if the rest of the races go this well (but with fewer injuries) then GSI will have had a very successful season. The road isn't the most spectacular, but its technical and interesting enough. If you are on the east coast, I recommend that you try to get to one of the 9 races that are left.
This road is fairly short, about a half mile, but it is still dangerous. We had three trips to the hospital. The first one came back with a broken knuckle, the next day, it was downgraded and not broken. Another injury appeared to be minor, a bruised thigh and hurt back. But the final injury was a broken tibia.