San Francisco Gravity Fest
San Francisco, California
The first IGSA American race in the 2003 series was a National event held in McLaren Park in San Francisco, just minutes from 3Com park. The course was about a half mile long with only three turns. Pretty quickly after the start was a right hander. The road drops quickly after the turn and leads into turn two, a lefter. There was a short straight followed by an uphill section. The uphill was probably 10 feet or so, and speeds were fast enough going over the hill there was a momentary feeling of weightlessness. Immediately after the up hill has a fast sweeper to the right, followed by an uphill shutdown area.
Rob Wurgaft did a fabulous job of putting this event together. Pure Guts
was out to film
the race. Pure Guts is run by Ron Cook, owner of several land speed records, as well as fastest crash on a motorcycle.
He also lined up several sponsors.
Friday, May 2
I got to SFO early Friday morning. My flight arrived an hour late, and it took me a while to get to the park.
As I drove to the park, the rain would come and go. Every time I thought there was a gap long enough for the course to dry, it would rain again. There were a handful of racers in the area. I put my equipment together and got checked in. And then it started to rain. Of course this didn't stop most people from riding
I decided to sit it out, not only did I not want to get my brand new leathers soaked, I also didn't really want to crash (my leg hasn't fully healed.) Tom Mason showed up in time to get one rain soaked run in.
Even the standup guys rode in the rain.
Saturday, May 3
I woke up Saturday morning to a wet parking lot, it had rained throughout most of the night. Fortunately it was no longer raining. By the time we got to the hill, and ready to ride the road was mostly dry.
We got quite a few runs in, as the course dried up. We had one more run before lunch, as it started to sprinkle. The course was fairly wet for this last run, and then it started to pour. None of us looked forward to qualifying in the rain. At the starting line a couple people had grills going cooking food.
During lunch the rain really came down.
Most people huddle together underneath the many canopies.
And then the storm ended, the rain stopped, and the sun came out!
We had a dry course for qualifying.
About a month ago USA Luge and IGSA formed a partnership. Gordy Sheer came out to see IGSA at work. Towards the end of the day he got a shot at riding a street luge while standup was qualifying.
Everyone (who doesn't luge) thinks that street luge is crazy, and yet everyone I've ever seen that has tried it, have done the same thing. They get off with a grin from ear to ear. Gordy was no different, he loved it. Gordy said there was one panic moment, it turns out that turning a street luge is opposite of an ice luge. In the second turn, when the board didn't turn like he thought it would... I think that good things will come from this alliance.
Another new thing this year is luge is run under the "unlimited" class. IGSA tried to create a second luge class this year, in a hope to further the sport. This class would be more open, the weight was raised, aerodynamics would be allowed, and some other regulations were losened. In a surprise move, after much talk on the internet, IGSA ran a vote, should it run one or two classes. The vote was to "banish" the original class, and run under the single unlimited class. One of the changes between classes is the "number panels" rule. In 2002 you had to have a number area that was 8 inches by 10 inches. In the unlimited class, only the height of the number is specified (5 inches) and that it should be seen from 20 feet away. A few different plates showed up.
I think that Bill Smirtc (and Stacey) had the best looking and most innovative number plates.
Originally we were supposed to have a party on the beach, but the once the racing was finished it was pretty cold with chances of rain. The party was canceled, so most of us headed to a Taco bar that was a former sponsor of Waldo.
Sunday, May 4
Once again the road was wet, but it wasn't raining. After the usual riders meeting,
we were going to get one practice run in and then race inline, gravity bikes, buttboards before lunch.
Of course it started to rain. Lally and Fryer showed up for the race. Lally had a car race Friday, and another Saturday! So we had 8 buttboarders. I was hoping we would run an 8 man super mass, but I was a bit hesitant with the wet course. So the question was posed to us, run a dual double elimination, a normal 4 man bracket, or 3 8 man races.
After talking it over we went with the 8 man heats. I hope that the super mass tradition continues.
I was still playing chicken, didn't even push hard, and took last.
The rain had stopped when we started racing, and the course began to dry. The sun came out for lunch time. Some of the kids set up cones on the back side of the hill from the start, and had been riding down it all day.
At lunch time they set up some ramps and a rail, and did some jumping.
I don't know much about it, but there was also a slalom race going at the entrance to the road we were racing on.
After the standup and full fairing gravity bike race
, it was time for the unlimited streetluge. Jono Moore
was racing in his first race since a bad accident at the XGames qualifiers in 2001. Jono and I had brand new leathers, and Kahn was wearing his two their second race.
I didn't last long, I've gained too much weight since the accident, I watched the conciliation
and the finals. The three finalists all rode the new pegless Rogers Bros luge along with Abec 11 wheels.
The racing was over so we headed down to an amphitheater near the finish line.
While Robert was putting the finishing touches on the trophy, the racers signed one of the banners.
Robert finally showed up with some fine looking trophies.
Before the awards ceremony started, Marcus announced that Pure Guts wants to start a Pure Guts award, given to someone who has overcame adversity or shown guts in racing. Jono
were selected as this races winners, this was their first race for both of them after suffering broken legs.
Merkert, Sullivan, Wurgaft
Stock Gravity Bike:
Kessler, McIntyre, James
Lally, Fryer, Johnson
Fairing Graivty Bike:
Rodriquez, Kessler, McLemore
DeKeyser, Lee, Flindt
Unlimited Street Luge:
DeKeyser, McIntyre, Lally
Despite the weather (which was better than last year) it was a good race, with a mostly dry course. I don't think there were any injuries this year, in fact there were very few accidents. There was a decent turnout with 23 lugers and 22 standup guys. It was nice to see some sponsorship as well as local media at the event. The event was even listed in ESPN the Magazine! The next San Francisco race promises to be even bigger.