With a long gap between Daytona and Road America, it's tough for the rider who would have jumped on his machine the next day if he'd had his druthers. Dane Westby certainly fits in that category. Westby debuted his Yamalube Westby Racing team by running up front in the Daytona 200 but a crash deep into the race meant the storybook ending didn't happen. It also meant he'd have to wait a couple of months to get back on his horse after an incident he called "pilot error."
"If we had to come off of it, at least I came off at the front," said Westby, clearly still disappointed.
"To not be doing anything isn't that bad in and of itself. We don't get much time on the roadrace bikes, anyway," added Westby. "The offseason is one thing, but to go racing and then have to wait sucks. I'm chomping at the bit for sure."
Westby's new team, based in Atlanta, didn't race the West coast Superbike Shootout but he did get some riding in, winning four club races in a weekend earlier this month in what was essentially a test for the new team.
"We went up to Jersey to race with ASRA and CCS. To go that well and make some progress smoothed me over a little," said the second-place points man in 2012 DSB. "We got some good info on the bike. I didn't figure how far out of the box we were going in. I thought we'd make a few clicks here or there but we made some really big changes. We got to within a second of the track record. That was by myself and running by myself isn't my strong point."
Despite how Daytona ended, Westby is excited about running his own team this year in Daytona SportBike.
"A lot of guys want to ride for a certain team. They'll say, 'I always wanted to ride for' fill in the blank with whichever team. I understand that but the ideal situation for me was to have my own team so I can do whatever I want. We picked the brand of bike we wanted to race and the components we wanted. It's totally up to us what we want to do and it is on us for whatever success we have. My dad Tryg and (team manager) Chuck (Giacchetto) shield me from some of the inner workings but there are things I have to deal with that other guys don't. Last year, I just showed up and rode. This team, everything is on us, but it's good and it has been really good. Trevor Kemp and the rest of the Yamalube group has been outstanding to us and been a great partner and that has helped in so many ways."
Westby said he wasn't shocked to be up front at Daytona but the element of the unknown was on his mind.
"Getting ready during the offseason, you never really know until you are out there on the track. So to lead a bunch of laps and be up there dicing with the guys ... the bike is a beast and she and I are gonna have a good time in the future. We're a first-year team and the bike had been in our showroom at home for four years before the boys at the shop got a hold of it and made it into a beauty. It was all up in the air but to be out there and doing it ... We are a professional team and we were fighting for a win, not running back in the field. It was up in the air but it is a big load off our backs even though we didn't get the result we wanted."
The "Glamorous" Side Of Racing
The racing biz is more than umbrella girls and spraying champagne. Perhaps the least glamorous part is packing up the truck and driving home. Dane's New Jersey adventure was also notable for one of the crappiest drives home ever for his mechanics.
"We were happy to do well at New Jersey and we had to get back to work, so we left at 9:30 Monday morning," said Chuck Giacchetto. "We got back to the shop outside Atlanta Saturday night at 7 o'clock. It was horrible. It was like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for us."
Giachetto and veteran wrench Jerry Daggett ended up stuck in Virginia waiting for an oil pump. "Tomorrow, perhaps," stretched out several days as their clean laundry ran out and the view from the Rodeway didn't get any better. At one point, they walked a mile to a car rental place only to find out they had absolutely nothing to rent.
When the part came in, the boys got back on the road again—for a few miles. At a fuel stop, Daggett noticed an oil trail. Another night in a motel, another trip to a dealer.
After that fix, the boys got back on the road only to have a turbo hose start blowing off. Multiple times.
Eventually, they got close enough to home to call someone to haul the trailer back and have the sick truck towed.
"What an ordeal for those guys," said Westby. "Maybe that will give us a little bit of karma down the road."
The second-generation racer is now a veteran in the class and thinks the one-bike rule and two-day events could play into the hands of the more experienced riders.
"I remember when I came from club racing, I couldn't get up to speed as quick as I wanted to, so it won't play into some younger riders' hands," said the two-time Mid-Ohio winner. "Obviously, no one is sure how it is going to work out but I don't think our team has anything to fear there."
"You have to choose your battles. You can't do anything rash and qualifying is going to be really cutthroat in the last two minutes," he added. "We're not going to have time for some of the games people play at the three-day event like blocking people in qualifying. Some people won't handle that like they have in the past. I think it might play into the veterans' hands a little bit."
Westby will get a shot to get back on track at Road America at the end of the month. "I wish it was tomorrow," he said.