Me and Nelson Ledges

Discussion in 'General' started by Lee Acree, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. Lee Acree

    Lee Acree Well-Known Member

    Nelson Ledges: Part 1: Apology

    I want to publicly apologize for the way I handled myself during the WERA National weekend at Nelson Ledges. To Sean, Evelyn, and Jim Sublet specifically, I am sorry for allowing my temper to dictate how I handled the situation this past weekend. I also apologize to anyone else I offended by my actions.
    I have lost my cool a hand full of times over the last few years both with WERA and Formula USA. Every instance was related to safety. While I am sorry for how I handled myself that does not change my concerns about safety at that facility. I will never apologize for being passionate about safety. I realize that anger is counter productive and I will put forth my best effort to control my temper and work toward a reasonable solution in the future. I only ask that my concerns be met with open minds and not a defensive posture.
    I want everyone to understand that I am in no way trying to attack WERA. On the contrary my opinion is that they have built an organization that has created such a high level of competition that they are above going to venues that are not safe. I am proud to have started my racing career with WERA and have enjoyed returning to competition at their events.
    Again I am sorry for acting in anger instead of with a cool head.
  2. Lee Acree

    Lee Acree Well-Known Member

    Nelson Ledges: Part 2: To Participate or not to participate…that is the question.

    First of all Nelson Ledges has an awesome layout and has the potential to be an awesome track for motorcycles. That being said, Nelson definitely needs a lot of safety improvements to be an acceptable venue for a National/Pro level motorcycle race. (See Nelson Ledges: Part 3…Safety issues & improvement suggestions) While the same safety concerns are an issue for regional club races, there is a difference in riders’ freedom of choice. When you have a National Series, you have supported teams with contractual obligations to their sponsors, manufacturers and/or other suppliers who have agreed to support these teams. These agreements not only require the teams’ participation but that they put forth a 100% effort to obtain the best possible result with an obvious objective of winning. Regional club events are less likely to have the same level of obligation of the teams and individuals that participate. This allows them to decide on their participation purely by personal choice. At the Nelson National I was able to choose not to run the sprints as my obligation to my team is for endurance. I did participate in the endurance because that is what my agreement required. I don’t know what Rob Jensen’s contracts actually require, but I would suspect that at least his contract with Michelin is to chase WERA National Challenge Series Championships. If this were true, the only way he would be able to avoid competing at a venue he felt to be unsafe would be to agree with his competition to not participate. This would allow the championship standings to be unaffected by sitting out the event.
    True competitors in all sports put forth a 100+% effort every time they compete. This is absolutely true of motorcycle racing. At the professional level this is required to be competitive and in some cases by contractual obligation as stated above. In addition pushing at 100% of your ability and beyond, for a professional or novice, is how you learn and become a better racer. This is why I personally do not agree with the suggestion of just don’t ride that fast being a solution for an unsafe facility. Comparing 1:05’s at Nelson to 1:15’s at Road Atlanta doesn’t make sense. 1:15’s at Road Atlanta is simply not currently possible as clearly shown by the fact that Spies and Mladin were 6+ seconds off that pace during AMA qualifying. On the other hand, 1:05’s is the next achievable step at Nelson as Rob’s current record is approximately 1:06.2. As has been the case several times this year, the lap record has been lowered during the WERA National Challenge races. Grattan and Summit Point both saw lap records lowered by almost a full second.
  3. Lee Acree

    Lee Acree Well-Known Member

    Nelson Ledges: Part 3: Safety issues & improvement suggestions

    I will reiterate that the layout at Nelson is awesome. It does however need a great deal of improvements to be a reasonably safe facility. While it is apparently the opinion of some that I think the surface is the primary issue, that is not the case. The surface is certainly a contributing factor to all of the issues. The only situation in which I see the surface being one of the main issues is rain…especially in the dark. The extreme amounts of sealer used to patch the track in combination with the dramatically different levels of grip provided by the various types of pavement make this track substantially more treacherous than most in the rain. This is obviously amplified in the dark with visibility being greatly reduced even in clear conditions.
    The main issues in my opinion are with the runoff situation in combination with the speed. This is an extremely fast track with average lap speeds at and above 100 mph. To put that in perspective, here are some of the AMA Superbike winners’ average speeds from some of this years events: Daytona=107 mph, Road America and Road Atlanta=109 mph, Miller=99 mph, Barber=95 mph, and VIR=94 mph. Nelson Ledges is fast. Consider this…as recorded from a data acquisition system, the corner in which Ruben fell was taken at 130 mph on a lap over 1 second slower than the pace Ruben was running when he fell. Did I mention this track is fast?
    I feel that there are several places around the track with insufficient runoff space. Other parts of the track, while providing a reasonable amount of runoff room, present other issues. There are some of the high-speed sections that have decent runoff but are a problem because the grade drops away as soon as you exit the track. There are a couple of places on the track with a very large amount of runoff…unfortunately the excessive speed makes it very difficult and in some cases impossible to scrub off enough speed to avoid gobbling up all the available grass runoff and still getting into a tire wall. Example: Tray ran off the kink during endurance practice in 2005…when he realized there was no way to stop or avoid the tire wall, he laid the bike down and still contacted the tires with enough force to turn a properly fitted helmet sideways on his head and write off the endurance bike. I also don’t think that tires are a sufficient source of padding along walls and guardrails for motorcycles. Lastly, I understand (I haven’t run off so have I have not witnessed for myself) there are ruts cut into the grassy run off areas by the cars. Ruts are very difficult to negotiate on a road bike.
    The solutions for the problems are not easy and certainly not inexpensive. Here are what I feel are necessary changes to make the track reasonably safe. Increase the runoff areas as much as possible in areas that are lacking. Where sufficient runoff space is not achievable, air fence along those barriers would be the best possible solution. I can’t speak for others, but I would theorize that JU could help with the air fence issues. Unless I am mistaken, a vast majority of the money contributed to the air fence fund comes from WERA members. (JU correct me if I am wrong please.) Next runoff areas could be completed with the addition of gravel traps to slow things down before getting to the tire walls especially in high-speed sections. Bringing the grade off the race track more in line with the racing surface is also needed in a couple of places. Fill the ruts in the runoff area. With the above improvements the surface is useable except in the rain due to the sealer. A new surface would be nice but not necessary for safety.
  4. John29

    John29 Road racing since 1973

    Sorry, you are mistaken about the source of the money, but not about the willingness to help to the degree possible.
  5. Mongo

    Mongo Sacko

    Lee - from me personally I'd like to apologize as well if anything I posted here seemed to be insulting to you. I do feel the spooked comment was right but not in a bad way (if that makes sense). As I said in the other thread I respect you and your ability and I want to add in - also your commitment to making things safer for everyone.

    Anyway, thanks for the input and I will add it to the rest of what I've received via email. I think everyone is pretty much in agreement on the main areas (1, 9 & 7 and if repaved 4 as well). You've mentioned the kink which I think has more runoff but I'll talk to Tray about where he hit and why he got there, I know Jeff Walker went down there and got nowhere near a barrier this year.
  6. Putter

    Putter Ain't too proud to beg

    Very classy on both ends. :up:
  7. Racer45

    Racer45 old guy just tryin'

    wow, I didn't realize it was that fast right there:wow:
  8. John29

    John29 Road racing since 1973

    The average speed for the 8-hour was what, 101 mph?

    Anyway, Lee Acree is a class act!
  9. Sunny

    Sunny Banned

    Sean, there were a few bikes ending up hitting the tire wall off the kink this year during the regional rounds (one actually landed on top of the tire wall after stopped). I am not sure if these unfortunated racers even turned enough to begin with before running off as one or few of them seems to just go straight at the kink without ever turning slightly (may have lose the front as soon as they tipped in). One bike in particular also caught fire, but I am not sure if that one hit the tire wall. Talk to Jim, the race director for these rounds, he probably know the details.
  10. Heavy-Dee

    Heavy-Dee Well-Known Member


    Self-esteem just hit an all time low. LOL
  11. R Acree

    R Acree WTF

    :stupid: :D
  12. Paige

    Paige Well-Known Member

    This thread makes me feel better about the whole situation. Not that anyone really cared how I felt about it.
  13. Roach

    Roach Yamaha Catapult Tester

    It's not for most of us :D

    - Roach
  14. worthless

    worthless Well-Known Member

    Splitting hairs, but, I think Taylor Knapp had the fast time on Sunday at 1:06.4 or 108.3MPH.
  15. Czar

    Czar Well-Known Member

    Thank-you Lee. This was by far one of the hardest weekends for me - WERA is working with Scott at Nelson and you will see improvements coming. At least Scott knows and wants to help make Nelson better now if only he can get the money to make that happen....WERA is planning on helping by paying deposits toward next year's events in an effort to give him some cash to work with before the season starts. I wish I could do more, but all I can do is listen, try to help and keep giving racers a place to start their dreams.
  16. G Dawg

    G Dawg Broken Member

    Not our average, this is our best speed, on a Kawi 650R. And Matt was running those laps pretty consistantly
    Blue Ridge Performance

    379 7:59:02.022 100.953
  17. (diet)DrThunder

    (diet)DrThunder Why so serious, son?

    Wow...and that's on a bike with 48 hp...imagine how fast it woulda been on an SV!

  18. John29

    John29 Road racing since 1973

    101 average including stops is pretty fast over an 8-hour period.
  19. Mongo

    Mongo Sacko

    Just a bit on the speedy side of life.
  20. SaltyShark

    SaltyShark Well-Known Member

    Lee, I want to personally thank you and others for standing up for what I agree was right. I know I have voiced some concerns about that place at the track. The ruts/tire wall in 4 help shatter my collar bone why doing a slow ass time of 13's. So I could only image you and Jenson and the rest going for it at 5's.

    good luck the rest of the season:up:

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