(909) 838-4587 ed [at] le-suspension.com

My first time at Daytona was in ‘98, I raced my TZ in AMA 250 GP. Back then it felt like motorcycle racers were not wanted at the track. But everything changes and to give you an example of how nice it is to go to Daytona now I’ll relate the story of my last trip there for the Oct. AMA/CCS races.

I’ve been working for DMG since they started with Moto GT in 2006. I was the rider who tested the light set up before the first Moto GT race and before the 200. I’ve also been involved with the Team Hammer School so the guards and managers at Daytona have known me for some time.

For this trip I drove my RV and trailer to the track and caught a flight to Canada so I could drive another truck and trailer down for the winter. I had called ahead and asked if I could park my rig at the track while I was gone. When I pulled up to the gate and introduced myself to the guard he said, “Mr. Sorbo, we’ve been expecting you, park right over there.” How cool is that?!

Back at Daytona after my trip to Canada and before the racing started one of my jobs was to get all the pit exit cones set up and I wanted to check on the “verge”. The verge is the interface between the edge of the track or curbs and the dirt. When cars put a wheel off they pack down the dirt and leave the raised edge of the track or curb, this can catch a racers knee or if they crash, other parts.

At Daytona, the guards control the cones, so I went to the security office and asked if I could have some nice clean cones. Then I called the maintenance office and asked for some dirt. Both jobs would start at turn 3 so my helper and I headed that way. A few minutes latter a pick up truck showed up full of cones driven by one of the guards. At the same time a back-hoe with a load of dirt, some shovels, a rake and 3 crew charged into view. My helper walked along the track placing the cones as the guard drove next to him and I went for a lap with the dirt crew to fill in all the low spots. This may not seem like a big deal and most of the time this kind of stuff goes unnoticed but after fighting with management at other tracks just to get the bathrooms cleaned and the sprinklers that water the track surface turned off I’m still pleased when things are easy.

I left the names of the people involved out of this story because it was not just they who did the good work. In fact everyone I interact with at Daytona International Speedway is helpful and easy to work with. Thank you.

Now about the gates:
Daytona has at least 138 numbered gates. There are some un-numbered gates but I don’t have a full count of them yet. It makes sense to number the gates when you have that many, otherwise you could imagine the conversations on the radio. “Where are you? At the gate you told me to go to. No, I’m at the gate and you’re not here. Who’s on first?”

The gate numbers start with 1 (I haven’t found that one yet) and go up to 806. Once you get into the triple digit numbers the first digit tells you something about where that gate is, they are grouped together.

I’ve made a list of all the numbered gates I’ve passed though:
7, 35, 39, 45, 62, 63, 64, 70, 80, 106, 132, 133, 134, 149, 170, 201, 202, 317, 400, 401, 402, 406, 408, 410, 412, 413, 416, 500, 504, 507, 511, 512, 513, 601, 603, 607, 702, 703, 704, 709, 800, 804, 805 and DO 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11.
51 gates and counting. This is not counting the un-numbered gates. My goal is to pass though all the gates at Daytona, climbing over does not count but squeezing through does.

Here’s my idea:
1. I want all the gates numbered or named. That way we can keep score.
2. Then DIS can sell shirts with a list of all the gates on the back and a cool DIS “Gate Runner” logo on the front.
3. You check off each gate on your shirt with a marker as you pass though.
4. Some of the gates will never be open for the public but we need a way to get though them. So we can check off all the gates on our Gate Runner shirts. A fun run/walk. Open all the gates and map out a course that takes runners and walkers through all the gates that they missed. Runners/walkers sign up sponsors who pledge money for each gate the runner/walker can check off and the money goes to a cause supported by DIS.

Another cool thing about going to DIS: At many tracks we get called Drivers, we are Riders and we hate being called Drivers. The DO gates lead into the Drivers/Owners RV lot. When we show up and get our window pass for the DO lot the pass says Rider/Owner.

See you at Daytona in March, 2010.