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2011 AMA Pro Road Racing
Barber Superbike Classic
Barber Motorsports Park
June 18-20, 2011
By Eric Barrows
Geoff May Interview
We recently caught up with Geoff May and put your questions to him.
Taken on "Race Day" Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, June 19th, 2011
Q: What are the base Geometry settings you use on the 1125RR?
A: It depends on the track. What we run depends on the varying degrees of grip at the tracks we race at. What we run is typically a 23.5 rake insert in the frame. We typically vary the front fork springs from a 105 to 115. Preload ranges from 6 to 12mm. On the rear shock, we typically range from a 100 to a 115 rear spring as well.
Q: Do you like pizza for breakfast? (question from BadWeB's beloved "Crusty")
A: No! (Laughs) No, I'm an oatmeal kinda guy!
Q: If offered the opportunity, will you re-sign with Erik Buell Racing for the next season?
A: Absolutely! I'm committed to Erik and this program and I want to see where it will go. You know the goal Erik and I have talked about is we definitely want to get some more data on the 1190 this year and get it out there and get some decent results. Then, next year see if we want to go after the Championship. I haven't signed anything yet, but my total intention is to be on this bike indefinitely. To be with Erik indefinitely.
Q: You've ridden both competitively. What do you see as an advantage or disadvantage between a V-Twin and an Inline 4?
A: I think the V-Twin, especially under this "Spec" tire racing series, has a massive advantage relative to tire degradation over the Inline 4s. The V-Twin has more tractable power, more controllable power and in return it doesn't destroy the tire as bad. And when everybody is on the same thing and we have better tire wear, we should have a better shot at winning late in the race (when everything else is equal).
Q: What can Badwebbers do to help Erik Buell Racing's efforts this year and next?
A: Just come out to the races whenever we are in town, thats the biggest thing! We need the spectators to come out and show the AMA support for the Buell and how bad everyone wants us out there. We need to get the Fans back out to the races. We know TV coverage isn't the greatest but that's (Fan numbers) are the biggest problem we've seen and all the other manufacturers have seen as well that the fan numbers are down in general. We've got to get people interested in motorcycle racing in the USA again.
Q: What are your thoughts on traction control, specifically as it would apply to the 1190RS?
A: As far as the street scenario, I don't think its needed. I don't even think it's needed at the track day level. I think the only reason it's needed in racing right now is kinda' "When in Rome, you need to do what the Romans are doing". Yamaha is very technically advanced in the electronic side of their bikes. They are definitely the leader right now as far as having the best traction, wheely control and anti-slip on their bikes. Yoshimura is obviously second and to beat those guys you have to do the same thing they are doing. We've personally been working on the antislip option as far as traction control but it has to be a highly advanced system, something like what Bazzaz has to offer is not going to do me any good at this point racing.
I like to steer with the rear of the bike and get it sliding. I can go faster that way and traction control generally hinders me, but it would be nice to have something just at the ragged last second to keep me from highsiding! To do that you have to have a very advanced system. Something like Magneti Marelli, or Motec. Your talking $100,000 to have a system thats capable of doing whats needed. Anything else, like you see coming stock on most of these bike is more marketing fluff and that's why Erik Buell chose not to put it on their 1190RS. It has so much grip inherently in the chassis design and the tires that come on it that it's not needed. Added to the price of the bike, why make the bike more expensive when its not needed?
Q: What's your view of the chances for a podium this year?
A: I think we have a huge possibility! I think we have a very good possibility at VIR, we have some very good data there and if and when we get the 1190 its going to make the chances even greater! Right now we're losing alot of time on the straightaways. We're losing anywhere from a half a second to a full second because of the horsepower and the aerodynamic deficit. The 1190 should fix it though. I think that considering the times we saw in back to back testing last year where we did some pre-production testing on the 1190 at Road America and at Miller we were able to run at AMA podium pace. I think if we would have had the 1190 we'd be close to the podium.
Q: If you could get the AMA to change one rule, which one would it be?
A: That's an interesting one. You know I'm not really a fan of the 'Spec' tire rule. I like Dunlop tires, I really enjoy Dunlop tires, and thats what I would be on if I had my choice, but I dont like the fact thats there's no competition in the tire market.
Essentially, what we've seen is motorcycle tire development at the highest level has stopped essentially as of 2008 because there's no competition. When there's no competition there's no drive for development! So we're looking at four seasons of racing now with no better tires, no better grip level. I think it's necessary for the trickle down, for the consumer down the road because these bikes keep getting stronger and stronger and the tire development needs to keep going and it's not.
They may say it is but it isn't. Like back in the day when I was on Pirelli and Dunlop. They were spending alot of money, alot of resources and alot of effort was going into tire development to go forward and thats all stopped. So thats one rule I'd like to see changed. I'd like to see them go back and have Michelin in the pack and have Pirelli in the pack, have Dunlop and Bridgestone and have the competition there. It's good, it's good for the industry.
Q: What do you think the best way to promote the commercial success of EBR and do you see yourself involved in future Product Promotion and Marketing?
A: Absolutely, I'm availiable to Erik for any and everything he wants me to do. We recently did some videos,should be coming out here down the road. That would be on the 1190RS. Videos of riding it in street form, riding it in race form, riding it at Road America when Cycle World came out. So yeah. 'I've been a part in the whole EBR marketing process. I think Roadracing is probably the best outlet for it and it proves the product. Erik is a big believer in racing, and I think it's the best way to go. If your coming out with a high end performance bike you go prove it on the race track.
Ebear: I think the video would be a boon for anyone who has an interest in the bike.
Geoff: Absolutly and video marketing and Facebook and the Badweb, you have to get yourself out there.
Ebear: Is there any kind of a date for the release of this video?
Geoff: I'm not sure what he has planned for it yet. He had some really high caliber guys come out and take a full days worth of video there and I'm really interested in seeing what they did with it. It should be really cool...Erik has some cool friends.
Q: The final question from reader Ozzie is, well its not really a question its a comment.
"Please tell him we really appreciate his great effort and excellent ambassadorship and he does us all proud".
A: Wow! Hey thanks! I love being a part of it, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! This ride has more meaning than anything else I've done in racing. There's a lot more purpose in it and I really thoroughly enjoy it. And I've said it before and I'll say it again, I hope to end my career here. I don't feel the need to go out there and try to get a MotoGP ride or a WSBK ride. I want to be a part of this program, and you know with Erik, the sky's the limit. There's gonna be alot of really cool things happening in the next few years.
Ebear: Yes, and you couldn't be working with a guy with MORE motivation, energy and spirit than Erik has!
Geoff: Yeah ,you know its definitely a deal where his (Erik's) path and my path are definitely aligned right now and what our expectations are and where he wants to go with this, and its a really cool project to be a part of!
Q. The next question would be from Court Canfield. (Laughter and an "Oh NO!" look from Geoff) Whats your favorite flavor cupcake? (more laughter)
A. My favorite flavor cupcake is Chocolate Smores!
(Ebear Note: a vote for "A-May-Zing cupcakes would be my guess!)
Q: Do you think the 1125RR had a significant advantage when running in the 600 class?
A: I think it had significant advantages and it had significant disadvantages. As you saw from Danny, and Danny is an awesome racer; he's super talented, is if you go back and look you'll see he really wasn't turning outright faster laptimes, but sometimes that's not what wins a race. It'll get you on the front row and get you the pole position but the fact that it had more horsepower and torque made it easier to pass guys, then back it in and slide it sideways and scare his opponents(laughs) and the people behind him! So he was able to kinda' leap frog to the front and then outrace people. He was definitely at a disadvantage with the weight of the bike and being on those tires. The tires were very bad that year as far as the grip level and to be on a heavier bike with more horsepower, that doesn't help you any. There were definitely advantages and disadvantages.
Q: Scott Russell on SPEEDTV said that twin cylinder race bikes like Ducati in DSB are harder to turn left/right/left in high speed situations as compared to four cylinder bikes because of the "Gyroscopic Effect" causing the rider to work harder to make the bike turn at high speeds.
A: Yes, well yes and no. The Buell is different than a Ducati, an Aprilia, or any other V-twin out there in the fact of the way Erik designed it with the geometry, and the idler gear and the weight distribution and the weight balance of the bike. It actually turns better than any other thing that I've ever ridden. Its strong point is its ability, is that I can ride it like a 250 GP bike.
It can carry massive roll speed and corner speed. "It IS" a little harder to turn from full lean angle left to full lean angle right or vice Versa in a high speed scenario just because of the gyroscopic effect. But once you get it turning it turns better then the inline fours. So there is truth to what Scott said; it's a little harder but a lot of places you don't really see that. The high speed chicane... this is one track where we have it! We have a chicane on the back stretch here at Barber and its a little tougher, but you know its only one corner, so I work out a lot. It's not a big deal.
Q: What are Geoff's goals, immediate season, 2012, and five year plan concerning motorcycle racing?
A: I dont really have a 5 year plan, I have a 2 year plan. I want to keep going with this program and obviously start getting podiums and eventually race wins. You know Erik's goal and my goal are hopefully to make a really honest run at the championship next year if everything falls into place for us. Beyond that, who knows? Maybe we'll go World Superbike racing a Buell one day. There's alot of different factors that make it too hard to tell more than two years out right now, like what happens with the economy, the Motorcycle Industry as a whole; it's really hard to get a guage on the future more than two years out. I try not to think about it too hard.
Ebear: So your not like Erik with a 100 year plan?
Geoff: (laughs) No, my goal is to race at the highest level till I'm 50.
EBEAR: Well, you're a long way off, but only in age.
Geoff: Yeah...19 more years.
Q: Ok, so the last question: I'd like to know if he (Geoff) grew up riding motorcycles on the roads north
of his hometown? (Northeast Georgia mountains- Highway 129,60, Wolfpen Gap Road, Richard Russel Parkway, etc.).
Seems like that would be good training for a motorcycle racer.
A: Absolutely, He's on to something there! My first bike, which alot of people don't realize was a twin (they were always saying he's an inline 4 guy on the Suzuki) but I started out on a Hawk NT 650! That was my first street bike. That was the only bike that I ever rode on the street, and thats where I learned how to ride! I actually had a nice little loop there up in north Georgia mountains. The 129, the 60 through Suches, and I'd head up Richard B Russel Parkway and the Wolfpen Gap and all that. That was my road back then.
I got going way too fast back in the day and scared the crap out of my Dad alot. We would go riding, he was my riding buddy at the time and I ended up realizing "Hey I'm either gonna kill myself or go to jail on this little Hawk 650 ripping through the mountains at 120 miles an hour." So thats when I decided to go racing. I only rode up there for about 6 months, then progressed into racing. At that point I stopped riding on the street.
(After racing) your sense of speed gets warped and then even riding at 90 miles an hour on the street isnt fun anymore. It was way over the legal limit, and anyone could pull out in front of you. It's not even safe. There were way too many variables, you're so used to pushing the absolute envelope of grip, you know side grip and drive grip and traction on the front and rear and really pushing a motorcycle past its capabilities that when you go on the road it's just ....kinda monotonous. It's not even fun anymore and the danger levels higher! It seems like it in your mind. You've got mirrors and you've got people coming at you, people behind you. (laughter) It scares the Be-Jesus out of you after you've been racing awhile.
Q: And the last reader posted comment on the BadWeb is...."Just Thank him and have him rip it up when the 1190RS gets set free!"
A: Yes, definitely .We can't wait. Everyones been working real hard and we're all really excited about what things are coming.
Ebear: I want to thank you for giving up some time on Race Day for this interview and alot of Badwebbers are following your career closely.
Good Luck and Thanks!
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