FLASHBACK FRIDAY | HOW I WON MY FIRST AMA NATIONAL
By Jake Weimer
On race day of the 2009 AMA 250 National at Lakewood, Colorado, I woke up to my alarm clock at 8:30 a.m. There was no rush; the Lakewood National was the only night National on the circuit. I liked the Lakewood track. Colorado is different because of the high elevation and the short, steep start hill. At every other track I start in second gear, but at Colorado, I had to start in first gear. That felt kind of weird.
I only got the 11th-gate pick for the first moto, so I had my work cut out for me. While I was watching everyone line up, the top guys were lining up in the center by the doghouse. With Colorado’s right-hand, uphill first turn, you didn’t want to be shut down before you crested the hill, so all the good guys wanted to be in the center of the gate so they could sweep over the crest of the hill. I was tempted to move into a gate next to them. But, I noticed that on the very first gate, which would be the last place I would normally pick, the tractor hadn’t ripped up the dirt by the yellow markers. The undisced dirt in front of the gate drew me in because I wouldn’t have to ride through the disced dirt—and it would be a lot easier to get the jump with a 20th-place guy next to you as opposed to starting between Ryan Dungey and Christophe Pourcel.
It was a gamble, but my weird gate choice worked. I rounded the first corner in second place. Honestly, there isn’t much to talk about after that. I followed Christophe Pourcel the whole first moto. I sat behind him, and that was about it.
Under AMA rules I got the same gate pick in the second moto that I got in the first moto. I was hoping to get the same gate that I used in the first moto, but, unfortunately, Matt Lemoine picked the first gate. I lined up next to him. Again, it was a gamble. If Matt beat me off the line, I would be in the disced dirt and trapped on the inside of the uphill turn. Amazingly, I out-jumped Lemoine and was in second place again. Martin Davalos was leading, but on the third straightaway I passed him for the lead.
I hadn’t ever experienced riding out front at a National before. It was an uncomfortable feeling. I was riding tight and, sure enough, on the third lap I fell over. Both Justin Barcia and Martin Davalos passed me. It took me less than a lap to get around Davalos for second, but Barcia had a little bit of a lead. I put my head down and tried to catch him. Within four or five laps I was on his rear wheel and made the pass in the same spot where I passed Davalos.
Strangely, once I was out front again, I felt really good. I wasn’t tight anymore. I won the second moto, and it was such an unbelievable feeling. Not only because I won the moto, but I took the overall victory. My goal had always been to get on the podium in a National. When you exceed a goal that you set for yourself, it’s such an awesome feeling.
To celebrate, I went to Denver’s Old Chicago Pizza restaurant and ate some pizza. Of course, in the days after the race, I got a lot of phone calls, because everyone wants to talk to you when you’re winning [laughter].