Taste of Racing – Portland International Raceway (P.I.R)

After having done the Taste of Racing at Pacific Raceways in Kent, and finding out they wouldn’t have another until August, I decided that I needed to plan a trip back down to Oregon to see my mother…and if there just happened to be a TOR at PIR that would just be such good luck 😉

So, finding out that June 25th-26th would have one on each day I made a quick plan and hopped on I-5 south. I’ll skip all those details and just give you my impression of the event at the track.

First Impressions

Ok, so the first thing you run into at PIR that is very different is that the main infield/paddock area is inside the track. That means to get to it you need to cross the track. In other words, you need to wait for them to open the gates and let you across.

The TOR bikes were assembling near a sign that said Registration (but nothing about a Taste of Racing as it did in Kent). No big deal, just sign up, pay your $20.00 and assume that your bike will pass inspection.

After hanging out a while they had the same basic team talk as the first one I did. “We’re here to have fun”, “Pass on the outside”, “Only after the second lap”, etc, etc.

We lined up and waited for the green flag.

Once the green flag was waived the first bikes took off a little faster than expected. I was planning on taking a pretty casual start, but found that I had to hit it pretty hard to keep up.

There was no chicane, so we shot straight down to the first corner. Everyone stayed pretty well together and I worked hard at trying to get a sense of the line to take, braking points, etc.

The Track

The map you see online is numbered differently than what the instructors said when laying down the rules, but numbers don’t mean a whole lot until you are swapping notes with others.

Turn 1a, 1b is essentially taken as one corner (or should be). I tried and tried to go hot into 1 and just line up for the second apex, but due to the speed down the main straight, I found myself chickening out each time. I managed around 50, but know you could take this much more quickly.

Turn 2 is a bit tighter and I dropped into 2nd to make sure I didn’t bog down. I found myself tweaking my entry point to better set me up for the first of two left hand turns (Turn 3). This quickly became my favorite corner (since I love left had turns). Each lap took me faster and faster, my knee getting lower and lower and on the gas sooner to launch me toward the next corner and onto the back straight.

Turn 5 is a tight right that is the entry point of the back “straight”. I setup pretty far left (as you weren’t supposed to be fighting for position) and had a guy even block pass me on the inside (so much for the rules). After the corner you get the bike back to the left as quickly as you can for a quick over the striping left and right that leads to the wall along the back straight.

This “straight” is much more curved than expected and I found myself coming off the throttle to correct my line. On Sunday, I expected this and short shifted into 5th so I could pin it and tuck down on the tank and ride the wall, which got me a lot faster by the end of the straight (around 100 or so).

Turn 6 (the second left on the circuit) is taken in 4th and pretty much at speed. It’s a semi corner that just sends you into another right Turn 7 that leads into the final corner Turn 8 before the straight (a medium right) that you can get on the throttle pretty early and just let it drag you to the wall on the left while you get up through the gears as quickly as possible.

On Saturday I kept myself in check and probably was hitting 110-115, but on Sunday I was more adventurous and kept tucked each lap until my speedo read 135-136 (which is around 120).

This was no problem except that my bike developed pretty serious brake juddering trying to pull the bike down in time (which lead to a couple “Uh oh” moments).

All in all pretty fun, but with such a long straight, you just need something that is faster than everything else out there and you can make up for bad cornering performance.

The Crew

Overall very friendly. I will say that one difference is that they didn’t hang out to show you a good line or help you out. They just started hammering around with the faster guys.

The other thing (which they did deal with) is that they didn’t have the same mindset/control regarding it being more for fun. A couple of really fast guys were out there and I found myself being passed on both side at speed a couple of times. Nothing dangerous per se, but a little unexpected.

Final Thoughts?

Well, I’ll be back for sure. How’s that?

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