Well, all I can say this has been an insane year! Long at times, with more travel and more races then I have done before. But it always had its rewards. Even when I didn't finish well or we struggled, we always learned something. I know I came away from this season a better, smarter and more determined rider. I met many wonderful people, worked with some of the most amazing sponsors and completed a full Season in the AMA Pro Racing Circuit. We didn't always get the finishes we wanted. But we experienced more in six months then some do in a lifetime. This is a recap of what I hope is the first of many years of professional racing. From coast to coast - what a ride!
Starting off in Daytona was crazy, having never been to an AMA Pro Racing event or any kind of professional race this had my heart racing from the moment I drove into the track. The high banking and the fast speeds went well with the mystical feeling you got from just being in the paddock. All the great riders I have watched race here for years. We hit a top speed of over 178 mph. Finished 24th. It was a great start to the year!
Heading home and starting to prepare for the race at Infineon we got a call from Motorcycle-Superstore.com. They asked if we were going to the AMA Pro race at Road Atlanta, we said no because we were only planning on doing the west coast races. Motorcycle-Superstore.com stepped up and helped us make the Road Atlanta round! Since our bikes were traveling in the RSRacecraft / Ohlin's trailer, they were already going to be there anyway, so it was the perfect situation. My first top 20 as a pro!
The next two races were back-to-back weekends at Miller Motorsports Park and then to Road America. The race at Miller was being run with the World Superbike teams. We shared the paddock and the racetrack with them. It was really cool to be able to see them ride and to see the talent all those guys have. The biggest thing that happened in Miller was that I signed a contract with Motorcycle-Superstore.com for the rest of the year! This enabled us to get to all of the remaining races! This was awesome because that meant that I got to do double the races I would have done if I only did the west coast! In the race I was in a great battle for 14th but went off with two laps to go. I came back for a hard fought 16th.
5 days later we were at Road America, the longest track on the calendar with three long straights where you get to the top of sixth gear! I was really ready to go. After leaving a lot on the plate in Miller I wanted to prove I was capable of riding with the upper packs. From first practice I was riding in the top 15 and qualified a best for the year in 11th. Both races where almost identical, battling with 3-4 other riders for 8th, but finished in 10th by less than a second in both races.
Barber Motorsports Park was next up on the schedule. This had to be the most up and down weekend we had of the whole year, things not going right and then the next second they're going fantastic. In your one and only practice we were way off. We took a chance on set up in qualifying and it paid off with a 12th place starting position. I was again battling for 8th with the same cast of riders from Road America the next thing I know I was flying through the air after clipping another rider under braking. Although the crash looked a horrendous, I walked away with just a bruised elbow and a slight concussion; the bike took the damage and gave the photographers a great photo op. I sat out Sunday as a precaution - that, and I couldn't raise my arm.
The last round was NOLA. I had high hopes coming into this round having tested here earlier in the season. But when it came time to get on the track and ride I had a hard time trying to find a rhythm. When it came time for the race, I figured it out. Having to get through some traffic in the opening laps after my poor qualifying, I dropped two seconds, just like that. I caught the riders in front of me and was battling for 10th place, with just a couple laps to go it got red flagged by a downed rider. We were having a great battle. The previous lap he led me across the finish line and this is where I finished 11th.
I ended the year in 10th overall for west coast points.
This was a great year of learning and having fun in my first full season of AMA Pro Road Racing. I hope to have many more, as I feel I am ready to ride at the next level. All my thanks have to go to Motorcycle-Superstore.com (Tim, Erick, Sequoyah and all the crew) for helping me out this entire year. Getting me to the track and helping out with everything I've needed, they've been the best sponsor I could have asked for. I am very thankful for what they have done for me. Don Becklin and Shawn Roberti, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your confidence in me. Special thanks to my dad for working his butt of doing everything he can at home and at the track to get me a great bike to ride each and every weekend; without him none of this would be possible. Sage Wilkinson and SDS Performance; you loaned us your shop to build the bikes and built some of the strongest motors in the paddock. Your knowledge of everything motorcycle is amazing. Thank you too Ronnie, Katy, Chase and Nick from RSRacecraft for helping me out with whatever I needed whether it was tools, track info or even lunch; it was always nice to know you guys were there. Rayno and everyone at Alpinestars; you guys protected me from some serious stuff this year! Quality people and quality gear. Bell Helmets, Benny; thanks for everything. I tested your product more than I would have liked this year. It performed amazingly. I am lucky to be wearing Bell Helmets. FMF pipes, your pipes helped propel us to some top trap speeds this year. Quality through and through. Steve at Evol Technologies, your support and confidence in me was awesome. Along with the best rearsets, thanks for everything. Frank from Lyons machine, our engines would not have been as good without you. Aaron at RAW N-R-G, the best fuel for athletes! Miss riding with you. The Rothenburgers at Loudart. Silkolene, Galfer, Sharkskins, Vortex, Dunlop, Latus motors and my boy Andy at DebrinoDesigns. Last but not least my Mom for letting me follow my dreams even in a dangerous sport.
In the end Garret, Chuck, Zack, Sage, Mom, Dad and everyone from Motorcycle Superstore.
Thank You! See you fighting for the podium next year!
-Devon McDonough, DM63
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