Stoffer's starts crucial to her success on GEICO Suzuki - 9/19/2012
Rob Geiger - Geiger Media
DALLAS (Sept. 19) - One of the critical parts of competing for a Pro Stock Motorcycle championship in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is consistency, and that includes more than the performance of the bike.
It also includes consistency on the startling line, so GEICO rider Karen Stoffer has developed a routine she follows every time she lines up to make a pass.
"Consistency is key and critical," said Stoffer, sixth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings heading into this weekend's race at the Texas Motorplex. "You win and lose on the starting line, so you want to make sure it's consistent every time. Any little tiny variable can change that."
Stoffer has perfected her starting-line procedures over many years, and this year she has been solid on the Christmas Tree.
"I go into the waterbox, and I put it in third gear to do my burnout," Stoffer said. "I tell (crew member) Greg (Underdahl) when to start me, and he starts me. I pull up to the beams. I don't go all the way into the beams, but I line myself up. I put it in first gear, and (crew chief) Gary (Stoffer) looks over at our opponent. We want to make sure we're equal, timing-wise, to the opponent, so we're ready at the same time."
Then, Stoffer takes over.
"When Gary gives me the nod and taps me on the back, that means the opponent is ready, and it's time to go," Stoffer said. "I've already got it in first gear, and I focus on the finish line and the light, and that's it. Then you stop thinking and do your job."
Staging a motorcycle is different than any other professional category, simply because the bikes have only two wheels.
"It's a little bit more challenging in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class," Stoffer said. "We don't have two tires, we have one (for the staging beams). That beam is very critical, as that tire has to be in the exact same place every time. In Pro Stock cars, they can offset their wheels a little bit, and they can get a little more rollout on the Tree."
Pro Stock cars have multiple adjustments to make to the suspension and wheelie bars, but bikes do not.
"It's that small, little front wheel, and no shocks on the back to adjust," Stoffer said. "You've got to do it the same every time."
Once that procedure becomes routine, it no longer is part of the tune-up, giving crew chiefs the opportunity to focus on other areas of performance.
"That's when it becomes reactionary," Stoffer said. "That's when it becomes a performance advantage, when you are so good at it you can do it in your sleep. It's kind of like when you drive home from work. Sometimes you don't know how you got home, you don't remember the streets you were on, but you did it exactly the same way every time."
Stoffer was deadly on the Tree many years ago before changes to her motorcycle caused her to struggle for a bit with red lights. But Stoffer has since made the adjustment and is getting more consistent .020-second reaction times.
"Now, we're sneaking our way back to more consistent .020s," Stoffer said. "Last year and this year have probably been my most consistent on the Tree."
Stoffer went on to extend special thanks to all
of the 2012 sponsors and supporters.
Geico Powersports 1-800-442-9253, Suzuki Extended Protetion, Bates Leathers, KYMCOUSA, NGK, Airtech, Red Line Oil, American Racing Products, Mechanix Wear Gloves, and TKO Graphics.