Chad Swain rides the highbanks of Daytona
Airdrie’s Chad Swain, who was recently signed to an AMA Pro Road Racing team in the U.S.. completed his first race weekend at the Daytona International Speedway March 16 to 17.
The race was Swain’s first time at the track, and the first race with his new team, Triple Crown Industries Yamaha. After one small crash, which relegated him to the back of the starting grid for the two short races, he finished 30th and 23th, and Swain says he is happy with the weekend.
“The place is huge, it’s like the Coliseum,” said Swain. “Knowing the history of that place, the NASCAR stuff, the past Daytona 200s, you really feel it when you walk in.”
Swain tested the old 2012 version of his Yamaha 600 back in November at Infineon Raceway in California, and had never thrown his leg over this year’s edition of the bike.
Because of this, and coupled with the fact that Swain had never turned a lap at Daytona, he had a lot to take in with only a couple hours of track time before the races.
Towards the end of his second session on track, which determined the starting grid for the next day’s race, Swain crashed his bike going through a high-speed chicane type corner, called the bus stop. Due to cold track temperature, many riders were having issues getting heat into their tires to help with adhesion.
“There just is no grip when it is colder,” said Swain. “I ended up flicking it over to the right side leaving the chicane and tucked the front end at about 120 km/h.”
Swain would be forced to start 44th, out of 60 riders in each race, and said he is not concerned about laying the bike down considering the conditions.
“It was funny, 34 bikes on Thursday alone crashed in the exact same spot I did,” said Swain.
Swain said racing motorcycles on the 36 degree banked corners at Daytona is something new to him, as the slipstream with bikes is tough to overcome.
“It’s quite hard to break out of a group of bikes and bridge the gap to the next group on the banking,” said Swain. “You don’t want to go onto the banking leading a group, because they will all just draft up and pass you, but you don’t want to go onto the banking at the back of a group either.”
Starting position was imperative to a good results because of the difficulties of passing, and after the weekend was over, Swain spoke with the team who had looked over all his data from the weekend, and said he did an incredible job considering a team mate won the first race on the same bike.
“You could see that the miles per hour were the same, our lines are the same, throttle positions, it was all the same,” said Swain. “The only thing that held me back was racing on the banking. Knowing that was a boost in my confidence.”
Swain said and the fact he will be racing this season with a factory backed AMA road racing team sunk in while sitting on the beach after the races.
“I thought wow, I am in Daytona Florida racing superbikes. If you asked where I would be a year-and-a-half ago I would have told you it would never happen,” said Swain. “It’s a whole other world compared to racing at the club level. These are the best people in North American. This is the best of the best.”