|Donnington Park saw the come back |
of one of our Racers, ,Tony Norman after sustaining horrific injuries in the summer of 2003 whilst racing at Cadwell Park. Those injuries led to the loss of his right leg below the knee in May this year.
It was quite a fitting come back as it was a track day organised exclusively for Amputees and arranged by Scott Richardson at the Limbless Association.
I’m not sure if Scott Richardson planned it this way but it was the day after the British Superbikes and half the paddock was still here! Which meant a great chance for John to meet Yuki Kagayama (Rizla Suzuki Rider) and get him to sign his bike (no sign of John Reynolds) also doing the rounds were Steve Plater and Nial McKenzie who were kind enough to pose with John & Tony N’s bike along with their ‘Sprayer’ Neil.
In attendance were ,Tony Bryant, Ian Westlake, John Hewitt and of course Tony Norman along with all the support of fellow GoStar Members inc Good old Sean! Not forgetting Stuart and the partners of Sue and Anne, John and Tony's other half’s and last but not least was a visit from John & Tony’s Sprayer, Neil, from ‘The Bike Klinic’.
The day started well with bright sunshine, however this all changed come briefing time when the heavens opened and soaked everyone and everything…… looks like the come back would have to wait. With Tony N’s bike shod with slick to edge Supercorsa’s their was no way he was going to risk his pride in a spill or his rather tasty Rossi paint job!
First order of the day was to get all of the bikes with race can a removable baffle as it was a quite day (98db) and there was no way the race cans would pass the noise tests. It was Ok for Ian as he has his bolt on road can with him for the likes of the rest it meant digging deep (£17) for a baffle. Tony B already had some but they weren’t the correct fit…. He used them anyway! With the Baffles sorted, all bikes running and a dry line appearing it was time for the guys to go out and play!!
Session one saw only Tony N & Tony B go out as Tony B had wets on and Tony N was just itching to get out! Ian and John opted to stay put with their slicks. What happened??? Well Tony B got clobbered by the sound testers – it seems he is going to have to make his baffles fit better of risk his bike being pulled from the day.
Tony N complained that the bike wouldn’t pull cleanly between 6 – 10k seems it could be the restrictive baffles effecting his carb set up. He also complained that he couldn’t ride like he used to and although it felt good it didn’t feel right! – Can someone please tell him that he just had is leg take cut off!!! Cause it isn’t going to feel right to start with!
As for the not riding like he used to it was mentioned that he couldn’t ‘climb’ over the bike, as the prosthetic would move like his leg used and was making moving over the tank a problem…. About 20minutes later a idea was had and would be put to the test in the next session – Tony’s peg was rotated forward thus moving him more onto the toes of his ‘fake’ foot whilst riding and the ‘toe-in’ of his foot was altered so that the foot pointed in more so once on the bike he would adopt a more toe in heel out attitude.
Tony B’s fix for the sound was a somewhat different approach and just as experimental as Tony N’s attempt to ride property again. John Hewitt set to Tony B’s baffles with an angle grinder to make them fit. Once fitted the bike didn’t sound any less quite so the end of Red Bull can were cut off and fixed to the end of his cans in the hope that the smaller hole in the cans would reduce the sound…. See picture for full details but what a sight!!! The trickest Mille a lot of us have ever seen fitted with Red Bull cans!
All the guys missed the next session because rain fell again….. Just as John and Ian were trundling down pit lane I might add!
The next session saw John, Ian and Tony B out. Ian seemed happy; John was grumbling a lot…. Just kidding mate! John wasn’t too happy with set up, complained about lack of confidence in the front causing him to back off going into the faster turns. Once back in the Garage Tony B was missing…. Had he gone down?? A quick look up the pit lane revealed no he hadn’t gone down but he had been stopped again for sound! Bugger!! That would be the end of the Mille’s day at ‘Donny’. From then on John was kind enough to share his bike with Tony B.
Tony N next outing saw him come in a much happier chap…. The mod to his leg and to his peg was enough to let him climb over the bike somewhat more. However in a bid to cure his carburetion woes he removed the baffle in the exhaust. It didn’t sort the problems (later to be found as a oversight in the carb set-up) but it did managed to get him Black Flagged for noise!
The day then ticked along with Ian going out alternatively with Tony B and John and with the day drawing to an end Tony N went out for his last session (he would have done one more but tinkered with a temperamental kill switch and managed to kill the whole bike!)
As a whole the day went without major hitch to bikes or riders and the smile on Tony N’s face said it all.
For more details about the day and to read Tony N’s news just take a look at his News pages.
Tony N has said ‘I would like to thank everyone who mad the day possible, John H for all his help, Anne for putting up with my wanting to get back to it…. God… just everyone! It has made me feel 100% again…. I still have a long way to go to get back to anywhere near like I was but in time I’m sure it will begin to feel more ‘natural’ I just have to consider my self a ‘Rookie’ again!’