Kenny Switches to a Ninja for the AFM Season Finale

Kenny will be wrapping up his rookie season on the RS125 in a few weeks at the WERA West season finale in Las Vegas. He’s done really well, currently leading two novice championships and holding third in the expert Formula 3 class. He has also been granted an AFM racing license and had the pleasure of racing with them at Thunderhill in August and this past weekend.

The 2-stroke 125 GP bike is an amazing motorcycle, and we really love it. It’s a high-performance, purpose-built machine that is great for developing a young rider’s race craft. Unfortunately, the class is dwindling and there are only a handful of bikes on the WERA grid. There aren’t any new kids coming into the class, and parts are getting more and more expensive. When we went to Thunderhill there were only two other bikes on the grid and Kenny hardly even saw them on track. We were pretty disappointed.

Friends of ours recommended that we check out the Ninja 250 class. We were skeptical at first, because the 250 is a larger, heavier bike with less horsepower. But there are huge grids of 20 or more bikes in multiple classes in both WERA and AFM. And if there is one thing I know, nothing motivates a kid more than competition, something we have really been missing. So we rented a Ninja 250 from Feel Like A and did a track day at Thunderhill. Kenny enjoyed riding the bike, as well as the camaraderie he found among the FLAP riders.

So for the final AFM round of 2012 this past weekend at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA,, we decided to race the 250 and leave the 125 at home. On Saturday Kenny got in a full day of practice, with one race in the afternoon, Clubman Lightweight. He started at the back of a 20-bike grid, and worked his way up to 13th. A modest result, but he had some great battles along the way, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun. Kenny was just getting started.

On Sunday he had three races, all starting from the back of the grid. First up was 250 Superbike Novice and Expert. With a combined total of 27 competitors, it was by far the largest grid Kenny has ever lined up on. He fought his way through the pack to finish 5th in the novice class. Next was the 250 Production race, with the same number of racers. Kenny finished 4th in class.

The final race of the weekend was 500 Twins. Kenny gridded up with seven other novices and nine experts. Once more he battled his way through the pack, and after a few laps made a pass for the lead. He put his head down and tried to get away, but made a mistake entering a turn, ran wide, and dropped back a couple of positions. He fought hard to catch back up, and came onto the start/finish straight for the final time in 2nd position right behind the leader. He tucked in tightly and executed a textbook draft pass to win the race by a half a wheel. In doing so, he set the fastest lap of the race, his personal best on the weekend.

Kenny Anderson Is Now an AFM Racer!

Kenny has reached another milestone in his racing career. The AFM board of directors has voted unanimously in favor of granting him an AFM racing license! His first race will be at Thunderhill next week. He’s never ridden there, but is looking forward to learning the track and competing with AFM. His motorcycles will bear his AFM racing number, #412.

AFM does not issue licenses to young riders casually, and we had to convince people who have never seen him ride that he is a skilled, experienced, mature, and safe racer. For his part, Kenny was able to show many years of racing experience and accomplishments, with a fairly impressive resume comprised of many championships and race wins. In addition, his long-time coach and mentors, Keith Code and James Toohey of the California Superbike School, each wrote a letter of recommendation, highlighting the years of training that Kenny as undergone with the school. Also writing letters of recommendation on behalf of the Iceman were Alan Cunningham of, and Ed Sorbo of Lindermann Engineering. Both of these men and the companies they represent have been long-time sponsors of Kenny’s racing efforts.

Kenny and I would like to thank all of these folks for their years of support of Kenny, and for helping him to achieve this important next step in his career!

Down and Dirty in Buttonwillow

This weekend Kenny and I went to Buttonwillow, CA to race in round six of the WERA West Championship Series. Kenny struggled to come to grips with the track, but made good progress over the weekend and had some good successes. He faced some adversity, but finished the weekend feeling gratified and happy.

For the first race of the day, WERA Minis, Kenny had decided to match his 85cc mini racer against a couple of kids who were running bikes that were, shall we say, not 85cc. He knew he would be at a mechanical disadvantage as we had watched the other bikes pull away from him on the straights in practice. But he’s raced against superior bikes in the past, and for some reason he felt it would be fun. As it turned out, he ended up battling for second place with Daniel Costilla. Kenny chased him around for the entire race, closing up as much as 10 bike lengths or more under braking and in the technical sections, only to get gapped on the straights. Finally, on the last lap he took second position going through “The Sweeper” and led Daniel into the final turn. Daniel attempted to re-pass on the exit of the turn, but ran wide and slammed into Kenny. The Iceman stayed in control and on the gas, but Daniel lost his drive and finished in third position.

The Heavyweight Twins Superbike turned out to be uneventful, for the most part, with Kenny mid-pack but first in class. There was some excitement near the end of the race, though, as one of the leading bikes crashed and burst into flames. The race was red flagged, and Kenny stopped to roast some marshmallows over the bike burning in the middle of the track. Fortunately the other rider was not seriously injured.

There was a good battle for the lead in the Formula 2 race. Normally Kenny checks out, but he found himself getting passed by an SV650 midway through the race. He did his best to keep up, but was never close enough to make a move. However, the leader, possibly feeling pressure from the Iceman, pushed a little too hard into the final turn and tucked the front. He went tumbling off into a giant cloud of dust as Kenny went on to win the race. That racer was also uninjured and would go on to race again later in the day.

The final race of the day was the expert Formula 3, or 125GP, race. Kenny holds third in this championship, seven points behind Sean Heeney. After getting mediocre starts all day, Kenny finally got off the line well, and slotted into second place by turn one. Sean was putting major pressure on him, though, and after a lap and a half made a pass coming out of Riverside up into Phil Hill. As they disappeared around the western loop, it was Kenny’s turn to apply the pressure. He again made his move into the Sweeper, and reappeared at the final turn ahead of Sean.

Alas, as they went into turn one Kenny was pushing a little too hard, and trail braking far too late into the turn. He tucked the front and slid off the track, creating his own plume of dirt. When the dust cleared, we were relieved to see Kenny walking away from the bike. He was covered in dirt from head to toe, inside and out, and his SaferMoto airbag vest had deployed, but he was uninjured. There was some damage to the bike, and I think he brought about 20 pounds of dirt back to the pits. Kenny probably has no chance of taking over third in the championship now, but he still holds third, and has learned a valuable lesson. It was only a matter of time before he crashed out of his first 125 race. Fortunately the consequences were not too severe, and he did come away with two firsts and a second.