Peak Performance Racing: A Journey I
AMA Daytona SportBike
The odyssey began a few years back when a young man came to our Peak Performance Motorcycles shop seeking support for the SV650 he was racing with WERA West. His name was Patrick McCord; he was 16-years old, and had his father Alan in tow.
We already knew Alan McCord as a 20+ year veteran motorcycle officer working with the Simi Valley Police Department in California. Alan had learned that we tuned bikes with a Factory Pro eddy current brake dyno and he was interested in getting a little more power from the perennial Suzuki.
Happy to assist a budding young racer, we agreed to create a custom Power Commander map for the SV650 and provide other shop services in exchange for listing us as a primary sponsor.
Peak Performance Motorcycles was already helping out other racers who competed with Willow Springs Motorcycle Club and we even sponsored a WSMC class championship series for few years.
But there was something different about Patrick McCord and the chemistry he shared with his dad who was himself a former ARRA/WSMC road racer. It reminded me of the relationship I witnessed while managing Fastrack Riders when Jim DiSalvo would drive across country from upstate New York with young Jason to coach his son around Willow Springs on a Honda RS250.
There was a certain dedication that really stood out. Nobody knew how far Jason would go back then, but nobody in the pits ever doubted the level of commitment. After watching Patrick and Alan dissect opportunities won and lost during a race, or how a particular technique could improve lap times at certain tracks, I was overcome by a sense of deja vu. I wanted to do whatever we could to help this father and son team.
Neither Alan nor Patrick would disappoint. We coached them both in the shop where they spent many hours preparing Paddy’s racebikes. Alan would constantly be wheeling and dealing with potential sponsors, scraping together a paint job here or some rearsets there. He would volunteer as track monitor for various trackdays so Patrick could get some practice time in return.
For his part, Patrick won a few WERA West championships piloting the SV650, but he was ready to step up to an inline four. The skills learned on the twin helped him excel on the Kawasaki ZX6R platform, carrying corner speeds and railing around capable competitors on more powerful platforms.
He set his sights on four WERA West classes for 2009; and on a Superstock legal 2009 ZX6R, racing against 600 and 750 Superbikes, Paddy was able to bring home four class championships. Not too bad for his first year out on the Ninja.
With the economy tanking so bad in 2009, there was little hope of a large racing program for Paddy in 2010. However, his progress had not gone unnoticed and Alan was already speaking to a few teams by early spring.
One such team, Southcoast Ducati featuring Neil Freeman as crew chief arranged for Patrick to have a go at Fontana on their 848. So impressed were they that Paddy was asked to ride the 848 in the AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike race at their Laguna Seca premiere (check out the YouTube video).
In spite of having difficulty with the suspension that was never resolved, Patrick was able to checker in the top half of the field at his very first AMA Professional road race. Unfortunately, the team was underfunded so this would be their first and last race of 2010. The fever had already set in however and Paddy was determined to be racing with the pros.
Soon after, it occurred to me that we could tap a renowned motorcycle magazine to assist us in fielding an amateur-turning-pro privateer road racer in AMA Pro Racing Daytona Sportbike for the 2011 season. Ultimate MotorCycling agreed and felt we had the ingredients to develop a true privateer effort interest story and our progress will be chronicled on UltimateMotorcycling.com.
Since Patrick was already very comfortable on the current generation ZX-6R platform, it was hoped we’d be able to Go Green. Kawasaki were approached and – without hesitation – not only did they provide us with a brand new ZX-6R, they also offered all the necessary race kit parts, suspension and the racing assistance of Joey Lombardo too.
Tim Calhoun at LeoVince immediately jumped on board with full titanium racing exhausts as well; clearly the Peak Performance dyno was going to be busy.
It just so happened that Neil Freeman, with whom Patrick worked on the Southcoast Ducati team, would also be available to lend a hand. This was especially useful due to Neil’s familiarity with the platform from his crew chief days with Jamie Hacking.
Indeed, the pieces seemed to be coming together. We would soon find out however that securing the parts was the easy part. We now had to prepare this bike to compete at a national level. Michael Earnest at Pacific Track Time offered the team practice days at Infineon. It was the chance to shake down the bike set up and for Paddy to blow off some of Winter’s cobwebs ready for our first round of the season – unfortunately we hadn’t had the money to start at Daytona.
But thanks to the genuine enthusiasm for racing and nurturing young talent at Kawasaki, LeoVince, Arai, Motonation and Pacific Track Time it seems Paddy will be on the grid at Infineon and has a chance to do well.
The following article is the first in a series of reports about Peak Performance Racing’s journey towards competing in the AMA Daytona SportBike series with pilot Patrick ‘Paddy’ McCord of California. The article, written by Peak Performance Motorcycles’ owner Danny DiNardo, chronicles what it takes to get started in AMA Pro Racing competition. When Ultimate Motorcycling heard about the project, we immediately got involved.
Stay tuned to UltimateMotorcycling.com for more as this journey to AMA SportBike racing continues…