Daytona 2020 will go down as a big what if for us this year for racing. This off season, Kevin Anderson, our lead man behind Vanilla Cycles Racing took a different approach to this season in hopes we would have even greater success. Instead of fielding the team on our own, we decided to race under the program, Bullet Strong Racing. This is Brad “The Bullet” Baker’s team. This allowed us to become a main sponsor, still run some of our equipment and still have international racing phenom, Ferran Cardus. The biggest upside was the ability to bring in bigger sponsors and more dollars allocated to make for better equipment, more races and more time into prep. Also, this allowed to field another rider with incredible talent, Jacob Lehman. So, heading into 2020, we were at a place we have never been before. More ready than we have ever been, and we felt it was going to lead to some success on the track.
The crew got there early and hit up Volusia for the first race of the week. This was the first time we were able to get Ferran Cardus on the bike since he lives in Spain. It was a good day. Lots of practice laps, some racing and some main events were needed to dial in the Honda 450 for the next race and then head into the American Flat Track season opener at Daytona International Speedway. The day finished with a few mid pack main event finishes but most importantly the bike was very close to being what we needed.
Wednesday rolled up and this was the final test before the grand opening round. We knew we needed to make the most of this day and get the bike 100% and get Ferran the confidence he needed for Daytona TT. We hit the practice laps and already found some success coming in 2nd overall quick time. We still needed to find a way to shave off some more time and Kevin made some bold moves to see what would happen. Well, they were home runs. Ferran made quick and easy work of the heat races and had pole position for the main event. This is a great feeling when you have everything working right all at once. American Flat Track has way too much talent to win when you don’t have this. Our confidence was high. The main event came up and after a mediocre launch from the line, Ferran made quick work of the field and cruised to a 1st place victory after a fierce battle with Mikey Rush during the middle laps of the main.
We were ready! Ferran was more ready than I have ever seen him. Teaming up with the best in the business, Brad Baker, had our equipment better than ever. Kevin was dialed in. He knew how the bike was setup and knew what needed to be ready for Daytona. We felt like we were going to compete for a solid podium at the biggest race of the year. Jacob flew in and got his bike dialed in. WE WERE READY!
That’s when it all went downhill. First, they announced the race would be without fans in attendance. Rumors were flying about limited pit personnel. We obviously had some worry but never thought what would happen next would be how our incredible bike week would end. Friday, the day before the grand opener they cancelled the race. We were crushed. We went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. We knew the Covid-19 pandemic had started to take the country by storm, but we thought we would get through Daytona and then reassess. We didn’t get that opportunity. It was announced shortly after that the first 5 or 6 races were cancelled and the potential the whole season could be lost. It’s a waiting game now while we all do our part to remain safe.
Huge Thank You to all our sponsors. We are going to work on different, creative ways to give back to them since we can shine on the track for them. Stay tuned and let’s hope we can turn some laps soon.
AND Yes, I watched Tiger King too with this free time and I do think Carole Baskins has some more explaining to do!