Motorcycle-Superstore.com-backed rider Devon McDonough finished 10th overall in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport West division.
Well, all I can say is that this has been an insane year! It was long at times, with more travel and races then I have done before, but it always had its rewards. Even when I didn’t finish well or we struggled, we always learned something. I know I came away from this season a better, smarter and more determined rider.
I met many wonderful people, worked with some of the most amazing sponsors and completed a full season in the AMA. We didn’t always get the finishes we wanted, but we experienced more in six months then some do in a lifetime. This is a recap of what I hope is the first of many years of professional racing. From coast-to-coast what a ride!
Starting off in Daytona was crazy. Having never been to an AMA event or any kind of professional race, my heart was racing from the moment I drove into the track. The high banking and the fast speeds went well with the mystical feeling you got from just being in the paddock. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the great riders I have watched race here for years. We hit a top speed of over 178 mph and finished 24th. It was a great start to the year!
While heading home to prepare for the race at Infineon we got a call from Motorcycle-Superstore.com. They asked if we were going to the AMA race at Road Atlanta and we said no because we were only planning on doing the West Coast races. Motorcycle-Superstore.com stepped up and helped us make the Road Atlanta round. Since our bikes were traveling in the RSRacecraft/ Ohlins’ trailer, they were already going to be there anyway so it was the perfect situation. It was a good thing we went because it’s where I earned my first top-20 as a pro!
Devon McDonough had to fit in getting a driver’s license and attending high school classes while contesting many of the 2012 AMA Pro SuperSport races.
Then it was back home to the West Coast. I finally had a chance to get my driver’s license, and then headed back to high school for a week or so before the next round at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Here we were able to drive down in the FMF sponsor’s Sprinter and set up our pit space out of that. There were tons of fans at this event and it was also really cool to see friends from California and Oregon come and watch me race! This is one of two tracks I had done a practice day at and it paid off with a 15th-place finish.
The next two races were back-to-back weekends at Miller Motorsports Park and then to Road America. The race at Miller was run alongside a World Superbike round, which meant we shared the paddock and the racetrack with them. It was really cool to be able to see them ride and to see the talent all those guys have. The biggest thing that happened in Miller was that I signed a contract with Motorcycle-Superstore.com for the rest of the year! This enabled us to get to all of the remaining races. It was awesome because it meant that I got to do double the races I would have done if I only contested the West Coast. During the race I was in a great battle for 14th, but went off with two laps to go. I came back for a hard fought 16th.
Five days later we were at Road America, the longest track on the calendar with three long straights where you get to the top of sixth gear. I was really ready to go. After leaving a lot on the plate in Miller I wanted to prove I was capable of riding with the upper packs. From the first practice I was riding in the top-15 and then earned one of my best qualifying positions of the year in 11th. Both races where almost identical: battling with three or four other riders for eighth but ending in 10th, less than a second behind the eighth-place finisher in both races.
Devon McDonough (63) battled for a number of top-10 finishes during the 2012 AMA Pro SuperSport season.
Barber Motorsports Park was next up on the schedule. This had to be the most up and down weekends we had of the whole year, with things not going right one second and then going fantastic the next. In the one and only practice we were way off. We took a chance on set-up in qualifying and it paid off with a 12th-place starting position. I was battling for eighth again with the same cast of riders from Road America, and the next thing I know I was flying through the air after clipping another rider after under-braking. Although the crash looked horrendous, I walked away with just a bruised elbow and a slight concussion. The bike took the brunt of the damage and gave photographers a great photo op. I sat out Sunday as a precaution, and because I couldn’t raise my arm.
Only two days after Barber was a test at NOLA raceway, a brand new track down in New Orleans. Since my dad had to go back home after Barber to work, Ronnie Saner and Nick Watkins from RSRacecraft helped me out during the test and really made it a good experience for me. Since the track was brand new and barley had any rubber laid down, it caused our tires to shred to nothing in just a matter of a few of laps and caused a lot of riders to go down. I was glad to get out with a big save on a highside and the eighth-fastest time. The only bummer of the trip was the cancelation of the Pike’s Peak races, as I was going to go with the team as they ran a bike in the epic race. Ahhh, water park instead.
Mid-Ohio was a fun race as I got to see my family that lives in Ohio. It was the first time they’d been able to see me ride. The track was super technical, with new patches of asphalt all over. It made the track extremely slippery combined with the high humidity throughout the weekend. Although it was a tough weekend I had a lot of fun learning the track and hanging out with family. I finished 16th.
Devon is pumped to return for another season, fighting in AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport in 2013.
Laguna was the big round here on the West Coast. We shared it with the MotoGP riders! We didn’t get as much track time as we usually do but it was a lot of fun seeing the best riders in the world riding on the same track as we were in the same weekend. This was a really fun weekend since a lot of friends and family came to watch me race. I struggled with handling in practice and P1 Qualifying. Saturday morning in P2 we found a great set-up and I dropped some time. I eventually qualified 18th and I felt great for the start. An unfortunate pit issue caused me to not get off pit lane in the one minute window meaning I would have to start last (54th). I worked hard and finished 21st. Not gonna lie, that hurt.
After the month long summer break following the MotoGP weekend in Laguna, we arrived at New Jersey Motorsports Park. It was a fun track and pretty easy to learn, but it proved to be a challenge to go fast. Rain in the second qualifying meant that we were not able to go any faster than we did in Q1 and we had to stick with our grid position. In both races, had I been just one row up, I would have been involved in a Lap 1 takeout since in both, people we taken out right in front of me. I rode better every session and rode my fastest laps at the end of Race 2, where I finished 20th.
Homestead proved to be a pretty fun track with four sections that let you get some pretty good speed. I’ve always liked hard braking and I thought this track would suit me well but we had some unfortunate problems with the bikes that kept us from moving forward. The bikes were just getting worn out; one still had the same motor from Daytona! The other had the same engine from Laguna, making both pretty old in AMA standards! But we made it through Race 1, running as high as 10th before false neutrals started plaguing us. I had to settle for 16th. Just over halfway through Race 2 a big lightning storm came over us and they had to shut down the track, ending our race early.
Devon (center) chatting it up with MotorcycleUSA’s own Frankie Garcia (right) before hitting the track.
The last round was NOLA and I had high hopes coming into the round, having tested there earlier in the season. But when it came time to get on the track and ride I had a hard time finding a rhythm. I just wasn’t able to produce any kind of lap times. When it came time for the race I figured it out. Having to get through some traffic in the opening laps after my poor qualifying, I dropped two seconds just like that. I caught the riders in front of me and was battling for 10th, then with just a couple laps to go it got red flagged by a downed rider. We were having a great battle and the previous lap he led me across the finish line so I finished in 11th.
I ended the year in 10th overall for West Coast points.
My first full season of AMA racing was a great year of learning that was full of fun. I hope to have many more as I feel I am ready to ride at the next level. All my thanks have to go to Motorcycle-Superstore.com (Tim, Erick, Sequoyah and all the crew) for helping me out this entire year. Getting me to the track and helping out with everything I needed, they’ve been the best sponsor I could have asked for. I am very thankful for what they have done for me. Don Becklin and Shawn Roberti, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your confidence in me. Special thanks to my dad for working his butt off doing everything he could at home and at the track to get me a great bike to ride each and every weekend. Without him, none of this would have been possible. Sage Wilkinson and SDS Performance: you loaned us your shop to build the bikes and built some of the strongest motors in the paddock. Your knowledge of everything motorcycle is amazing. Thank you too to Ronnie, Katy, Chase and Nick from RSRacecraft for helping me out with whatever I needed whether it was tools, track info or even lunch, it was always nice to know you guys were there. Rayno and everyone at Alpinestars: you guys protected me from some serious stuff this year! Quality people and quality gear. Benny at Bell Helmets: thanks for everything, I tested your product more than I would have liked this year. It performed amazingly and I am lucky to be wearing Bell helmets. FMF pipes: your pipes helped propel us to some top trap speeds this year. Quality through and through. Steve at Evol technologies: your support and confidence in me was awesome, and thank you for the best rearsets around. Frank, at Lyons Machine, our engines would not have been as good without you. Aaron: RAW N-R-G is the best fuel for athletes! Miss riding with you. I’d also like to thank the Rothenburgers at Loudart, Silkolene, Galfer, Sharkskins, Vortex, Dunlop, Latus motors and my boy Andy at DebrinoDesigns. Last but not least I have to thank my mom for letting me follow my dreams even in a dangerous sport.
In the end Garret, Chuck, Zack, Sage, mom, dad and everyone from Motorcycle-Superstore.com – Thank You!
See you fighting for the podium next year!