The shooting begins with Edwards’ wife, Alyssia, who is an excellent marksman. “She’s been shooting all her life,” Edward said while wearing a USAF Shooting Team sweatshirt. “She’s a redneck. She’ll tell you she’s not, but she is.” Lying prone in the bed of Edwards’ pickup truck, Alyssia sighted the .308 sniper rifle Edwards had built and fired at a target 481 yards away. The bullet missed the target, but it wasn’t her fault—Edwards later discovered the sight had been off. The next day she hit the bulls-eye from the same distance.
Friday’s weaponry was handguns: .22, .45 and 9mm; Saturday for skeet shooting with a shotgun. And on Sunday they brought out the ‘50’, a .50 caliber rifle known for its use in long-range sniper work and vaporizing varmints.
The TTBC instructors go at...
The TTBC instructors go at it in their own little "heat race".
At the end of each riding day, the students take on the Superpole course. It illustrated how quickly they forget everything they’ve learned. “It’s turned into a really good exercise, because we’re teaching them all this stuff,” Edwards said. “They get their body position right, they get everything working, looking good. As soon as the pressure’s on they go back to their instincts. All that shit goes out the window. And it’s a great exercise for them to see also. And they know it. As soon as they come in, they’re like, ‘Damn it. I was dipping my shoulder and I was doing this.’"
Edwards holds the record of 1:27.3. “Generally, most of us instructors, we’ll finish all within a second and a half,” he said. “And if it goes right, I’m usually the first. Most of the time.” Not this weekend. Four days before the start of the camp, Edwards was involved in the horrific crash that took the life of Marco Simoncelli in the Malaysian Grand Prix, resulting in a dislocated left shoulder. Scheduled for surgery two days after the camp, he was roaming from group to group on his Yamaha Grizzly, often in the background, deferring to his instructors—and always holding a can of some sort, either a Monster Energy drink or Coors Light or an empty that he used as a spittoon for the smokeless tobacco he enjoys. The shoulder popped out from time to time, but Edwards would nonchalantly jam it back into place.
There are five different tracks...
There are five different tracks on the TTBC’s 22 acres, so there are plenty of different riding drills that encompass a variety of skills.
Like most schools, the instructors at the TTBC are all first-rate. Besides Prussiano (“I think he’s won 14 national championships throughout his career,” described Edwards. “Pikes Peak a few times…he’s been around, done it all, dirt tracked and roadraced.”), there’s Shea Fouchek (“He’s ridden with the M4 EMGO Suzuki team. Fouchek kind of does our B group.”), Merle Scherb (“He’s our resident dirt track instructor, AMA National number 78. He roadraced a little bit a few years back, so he’s got knowledge of both the dirt and street. Scherb more or less does our A group.”), Steve Bodak (“Never raced motorcycles professionally, but I always say he’s got more patience than God. He’s our beginner instructor, just the best personality in the world, super nice guy, gets along with everybody.”), and Mike Meyers (“He and I started roadracing at the same time. He was just as fast as I was…but he was seven, eight years older than me and just too old to pursue it.”). Doug Lawrence, AMA national number 73 dirt tracker, was also along as a guest instructor.
Corner exit techniques were taught on Friday. Saturday would begin with mid-corner technique that incorporated what had been learned about corner exit.
Lead instructor Joe Prussiano...
Lead instructor Joe Prussiano gets the students filled on the days’ activities outside the Saloon. Despite the name, everything is low-key at the Boot Camp; it’s all about having fun, after all.
Prussiano spoke about keeping your head up, looking up the track, and also about finding neutral throttle, a concept some students had difficulty understanding at first.
Edwards told a story about learning the value of neutral throttle. At the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix, the Texan was a second a lap slower than teammate Valentino Rossi early in practice, despite having equal top speed. “Why is he a second faster?” Edwards asked. Though this was his fourth season racing a GP bike, Edwards still had “some old Superbike ways to work my way out of.” What he saw on the data was that the interval between Rossi being off-throttle to back into it was negligible. “The brakes coming down and the throttle coming up creates heaps of load,” he said. “Just that little bit he did every corner, a half a tenth here, a half a tenth there, that’s a second.” He added, “When you don’t minimize that time, the bike’s riding you.”
The grounds are expansive...
The grounds are expansive enough that there are plenty of trails to go riding on, if that’s what you’d like to do.
Riding bikes at the TTBC is something there’s always plenty of. “Our curriculum is about six hours a day. That’s a lot of riding. That’s why we always say, ‘You don’t have to ride. Come get a water break, come watch the football game if you want to, then you can go ride.’ We have a curriculum, but we’re in Texas and we’re all pretty easygoing. The students are going to dictate what they want. We’re not going to go out here and hammer ‘em and hammer ‘em. Because four days of riding…you just can’t do it.
“We tell ‘em at the beginning of every camp, if you’re worried around ride time, don’t, because you’re going to get more than enough. And always that first day you want to go out and ride and ride and ride and ride. [Then] you’re screwed for the next two days.” The TTBC also has two-day camps, but “the two-days are a lot more intense. We’re trying to cram everything in two days and for me two days is not enough to really see progression. We’ve seen it, but generally that first day is getting familiar, trying to figure out body position, get everything right. Sleep on it, by the second day, just starting to get it and then everybody’s gonna go home. So that’s why we came up with the four-days. It’s a lot easier, a lot more relaxed pace, a lot more time to sleep on it, sleep on it again and then it comes.”
This four-day camp ended back at the Saloon, with a Texas barbecue and a bonfire. Edwards pointed out how many riders had improved their Superpole times, and thanked them for attending. There would be more improvement on Sunday, then the swapping of emails and phone numbers. Another class had graduated from the boot camp, and many were certain to return.
The Texas Tornado Boot Camp is now offering special one-week "racer only" camps designed for racers looking to tune up before the season starts. The next Racer Only camp is scheduled for Feb 6 - 12. Cost is $1950.
The rest of the TTBC 2012 schedule is as follows:
March 29th - April 1st 4 Day Camp
April 19th - 22nd 4 Day Camp
May 10th - 13th 4 Day Camp Women Only
June 21st - 24th 4 Day Camp
August 2nd - 5th After Laguna 4 Day Camp
August 9th - 12th Pre- Indy 4 Day Camp
September 20th - 23rd 4 Day Camp
October 4th - 7th 4 Day Camp
For more information, log onto www.texastornadobootcamp.com
, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (713)364-BOOT.