Girl Meets World on FZ-07 Motorcycle - Chapter 2, Part 8

Corner working for World Superbike at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!

Tiff and I met at the track, where she races her Ninja 250 with more enjoyment and positivity than anyone else on the grid. When Tiffani got word that she’d be getting laid off from her job in Los Angeles, she didn’t fret. In typical ultra-optimistic Tiff style, she saw it as an opportunity to hit the road on her newly acquired Yamaha FZ-07. What follows are Tiffani’s reports from the road, originally posted for her friends on Facebook but shared here with her permission for all to enjoy. — Ari Henning

Tiffani on Superbike
Turns out there are a few perks of being a corner worker at a World Superbike race!Photo by Tiffani Burkett

If you've never worked at a motorcycle event, you owe it to yourself to see what really goes into the sport you love. Having been racing motorcycles myself for around 4 years now, it was really about time that I tried my hand at corner working. A few months back, by the nudging of my good friend Price (because it was so hard to convince me to go to a racetrack, of course), I signed up with USARM (United States Auto Race Marshals) for the World Superbike race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca , and I certainly wasn't going to miss out on that opportunity just because I was travelling around! I got Hollywood signed up shortly before getting to Laguna, and we were set for a good time.

We showed up at the track Thursday night and set up camp in the corner worker camp lot. I ran into my good friend Mike and set up among a number of other motorcyclists all excited for the event. After a meeting explaining the jobs we’d all be doing, we got some sleep and woke up bright and early, as the work day would be starting at 6am. We got our turn and job assignments (I got turn 2!) and they loaded us all in the back of the aptly named Draggin’ Wagon and dropped everyone off at their respective corners. We were both designated handlers for the weekend, so our job was to pick up crashed bikes, and I was on fire extinguisher duty. Hopefully no one catches on fire, but if they do, it had better be in my corner, dammit!

Laguna Seca corner workers
Big crew! The enthusiasm of all the corner workers old and new was absolutely infectious.Photo by Tiffani Burkett

Friday was pretty uneventful in our corner. It was just practice for the WSBK and MotoAmerica guys, so crashing was pretty minimal. But it was still exciting to get to watch the corner from the other side of the fences. At 6pm, we took the Draggin’ Wagon back to the corner worker area, had a debriefing, and it was back to camp to party for the night.

Saturday was also bright and early, but there was some racing and qualifying thrown in, so it was bound to be some exciting viewing. We got to our corner, this time with a slightly bigger crew than the day before (Friday had been understaffed). The first half of the day was pretty uneventful. As lunch came around, we ran off to meet up with some reps from Yamaha who I had spoken to many times, but had yet to meet in person. They were pretty excited about my FZ-07 ADV project. They gave us a tour of the Yamaha WSBK garage and answered a bunch of questions about the bikes. Even to this day, it still blows me away how good the people in motorcycling are.

Tiffani Burkett Ari Henning Laguna Seca
Hey look who I found at Laguna!Photo by Ari Henning

After getting to chat with Mike about taking the FZ to Alaska and everywhere and anywhere else I could manage and getting some great tips on places to go and things to watch out for, it was back to work. And man did we have some work that afternoon. Most of the qualifying and practice sessions had gone smoothly, but when the KTM cup race came up to bat, we ended up with a 7 bike pileup in our corner right out of the gate! We all sprinted over as fast as possible to start getting bikes and riders up and out of the way. A few kids were able to get their bikes started and on the track again, but most were rolled off to wait for a crash truck, and one had to wait for the ambulance. Pretty rough first race!

After an eventful afternoon, it was back to the camp for a BBQ and some more partying. I made a quick run into town to get some supplies, and, much to my surprise, as I came out of the Safeway to start heading back to camp, a man who had read my articles was waiting by my bike hoping to get to talk to me. He had also just gotten an FZ-07 and was excited to try to turn it into a dual sport bike like mine. Crazy! But also, so cool to see other people are as excited about my FZ-07 build as I was to build it!

Price shows Tiffani corner worker ropes
Price, who was the person who initially convinced me to give this a try, was working radios and helping out as a handler in our corner (They let you request who you want to work with if you want to try to get in the same corner as your friends). It was awesome getting to work with some familiar faces in addition to all the new ones!Photo by Tiffani Burkett

I got back to camp after a fun talk, and prepared for the last day. Sunday was race day and was bound to be really exciting. And the racers certainly didn’t disappoint! We definitely got a bit more action in our corner on Sunday, but even setting aside the bike cleanup, the overtakes in turn 2 were intense and perhaps a bit overambitious at times (Toni Elias is a beast!) but it made for a great show. I definitely feel like I lucked out getting assigned to this corner. Watching my CVMA and AFM friends Josh and Ryan and Patryk racing on the pro level up close was just icing on an already delicious cake.

After another long day of working, we all got back to the campground to collect our paychecks, drink some beer, and celebrate a job well done. Having gotten to see what it’s like to be on the other side of the track, it’s amazing how much work really goes into just watching a corner. I didn’t have much downtime during the day at all, as we had to be there whenever bikes were on track (although thanks to all the people who visited me in the brief breaks between practice sessions!), and you certainly earn that paycheck. But the experience of being part of the show, the comradery as you spend all day with your corner crew, and helping make these events happen is hard to top! And with as many of the people we were working with who had been doing this every year for a lot of years, clearly I’m not the only one who couldn’t get enough of the experience, haha. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who loves racing!

Turn 2 corner workers
Team Turn 2.2, represent! Definitely an experience I’ll never forget!Photo by Tiffani Burkett