In racing, the expression of going from “hero to zero” or “zero to hero” can many times sum up the roller coaster of emotions and results that go hand-in-hand with being a racer living on the edge. This past weekend in round #8 of the DJSA Outlaw Jet Ski series, Muscle Milk Extreme athlete Memo Gidley experienced just that.
Dubbed the “Jet Effect North/South Shootout,” this DJSA event attracts many of the best California jet ski racers to go head to head for bragging rights of which region has the best riders. The usual three race format for the overall would run like normal – however, the top three from each region would then advance into the “North/South Shootout” at the end of the day.
“I was feeling really confident going into the weekend,” said Gidley. “I have been training hard and pounding out a lot of laps on my buoy course riding better than ever before.”
With the prestige of the event, the rider turnout was enormous and the most the DJSA has seen in its five year history. “When I lined up for the first race and looked up and down the riders of the packed 100 foot starting line, I was a little nervous,” said Gidley. “The intensity was unbelievable.”
At the drop of the green, Gidley immediately got squeezed by two riders, making ski to ski contact and forcing him to back out of the throttle halfway down the start straight. This caused Memo to be shuffled back deep into the field. This was only the beginning of a race to forget where Memo fell three times as he tried to battle back and ultimately finished eleventh out of the talented field of racers.
“That was a hero to zero moment,” said Gidley. “After feeling so confident and working so hard leading up to this event, that first race was a huge disappointment for me. I knew I really needed to make something positive happen in the next two races to have a shot at being in the final north south shootout.”
Race #2 started off with Gidley once again being forced to take evasive action as two riders next to him got a better jump off the line and battled towards the first turn. However, rounding the first turn, Memo went wide and was able to go back around a few riders that got bunched up on the inside. Gidley came out of the start split and was sitting in sixth place heading into turn three. “That was a wild first turn,” said Gidley. “After the spray cleared I could see I was in sixth and thought, ‘OK let’s get going now and see what you can do.'” Every lap or two Memo on the #3 Muscle Milk/M&M Marine machine was moving up the through the field. Gidley made a move on the last lap, moving himself into third crossing the finish line.
At the start of race #3, Gidley, with the help of his holder Broc Austin, launched off the line and found himself in third heading into turn one. Gidley railed around the outside of the third place rider and came out in second and right on the rear of northern Ca DJSA expert points leader, Pete Zernik. Gidley followed Pete for a couple of laps before making a move and getting side-by-side with him just as the white flag came out for the final lap – only for Pete to regain the spot heading into the next turn. On the last split before the checkered, Pete went inside and Memo went outside with Memo edging out Pete and crossing the finish line a few tenths ahead to take the win for the final race.
It was a huge win for Gidley and now gave him third overall and the points he needed to race in the North/South Shootout. “Those three races were absolutely the most satisfying jet ski races I have ever had,” said Gidley. “I was so happy to have been able to battle back after a terrible first race. And then the final race win was just the icing on the cake!”
However, the racing was not over yet as Gidley was announced as the third Northern California rider to race in the North/South shootout. In this race it would be the points total of all three riders of each region that would determine if the North or South would prevail as the winners. “Just last year I was racing the novice class,” said Gidley. “And now my name was being announced as an expert rider that would race in the North South shootout… I was honored and proud.”
At the start of the shootout, Gidley got a nice jump and found himself second coming of the first start split. Being led by So-Cal rider Harry Sanchez, Gidley closed in looking to make a move. “I hounded Sanchez and even pulled alongside him numerous times but was unable to get by,” said Gidley. “Then with three laps to go I saw an opportunity and went for it. However, I was way over the edge and ended up being thrown off my ski at about 50 mph and found myself swimming instead of passing.” One of the safety ski boats was on Gidley immediately, and took him back to his ski that was floating some 100 feet away. “By the time I got back going again, I was last and a good straightway from fifth place with three laps to go,” said Gidley.
Unbeknownst to Gidley, with the positions his fellow Nor-Cal team riders were in, he needed to be fifth or better to help bring home the win. “I had no idea what our team needed to win the overall,” said Gidley. “I just got back going and did what I always do, ride as hard as possible. On the last lap I passed fifth but didn’t really realize that that pass clinched the win for Northern California until after the race.
“What a great hero to zero and then back zero to hero race weekend,” said Gidley. “The DJSA Outlaw series put on a fantastic event, the So-Cal riders that came up made the competition more intense and fun than ever before, and I was able to help Nor-Cal and its awesome riders bring home the win.”
Gidley’s next car race is the final round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, the Utah 250 Sept. 10 – 11th. Gidley is back racing for Team Sahlen in the #43 Mazda RX8 GT car. “I am so excited to be back racing that awesome Sahlen Mazda RX8,” said Gidley. “We had a great run going at Watkins Glen a few weeks ago and I’m anxious to see what we can do at Utah.”
The Utah 250 is September 11th with the green flag kicking off at 12pm. Catch all the action on Speed 2pm ET.